- Entries : Category [ tourism ]
- betabug as your tour guide. Information about tourism in Greece.
10 January 2005
Greek and Athens Public Transport and Its Mysteries
It's better than it was, but there are still strange rules in the game
The system in public transport here is that passengers have to know
how things work. When riding the bus you are expected to know when to
get out. Bus stations are not announced. You are also mostly expected to
guess that the bus to take is Nr. 117, where to get your ticket (in the
bus, at the station, at the vending machine), and when taking the ticket
at the vending machine which ticket you need. But things have improved,
so read on for some hints...
Until a few years ago, all you got in Athens was that the busses
had numbers and they were labeled with their destination, like "108
Kalamaki". But you had no idea if the bus was headed for the centre of
Athens or for Kalamaki. Sometimes the label "Kalamaki" was missing too,
and usually you would have to guess where the city endpoint of the line
was. But what was and still is more problematic: You have to know which
bus to take at all, there is no map that tells you for going from Athens
to Nikaia which choices you might have. The OASA organization used to
have such a map to mail to you, but they sold out. And don't expect
something like that on public display.
The long distance busses "KTEL" have the similar problems,
have to get out at a station midway? You better know when to get out
yourself. Announcements when to switch the bus are often done without
the microphone system and difficult to understand for foreigners. Going
to Patras I was surprised by the ticket control guy, whose function I
was barely able to guess from the reactions of surrounding passengers.
Gotta know what this is.
In the Intercity train from Athens to Thessaloniki the station
announcements where in Greek only and even knowing Greek most often not
comprehensible. Stations are poorly labeled, so good luck if you don't
want to go all the distance.
Things got better
So what improved? Lots of things: Athens bus stations are labeled much
better, giving a list of the stations, including the direction you're
currently facing and the endpoints. You get the approximate frequency,
and the first and last scheduled departures from the start point. A lot
of the trolley busses have displays that announce the next station (in
greek letters, so you have to know at least these). In the Tram the
situation is even better, computer screens inform you about the next 5
stops in latin and greek characters, and lately I have heard recorded
announcements. On another interesting sidenote, few of my friends were
able to tell me the name of their bus station. I guess they have the
"have to know" system learned deep already.
The Metro (Subway) sports fancy announcements in Greek and English, plus
it has Metro maps so you can see where to switch trains. Small problems
arise in inter-category switching: The tram has one station as "SEF"
(which is "Stadio Eirinis kai Filias", the old Olympic Stadium), while
the Metro has it as "Neo Faliro" with a pictogram of the Stadium. Also
getting out of the tram at that station you just follow the flock of
passengers to know where the Metro is, don't expect any meaningful
Look it up on the web
There is a website
(OASA) where you can
look up connections in the Athens area, but in some tries I did not
have much success with it. Either the database had some problems,
or else you would have to be able to guess how to formulate queries
-- which would go with the general philosophy of public transport
in Greece. The long distance busses have their website too
(KTEL) but I haven't tried it, I don't
think they would have had the bus schedules I needed on Limnos
Tipps when coming for a visit
So what could you do when you come here for a visit and want to use
public transports to go to a friends house?
- Try your luck with the OASA site.
- Ask your friends for any hints they might have and for the name
of the bus or trolley station near them.
- If you can get there by Metro, that would be preferred and they will
- Taking the bus or trolley, read carefully the info sign at the bus
station, be prepared to count stops to know where to get down.
- In the bus try to glimpse bus stop signs.
- As a last rule of thumb, ask the driver to inform you where to
get down. Surprising enough the bus drivers are often friendlier than
they look. And asking is your last line of hope when everybody is just
expected to know.
- In the Intercity trains grab the train magazine, find the timetable
and navigate to your station by time. The train might not be exactly on
time, but you will have a big clue when to get ready to get out.
- Tickets: For the bus and trolley at a kiosk, for the metro at the machine (70 cents being the rule of thumb) or at the counter, for the tram at the machine. Long distance busses: Usually at the counter, sometimes in the bus too. Trains: At the counter in the station.
21 February 2005
Internet for Visitors in Greece
So you come here and you want to connect to the *Internet*?
When you come to Greece for a visit and you want to connect to the
Internet, there might be a few usefull informations I could share. This
is not yet a country of cheap and readily available Internet
connections, not to mention broadcast. Getting some hints may
get you ahead though...
Updated: As of 2008/2009, a lot of information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 too!
Come here with your own laptop computer? Your options are basically to
connect with a modem over the landline phone system, use GPRS over your
mobile phone, or leech a wifi connection somewhere. Don't count on an
Getting a cable to the world
For the landline you will need access to some telephone jack. These are
standard RJ-11 connectors most of the times, but there are older jacks
with two contacts. Adapters are available at electricians outlets, most
of the times you can get by with yanking the cable out of a standard
phone device. So much for the hardware connection.
If your "ISP from home" does not offer some international dial-in
partner ISP here in Greece, you will also need an ISP login. No need
to get something with monthly payments: At normal phone shops (and at
the post office) you can buy "cards" for 5, 10, or 20 hours of Internet
access. Examples are the "Forthnet Netkey", "Smile & Web", "UrNet"
carads. On top of that cost (would be around 5 to 10 Euro depending on
"size") you will also be charged connection cost on the phone bill.
These are quite low, even lower than a local phone call, but the dual
system makes it difficult for guests to take all the cost on themselves.
There are also some numbers for "no advance cost" internet access.
You don't have to pay for a card or monthly connection there, but the
connection cost on the phone bill is quite high (something like 1.20
Euro per hour). This may be an option if you really want to connect just
once. Hellas On Line is an example of a
provider offering such a dial in number.
GPRS: Mobile, expensive and available
The next option is using your mobile phone, your providers Roaming plan,
and a lot of money. Find out how your provider sets you up for GPRS
access, find out how you hook up your Laptop and your mobile phone, and
off you go. Charges are often high. But it's a connection that will work
without having to get help from anyone, without borrowing someones
connection. This may be the right thing if you really, really need to
check mails and you are in your far out cabin on a far out island (like
I was on Limnos in the Summer of 2004). Proper setup to keep download
size low suggested. BTW: My initial thought was to get a "card phone"
prepaid number in Greece to do this. Forget it. None of the Greek mobile
providers offeres GPRS on their prepaid numbers.
Wifi and broadband?
As for leeching a broadband connection: My initial journey was trying
to find an internet cafe that would let me get access to an Ethernet
connector. No luck so far. Those kids don't have a clue, so they are
affraid that you are doing some harm. Next I tryed to find an "open"
hotspot. Again, no luck. At least at the time of this writing technology
is way behind in Greece, so since the kids don't have broadband and
wireless routers to leave open. You may get a chance for broadband if you
come here to study at some university, or if you come here to work at a
company. At least in Athens you have another option: Starbucks has
started to conquer Greece and (at least some) of their Coffeeshops offer
wifi access, charging 3 Euro for 2 hours.
Which compares somehow with a typical Internet cafe. These ask around
2-3 Euro per hour, and you can't work in the comfort of your own
machine. But it's the option you have when you come to Greece with or
without a laptop. For bringing stuff over to my laptop I carry a USB
stick and a CD-RW rewritable CD. Some Internet Cafes have really crappy
Windoze 98 machines, no USB of course. Sometimes there are CD writers
though. For logging in to my server I use putty and S/key one-time
passwords. You might consider packing a short list of S/key passwords,
even if you don't plan on using Internet cafe connections.
Internet Cafes in Athens are not everywhere. There are some hidden close
to the central Syntagma square, but most are nearer to Akadimia, Omonia
and Patision Street (where the Polytechnicum and some Universities
are). Outside Athens the Internet Cafes are found reliably in Tourist
locations. I spent many an hour in Myrina on Limnos in a regular Cafe
that had 2 hours of free Internet Access with buying 2 beverages.
Operating systems and things that look like them
Now, once you have gotten your own laptop almost ready to connect
somewhere, don't expect any help, especially when you run anything but
Windoze. Greeks might have heard that Linux exists, they might have
heard someone mention that there is a company called Apple (but both
possibilities are unlikely outside their user bases). OpenBSD is unheard
off for sure. This is a country of Windoze and stolen software.
Since not even Windows administrators actually know their own OS, this
means that you are pretty much out of luck if you need help. Have fun,
this might be a chance to learn some new skill!
Update 2007-03-06: See also Greece on Wireless: Come In We're Open
Updated: As of 2008/2009, a lot of information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 too!
20 May 2005
Die beste Jahreszeit um Athen zu besuchen
Der Frühling ist hier
Jetzt ist die beste Jahreszeit, um Athen zu besuchen. Im Park "Pedio tou Ares" blühen die Blumen (Bild), es ist angenehm warm, ohne zu heiss zu werden. Die hohe Luftfeuchtigkeit der letzten Tage ist weg, so dass es morgens und abends angenehm kühl wird. Die Hitze des Sommers kündigt sich bereits an, aber sie gibt uns noch eine Gnadenfrist. Am Wochenende veranstaltet die Stadt Athen im Nationalgarten (beim Zappeio) ein Spektakel mit Jongleuren, Puppentheater, Kunst auf der Strasse.
20 June 2005
Athens Archaeological Museum
Cool museum visit on a hot weekend
This was a hot weekend. So for Sunday we decided to go to a Museum. If you didn't know, Museums are airconditioned. Nice to calm down and cool down. The choice of the day was the Archaeological Museum on Patission street. A nice museum, but very big.
Too much to view all in one go, actually. After half an hour I am unable to read any more little information blurps. Also one of my gripes with this museum is that in some of the exhibits, the labelling is really confusing and not very informative. So I see this interesting, spoon-like thing behind the glass. What might that be? It's labelled No. 80713. Now the search starts, because the descriptions are not in numerical order. They are in groups depending on donours, places where stuff was found etc. And when I finally find it, all it tells me is "Spoon-like object, found at..., dated ca. ...". Right.
Solution: Just enjoy the nice sculptures. Don't forget to visit the garden. The cafeteria actually has normal prices. The museum shop is much cheaper than the one in the Museum Benaki (a cup for 19 Euro anyone?), but still museum-grade prices (cup for 10 Euro). The picture shows a statue where the authorities are not quite agreeing if it shows Zeus or Poseidon. A powerfull god anyway.
30 June 2005
Afternoon in Athens
And what to do in Athens when you visit from 16:00 to 23:00
Monday evening my friend Reuven visited me with his son Oren for a very short visit. They came
by boat from Naxos and had to be at the airport at midnight. Oren had
never been to Athens, so besides scheduling time for catching up
talking, we made a little sightseeing program. So find out what we got
Since I was still working in the afternoon, I told Reuven to get to the
Metro station in Pireus (which is in itself worth a sightseeing, it is a
historical building). Greeks refer to that particular line as "treno"
not "metro", but for us foreigners it's all the same. From there they
could ride to "Thissio". Outside Thissio they found a large area closed
to traffic, with lots of cafes. The road leads upwards to the Acropolis,
it has green areas on both sides, and a view over Athens.
Reuven took Oren to the Parthenon, because yes, you have to see that, if
you haven't already. They spent some time up there, when it probably was
still hot. Then they sat in the shade under an olive tree. That's where
I found them, arriving from work. Big welcome, I had last met Reuven in
Summer 2002 and never met Oren before.
Passing through the ancient Agora, we went to a Cafe on the road (closed from traffic again) between the
stations of Monastiraki and Thission. Choice of cafe is open, there are
a lot of nice ones. If you come to visit here, remember that prices in
greek cafes are very high. They might be even a bit higher in such a
touristy area, but it's not like they cheat you when they want 4 Euro
for a fresh orange juice. Or actually they might be cheating, but not
just you, they cheat everyone.
From the cafe we walked by Monastiraki towards Syntagma. We followed
some of the small streets in the general direction and ended up on Ermou
street. Ermou is the shopping street de jour in Athens. It ends at
Syntagma square and when you walk up there, you walk up to a view of the
greek parliament. Late in the afternoon it was nicely colored up by the
sun. We crossed Syntagma square without being run down by one of the
amateur race car drivers going by. We went to see the Evzone guards at
the grave of the unkown solider, Oren had his picture taken with one of
the guards. While we were still standing there, they did their marching
It was almost time to eat now, but Syntagma is not the best area for
good restaurants. So I went on a smal march with my friends (I hope I
tired them not too much). We went down Panepistimiou street, passed by
the University and went into Exarchia. Exarchia is not really a tourist
area. Rather it is notorious for being an anarchist area (and on some
places an area with drug addicts). My friend Michalis told me, that a
couple of years ago he had an insurance on his car that stated "not
valid when car is parked in Exarchia". Certified Anarchy, I guess.
What I was looking for was a restaurant with cooked food that I
remembered. We found it after some searching and asking in a beautyfull
cafe. We had a relaxed dinner. The souzoukakia smirneika were spicey and
refined. Very good. I never remember the name, but the place is in a
neoclassical building, big open doors all around on two sides of the
corner building. The street is called Emmilianou Benaki, so if you can
find it, cosider this a recommendation :-). After dinner I accompanied
my friends to the Panepistimiou Metro station. We took the train to
Syntagma, where they catched the train to the Airport (where the last
train to the Airport leaves at about 22:50, look for the schedule that
hangs out at the ticket offices in the stations).
Conclusion: In just a few hours in Athens, you can see the Parthenon, walk through the ancient Agora,
relax in a Cafe, see the presidential guard (Evzones) at Syntagma
square, the University, and enjoy a special meal in an anarchist area.
The last one is probably harder if you don't know the city. We had a lot
of walking involved, but overall it was a really good time.
08 July 2005
Ferry Schedules to Greek Islands
Time for vacations coming closer
As my August vacation is drawing closer I am looking out for the ferry boat schedules. Also friends want to visit me in the litte house on Limnos. So more timetables to look up. Conclusion one: Limnos is hard to get to and come from. Conclusion two: There are multiple websites for ferry tickets and ferry reservation. They all work with the same database backend from forth-crs. Most of them have ugly sites with big graphics, large pages in bad html. One of them constantly crashed FireFox with a Java applet.
I haven't tryed any of the booking functions. The data of the timetibles is as accurate as it is on the other sites of that kind, they all operate with the same database in the backend.
29 August 2005
How To Get To Limnos
A short travel guide
Now that I'm back in Athens, I'm reflecting a bit about this trip I
took. Limnos (or Lemnos as the English speaking sometimes write it), had
a lot of tourism this year, almost more than the island is prepared for.
97% booked out hotels, 100% booked out planes (waiting lists closed
because of overbooking) and ferry boats. Tourism may increase as people
get to know and like the island. Up to now this tourism is mostly Greek
tourism, but soon the foreigners may get to know Limnos as a non-typical
Greek island too.
But transport to and from the island is still a problem: It's hard to
travel to Limnos and even harder to come back. I had recommended the
island to a few friends, but only the very interested ones persist
enough to actually get there. This August, nobody had visited me, mainly
for this reason. Some thoughts about getting to Limnos:...
Olympic Airways will fly you in and out of Limnos to Athens,
Thessaloniki and Mytilini (maybe others too, I'm not that up-to-date on
the planes). Provided that you get a ticket of course: In summer and
sometimes on other occasions getting a seat can be a real problem. The
plane is of course more expensive compared to the ferry boat, but travel
time from Athens (Eleftherios Venizelos Airport) is less than an
hour. There are roughly 2 flights a day to and from Limnos to Athens.
I've been told that a ticket one way costs around 90 Euro, but I can't
confirm that really. (Nor do I know about airport taxes.)
If you fly in from outside Greece, you will have to change planes in
Athens. Flights with the Greek airline Olympic are timed to give you a
short waiting time for connections to the islands, while with other
airlines you will unfortunately (in my experience) have to hang around
the transit area for something like 5 hours sometimes. There are bound
to be charter flights too, but I don't know anything about these,
besides that I have known someone who got a ticket on one of them.
Still that may be faster and less tiresome than the ferry boat. Ferry
boats reach Limnos from the ports of Pireus, Thessaloniki, Lavrio, Kymi,
Kavala, Moudania. Plus the islands, where the ferry boat stops, e.g.
Samothraki, Mytilini (Lesvos), Agios Efstratios, etc.. Check out the
schedules and timetables at openseas.gr.
There are some hypermodern ships that are fast and expensive (the
ones going to Limnos are named after the Greek sprinter-ex-star
Kenteris, the one who is under thick suspicion of having been doped, so
you can consider those ships to run like on steroids). Downside: The
seats are numbered and you can't get out. The price is almost as much as
for the plane (I've heard about 70 Euro to Pireus and I've been quoted
48 Euro to Thessaloniki). Personally I avoid these and prefer the
old-fashioned, cheaper boats, where you can take in a bit of sun and sea
breeze, and roll out your sleeping bag to doze in a corner.
No matter which you prefer, you will have to check them out in
advance, there is not bound to be a boat every day for each of these
Getting to the port
All ports have bus connections to and from the big cities. Traveling
to and from Thessaloniki, you will look at the ports of Thessaloniki
itself, Moudania, and Kavala. For Athens you want Pireus (but keep a
good look at ship travel times, because the "steamer" has to take all
the way around Attika), Kymi, but most common currently Lavrio. Ships to
and from Lavrio typically take 9 hours. Busses from Athens to Lavrio are
stationed at the "Pedio tou Ares", you can take the Metro to the station
"Victoria", then walk 3 minutes to the bus station. Calculate at least
1.5 hours bus travel time and be early enough because busses leave about
each half hour, but you can't rely on all this. Last time I took that
bus, the ticket was 3.60 Euro. You pay your ticket in the bus, after
the bus started the cashier comes around. It's good but not absolutely
necessary if you have change.
(Public) Transport on the island
Obviously if you have your own car, you can bring it with the ferry
boat. The roads on Limnos are fine, the drivers are not too crazy or
dangerous. If you want to go to special places or to the beach with
the car, be prepared to drive a few kilometers on dirt roads. On the
island, public transport consists of overland busses (in Myrina from the
"Platia ton KTEL", the "KTEL-bus plaza" so to speak, on the upper end
of the "agora", the market street). About once a day each destination
Then there are overland taxis, in Myrina either waiting
at the port when a ship comes in, or else at their own "platia" in the
upper part of the "agora". Taxis (but no busses) are also waiting at the
airport when a flight comes in. Prices: For example the 42km to Panagia
(at the far end of the island) cost me 3.40 Euro by bus and 25 Euro by
taxi. I can recommend Manolis from Moudros (697 2008388) and Giorgos
from Panagia (693 7632372), just in case there is noone there when you
arrive at the airport and you have to go in that direction (of course
none speaks anything but Greek). In general, Limnos taxi drivers are
The airport is located in the center of the island, about 20km from
the capital and port Myrina. You can rent a car in Myrina or at the
airport. Cost is about 30 Euro a day, plus 10 Euro for full insurance.
In the main season be sure to book your car well in advance. Out of
season it might be a good idea to arrange for a car especially at the
airport, because noone might be at the booth if they don't know you are
coming. I recommend Europcar, Mr. Hatzoglou (694 5495104, 22540 23777),
I've had a couple of times good experiences with him when I rented cars
for a few days.
Important: Price information
Prices are approximate and current as of about August 2005, sometimes
even older. I don't plan to keep them updated.
12 September 2005
Athens Public Transport Maps (Detailed)
Download them as PDF from the ΟΑΣΑ site now
Behind my back(!) ΟΑΣΑ (OASA, the Athens public transport organization) has added a new service to their website this spring: You can download PDF maps of Athens, with the routes of busses, trolleys, trams and subways outlined.
The maps are a bit complicated to get a grip on, but when you have to find a connection across town, they are much more usefull than the site's search engine. The bus line search engine does not allow for two point from-X-to-Y searches. But with the maps you can see which busses pass by your starting point and in combination with the seach engine you can look up route details. This gives a huge improvement in usefullness of the OASA site.
Not all PDFs are available (yet?). They are pretty big, around 6 to 10MB, mainly because this city is pretty big. Probably too big to load onto my phone and view with the scaled down PDF viewer. Most maps are available only with Greek lettering. If you travel to Athens with a laptop it might be interesting to get these maps. You can also order paper copies of these maps for free from the same site, though the form looks like you will have to send it in again and again for each map you want.
Update 2007-10-20: Fixed the link to the maps page.
31 October 2005
Karagiosis - Greek Shadow Theater in the Plaka
For kids older than 3
It has gone colder here in Athens, so for Sunday afternoon we decided on some indoor activity. We went to the Plaka for a show of traditional Greek shadow theater. The genre is named after the protagonist Karagiosis. He is a poor man with three hungry children and a wife who is constantly telling him to get a job. Which he is trying to do, especially in the play we had seen this Sunday. He was trying his luck shining shoes, selling ice, pistachios, and milk, working as a photographer. Whatever he tried, it did not work out. Sounds sad? It isn't, because whatever his fortune is, he takes it with a laugh and a loose mouth. He is famous for his pointed remarks on everything. Classical quote: "We ate, we drank, and then we went to bed hungry!"
In the picture we see Karagiosis on the left side, Stavrakas buying pistachios on the right. "Shadow theater" means that the stage is made of a white textile (linen?). Figures and a bit of scenery are made out of thin materials and due to the backlighted stage show up as shadows with a few colours. The figures are held on sticks of about 40-50cm, so the figure players don't show up as shadows on the "stage".
The theater is a small basement in some of the small roads that are less filled with tourist shops in the Plaka . We arrived a bit early, which was a good idea as the place got crowded. The front rows filled up with children. The theater advertises "for children over 3 years old". The back rows held us grown ups (slightly above that age). The figures look nice even if you don't understand the words, but in case you understand the words, you'll laugh your butt off. The kids giggled, shouted and chimed in talking with the figures. In some parts I laughted till my belly hurt. We had seen a play of Karagiosis some weeks ago on Hydra, but we didn't like that show. What we saw now in the Plaka was far better, no comparison.
: Θέατρο σκιών Τάσου Κώνστα (Theatro Skion of Tasos Konsta), Tripodon 30, Plaka, Tel. 210 3227 507 (very close to the Metro station Akropolis, I don't think they have a web page), shows every Sunday at 11AM and 5PM.
Update: A page with more descriptions of Karagiosis and
01 March 2006
Current Weather in Greece on Weblog
Let you see what spring is like
Commemorating the fine weather (like spring on the first of march, sunny 13 Celsius in the morning), I've installed two little weather applets in the lower right corner of the main weblog page. They show the current temperature and via the picture the weather condition for Athens and Limnos, courtesy of Weather Underground.
15 June 2006
A View at Kerameikos
My beloved ancient site in Athens
Ever since I was hanging out in a motorcycle repair shop next door to
it, the archaeological site of Kerameikos
was my beloved ancient place in Athens. It's not just old stones, it's a
garden in itself. Like the very best of the ancient places, it has a
special atmosphere to it.
Last Sunday I had planned to visit it again.
Somewhere in my memory I had stored that entrance to archeological sites
in Athens is free on Sundays. Well, it is, but only in the winter
season. Right now it's the full 12 Euro - a bit hefty, even if you
consider that the ticket is valid for many archeological sites all over
Athens. So I was cheap and didn't go, I had a walk around Acropolis
instead (which led to me discovering the parrot on my way home
through the national garden, another story).
Back to Kerameikos, on Tuesday I passed by it, and I snapped a few
pictures from the outside through the fence. Here is one result of them,
also available in
medium size and
02 September 2006
Wo geht man denn da hin...
Mein Onkel Heinz ist gestern mit zwei Freunden zu einem Besuch in Athen angekommen. Heute morgen haben wir ihn und seine Freunde getroffen und sind schon mal die Stadt anschauen gegangen. Den Fleischmarkt in der Athinas-Strasse hatten sie schon vor uns entdeckt. Zusammen haben wir uns Thision, Monastiraki (mit den letzten Resten des samstäglichen Flohmarkts) angeschaut, dann sind wir im Fleischmarkt essen gegangen.
Nach einer Siesta sind wir dann mit Onkel Heinz auf die Akropolis, im Familienfoto sind Ελένη (Helene) und Heinz auf den Stufen zur Akropolis. Danach gings noch nach Thision zum Kaffee trinken und nach Exarchia zum Essen. Bis jetzt ein interessanter Familienbesuch, Fortsetzung folgt...
07 September 2006
Akropolis am Abend, Aegina am Sonntag
...und weitere Abenteuer mit Onkel Heinz
Letztes Wochenende war bekanntlich mein Onkel hier zu Besuch mit seinen Freunden. Am Samstag abend waren wir mit ihnen auf der Akropolis, wo ich einige Aufnahmen gemacht habe, von denen ich eine zu einem netten Panorama zusammengesetzt habe. Parthenon im Abendlicht. Am Sonntag standen wir früh auf, nahmen den "Ilektriko" (den "Elektrischen", von den Athenern auch einfach als "den Zug" bezeichnet, gemeint ist die alte U-Bahnlinie von Kifisia nach Piräus). Von Piräus aus gings per guter alter Fähre weiter auf die Insel Aegina...
Als Alternative hätte es noch ein Tragflügelboot gegeben. Doch das ist nicht nur teuerer, es geht auch schneller und man kann das Meer nicht wirklich geniessen. Wenn man nur auf einem Tagesausflug ist, dann ist es schön, wenn man die eine Stunde auf dem Schiff als Reise geniessen kann. In der Sonne sitzen, auf die Wellen schauen, mit etwas Glück sieht man Delphine. Nie war der Ausspruch "Der Weg ist das Ziel" wahrer.
In Aegina angekommen machten wir uns auf die Suche. Zuerst mal suchten wir nach dem Bus nach Agia Marina (auf der anderen Seite der Insel gelegen) und dann, weil der Bus schon voll war und wir auf den nächsten warteten, nach etwas zu essen. Wir fanden eine Bäckerei und unsere Gäste hatten die Wahl zwische Tiropita, Spanakopita, Peïnirli, Bougatsa, ... (Käsekuchen, Spinatkuchen, einer Art Pizzabrot, Blätterteigkuchen mit Crèmefüllung). Versehen mit solchen Backwaren und Getränken machten wir am Strand ein Picknick.
Der Bus fuhr uns quer durch die Insel, vorbei am Tempel der Aphaia. Dort stiegen wir nicht aus, denn der nächste Bus wäre erst zwei Stunden später weiter gefahren. Aber vom Fensterplatz aus sah der Tempel auch ganz nett aus. Die Insel allgemein ist im Innneren sehr schön, mit vielen Oliven- und Pistazien-Bäumen. Agia Marina ist ein touristischer Ort, aber zumindest Anfang September ertragbar. Wir quartierten uns in einer Ouzerie/Café am Strand ein. Erstmal Café trinken (griechisches "Frappé" ausprobieren), danach gingen wir jungen auch noch Baden. Das Wasser war herrlich klar, aber der Wind kühlte uns aus. Also besser im Wasser bleiben!
Abends ging es den ganzen Weg gemütlich zurück. Wieder in Aegina gaben wir uns einen kleinen Ouzo mit Häppchen bis unser Schiff kam. Unsere Gäste sahen sich auf dem Schiff den Sonnenuntergang an und bis wir in Piräus ankamen war es ganz dunkel. Mit einem kleinen Umtrunk im Hotel verabschiedeten wir uns von unsern Gästen. Alles in allem ein schönes Wochenend-Programm!
30 September 2006
See Athens, Take the Bus!
Trying out the Athens Sightseeing Bus Line 400
Update 2010: The sightseeing busline 400 was stopped on 2010-06-01, due to "lack of demand". Sorry to see it go.
Yesterday evening we had some spare hours between buying a new fill for
my rotring pen and meeting with Lorena and Kostis for Ouzo and Meze. We
were near the Athens Archeological Museum and trying out the sightseeing
bus line 400 from OASA (the Athens public transport) was on our to do
list for some time now. So we hopped in. It was an interesting
experience, though we should have handled things a bit different...
First of all, even though it's public transport, the line 400 is very
special. It's not just your average bus line. There is someone selling
you your ticket right on the bus (can be bought only on the bus) and
answering any questions you might have. She spoke English and had to
adjust to speaking Greek with us every time she talked to us, as she was
so used to speaking to foreigners. Most of the tour she was chatting
with the driver, but that was fine. There are recorded messages
announcing some of the sites you can see. Mind that the messages are not
announcing everything you can see, that's not their point.
Stop and see
The sightseeing tour is not so much meant for you to see things from
the bus (you can do that some of the times). Rather it's a means of
transport to do your sightseeing. The ticket is valid for 24 for hours
from your first start. So you prepare yourself with a good guide book
for Athens and the map of where the 400 bus goes. Then you - more or
less - plan which sites you want to see. The recorded voice warns you in
advance when you should get down. That's its job, it announces stops,
not the scenery.
When you want to see for example the
national gallery, you step down from the bus and take the next one,
maybe half an hour later, maybe one or two hours later. Same thing you
can do for Monastiraki or my beloved ancient site, the Kerameikos.
That way you can see all the modern or ancient sites of Athens in your
own time schedule. You don't have to find out where to get from ancient
point A to ancient point B with the public bus lines. But you are
neither tugged to a classic sightseeing plan, where you might want to
linger on at some place when the rest of the group has to move on. All
in all a very good idea and - judging from our little test - well
implemented. It might not be the right thing for you if you want
everything to be well prepared and to be served to you in a professionally
Information is available online at the OASA site.
The ticket is 5 Euro per person. Tickets are valid for 24 hours, for the
bus 400 and for the other public transport lines in Athens. So you can
take the metro back to your hotel after the sightseeing without having
to buy another ticket.
11 October 2006
Mobile Internet in Greece
Some thoughts on getting online with a GSM phone
Updated: As of 2008/2009, the information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 instead!
I have written before about
Internet in Greece,
Griechenland (in German) and
SMTP on the Go with CosmOTE, and the
result is that sometimes people email me with further questions. Dave
from England wrote me asking about getting online from a mobile phone:
I'm in the UK now but planning to spend a lot of time sailing in Greece
over the next couple of years. I want a Greek prepaid SIM, with good
coverage on the Islands near Turkey, that allows GPRS internet access...
...at which point I stopped him cold. No Internet on prepaid
That's a political decision, not a technicality. As you can buy a
prepaid card everywhere in Greece completely anonymous (sometimes they
are given away for free to students), if they would offer Internet
access, you could be on the Internet completely *anonymous*. What would
happen to the children? What if the terrorists started to use that?
[insert scare of the day] - so the cops and the politicians can of
course not let that happen.
If you really want to get access to the Internet over a GSM phone
(or a GSM PCMCIA card in a laptop, same thing), then you need a real
subscription, paid on a monthly basis. Some providers (e.g. CosmOTE)
will let you switch on a service called "GPRS", but that's a fake, it's
meant to provide WAP over GPRS. And as they say in Greek, "not even its
mother knows what WAP is..." For a full, monthly paid CosmOTE account
for example, the name of the real GPRS/Internet service is "Wireless
To get a full subscription mobile phone account is another story. It
involves a lot of paperwork, amongst which you will have to deliver the
form "E9" from the Greek tax office, which proves that you are paying
taxes. Obviously you get that form only after you've been working in
Greece for a while, not really practicable for visitors.
The alternatives aren't always so good looking: Many foreigners use
GPRS through their "home" provider and roaming, which may come a bit
pricey. In some areas (like Athens) you might get by with hunting down
a wireless connection (like on Syntagma square) or even setting up with
something like the Athens Metropolitan
Wireless Network. No play like that in the Aegean though. There
isn't much else I can suggest right now, ideas welcome.
Updated: As of 2008/2009, the information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 instead!
12 July 2007
Acropolis closed due to Strike
6 days in July
The news site in.gr reports (in Greek) that due to a strike of the archaeological guards the Acropolis will be closed on 6 days: July 14th and 15th, and then again from the 21st to the 24th of July. in.gr doesn't list up what the demands of the workers are. There should be a chance that the differences get sorted out and the strike canceled or postponed, but if you are planning a visit, you might want to investigate in alternative schedules.