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Entries : Category [ athens ]
The city itself, big, fat, loud, stinking, sitting in the middle of Attica and growing. Athens, Greece, to be sure.
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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 guided tour.

More information

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.

Posted by betabug at 12:45 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
21 October 2006

Night Promenade

Walking from Floisvos to Kalamaki

Today I was in need of some fresh air. One of the best oxygen suppliers in Athens is the sea. So I took the bus to Faliro and walked along the promenade.

The sea is agitated and in some places illuminated. It's pretty warm so the experience is very agreeable.

I had stopped at the chess pavilion and watched two fast games. The spectators were shouting and commenting out loud. Not what they usually do in chess, but since they all knew each other it was good fun.

Posted by betabug at 20:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 October 2006

Places of Enjoyment in Athens

Marialena's list of 10+1 special places
Kafeneion in the National Garden, Athens

Marialena, in one of the blogs I follow regularly because I like their writing, has posted some weeks ago a post about 10+1 places of Enjoyment in Athens (where "places" could also be translated as "moments" - the article is in Greek).

At first I had thought about making my own list, possibly sharing some points with Marialena (the National Garden would be right there in my list too). But there is a special quality to her list, one that I can't try to answer or further: She doesn't just have a checklist of places ("go there, look at that"), but instead some of these places are situations or special occasions in the flow of the city.

So all I can do now is to tell you to go and read through that list (assuming you understand some Greek), maybe look at the few pictures, let yourself be inspired to look out for your own special moments and places here (and if you live somewhere else, in your own place). I'll go as far as to illustrate this post with a small drawing I did in the kafeneion of the National Garden. The sun was shining, autumn was almost there and we enjoyed a quiet, green moment almost out of town.

Posted by betabug at 23:16 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
04 April 2007

There Is Beauty Everywhere

Sometimes you just have to look out for it
Trees in a park in Athens suburbs

Let's talk about beauty. Nothing fancy, just some stuff you can see every day around you. Just have to look and be in the spirit to see, I guess...

A gnarly tree in the streets of some Athens suburb

Walking through this city and its traffic, one could sometimes forget that there is beauty everywhere. Sometimes it's a gnarly tree on a sidewalk on a sunny afternoon...

An old Jaguar in the center of Athens

Other times you just have to cross the street, and unexpectedly it sits there. We used to have even more nice old cars here. But some of them are still here. I wouldn't want to pay its bills, but I sure like to have a look when I pass it by.

Trees in a park in Athens suburbs

Then comes the weekend. Maybe you have time to go to a little park. When the sun shines through the trees, a moment of beauty appears. It's nice to walk on and it's nice to sit on a bench and read a few pages in a good book. Sweet doing nothing.


Posted by betabug at 09:18 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
06 April 2007

Ein Wald in der Stadt

Zum davonlaufen!

Zentrales Merkmal eines Waldes ist, dass man sich verlaufen kann. Dass es hier in Ilisia einen "Wald von Ilisia" gibt, hatte ich schon gewusst. War sogar schon ein paar Mal dort gewesen, schöne Spaziergänge. Doch anscheinend war die Ecke, die ich bisher besucht hatte, nur der kleinere Teil. Heute bin ich etwas weiter gegangen, dann rechts abgebogen... und dann stehe ich plötzlich im Wald.

Die Bäume stehen dort viel dichter. Obwohl es viele Wege und Pfade gibt, ja sogar Bänke, Mülleimer und gemauerte Wegesböschungen, wirkt alles viel waldiger, nicht mehr nur wie ein Park. Ich machte einen guten Spaziergang, bis ich ans andere Ende gekommen war. Zwischendurch fand ich einen Hügel, der mit gemauerten Bänken und Plätzen von weitem wie eine Burg wirkt.

Auf dem Rückweg musste ich aufpassen, dass ich tatsächlich noch dort rauskam, wo ich hergekommen war. Ich fand zwar eine Orientierungstafel, doch die war mit Plakaten zugeklebt. Ansonsten ist der Wald recht sauber, viele Plastiksäcke zeugen davon, dass das dem Einsatz der Gemeindearbeiter zu verdanken ist. Ich bin ihnen dankbar, denn der neu entdeckte Wald ist meiner Lebensqualität zuträglich.

Posted by betabug at 17:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 June 2007

European Music Festival

All over town

Looks like the European Music Festival is on again, with concerts all over Athens (and some other places too) every evening till Saturday. Here is a program of concerts in Athens. The weather is fine, so let's see how much fun we can scoop up!

Posted by betabug at 16:09 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
27 June 2007

Going Home is Hot

Moving without moving

Usually I take one bus and then walk 10-15 minutes to get home. Now with the heat wave in Athens I try to do without the walk. I take the bus, switch to the Metro, then take another bus. Takes longer, but less heat. Today I walked into the Metro station and they had no power. There was reduced light on and the passengers were informed that trains would be "a couple minutes late". The "end of time" athmosphere indeed lastet only a short time, then full lights came on again.

A minute or two more and the train came. It took me along, wondering what would happeen if power failed again with me in there.

Due to the heat wave electricity consumption is at a record high. We're half expecting a blackout. We're also being asked to save on energy to avoid that. Indeed at the office all unncessary lights are out and at home I follow the same line.

In other news, temperatures should start to drop any moment now. Fine with me, for now we've seen enough of those 44-47 degrees C.

Posted by betabug at 22:15 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
03 July 2007

Parnitha Forest Demonstration

We need our trees back

This Sunday, 8th of July, at 19:00 there will be a demonstration outside the parliament. The People are demanding that the forest of Parnitha will be replanted. We can't let our oxygen supply be burned down by negligence (or even malevolence). The "invitations" for the demonstration are making the rounds by SMS and email. So please all join in this Sunday!

Posted by betabug at 09:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 July 2007

Syntagma Demonstration

The people for the forrest

We are on Syntagma square, demonstrating for the reafforrestastion of mount Parnitha. There are a lot of people here. The place is packed from the parliament all over the square.

The demonstration is not organized, it's just the people who showed up. Everybody is shouting and cursing at the parliament and the politicians. Of course no politicians comes forth from the parliament (if there are any in there, they probably are in their villas).

Posted by betabug at 19:50 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
12 July 2007

Acropolis closed due to Strike

6 days in July

The news site 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. 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.

Posted by betabug at 12:11 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
16 July 2007

...and now Ymittos is burning

More forest fires near Athens

A few weeks ago it was Parnitha, now the forest is burning on Ymitos. According to news reports (see in Greek) the fire is very close to buildings. Same source says that residents saw fires spring up in several places, so arson is suspected. Fire planes, helicopters, and firefighters are working hard, but the strong wind is making their job more difficult. The fire is on the Ymittos, near Vyronas and Kaisariani.

Residents are trying to fight the fire along Leoforos Kareas. The secretary for Civil Protection stated that 3 out of 4 fire zones are under control.

Posted by betabug at 16:52 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 July 2007

Το τάβλι του Όθωνα

Και άλλα ωραία στο μουσείο
The backgammon set of King Otto

Τελικά πήγα και εγώ το Σάββατο στο Μουσείο της Πόλεως των Αθηνών . Είναι καταπληκτικό - αν ενδιαφέρεσαι λίγο για το 19ο αιώνα. Το καλύτερο έκθεμα ήτανε το μοντέλο της Αθήνας του 1842 - να βλέπεις πως άλλαξε από τότε μέχρι σήμερα αυτή η πόλη, και ταυτόχρονα να δεις κάτι σημεία αναφοράς που μείνανε. Ο εθνικός κήπος τότε: ένα τετράγωνο πράσινο μέσα στα χωράφια, έξω από την πόλη. Εξαιρετικό.

Είδαμε και τον λόρδο Βύρων σε φιγούρα πορσελάνης, λες και κάνανε "action figures" της ελληνικής επανάστασης (τον είχαν και σε φώτο, σχέδια, πήνακες). Μετά, το τάβλι αυτό το όποιο μας έχουν πει από το μουσείο ότι ήτανε του Όθωνα (κλικ στην μικρή εικόνα για την επίσημη σελίδα του μουσείο).

Posted by betabug at 12:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 July 2007

Hot Numbers

Some details about the heat

Here we are, talking about the weather again. As most of you may know, we had another heat wave here, the second in 4 weeks. Temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius, but there are some other numbers I find way more interesting to demonstrate how hot it got. First of all I got up yesterday at about 8 in the morning and it was 30 degrees. I went to the "periptero" (newsstand) yesterday evening at a few minutes before midnight and it still was about 35 degrees. Conclusion: It's not as much the peak temperature (which is impressive in itself), it's just not cooling down even during the night. Main reason: There wasn't any wind that could have brought colder air.

The weather pictures (lower right corner of my weblog) often do not show the peak temperature in all its glory, but browsing through their ( report for Athens that is) stations stats, I found the interesting facts that some station reports the lowest measured temperature this month to have been about 21.6 degrees. In some countries that would be a nice summers day temperature... at noon. Here and this month it must have been during the cool morning hours before sunrise on a relatively "cold" day.

What effect has the heat on people? Obviously they complain. Everybody but me seems to have a/c (blackouts are happening, no wonder). At midnight, my neighborhoods streets are exceptional quiet, very few people outside, almost no sounds except for the whirring of the air conditioners fans. The heat empties the city.

Posted by betabug at 09:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 August 2007

Summer Countdown

Everybody leaving the city... now!

The city is becoming more empty by the day. The news predict the big travel bang for the coming weekend, when the "masses" will leave for their August vacation, causing long lines and congestion on roads, ships, planes. The coming of vacation time has been rolling on for quite some time. This is the time where the "stay behinds" (even if temporarily) have to check beforehand if the place of choice for going out (or getting food) is open or not.

Our cow-orker today phoned in to order pasta and said: "Are you open? OK, I'll call back! [click]". Only then did we assemble orders. Ordering cooked Greek food (μαγειρευτά) wasn't recommended at all, that kitchen art form is dependent on a regular flow of customers. When everybody leaves town, the kitchen can't produce and the quality sinks. They will be back in September!

Posted by betabug at 11:52 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 August 2007

Bringing in the Flag

Here's to the patriots
Soldiers bringing in the Greek flag on Mount Lycabettos

Yesterday evening we went with our guests to the top of mount Lycabettos. Walked, that is. It's a nice ascent, and in the late afternoon, early evening it isn't so hot, while a bit of a breeze also helped. After we enjoyed the view (the sea of concrete from horizon to horizon) and tried to make out familiar features ("hey, that's the big OTE building near Victoria, we used to live near that!"), we watched the sunset. Always nice to see from up there. After the sunset we waited a bit around to see the city's lights come on, while the sky gets darker. I always enjoy that bit. And after that, we were witnesses to two soldiers officially bringing down the Greek flag for the night.

Posted by betabug at 15:21 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
25 August 2007

Watching Firefighter Planes

Athens Burning
Canadair Firefighter Plane over Athens

Forest fires are burning in the immediate surroundings of Athens again. Firefighter planes drone on over our building. We went up to the terrace and watched a couple of Canadair planes, a russian Beriev, and a helicopter. There's lots of smoke and appart from the fire on Ymittos (which we can clearly locate) there is a big yellowish cloud which we don't know if it's smoke or a normal cloud.

This thing makes me angry and sad. I wonder how much it all costs. Or how much just the planes and the fuel cost. Is it really worth for some vultures who are looking to get a fast buck with some real estate?

At least it seems to me that bringing in the Beriev from Russia was a good thing after all. After the first drop by the Beriev (we can't see the actual drop from our building) the dark smoke on the Ymittos fire lessened significantly.

Posted by betabug at 14:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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