A Note From the Director of the Athens Centre
Greece, as you know, has been going through some difficult times in terms of its economy. The need to
implement measures to bring down the national debt has put this small country in the headlines quite
often. Greeks are a demonstrative people, very involved in politics, and not content to sit at home and
complain about things they disagree with, so they are frequently out on the street, marching in front of the
parliament in the center of town, chanting slogans, and generally loudly expressing their complaints about
government policies. These peaceful (albeit loud) demonstrations, which take place in a very small and
contained area of central Athens, are sometimes accompanied by confrontations with the police by a
small number fringe element of so-called anarchists, who throw stones and fireballs at the police, and
generally disrupt the meaning of peaceful protest. The media, looking for drama to present to the public,
concentrates on the 30 hoodlums on the fringes of the demonstrations, and present a picture of Athens
which is totally unlike the reality. 30,000 peaceful marchers are ignored; 30 thugs are presented as the
real representatives of what is going on.
Participants in Athens Centre programs live and attend classes in the Mets area of the city, which is far
from the demonstrations and disruptions of the parliament area. If one did not turn on the TV or check
the news on the computer, one would not know anything was happening. The demonstrations are always
announced beforehand, so students are informed and can avoid the city center. If there are public
transportation strikes, as happens sometimes, they do not affect our students, who live within walking
distance of all the major sites and museums, and have many restaurants, cafes, banks, supermarkets, and
pharmacies within a block or two of their housing. Transportation on field trips outside Athens is with
private buses – they are never on strike!
In short, as with the “Occupy” protesters in the U.S., the present political and economic difficulties facing
Greece do not impact the experience of visitors to the country. As Athens Centre students discover,
Greeks are an outward looking people, invariably welcoming to foreign visitors, very warm-hearted and
enthusiastic about showing their country and its wonders to the visitors they meet.
Director The Athens Centre
Take a Vacation To Greece
By Peter Pappas
Greece could be a truly wonderful and stunning place, the home of Western civilization and culture with
many great tourist places, however also beautiful shorelines ideal for adventure holidays, and the most
excellent night life for those that wish to party or those who want to soak up the atmosphere and
delicious foods Greek restaurants have to present. But, if you follow the traditional tourism custom, nice
though it is, you may be missing out on the real heart that makes Greece what it is. Drop the traditional
monotonous Greek Vacation, and go for a distinctive trip of Athens and also the islands.
This is your likelihood to do one thing special with your time off, instead of simply wander the streets until
sunset and then sleep the night away. If you are someone who enjoys physical activity, including cross
training or running, then you will relish the chance to take yourself on a beautiful Greek holiday that would
still allow you to sightsee like a tourist in the afternoon, and then go dancing or relish a superb meal out at
Maintaining the right balance of life, training and celebrating has not always simple when you are on
vacation, but if you are determined to ensure that you don’t get flabby throughout your days off, then
paying for a holiday including personal training is one means to ensure that you simply relish life however
even keep in shape.
Taking the chance for a unique tour of some of the more lovely Greek islands in Mediterranean, and also
purchasing and going to some of the distinctive spots in Athens is not to be missed, and if you have
always been very physically active then you must welcome the possibility to train along the wonderful
beaches in morning, before settling down for a few shopping after lunch, and then hitting the Greek
restaurants once night falls. This Greek vacation package is more than just the basic tourist hot-spots,
and you’ll do more in one week than you may do for the rest of the year.
Holidays have become run-of-the-mill for most people, as a result of they cannot take the chances that
are offered them for a unique tour of the Greek mainland, the capital and also the islands. The trip
contains some laze about on the beach as well as going to a number of the hidden treasures the local
villages need to offer. What might be better than staying up late enjoying the Dionysian traditions of wine,
women and song, and then clearing your head the next day with a exhausting work-out with stunning
scenery for company? By taking the unique tour of Greece, you will be giving yourself a vacation to
actually remember, something that can stand out from the other foreign holidays you have taken.
So what are you waiting for?
Greece is a Travel Bargain
Author: Kaleel Sakakeeny
Shakespeare's play, Timon of Athens, tells the story of Timon, an extravagant Athenian nobleman
spending his money wastefully, until his creditors show up and demand payment to cover his debts.
Timon sends his servants out for financial help, a bailout, so he can continue his lavish lifestyle. English
classes can debate if Timon was a symbol of Greece's extravagance, but we can say that today, Greece's
staggering debt and and its need for financial rescue is an apparent opportunity for travelers.
Further, unthinkable a few months ago, the collapse of the eurozone or countries actually ditching the
euro are very real possibilities, leaving the future of all European travel very muddled. Nicolas
Kanellopoulos, President of the Greek National Tourism Organization says prices are lower for
everything from hotel rooms and villa rentals to yacht charters and cruises to restaurants and attractions.
His colleague, Alexander Kontogouris, of the Greek National Tourism Office in New York agrees,
adding that prices are going down daily, and that the country is trying very hard to attract visitors,
especially to the iconic islands of Mykonos, Crete and Rhodes.
The effort is welcome. Greece never especially reached out to travelers, nor did Greeks necessarily go
out of their way to cater to tourists. Now, short of selling the Acropolis or Parthenon to maybe Donald
Trump, the country is doing all that it can to attract people and offer more value for the dollar. The Greek
crisis played a big role in the battered Euro, making all of Europe that much cheaper and now throwing
the viability of the Euro in serious doubt. Hotels have woken up to the need to add travel value to the
Greek experience, so a complimentary night or meal or free transfers is common; before the crisis it was
almost unheard of.
Leftheris Papageorgiou of Hellenic Adventures believes prices will fall further. He expects to see more
and more of the value-added options. Germany, which accounts for 10-15% of Greece's visitors, is not
happy with having to bail the country out, and some U.S. and international travel agents are reporting an
increase in customer anxiety about getting caught up in riots and unrest. Greece's tourism business is a
major income source and employs 25% of Greek workers, so any instability will be short-lived,
hopefully, making this is a good time to drive a travel bargain. Giving a hotel room away or reducing the
cost of a yacht charter is better than selling the Acropolis. But if the Euro is abandoned, all bets are off.
In Greek Crisis, Athens Offers Deals
By Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Many tourists see Athens as a launching pad for visiting the beaches and whitewashed buildings of the
Greek islands. But those willing to put Athens on their itinerary could be rewarded with bargains on
meals, lodging and more, if they are willing to step into the heart of the recession.
For some, the risk of strikes and protests against Greece’s tough austerity measures isn’t worth it. For
other, the risk is small in one of the world’s oldest cities, which offers such ancient landmarks as the
Acropolis with its 2,500 year-old marble temples. German tourist Dorothea Lueddeckens wasn’t
worried. “Probably it’s more dangerous to be on a German autobahn. Protests don’t suddenly come
out of thin air,” she said.
The Greek government is reaching out to visitors, reducing sales tax on tourism-related spending and
scrapping landing, takeoff and stopover fees at regional airports. Analysts and industry officials expect a
rise in tourist revenues after last year’s 8 percent drop. “Prices have dropped and there are good offers
available for hotels and restaurants,” travel agent Panayiotis Georgakerakos said. “If you book in
advance, you can find deals.”
In Athens prices vary wildly, with coffee ranging from about $1.43 for a takeaway to $7.15 at a high end
café. Humble tavernas with traditional food can be found throughout Athens. Ones with live music tend
to charge more. Smaller shops sell souvlaki pitta – cubes of grilled meat served with tomato, garlicky
tzatziki sauce, onion and potato chips, all tightly wrapped in a grilled pancake for about $2.00.
The Acropolis Museum, which opened nearly two years ago, received more than 1.3 million visitors in
2010. But don’t miss the more compact Benaki and Cycladic Art museums, which cover a broader
scope of Greek culture.
The center of Athens is small and easily covered on foot. There are archaeological sites galore. They
include a subterranean stretch of ancient city walls in the basement of an office bloack off central
Klafthmonos Square. The Ancient Agora, whose rambling ruins are visible through a clutter of care and
reataurant tables in the Monastiraki district, is a good pick, as is the generally overlooked Kerameikos
cemetery, a 10-minute stroll away.
Monastiraki is full of shops with varying prices and quality. Anything more than 40 years old is
considered an antique and accordingly prices. Athinas Street, off Monastiraki, has fascinating hardware
and kitchenware shops, while Evripidou Street, near the neo-Classical main meat and fish market, is
famous for its spice and food emporia.
Architectural survivals can be seen in the Metaxourgeio district near Monastiraki, and in the more
salubrious steeings of Ano Petralona, a quiet area on the Western slopes of the Hill of Philpappos, where
one can get a decent meal at a good price. Don’t miss Troon Street. The central Kolonaki and
Exarcheia areas are studded with elegant 1930s apartment blocks built with marbled entrances, ornate
ironwork and porthole windows.
At night, visit an open-air cinema, where you can eat and drink during the screening. On the city’s fringes
splendid ancient sites such as the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, and the Sanctuary of Demeter at
Elefsina, are easily reached by bus.
Another great escape: the Saronic islands – Salamina (ancient Salamis), Aegina, Poros and Hydra,
between five and ninety minutes from the mainland by ferry. Several companies offer day cruises. The
capital’s port of Piraeus has ferry service to all the islands including Crete.
Athens Tourism See: www.breathtakingathens.com