Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Greek Philosophy





Everyone knows what there is to see in Athens, Greece:  the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Temples of Olympian Zeus and Hephaesus, ancient Roman and Byzantine monuments, and endless classical ruins.  These historical treasures are too grand to be missed by travelers of any age.  Period.  But there’s a “but.”  But for children under the age of probably 10, the significance of these structures will not be impressive for very long.  Especially during the summer, when Athens is crowded, stifling hot and dry, and often smoggy.  I guess that’s why God gave Greece beautiful beaches and an abundance of romantic little islands.

It was a blessed relief for us when visiting blistering Athens in the summertime to stay in a hotel not within the metropolitan area of the city, but in the nearby suburb of Glyfada.  Glyfada has cafes, restaurants, boutiques, shops, a modern marina and a prime waterfront location.  (Sometimes it’s refered to as the “Athens Riviera.”)  Best of all, when you’re traveling with children, are its wide, relaxing, sandy beaches with clear, shallow waters.  A variety of water sports are offered, and we had a lot of fun taking our first windsurfing lessons - although most of the time we looked like this:



Yeah, that's me in the water.

To get back and forth from your hotel in Glyfada to downtown Athens, a taxi is the quickest transportation.  It’ll take about 20 minutes.  (ALWAYS negotiate a flat rate in advance with the taxi driver!)

There is another mode of transportation, however, that might thrill your children to ride once or twice.  The Athens Coast Tram is a cool, hi-tech looking streetcar that connects the center of Athens with Glyfada in the east and Piraeus in the west.  You’ll never wait longer than 8 minutes for the tram, and . . . (may I put this in caps?) IT HAS AIR CONDITIONING!  And thank goodness, because the trip takes an hour.  You can catch the Athens Coast Tram at Syntagma Square, which is right smack in the Athens city center.  Here’s something else important to know when you’re traveling with kids:  at the bottom of Syntagma Square is a McDonalds.  Important for french fries?  No, important for the free bathroom.  (Sidenote:  Athens has recently placed a few sanisettes, like the ones in Paris, around town.)

Athens has also recently caught on to the brilliance of pedestrian zones.  The city has created some lovely carless strolling zones in sections of the city center, which is where you’ll do most of your sightseeing and shopping.  This will save an infinite number of tourists from the near death-defying experience of stepping off a curb to cross the street in Athens, where the traffic is insanely disorganized and dangerous.  It's a chaotic city, but fortunately the peaceful serenity of the sea is not far away.



Athens in the summer heat.

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures. Just stopping to say hey! I'm Ellie one of your Blogging Buddies. I'm going to try and stop and comment on each Blogging Buddy's blog daily.

    Have a super day,
    Ellie

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  2. Thanks Ellie! I'm going to do the same!

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  3. I agree Beautiful pix. I love the Athens one, I want to go there. Thanks for stopping in at Express Yourself :). I'm so glad to be a part of our group.

    Hope you are having a super week,
    BK

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  4. Traveling with my kids sounds like a great idea, but I'm a bit afraid to tackle it just yet... but hanging out at the beach sounds awesome! And they would love it! Do you know if any of the places to stay offered child care or nanny services for the odd night out?

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  5. Hi Hedgetoad! Yes, there are definitely child care options at many hotels. I didn't recommend the hotel we stayed at in my post because I didn't like it, but surely there are others with child care!

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  6. I LOVE that you mention where to find a bathroom!!! I find guidebooks "X with kids" bits so frustrating - I can work out the kids' museum is for children on my own - I need to know if the site is stroller friendly and where the heck the next potty break is! LOL! Athens is one of our favorite cities. And that's before all these changes. I can't wait to go back with the kids. I'd like them to be a bit older...I think Greek mythology might be a bit lost on my toddler. :) Here's to beach time!

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