Advice

Metsovo

Metsovo

Prefecture of Ioannina

May 2022 (30th of April-6th of May)

39°46′13″N 21°11′2″E

Metsovo is a traditional mountain town in the prefecture of Ioannina at an altitude of 1,160m located between the hills of the largest mountain range in Greece, Pindos. I had many years to visit it and I am excited that it holds the cultural heritage of a traditional village settlement. You can see many stores around you which are selling shepherd’s crooks, sheepskins as mats for the fireplace and handmade wooden decorations.

Even though I went for work with my regular day-job, I did manage to find time to see the city. And if you are enjoying nice cheese, nice wine, painting and skiing, you should visit it too.!!!

Metsovo

Accommodation 1/4

Location & room

What could I say about Archontiko Metsovou Luxury Boutique Hotel? From the moment we arrived until the moment we left everything were great. Helpful Dimitra and friendly George know what Greek filoxenia (=hospitality) is all about and they are making it a reality for their customers. With a smile always, they were advising us on how we can make the most of our day (what to see, where we will eat etc.).

Hotel is located in a good location, since it is within walking distance to the square, Averoff gallery with more than 250paintings, Baron Tositsa’s folklore museum (Tossizza Mansion), Averofeios Garden and close to all taverns and shops. Even to the Averoff winery, you can go by feet.

The room was spacious with the best view that we could have. The lively but calm and quiet mountain. Every morning you could open your door to the balcony. Firstly, I dare you to smell the refreshing oxygen. And then…you will hear the bells from the grazing sheep. Open your eyes and as if by magic you will see the fog that previously covered the whole mountain wafting to disappear behind the hill. This landscape is enchanting. I lo-lo-loooved the traditional cozy decoration of the room with all this wood and the colorful warm carpets. Light the fireplace and stare at the view outside from the comfortable bed. You will be dazzle and you will be led mentally to calm. Archontiko Metsonou Hotel

Stuff, breakfast & facilities

The personnel were really polite and helpful. Every day, the cleaning ladies were cleaning the room’s jacuzzi, changing towels, putting new shower gels-shampoos and refuel the fireplace with more logs.

Above all, breakfast was so deliciously incredible. The buffet has something new every day to taste and everything was rich and homemade either inside the hotel or from local producers. I enjoyed the local butter and cheese and…..the homemade berries marmalade was addicted to me. You can choose hot eggs, pancakes, bacon-sausages or cold cake-doughnuts-cookies and much more, that I cannot recall on my mind right now. Certainly, you will enjoy it with the mountain view in front of you.

Most important, the hotel provides its own underground private parking, since the municipal parking has not enough free spot and parking normally is prohibited on the main streets.

Everything was spotless. I will definitely be back to enjoy the spa facilities, massage, sauna and pool. I felt sorry I didn’t find the time now.

Tip

Do not forget to book a hotel in Metsovo with its own parking lot.

Mountains 2/4

Museum of Hydrokinesis

At the mountains around the village, you can see remains of the past. Such a remnant is also the museum of Hydrokinesis. Τhe sun-dried velentza (handmade on a loom bedding made of sheep wool) stretches will show you the way to the traditional facilities of the outdoor Museum of Hydrokinesis to see the water mill, the flour mill or the moving mechanism of a gunpowder mill which was used during the Revolution of 1821. Museum of Hydrokinisis outide Metsovo

 

Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Metsovo

With only 4 monks and one operator at this monastery, you can hear your own thoughts. With the devoutness, contemplation and prayers ‘hanging in the air’, you will calm yourself. This quiet atmosphere can give someone the sense of the beyond. Maybe you even reach the satori state.

We enjoyed so much our visit, since  the frescoes of the saints are all unique. We admired especially the extremely rare image of our Virgin Mary breastfeeding the small Jesus Christ. Moreover, this historic temple is so well preserved and polite Mr.Dimitris know its history. He told us all about the monastery’s foundation during the Byzantine era, as in the 14th c.. The painter Efstathiou made some of the wall paintings during the renovation of 18th c.. However, you can separate them with your eye with the earlier of 17th c.. Mr. Dimitris told us also how it has been renovated around 1700. Furthermore, its current form is due to the restoration work carried out around 1960, by the ‘Baron’s Michael Tosista Foundation. While the outside chapel is dedicated to the new martyr Agios Nikolaos from Metsovo, who martyred in 1659. Mother of God breastfeeding Jesus Christ

We also enjoyed the tour to the cellar where there was a wooden barrel for wine about 14 tons. Back home we tasted the delicious rubini wine Imperator and oak’s honey that we bought from the monastery.

The view is breathtaking and leaving from the monastery, as you are going down the mountain you will pass 2 crystal clear waterfalls. 

 

Monastery of Theotokos Koimesis

Within walking distance from Metsovo, there is the Monastery of Theotokos Koimesis (Assumption of Mary). The landscape was magnificent all the way and when we reached the monastery it became idyllic. Unfortunately, either the one nun didn’t hear the doorbell to open for us…or -as they said to us later few villagers- she is afraid to open, due to corona virus. Either way, it was worth to see even the scenery.

Eateries 3/4

Galaxias

If you want to try traditional plastos pie with fresh herbs and feta cheese, then you should visit Galaxy tavern. It is located in the middle of the central square under the trees and under the homonymous hotel. I enjoyed the rustic atmosphere with the woven on the walls and the warmth from the lit fireplace. Furthermore, they had the most aromatic tsipouro I’ve ever had called 18grada. Thank God I found their online partner here, to order me some of the 18grada in Athens.

Tip: Do accompany the lamb chops with fresh galotyri cheese. Galaxias tavern

 

To Koutouki tou Nikola

Whilst at the koutouki tou Nikola from 1977, you will eat the yummiest xylopites with cheese in the oven. Moreover, the space is modern and stylish and has a snugness from the fireplace.

Tip: Do not forget to try metsovela cheese also and at least one of their delicious traditional pies. I chose spanakopita.

 

Apokentro

If you like a nice succulent sausage, then Apokentro is your tavern to be. Accompanied with tyrogalo cheese and tsipouro idoniko you will definitely having a best meal. They also had a tasty kontosouvli and lamb chops.

Tip: Do not forget to try their bougiourdi.

 

Metsovitiko Saloni

Are you craving for ewe kontosouvli? Then Metsovitiko saloni will be your thing. Their gemesta and pork chops are tasty, but the ewe was so-so-soooo drooling. Accompanied with my favorite tsipouro of 18grada was an actual feast from the horn of plenty-abundance Amalthia coming out the Greek myth. Metovitiko saloni

 

Niao

Do you like licking your fingers? Then Niao tavern at Anilio village near Metsovo had the best sheep chops, in my opinion. You do not want anything else. Their taste will grab your palate and you will want more…and more… and even more.

Tip: Be patient, because the tavern is always crowded and you have to wait to be seated and to order.

 

Sweets

Do you want something traditional? Do you want something contemporary? Whatever you want to try, do try -at least once- Diethnes’ almond and walnut pie with a twist of a vanilla custard sprinkled with cinnamon.

 

Bars-coffee places

Metsovo has few coffee places and bars around the central square. I chose Karma café to enjoy an evening oinomelo. Oinomelo is a hot honeyed red wine with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. They nailed it! The decoration is ‘complicated’, since you can see the Italian Comentia del Arte’s Harlequin and a small tuba along with Christmas balls and lights. Oinomelo at Carma bar

Tip: If you cannot stand smoking then do not sit down, because the management of the store allowed other customers to smoke inside with closed doors.

However, Στυλ café is a haunt after Sunday’s church for a hot tea. It gathers people of all ages. It’s noisy and vivid with nice view of the red brick roofs of the village. Moreover, you can see the mountain fog rising to the top as it reveals the houses.

All waiters and waitresses in each tavern and in each coffee place were polite and hospitable. 

Activities 4/4

Inside the village

Folklore museum Tositsa

The Folklore Museum of the Tositsa Foundation (Tositsa Mansion) has been operating since 1955. The museum includes traditional wood-carved furniture, textiles, buckles and garters, embroidery and many gold-embroidered costumes. Furthermore, it has decorative and useful objects like weapons from 1821, coins, agricultural utensils and post-Byzantine icons of the period 1650-18.

 

I amazed by few exhibits I want to let you know to show you how they used to organize and operate a Metsovo mansion.

-The barger’s skin, which they used as a changing-table for babies.

-The huge crab legs using as a tsipouro glass in order to dazzle their visitors, since up in the mountains only few people had already seen the ocean.

-They key of the pantry. The oldest woman-yiayia of the house was holding the pantry key and it was locked. In that way, they wanted to ensure that winter supplies would not be stolen.

– 300 and 400 year old horse gold-embroidery saddles inside the stables.

– The source of water, which was located inside the lower floor of the house to avoid going outside during the polar winter temperatures.

-Last but not least, I am amazed by the office of Evangelos Averoff with his eye-glasses and his political speech written in cigarettes’ box. You can also see remnants of the bomb sent to him, but in the end it did not explode. 

A big thank you to kind Thodoris that he is like a moving encyclopedia regarding the Tositsa mansion and he gave me all this useful information during the tour at the museum. Thank you because he was so patient to answer all my questions willingly and with kindness.

Tositsa mansion

 

Horse riding

With 5€ you can have a horseback riding around the village’s square with the most beautiful white horse, I’ve ever seen. It’s for adults too, so grab the opportunity to feel the cold breeze in your face while you are striding this horse around.

 

Averoff gallery

The Averoff Museum of Neo-Hellenic Art was opened during August 1988. It has the permanent exhibition and many others from time to time. The permanent exhibition has 250 works by the major Greek painters, printmakers and sculptors of the 19th and 20th century, like Fasianos, Egonopoulos, Lytras, Volanakis, Parthenis, Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Moralis and many more.

Two of the paintings that we used to ‘meet’ in our Greek books at school, there are also there. These two are: the dude eating his watermelon of 1880 (ο μάγκας που τρώει καρπούζι) from Pantazis Periklis and the burning of the turkish flagship by Kanaris (Η πυρπόληση της τουρκικής ναυαρχίδας από τον Κανάρη) of 1873 by Lytras Nikiforos.

Still life is alternating with colorful landscapes and angelic faces are alternating with sad ones in this museum full of history, that you should not miss.

Of course, for those who seek the unexpected, there is the room with the modern means of expression. Take a look and enjoy.

Tip

Do not miss the room with Metsovo’s history unfolding through black n’ white photos.

Ο μάγκας που τρώει καρπούζι

 

Katogi Averoff winery

The most mountainous vineyards in Greece, at an altitude of 1100 meters, are in Metsovo. From 1959 the Katogi Averof winery houses more than 1200 oak barrels.

We enjoyed the tour inside the cellars where Mr.Keli Naka (Κέλλυ Νάκα) explained to us the whole process of fermentation. She showed us where the red wines mature and barrels with people’s pictures. Moreover, she showed us the barred-room where the oenologists hold the rare collectible bottles with vintage wines from 1974 onwards. Furthermore, she presented to us Evangelos Averoff’s memorabilia and personal items while she told us about winery’s flashback history. She explained to us the workers’ struggle to protect the grapes from being eaten by the mountain bears and the barrels’ cleaning process.

Also, we learned that Metsovo is a lucky city that enjoys an Averoff wine that does not sell to the rest of the world. This one called Flogero (Φλογερό).

Our visit of the winery, using a variety of audiovisual media along with Mrs.Naka, concludes with a tasting of Katogi Averof wines. She was so kind and willing to explain all the special wines with their different varieties. Overall, it was a great experience within a very informative wine tour that you should not miss it.

Bonus: The winery tour was free of charge.

Tip

  • Do not forget to eat at their restaurant, where they inform you which wine matches the food you have chosen.
  • If you want to do a wine tasting, just make sure that you arrange it in advance.
  • Do not forget to purchase their homemade hilopites, trahanas and many marmalades selling at the gift shop.

 

 

Averoffeios garden

Α lush garden with wonderful views of the opposite mountains. Τhe calm prevails and you can walk among the blooming flowers that isolate the sounds of the city.

Averrofeios garden

Outside the village

During winter there are organized ski resorts (Karakoli and Politsies) which in combination with the picturesqueness of the landscape are a pole of attraction for many visitors.

The Katara pass will connect your inner self with the nature, but be careful. Your eyes will be amazed by the nature’s scenery that rages, but the road is difficult. Especially in winter. However, if you are a fan of adventure, a walk might be worth it.

Do you love hiking or having a picnic? Then you should follow the 5km trail next to the river Aoos (Αώος ποταμός) with its natural wild beauty. If the weather I fine, you can swim at the crystal-clear waters or having a picnic at the shores admiring this fascinating river’s landscape.

Conclusion

In short, Metsovo is an all-weather destination. You will not be bored, since you can always find something to do according to the season.

 

Advice

Before leaving Metsovo, please do remember to pay a visit at Gnision (Το Γνήσιο) where you could purchase metsovone and metsovela cheese, fresh butter, wine, tsipouro and many more goodies of this area.

 

Travel tip: useful telephones for Metsovo

  1. a) Folklore museum’s tel: +30 26560 41084
  2. b) Municipal Health center’s tel: +30 26560 41111
  3. c) Police’s tel: +30 26560 41233
  4. d) Averoff gallery’s tel: + 30 26560 41210
  5. e) Taxi’s tel: + 30 694 520 0820, +30 265 604 1787, +30 698 043 1158

 

Make sure you will check few other destinations in Greece here.

Also, you could see many more pictures of Metsovo to my instagram profile or facebook.

Easter celebration in Athens, 2/2

Easter celebration in Athens

2/2

So…after Holy Week’s liturgies-candles-Epitaph-Resurrection etc., I will let you know few things about customs of Easter’s food. In order to feel like a true Greek, you should taste few Easter’s delicacies. However, it is important to say that the Greek Easter tradition of food has religious significance.

That is to say that the Great Lent lasts 40days before Pascha-Easter and most of Greeks are fasting from meat and dairy (milk, cheese etc.). Beginning on Holy Saturday the feast is big with magiritsa soup, red dying eggs, roasted lamb, tsoureki sweet bread, Easter cookies, pies and of course…tzatziki. Because, #tzatzikigoeswitheverything !

 

Red Easter eggs

The Great-Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday) starts, for every household, with dying 40 eggs in red color. The hard-boiled eggs’ shell symbolizes the sealed tomb of Jesus’ grave. Furthermore, when we are cracking the eggs saying Christos Anesti represents His Resurrection from the dead and His exit from the tomb. Moreover, the red color on eggs symbolizes Christ’s blood that gave to free us. However, the last few years many people try to add other colors on eggs.

In the same vein, after The Resurrection will wish to the others ‘Christos Anesti’ (Christ has risen) by cracking red eggs. Your interlocutor has to answer back by ‘Alithos Anesti’ (He Truly Has) and tapping his/her egg to yours. The goal here is to crack your opponent’s egg, without cracking yours. This custom called tsougrisma. Of course you will eat many red eggs for your Easter celebration in Athens (check my eggs at the picture below), but you can also learn some new recipes.

Tip

  • You could use the remaining eggs to an egg salad within a toast, to a meatloaf, to a lentils-tomato-egg salad, stuffed eggs with avocado sauce or in a beetroot salad and many more.
  • Red egg you will find in any supermarket and bakery during Holly Week.

Easter eggs by Travel advice from a Greek

Tsoureki

Even though you can find tsoureki all year round, it is inevitable to taste one on Holy Sunday. Tsoureki is a sweet milk-butter-yeast bread preparing on Holy Thursday morning with many herbs like cardamon, mastic and mahalepi. Usually, it has sesame seeds on top or almonds and different nuts. Sometimes, it even has a red egg in the middle and different shapes like knots or braids or round circles. This bread is symbolic because it represents the resurrection of Christ, as the flour comes to life and is transformed into bread.

Here it is worth noting that tsoureki bread was prepared even from Byzantine times and called kollyrides.

Tip

  • If…if…iiif you have left-over tsoureki (I hardly doubt about that), you could fill it with chocolate spread, toasted it and eat it with maple syrup and blueberries or even prepare a tsoureki-bread pudding.
  • All bakeries, all patisseries and all supermarkets have tsoureki and Easter cookies during the Holy Week.
  • Tsoureki needs special flour with at least 13% protein on it.

 

P.S.: At the picture below, you will see my this-year-tsoureki-creations for my god-daughter.

Tsoureki sweet bread - Easter in Athens for Travel advice from a Greek

Easter cookies

Again, on Holy Thursday morning, the households will knead Easter cookies. These ones have extra butter, orange zest and mastic flavor. Usually they have shapes like knots, braids or bunnies, eggs, chicks, sheeps and spring swallows, like the ones I did below.

Tip

  • If you have leftovers, then try to make chocolate cookie bars, chocolate mousse, cheesecake with Easter cookies base or ever ice cream with Easter cookies flavor and many more.
  • All bakeries, all patisseries and all supermarkets have Easter cookies during the Holy Week.

Easter cookies from Travel advice from a Greek

Magiritsa soup

The feast begins after His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. After the midnight church the meal is a magiritsa soup. An appropriate meal to prepare the stomach for roasted lamb after the 40days fasting lent. Magiritsa, traditionally, is a fricassee soup with lettuce, fresh green onions, herbs and liver with offal of the lamb.

Tip

During your Easter celebration in Athens, make sure that you will book in a tavern that has magiritsa on Easter Sunday.

 

Roasted lamb on a spit & roasted kokoretsi on a spit

Even if you have not Greek friends to watch them roast the lamb, you could attend to this custom by watching it in a tavern. The lamb is slowly cooking on the coals for about 5 hours (9:00-14:00) on the street or inside the yards. In the meantime, the housewives are giving cheese or spinach pies, tsoureki and Easter cookies and everyone plays the tsougrisma of red eggs. Meanwhile, the kokoretsi is ready around 13:00 to stop cravings until the lamb will be ready with a crispy skin. Kokoretsi is lamb’s intestines wrapped around with seasoned offal (sweetbreads, hearts, lungs and kidneys). It is also roasted on a spit.

PS: Something like kokoretsi was first attested uring Byzantines time.

Tip

Not all taverns have roasted lamb/goat on a spit for Easter Sunday. If they do not have, they will grill the lamb on the oven. So, choose wisely your booking table and ask them first if they will have it on a spit.

 

Hopefully, you will enjoy your Easter celebration in Athens. I intend to do it.

Do not forget to read here about Easter customs concerning church attendance and here for even more Easter phrases.

 

Kalo Pascha everyone and Kali Anastasi !!!

 

Easter celebration in Athens, 1/2

Easter celebration in Athens

1/2

Even though most of Greeks are heading to their villages on countryside for Easter, you should enjoy Easter celebration in Athens. Either your plane stuck or you chose this. Either way, you will enjoy it the most. Trust me on that, because there is no reason to do not experience Easter like a true Greek.

Even if you are not Christian, you will definitely enjoy the calm atmosphere of customs for the Holy Week. A prerequisite for joining this holy atmosphere is to attend liturgies. Every day has different meaning and different psalms.

The Holy Week

  • Great-Holy Monday : celebration of Joseph of Pangalos (son of Jacob) mentioned in the Old Testament & the barren fig tree, which Christ cursed and dried up with one of His words.
  • Great-Holy Tuesday : parable of the Ten Virgins that symbolizes faith and foresight.
  • Great-Holy Wednesday / Spy Wednesday : the betrayal of Jesus & in the memory of the sinful woman, who repented, believed in Christ and anointed His feet with myrrh.
  • Great-Holy Thursday / Maundy Thursday : the commemoration of the Mystical or Last Supper.
  • Great-Holy Friday / Good Friday : the Passion of Jesus Christ (Lord’s Pasion) – crucifixion and the Epitaph.
  • Great-Holy Saturday : Christ’s rest in death.
  • Great-Holy Sunday / Easter Sunday: the day of His resurrection from death.*

 

And of course, every day the Greek television has films related to Holy Week like: The 10 Commandments, The Jesus of Nazareth, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Passion of the Christ, Son of God, The Last Temptation of Christ and others like: Mary Magdalene, Quo Vadis, Noah, Ben-Hur and Barabbas. In the same vain, I will not forget the unforgettable miniseries The Jesus of Nazareth directed by Franco Zeffirelli with Robert Powell as Jesus.

 

So, the most ‘popular’ liturgies are on Holy Friday with The Epitaph and on Holy Saturday with The Anastasis – Resurrection.

Good Friday

From 19:00 to 21:00 every church starts a funerary procession, The Epitaphios. The Epitaph procession honors the memory of the deceased Christ with sad psalms and beige lightened candles from actual cerium-wax (you will find them inside every church). The wooden Epitaph has black-purple and white ribbons along with purple and white flowers. Τhe procession of worshippers goes around the church and the near neighborhoods by feet, while the bell rings mournfully and the priest chants. Among them, there are few young girls representing the myrrh-bearing women. Moreover, everyone wears hazy dark colors, like black and navy blue and purple. Furthermore, at the end of this ritual that ends back at the church again, you can kiss the icon that symbolizes Christ’s body among the purple flowers.

Tip: The younger kids are holding small paper or iron lanterns and not beige candles.

Advice: You can choose to attend to a church that also has instrument band or large choir to chant the psalms.

Holy Friday Epitaph

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday the liturgy begins at 23:00-23:30 and you can hold a white candle as per custom (or any other color you want). To experience The Anastasi (Resurrection) go to church before midnight. At midnight, the priest will chant alone the Christos Anesti (Christ has risen) hymn at the first time. The 2nd time the congregation will follow and chant with him passing by the holy flame from Jerusalem. When someone says Christos Anesti then you have to answer back Alithos Anesti, which means Indeed, He has risen. The bells are knocking jovially and you will see many fireworks on the sky.

Immediately after the Resurrection Ceremony, Orthros and the Resurrection Divine Liturgy are celebrated on Easter Sunday until 02:00-03:00 early morning. If you choose to attend until the end, in order to receive the Holy Communion, you will see the priest to bless grapes and bread and fruits and many more. Of course, he will bless some red eggs which will hare with the worshippers after the end of the liturgy.

Tip: On this happy day try to wear red and white clothes.

Easter celebration in Athens has many great options to embrace the culture through these religion customs.

Below I will list you few churches around the center of Athens where you could choose to go for Easter celebration in Athens.

St.George Lykabettus' fireworks

Churches for Holy Saturday night

  • Agios Georgios / St. George on Lycabettus Hill is my personal favorite for Holy Saturday night. Why is this? Because you can see all these pyrotechnic fireworks from parishes all around Athens at midnight. (Check the photo above).
  • Although, if you do not like fireworks, then Metohi tou Panagiou Tafou / Dependency of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Plaka is more appropriate for you. Here the Holy Light arrives even before goes to the Diocesan Church. At 20:00 and the Patriarch light 33 candles. Moreover, here you will enjoy the ceremonial solemn that wanders at the atmosphere.
  • If you want to spend your night under the Acropolis hill, then choose to attend at Agios Nikolaos / St. Nicholas in Plaka, which is inside Anafiotica district. The bell of this church was the first that rang in 1833 after our independence from the ottomans.

Churches for Holy Friday night

  • Panagia / Holy Virgin Kapnikarea at Ermou Street. Kapnikarea got this name because it was once burned. It is a small graphical church from 11th century (1050AD) with spectacular murals painted by Fotis Kondoglou.
  • Agia Irini / St. Irene in Aiolou Street. This one is my favorite for Holy Friday, because it has the best Greek-Byzantine choir for the funeral psalms to hear.

 

*On Easter Sunday afternoon, the Vespers of Love are celebrated, during which the Gospel is read in various languages.

Keep up for my next article here, where we will see Easter customs about food like: 40 painted eggs on Holy Thursday, preparation of tsoureki sweet brioche bread and magiritsa soup to eat after Τhe Resurrection.

Also read here for more Easter-Pascha phrases.

1-day tour to Sounio

1-day tour to Sounio

 

If you are looking close-to-Athens destinations, choose 1-day tour to Sounio. I guarantee to you that the colorful stunning sunset against the backdrop of the vastness of the Aegean Sea and the powdery beach will compensate you. However, before that … you will be able to enjoy the whole Athenian Riviera, since the route is following areas by the sea, like Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Lagonisi, Saronida, Anavyssos and Legraina beach.

eSea from the temple of Poseidon in Sounio - Travel advice from a Greek

Getting there

Starting the 1-day tour to Sounio, you can choose between 5 ways to reach your destination.

  • You can take the bus (KTEL Attikis Public Buses) from Pedion tou Areos/ Syntagma/ Syggrou/ or Poseidonos avenue.
  • If you want a guide with you, you can choose a guided tour, like the one that DNAtravel has in here
  • You could take the Blue Hop-on-Hop-off Bus from Syntagma square.
  • Either rent a car by your own or
  • Or you could take a taxi or a tour-car hiring by your hotel.

 

And then…decide what do you wanna do. Do you want to spend the whole day at the idyllic beaches around the Temple of Poseidon? Or do you want to divide your time at the whole Athens Riviera? Here, I will talk to you only about Sounion.

 

The Temple of Poseidon

The cape of Sounio is the southern end of Attica. At the craggy rocky cliff there are 2 temples. One is dedicated to god Poseidon and the other one is dedicated to goddess Athena. However, the magnificent one is Poseidon’s. The temple was built at the 5th century b.C. with marbles from the local mines of Lavrio. Moreover, every 4 years the citizens performed naval races around the cape to honor Poseidon. Try to be there again during the sunset. It is truly magnificent seeing the infinite sea under all these colors.

Outside the archaeological site there is a coffee place to cool yourselves with a frappé or a cold beer.

PS: If you want to admire the 3 colossal kouros that had been set up to the temple, you have to go to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Temple of Poseidon in Sounio with Travel advice from a Greek

Mythology

The king of Athens Aegeas lost the war by king of Crete Minos. He forced to pay a servitude tax consisting of 7 young men and 7 young women to Crete to feed the mythical monster Minotaur. Aegeas’ son, Theseus wanted to exempt the Athenians from tax and began to slaughter the Minotaur. He killed the beast, but he forgot to change ship’s sails from black into white. Aegeas saw the black sails from the edge of the hill. He thought that his son was eaten by Minotaur and fell into the sea, which from then on named Aegean Sea. Onto this edge Athenians built the Temple of Poseidon, god of the sea.

The forest park

After this small educational tour to Poseidon’s altar head to the smallest national park in Greece. This park was founded in 1971 and inside it you can see the old mines and the ancient road transporting the marbles to cape of Sounio. Furthermore, inside the mines there is the Chaos. Chaos is a crater from the end of 18th century that has a heart shape.

 

Beach time

From the 1-day tour to Sounio cannot be missing a dive in the blue waters. In other words, now is the time to go to the sandy beach under the temple. Therefore, grab your swimsuit and cool yourselves.

 

Lunch time

Still hungry yet? That is to say, at the beach you will find 2 taverns to enjoy fresh fish, grilled squid, stuffed kalamari and grilled octopus. Otherwise, you could head to the village of Lavrio to eat steak/ribs or refresh yourselves with an ice cream at the square adjacent to the port. And don’t forget…#tzatzikigoeswitheverything.

 

I hope that you will enjoy the 1-day tour to Sounio as much as I did. Above all, it is really close to Athens. In other words, it is just a small excursion ‘outside’ the city. Athens has many thing to see, so check my article why choose Athens as a city break and not just a stopover here

 

Tip

The entrance fee to the Temple of Poseidon is 5euros until 31st of March, but after that it is 10euros. The archaeological space is closed on 1st of January, 25th of March, Easter Sunday, on Christmas day and on 26th of December. Only 5days during the year. Ticket at the temple of Poseidon in Sounio - Travel adcvice from a Greek

Fact

In 1762, the English poet William Falconer (1732-1769), traveling from Venice to Alexandria, was sunk in this naval area, under the temple of Poseidon. And then he wrote his experience in a poetic trilogy entitled “The shipwreck“. 

1-day in Athens

1-day in Athens

Did you choose Athens as a stopover?* Do you only have 1-day in Athens to spent? Are they enough 24 hours to see a city with such a big history? We will figure this out together below. I will give you few hints and stops that you must go those few spare hours you have. Otherwise, if you have 2-3 days, you can consult my concentrated itinerary.

That is to say, let’s begin our wandering to this 24 hour alive city. Even if you are not a history lover, you must take a look to the main sights, like Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus.

 

Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens is a rocky hill 157m above sea level and about 70m above the level of the city of Athens. In fact, it is an ancient complex that includes several temples. Over there you can admire the temple of Parthenon which was dedicated to Goddess Athena. Moreover, you have the opportunity to admire the temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheion and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

 

Start early to avoid the crowd and the hot sun. Τhe entry fee varies from 8-20euros depends if it is combined with something else like mobile audio guide or if you choose to skip the line etc.. The hours of entrance also vary among the seasons. Normally, from 1st of April to the end of October is 8:00-20:00 and November to March is 8:00-17:00. At the hill you will need at least 1 hour to spent.

The entrance is free every first Sunday of each month and during the full moon of August.

Remember to apply your discount if you are student, multi-child family, senior citizen etc..

Fun fact: The temple symbol on UNESCO’s logo represents the Parthenon.

Travel advice

  • It is more convenient to purchase your tickets online in advance to avoid queues.
  • If you have a wheelchair or a baby-stroller make sure you will find the stair climber lift or the elevator.

PS: To this 1-day in Athens’s itinerary, you have to skip the Acropolis Museum cause it’s big and you need 3 hours to walk all over it.

Acropolis from Plaka

 

Hadrian’s Arch & Temple of Olympian Zeus

Walking from Acropolis to Syntagma square you will have the opportunity to see the picturesque Aeropagitou street. Notice the Socrates’ prison and the Philopappou hill. Do not miss Aeropagous hill where Apostle Paul preached Christianity in 51 AD.

When you finally meet Temple of Olympian Zeus, you will be amazed by this huge temple. The temple began to be built in the 6th century BC, in the place of an ancient open-air sanctuary dedicated to God Zeus. You will need 30minute and 6euros.

Meanwhile, continuing your walking to Queen Amalia’s Avenue you will find the Roman emperor’s Hadrian marble arch-shaped gate with Corinthian-style columns. Furthermore, you will see the statue of Lord Byron and the national gardens of Zappeion.

You will need about 2 hours for all of them with quick walking. Do not enter to the National Gardens at your 1-day in Athens’s trip. You will be amazed by the botanical museum, the duck-turtles pond, the playground, the old zoo and the archaeological sites and you will lose track of time.

 

Syntagma Square-Parliament-Evzones

For the next stop you will only need 20minutes to spend. The Parliament in front of Syntagma square (the central square of Athens) is a neoclassical building constructed between 1836 and 1847. Briefly, it was originally the residence of King Otto, the first king of modern Greece after our liberation from the Ottomans. However, the building was used to host the Parliament of Greece from 1929.

PS: You do not have time to see the Parliament inside at this 1-day Athens tour.

But, you do have time to see the changing of the Presidential Guard in front of the Parliament. The Guards with this special uniform (fustanella & tsarouchia) called Evzones are soldiers whom they are guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament. Notice that they are changing the Guards every hour’on the hour. However, at 11:00 is the big ‘ceremony’.

 

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro (=nice marble) is located behind the National Gardens. Hence, you could walk vertically through the Gardens to reach it. The Stadium opened in 566bC and nowadays has capacity for 45.000spectators. This stadium hosted the world’s first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

At 12:00 has the minimum attendance. However, if you like to jog you can go 7:30-9:00 after filling the appropriate form. You need half an hour to 2hours inside, depends on what you want to see. From 01/01/2022 the ticket is 10euros and you can access to the Stadium having an audio guide. Moreover, you could entrance to the Vaulted passage, you have the right to run on the track and visit the permanent exhibition “Memories from Olympic Games with posters and torches from 1896 till today at the Atrium. Furthermore, you can watch highlights of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games on two big screens. Also, everyone enjoy to interact with the programs of a multimedia touch screen table before the Atrium.

 

Psirri Square

Now is the time to go for a lunch break at Psirri / Psyrri neighborhood at the streets around Iroon square. There are many Greek restaurants where you could enjoy a freshly succulent Greek salad, gemista (stuffed tomatoes-zucchini-eggplants-pepper with rice), spanakopita, Greek souvlaki or gyros and many more. Do not forget to try the Greek ouzo.

Tip: Do not miss the street art-graffitis when you are walking inside the vibrant up-coming Psiri neighborhood, like the one below.  

street art in Psirri

 

Monastiraki Square

Do you need to “purchase memories” from your trip to Greece? The bustling Monastiraki square has everything you need. At Andrianou street you will find many olive oil-based products and ancient Greece’s memorabilia. However, at Ifestou street you will dig up army clothes, furs, vinyl records and many-many antiques at the flea market. Mingling with the locals and feel the energy by haggling your purchases.

Although, if you want to buy fresh Greek cheese or local meat/ham/fish and fruits it is better to choose Varvakios. Similarly, the central municipal Athens market has many herbs and spices and it is only 600m from Monastiraki square.

PS: In conclusion, read my article about souvenirs.

ancient Greece's memorabilia

Night in Athens

Choose a rooftop bar restaurant to enjoy your dinner with the view of lightened Acropolis. Since the night is still young, choose your next stop. A rebetico place or a bar.

Even if you only have 1-day in Athens you have to make the acquaintance of the night life by hearing rebetiko music. In short, wander around Plaka or Anafiotica, under the rock of Acropolis, and enter to a tavern with music.

On the other hand, if you want something buzzier, you can go to cosmopolitan Gazi area for bouzoukia nightclubs or bars.

Playing bouzouki in Athens

To sum up the 1-day in Athens’s itinerary:

Acropolis

Hadrian’s Arch & Temple of Olympian Zeus

Syntagma Square-Parliament-Evzones

Panathenaic Stadium

Psirri Square

Monastiraki Square

Night in Athens

Athens is a lively city that will not disappoint you.

Shop in Plaka

Travel tip

This one night you will stay in Athens, be wise: choose to stay in the center of the city. Psirri, Monastiraki, Plaka, Anafiotica, Thisseio are the best choices.

 

*Read my article to discover why Athens is appropriate for a city break’not just a stopover.