In 2009, I was in Athens with a friend and we decided to visit the Acropolis, of course. Since I had been there once, I also wanted to check out the New Acropolis Museum. Fortunately for us, the day started with rain, so heading the the museum first was a perfect way to begin.
The museum is built at the base of the Acropolis, near the main entrance and where most tours will drop you off. The museum is built on ruins of a workers’ village. As you enter, you will see these ruins under the glass floors.
Inside, the building is very spacious and open, with windows along one wall so you can see the Acropolis. While there were a lot of people, it never felt crowded.
There is, of course, a section that is setup for the Parthenon Marbles. While these are still in the British Museum, there is still a very impressive collection of statuary. My favourite room has a large collection of Kore — marble statues depicting the Maiden Goddess. I was drawn to one that was a little different from the rest. She was holding a pomegranate and there were still signs that she had been painted red.
On my first trip to Athens, I was not sure I ever really wanted to come back — the traffic, the dirt, the smog, etc. Then, I walked around the Plaka and saw the views from the Acropolis and meet some of the people — and I love Athens enough to have returned several times. Here are some of my favourite things in Athens.
Acropolis view from rooftop bars Most hotels have rooftop bars that advertise the “best view of the Acropolis.” There are two places I can recommend. the Attalos Hotel on Athinas Street and the AthensStyle Hostel on Agias Theklas Street. Both are just off Monastiraki Square, with easy connections to the airport and the port of Piraeus via the Metro Blue Line. At the Attalos Hotel Bar, the view at night was amazing. The AthenStyle Hostel view was not quite as good, but the 2 for one drink happy hour is perfect!
The New Acropolis Museum I love this museum. It is so well done. My favourite room is the one with all the Kore statues. It also has a perfect, but different, view of the Acropolis.
The Poet Sandal Maker Near Monastiraki Square is the Poet Sandal Maker where you can get custom-fit leather sandals. During summer, I practically live in the ones I got! It only takes about 20 minutes from the time you pick out the style you want, to the time they are fitted and you are ready to walk through the streets of the Plaka! I even wore them on a whirlwind, one day walk around Rome — comfortable and no blisters!
Shopping in the Plaka
I am not a big shopper, however there are a couple stores here that always get my attention — the Dimitri Cotton Club is the name I remember. All over Greece, you can find nice, cotton shirts, however this place has the largest variety of styles, colours and best prices. I have several tops and dresses — and brought some back as gifts. There are also lots of places for Greek statues and I have bought a couple of rugs here.
Next to Monastiraki Square, where all the different restaurants are, there is a take-out window — quick and easy and cheaper than sitting at one of the tables. Grab something to eat, sit in the square and watch the show!
The Metro Blue Line This is a very convenient Train that runs from the airport to Piraeus. I’ve used it a lot to travel to and from the port. In Piraeus, it is about a 20 minute walk from where most cruise ships dock to the station. So easy to get around! The main entrance to the main Monastiraki stop is in the photo above.
Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards occurs at 10 AM and is an interesting combination of military precision and dance! You can really get close! The are some nice city gardens and the Temple of Zeus within a 3 to 5 minute walk.