Greece - Country of many Islands Overview


by Afronaut

Greece is a country in southeastern Europe with thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas.

Influential in ancient times, it's often called the cradle of Western civilization.

Athens, its capital, retains landmarks including the 5th-century B.C. Acropolis citadel with the Parthenon temple.

Greece is also known for its beaches, from the black sands of Santorini to the party resorts of Mykono. The many islands are really a dream come true and according to Greeks mythology Zeus, the God of Gods, enjoyed spending time resting on the many islands.

Before I ever travelled to Greece, all I knew is that they have beautiful islands and as a child I enjoyed reading all the stories of greek Mythology.

So when it was time to visit it for the first time 2019 the Afronaut was pleasantly surprised when I touched down.


Greek People

In my opinion, Greek people, mainly on the islands, are hospitable, social and friendly.

They are into socialising and partying.

I see the Greek people as one with a culture who love life.

Not that they love everything that happens, but that they fully invest in the moments and in the people they fill their lives with.

Greek to me is a intense language. Sometimes I think people were arguing and then they end up laughing!


Best Time to Travel

The best time to visit Greece is from Dec till May and September till November.

The weather is mild with clear skies and fewer tourists.

When we arrived the weather was very hot and humid, but we have also experienced the colder winter months where it can become very cold, especially during the nights.


MAR-MAY: This is springtime and one of the best times to go.

The weather is lovely but still a bit chilly.

JUN-AUG: This is summer in Greece and not the best time to go if you want to avoid the heat and crowds. Hotel prices may also be at their highest during this time.

SEPT-NOV: The fall is another great time to visit Greece.

It’s similar to spring in terms of the weather and tourist density.

DEC-FEB: Greece experiences relatively mild to cold winters though December is its rainiest month and may not be the most comfortable time to go.



ATHENS

Athens, Modern Greek Athínai, Ancient Greek Athēnai, is a historic city and the capital of Greece. Many of Classical civilization’s intellectual and artistic ideas originated there, and the city is generally considered to be the birthplace of Western civilization.

Athens lies 8 km from the Bay of Phaleron, an inlet of the Aegean (Aigaíon) Sea where Piraeus (Piraiévs), the port of Athens, is situated, in a mountain-girt arid basin divided north-south by a line of hills. Greater Athens has an area of 427 square km.


The Kifisós River, only a trickle in summer, flows through the western half; the Ilisós River, often dry, traverses the eastern half. The surrounding mountains—Párnis, 4,636 feet (1,413 metres); Pentelicus (Pendéli), 3,631 feet; Hymettos (Imittós), 3,365 feet; and Aigáleon, 1,535 feet.

Athens is a metropolis of 4 million inhabitants and it is noisy and busy all the times.

Leila and I lived close to 7 months here and got to know the very good,the good,the bad and the ugly sides. The city has much to offer from history, culinary and exploration.

It is the heart of Greece from where everything else branches out.

Athens with all its beauty, is also left scarred from the Economic recession that Greece experienced a while back.

Beautiful waterfronts with inviting cafes and restaurants also give way to the many homeless people living on the streets and the beggars stretching their hands out.

Athens is a city that I will never forget.



TRAVELING TO ATHENS

Most visitors to Athens will be arriving via Athens International Airport (ATH). It’s about 32 km east and less than an hour from the city center.


BY SUBWAY: In Athens, the metro station is right across the street and a one-way ticket costs EUR 10. If you get roundtrip, then it costs EUR 18 but the return ticket has a validity period of just 48 hours.

BY BUS: Going by bus is the cheapest way of getting into the city. The X95 bus will drop you off at Syntagma Square while the X96 will take you to Piraeus Port.

Tickets can be purchased from a small blue kiosk after exiting the terminal.

Be sure to validate your ticket once you’ve boarded the bus.

BY PRE-BOOKED TRANSFER: This is more expensive but it’s the most convenient way of getting into the city from the airport, especially if you’re traveling with large luggage.

Many people recommend Welcome Pickups which is a 24/7 taxi service that takes you into the city. This may be the best option if you’re traveling with enough people.

You can also pre-book airport transfers through Get Your Guide.

For people traveling alone, they have shuttle bus transfers.

BY TAXI: First time I arrived at the airport I took a taxi that was paid for by the company I worked a project for. Taxis cost the same as Welcome Pickups.



WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY


The unit of currency in Greece is the Euro (EUR).

I withdrew EUR from an ATM so I didn’t have to exchange currency in Athens.

You can exchange currency at banks or currency exchange offices in popular tourist areas like Plaka and Syntagma, but you may be better off just withdrawing EUR from an ATM.

The rates are competitive and you won’t have to bring as much foreign currency with you.

NOTE: Some ATMs may give you the option of proceeding “with or without conversion”. Always proceed WITHOUT conversion. Proceeding with conversion authorizes the foreign bank operating the ATM to do the conversion for you, often at terrible exchange rates.



BEST AREAS TO STAY

Based on our experience, for visitors there are three convenient areas to stay in Athens.

The first is in the city center close to the Acropoolis.

The second is near Piraeus Port, for travelers taking a ferry to the Greek islands.

And the third is near Athens International Airport and Rafina Port. Since my wife and I were going to work and stay for longer, we rented an apartment close to the Piraeus Waterfront. This is where all the yachts moor and a loved place with its many cafes, bars and restaurants.

You can book accommodations in Athens through Booking.com, Agoda, or AirBnB.



DOWNTOWN ATHENS

This is where you’ll want to stay if it’s your first time in Athens.

It’ll put you close to historical sites, metro stops, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. All these sub-neighborhoods are within walking distance of each other so in my opinion, it doesn’t matter as much where you stay as long as you’re in this general downtown area.


Piraeus

Piraeus is located within the Athens urban area, 12 kilometres southwest from its city centre , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf. This is also were Leila and I stayed for over 6 months. The waterfront or Marina is situated here and we took many walks and sat down at many restaurants and cafes here.

The sun rises and sunsets are magnificent and living close to the water will always stay with me.