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Pick Out the Best Time of the Year to Experience the Vibrancy of Athens

A trip to Athens is exciting, exhausting, exhilarating! With its iconic temples, gods, goddesses, over achieving athletes, there’s just so must history, culture and architecture for a tourist to cover. But this is a city that may prove hot to hurry about in. It would be smart to choose the best weather to visit in so that you can explore the cradle of Western Civilization without breaking into a major sweat. Remember to set an easy sight seeing itinerary with your Athens guide; any rush will only serve to tire you out.

The best time to visit Athens begins in May, and carries on through to June and July. This is when the weather is at its best, temperature and rainfall wise. In May, the mean temperature is 69 °F (21 °C) and rainfall less than 0.6″ (1.5 cm) and June sees a mean temperature 77 °F (25 °C) with rainfall less than 0.2″ (0.5 cm). July has a mean of 82 °F (28 °C) and rainfall less than 0.2″ (0.5 cm).

Make sure to skip August; with temperatures pushing 100 °F (38 °C), most locals abandon the city in the first two weeks of this month for their annual vacation. For this reason, it is common for many establishments in Athens to be closed. The city at this time belongs to the tourists, but if you can’t stand the oppressive heat, it is best to avoid Athens at this time of year. Most tourist locations require one to walk over dry hilled areas, and in a lot of cases, many steps; so it can be extremely exhausting for anyone who is not used to the heat.

Late April and the first two weeks of June provides for a relaxed atmosphere- sunny and warm, with little clouds of rain.

September, with a mean temperature of 76 °F (24 °C) and less than 0.4″ (1 cm) of rain is also a good time. By mid September, temperatures begin to cool and the summer crowds have left. This is a lovely time to visit if you want the city to yourself – the kids are back in school and the weather is only slightly nippy so you can dine at the many outdoor cafes that line the streets.

Even during the good months, temperatures tend to be at their peak during midday, so its best to sight see in the mornings and tour the city by night. Not all hotels are air conditioned, so in case you’re traveling in July, make sure your hotel is.

November to February would classify as winter in Athens. Winter in the city is mild, compared to the other cities in the northern hemisphere. It snows not more than once a season, and the sun shines throughout the day. It can be windier than you expect. Outdoor cafes remain open to serve tourists hot tea and coffee. But this is definitely not the best time to make the trip.

With the weather detail sorted out, pick out your Athens tour guide and start exploring the city. Remember to visit the Ancient Agora, the Anafiotika and of course the Acropolis. Shop for jewelry at Byzantino, take a round of the Benaki Museum and climb up onto Mount Lycabettus for a grand view of the city. Catch a classic Hollywood flick at the open air Thiseion Cinema. Follow that up with an evening at Gazi, Athen’s coolest nightspot. And oh, keep your Sunday morning free for a trip to Monastiraki Flea Market.

Athens Could Be The Best Vacation You’ll Ever Take!

Quick Tips/Suggestions:

If you’re going to enjoy yourself in Athens, you better get in shape and bring comfortable walking shoes and plenty of water. Most of the famous sites in the city require either walking uphill, or walking along a stony path. And beware of the marble stairs, wherever you go: they are dreadfully slippery!

I took a city bus tour on my first day in Athens and it was worth the money. The tour included the Acropolis, and took in the region of to the Olympic Stadium, Syntagma Square, Zeus’ Temple and other important tourist sites. It was a nice way to make introduction to the city and plan out the rest of my trip.

How about the food? Modest neighborhood restaurants are your best bet. They dish up inexpensive, delicious and truly local fare. Fancier restaurants in spots like Plaka are expensive, and you’re more likely to see fried chicken on the menu, than a gyro or souvlaki. And a word of warning: go easy on the OUZO! That stuff goes down way too easy, and after finishing half a bottle with dinner, I slept for 12 hours and had a hangover the next day.

Where to stay? Hotels and hostels are plentiful in Athens. Rooms do get booked up during high season – so book early. Quality and standards may vary just like any other destination. Location and price should be you main priorities. A good website for client reviews is http://www.tripadvisor.com. For good deals on a range of Athens hotels and other Greece hotels check out Cybertravel Network’s Greece

How to Get Around:

Athens has allegedly more taxi cabs per capita than any other city in the world. Having said that, the fact is, it’s almost not possible to hail down an empty one during the rush hour. Often a cab will slow down and pull up to a curb and cabbie will ask ‘Pou?,’ which means ‘where.’ Just yell out where you want to go to (in Greek preferably), and if you’re fortunate it will be on his way. I can’t say anything in good faith about the truthfulness of cabbies in Athens. I took a cab three times, and twice I got ripped off, so make your own conclusions.

In my view the best way to get around Athens is by bus or trolley. The tickets are not expensive and available at kiosks along any street. Just make sure you cancel the ticket in a ticket machine immediately after you enter the bus or a trolley. There are plenty of ticket controllers around to catch you if you travel without a ticket, or if you forget to stamp it.

Things to see in and around Athens:

Acropolis

The Acropolis is Athens’ most recognizable, breathtaking and astounding site. The Acropolis is in fact the name of the hill upon which there are three main temples: Parthenon, Erechteion and Temple of Athena Nike; as well as the Acropolis Museum and Propylaea, which was the original entrance to the Acropolis.

Being a fan of archeology and Greek classical studies, I was absolutely enthralled by the place. The total size of the Parthenon is extraordinary, when you comprehend it was built 2,500 years ago. The museum houses artifacts found in the temples on the Acropolis, which were put there to avoid weather damage.

Acropolises is a hill, and a pretty steep one, so take good quality walking shoes and bottled water with you when you go. And take careful steps, because the marble steps are very slippery. I introduced myself to the marble the hard way: face first, and let me tell you: it’s not an enjoyable experience.

On the path to the Acropolis there are many souvenir peddlers that sell postcards, papyrus drawings and other trinkets. They sell the same type and quality of souvenirs as the museum gift shop but at half the price. I recommend loading up on souvenirs from them on the way out of Acropolis.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The temple is one of the only two remaining parts on the Olympieion site. The utter size of this monument is incredible! There is only a few of the original Corinthian columns left of the original 104! This is an ideal site to sit down on a sunny day with a gyro in your hand and just admire its beauty.

Interesting fact about the Temple of Olympian Zeus is that it took almost 700 years to construct. It was started in 515 BC by Peristratos and completed in 125 AD by Roman emperor Hadrian.

Close to the Temple, on Amalias Avenue you can take a closer look at the other remaining monument – Hadrian’s Arch, built a few years later by the same emperor. During my visit it was all covered in cellophane for reconstruction, so wasn’t very inspiring.

The Agoras – Ancient and Roman

Ancient Agora (Arkhaia Agora) was the gathering place of the ancient Athenians. It’s hard to tell now, considering almost nothing is left from the original structures. Hephaisteion (Temple of Hephaistos) is the exception. It’s quite a monument and probably the best conserved of all Greek temples in Athens. Stoa of Attalos, which was entirely reconstructed, houses the museum of Ancient Agora and is a resting place for most of the artifacts found here.

Roman Agora (Romaiki Agora) is situated near the other one. It is much smaller, and a much younger site than Ancient Agora. A couple of interesting things to see here are a Turkish mosque: Fethiye Djami, and Tower of the Winds.

I marked this site as Recommended, not Highly Recommended because unless you have a real interest in archeology or history, you might simply get fed up here. There isn’t as much to see, besides the Hephaisteion, because most of the monuments are almost completely ruined. But if you are a history/archeology buff, have an extra day, or happen to get bored in Plaka, than by all means stop here and do a little exploring.

Panathenaic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium was the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Its name, Panathinaikon, stands for “All Athenians Stadium”. It has been reconstructed in the place of the original stadium. This stadium is one of those places that just give you a good quality feeling inside. You’re welcome to run laps around it, or to take a look at marble slabs documenting all the modern Olympic Games. At the front of the stadium is a statue of the Discus Thrower.

Kerameikos Cemetery

This one was quite a stunner! Traditionally I was used to cemeteries being rather solemn places where people come to worship or recollect. Not Kerameikos. In fact, judging by people sitting on gravestones, or lying around in bikinis getting a tan, you’d hardly know it’s a cemetery. But you can’t fault anyone; no one has been buried here for over thousand years.

So against my original feelings, I’d have to suggest this site as a nice relaxation place: a place to sit down and read a book, stretch your legs and relax or just get a tan. Oh… there is a museum here as well that exhibits some burial items, gravestones, urns etc.

The Ruins of Delphi

A visit to Delphi site is an absolute must for any history buff. Plan a whole day for the trip as it is around three hours away by bus or car.

The Temple of Apollo is the main pull of the site. This magnificently preserved temple is where Pythia, the High Priestess of Apollo would be asked to predict the future, and in return she would give very inexplicable answers (and they weren’t always good).

The Theatre of the sanctuary and The Stadium are located higher up on the site (approximately 10 minutes walk). Not quite as eye-catching, and can be avoided by those for whom the climb proves too much.

And of course you cannot miss the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, which houses the valuable artifacts found at the site. And fortunately it is situated at the base of the site, so no climbing is necessary.

Plaka

Plaka is the tourist’s heaven. It’s very similar to Paris’ Montmarte district. There are hundreds if not thousands of modest souvenir stores, taverns, liquor stores, small churches and open air stands where you can buy everything from produce to ceramic vases to olive oil soap. It’s a place you have to visit on your last day in Athens when you want to load up on cheap souvenirs. You’re not really going to see all that many locals here, at least proportionally to the thousands of tourists passing by every minute. And by Goddess, don’t forget to bring a map! Plaka is a labyrinth, a network of streets that all look alike.

There are plenty of places to eat in Plaka, but most of the fancy looking ones tend to be terribly costly and don’t really offer that good of the local fare. Little take-out places or little restaurants are the best bet for food there. Their gyros might grease the wrapper, but they taste fine and you’ll have money left over for those souvenirs.

One thing I discovered when buying souvenirs in Plaka, that the price of the item is almost never the price you’ll pay if you play your cards right. In some stores, the owners will tell you right away ‘Today discount 20 percent’ or ‘More you buy, bigger discount’. But as a general rule, you should barter. You’re stupid if you don’t, because you’ll simply overpay for everything. Everyone bargains here, both locals and tourists. And if the store owner is reluctant to make a deal, put down the stuff you’re looking at and say you’ll look somewhere else. They will most likely change their tune and offer you money off right away!

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

If you’re going to see any museum on your trip to Athens, see this one. It is the largest and most inspiring archeological museum in Greece. Even the building itself is quite something to look at. The museum has quite a few different exhibits, but obviously the most interesting ones are the Greek pottery and sculpture, which also happen to take up most of the space. There are also exhibits of Egyptian arts and prehistoric and bronze age artifacts.

The Museum is easily reached by various buses from any point in the city. It’s huge and can easily take up a whole day, but dissimilar to Louvre in Paris, this museum contains such a diversity of things, that I found it very easy to spend several hours there without getting weary of admiring the pieces.

One final note, even though the Type of Museum states it’s an Art Museum, it really is a mixture of an Art/History/Culture Museum. I want to make that clear, so I don’t frighten away art-unconscious people.

National Gardens

National Gardens, which are accessible behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, offer a nice escape from all the hustle and the bustle of the city. Looking at the crowds present, I have a feeling they are a trendy hang-out spot for the locals. This is a nice place to take a leisurely walk or eat a brown-bag lunch. In the heart of the park there is a neoclassical structure called Zappion, which I’ve been told is used for important political and cultural events (a security guard told me Greece’s entry into European Union was signed here). It’s quite an eye-catching structure worth checking out if you appreciate architecture.

It is also a fine place to talk to the locals if you so desire. I stopped at a pretzel stand run by a Kurdish immigrant and immediately got into a discussion about the fate of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan (who was being incarcerated at the time by Turkey). Not that I spoke any Kurdish or Greek, or the stand owner any English, but amazingly enough using hand-gestures, and a combination of English, Greek, German and a word ‘caput’, we somehow came to an understanding that he was a goner and we both supported his cause. Afterwards, I was promptly ripped off for a pretzel, but… it was for a good cause.

Constitution Square

Syntagma (Constitution) Square is centrally positioned in Athens and a pretty good starting point for tourists. There are banks here where you can exchange money, travel agencies where you could pick up information on what to see in Athens or book a bus tour and some rather luxurious hotels.

Top tourist attraction in the Square is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which is watched over by guards wearing EVZONE costumes, which is the customary male Greek costume comprising of a white skirt and shirt, red vest and hat and shoes with pompons. They look rather attractive! The best time to see the changing of the guards is Sundays at noon, when the big service takes place. I believe that the early event starts at around 11 or 11:30 am, when a battalion of soldiers starts marching down the street with a military band playing. When they approach the Tomb, they stop in a systematic fashion, wait until noon, then the ceremony of changing of the guards begins. It’s really quite interesting as there is so much custom and ceremony involved. The soldiers take these long careful steps: I was amazed to see how they keep their balance while standing on one leg.

There isn’t much else to see in Syntagma Square itself, but from here you’ll have easy access to the National Gardens, as well as Plaka and Omounia Square. Somehow, my every day in Athens started and ended here.

Three Island Cruise

This was well worth the time and money. I booked the cruise through Cybertravel Network http://www.hotels-greece-athens.com one of about a dozen travel agencies offering the identical tour (later I found out many tour agencies use the same boat, which can carry several hundred people). It was very well planned: in the early morning a van picked me up from the hotel and dropped me off where air-conditioned coaches took us to the harbor. From there, it was a couple hours of sailing to our first port of call: Hydra. What a magnificent, laid-back small place! White houses, red roofs, blue water and the sky, about 25 Celsius… and that’s in February! Shopper’s paradise of course with souvenir shops everywhere. We moved on to Poros, during which time lunch was served on board. Poros, wasn’t as tranquil as Hydra to me. It was more commercialized, reminded me a bit of Honolulu, Hawaii. But it was a nice place to grab a bowl of ice cream and just lounge a bit on the harbor. From there we moved to Aegina and were offered to pay for an optional bus tour on Aegina to the Temple of Aphaia.

The bus tour was well worth the money. Temple of Aphaia at Aegina is very well preserved and an outstanding site to take a look at. Aegina is also a very good place to purchase pistachio nuts: there are vendors all over the place, so pick up a bag or two on the way out!

The cruise back was very laid back. There was on board entertainment: live band, comedian, Greek folk dancing etc. I chose to just kick back with a bottle of Retsina (Greek wine) and watch the display which was quite pleasurable. Upon arrival, the coaches dropped everyone off back at their hotels.

Surviving the Holidays – Keeping the Weight Off During the Holiday Season

Ahh the occasions. The period of giving can likewise be known as the period of picking up, putting on weight that is.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true it’s that time once more. You know, when you say I am not going to go insane eating everything in sight. I am going to leave behind the greater part of the treats brought into the workplace. I will be sensible at Aunt B’s on Thanksgiving and its absolutely impossible that I am going to devour both pumpkin and pecan pie on Christmas day.

This is the season of year that we appreciate numerous things; family, companions, endowments and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In any case, come January we regularly wind up paying for it with more tightly jeans. By and large a man can pick up very nearly ten pounds amid the occasions. Ouch, that is unnerving. Notwithstanding for those of us who live dynamic ways of life the occasions can be a test, yet there are approaches to traverse the occasions without undermining a years worth of work.

Here are some basic tips to help you survive the occasions.

1. Try not to miss your workouts: Stay on track regardless of the possibility that you will be headed straight toward see relatives get a workout in. On the off chance that you don’t have entry to a rec center or weights then be your own rec center and get a body-weight workout in. Go running, bring a bounce rope or pack some resistance groups to bring with you. What ever you do, get your workouts in.

2. Drink a ton of water: You know the arrangement; drink, drink, drink. The more water that you drink the less that you will feel the inclination to over enjoy. You will likewise be less inclined to over do the liquor too.

3. Don’t over do the liquor: Yes it is the season of year for celebrating however keep the liquor inside sensible points of confinement. Don’t over it since you are including squandered calories and sugars. Liquor can likewise invigorate your ravenousness and you don’t need that.

4. Study the dining experience before filling your plate: Check out what is being served up and use sound judgment. Top off on protein, vegetables and natural products. Yes, I realize that you are going to need to sweet stuff yet keep it to little sums.

5. Try not to avoid your suppers: If you are on a 4-6 feast a supper program don’t skip. Regardless of the fact that you are a typical eater, that is three suppers a day don’t skip. Saying that I am skipping lunch so I can stack up later is not what you need to do.

6. Utilize a littler plate: This is a trap that I took in a couple of years back that was instrumental in changing my nutritious way of life. By utilizing a littler plate despite everything I ate what I like however it held my bits under control.

7. Nibble brilliant: I realize that the cakes, treats, pies and numerous other extraordinary family snacks and customs will be accessible and difficult to leave behind. You need to nibble savvy. Keep snacks little, have a go at inspecting. Offer to part a bit of pie or zest cake with somebody. Appreciate the deserts and treats however do it balance and be a brilliant occasion snacker.

8. Keep a log: Yes it can be monotonous amid the occasions yet in the event that you consider logging something before you eat it then you may mull over it.

9. In the event that you are going to have a major dinner or over do it make that your trick day.

10. Understand that you are human: Don’t go hard on yourself on the off chance that you have an awful day amid the occasions. Simply understand that you are human and gain from it.

So there you go, ten snappy occasion survival tips. Use them and you will have the capacity to appreciate the Christmas season without buying new jeans to begin the new year.

Merry Christmas.

Joel Panetta is a prepared wellness mentor represent considerable authority in peopling get into the best state of their lives. He has years of experience working both with grown-ups and secondary school competitors.