Once one has arrived in this vast city of Athens, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The sapping heat draws energy from already tired bodies. However, it is often found that most Greek train station, metro personnel and members of the public are kind enough to lend a helping hand, offering advice and assistance.
I have to say, I have lost count of the number of times, that the handy guide, the lonely planet’s ‘Travel in Greece’, has saved me from landing myself into a bit of a pickle. It really is the travel bible for backpackers and flashpackers alike, isn’t it?
photo credit – Athens, Parthenon by Arian Zwegers
Moving around is relatively easy, providing that you update your travel advice by looking online, as often even the best publications can be outdated and have services that no longer run etcetera, and of course following such advice can result in severe delay as well as unwanted stress in an already foreign environment. Pre-booking your accommodation is one way of solving this issue and you can’t go wrong with hotels.com in terms of choice and price. Thomas Cook also provides unbeatable value on flights around the world, a huge range of hotels, and complete holiday packages. Those from the UK will find that many of the transport fares are most agreeable, for example, the metro from the airport to the end of the main line is 6 Euros or 20 Euros for a group of three. Whilst on the face of it this may sound rather expensive, the truth is that the train journey to the end of the line can take 45 minutes to an hour, and so is in fact great value (comparable perhaps to commuting to London).
photo credit – Athens by Arian Zwegers
There is a high level of personal theft, such as pick-pockets, snatch thefts and group distraction techniques in locations such as the crowded metro are not uncommon. Again, as with any city there are good places and bad places, good people and bad people and so it is worthy to note that one can mitigate against issues such as theft, mugging or robbery as well as personal violence by: investing in a money belt, not displaying brands or expensive goods such as digital cameras etc, and by doing your best to avoid confrontation or provocation e.g. extending periods of eye contact or offensive gestures. Of course this advice is mostly common sense and applies wherever you travel.
However, problems aside it is certainly a place of great history with the Greek and Roman architecture, ruins, mosques and chapels as well as some stunning street art. Like every city is has some areas in which you will be at more at risk to crime but with some proper research staying in these areas can be avoided. Certainly a place to visit before you die!