A Walking Tour of Athens

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View of Athens from the Acropolis

We Indians have major FOMO when we travel. So, we want to see all the sights, shop all the streets, drink all the brews and at least step into all the museums. Many a time, at the end of the holiday, all we remember is a blur of sights, sounds, colors and cryptic pieces of art or sculpture that we can’t seem to place.

Many years into travelling the world, I have slowly evolved into my current state of mind, which, I think is the best solution for a person who juggles two businesses. I am not a full-time traveler and hence, have at the most, 10 to 15 days in any country that I visit. So, I plan to be at the major city (eg., Paris in France, Athens in Greece) for a few days (typically 3-5 days), visit the sights around this major city (eg. Versailles in France, Delphi in Greece) and then do a road trip across the countryside (eg. The Burgundy wine region in France, the Peloponnese region in Greece).

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Athens Flea Market

Every European city I have been in has been a treasure trove of architecture and history. I have always loved exploring these cities and knowing them as a local would. It simply interests me to know which is the most famous local boulangerie, who do the residents go to for their meat, why was the statue in the Piazza put up or which is the oldest church in the Old Town.

Now, the best solution for this craving is to do a walking tour with one of the local guides. Or, if you, like me, like to do things at your own pace and HATE to be “guided”, do a self guided walking tour with the Rick Steves Audio Europe app. It is free and it is so detailed that you simply cannot get lost. This is coming from one of the most directionally challenged people in the world 😃. Another advantage is that these walks orient you so well, you can navigate the city like the back of your hand once you finish them.

Anyhow, on my first day in Athens, I did the third part of the Athens City walk. The Rick Steves Athens city walk is a 3 part walk that covers the 3 major chapters of Greek history –

  1. Modern Athens centered around Syntagma Square
  2. Byzantine Athens, focusing on the Greek Orthodox churches of the region
  3. Ancient Athens, dating back to the times of the Golden age (450-400 BC) – in that order.

On the way, you will visit the Greek parliament, explore one of the busiest shopping streets of Athens (Ermou street), visit a typical Greek Orthodox Church and discover a charming Greek Orthodox neighborhood that sells everything from priest’s robes to incense and byzantine icons.

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Little Mitropolis Church (Agios Eleftherios) – Athens

You will also visit several old world giants, including Hadrian’s arch, the temple of Olympian Zeus, the Acropolis and the Roman Forum. One of the most delightful neighborhoods we explored as a part of this walk was Anafiotika, or little Anafi. The tika or tiki at the end of a Greek word means little, or tiny. Anafi is a part of the Cycladic islands and its residents moved to Athens at the end of Ottoman occupation looking for work. They created a little island escape in the middle of Athens, evoking the whitewashed homes of their island haven. This is Anafiotika, at the base of the Acropolis in one the busiest parts of Athens. Your walk will end in Monastiraki. By now, you should know this means….. Yes! Little Monastery.

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Temple of Olympian Zeus – Athens

I did only the third part because I wanted to visit both the Agora and Acropolis on the same day. It was National Monuments Day and hence free entry; thus saving about 60 euros 😃. Then, I did parts one and two of the walk on my next day in Athens.

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Stoa of Attalos – Ancient Agora, Athens

These walks are definitely one of the most satisfying things that I do during my trips. Try them out. If you download the Rick Steves Audio Europe App (iOS & Android), it all becomes a lot easier with picture references, rewind options and the script of the audio tour all included.

PS: This is my honest opinion about the Rick Steves Guidebooks and Audio tours. No one is paying me to say these things. Let’s get real, he probably doesn’t know I exist. 😝

 

 

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