Monday, July 31, 2006

Two Monuments in one photo

My good friend Jerry (visit his blog) sent this fabulous photo. Unfortunatelly he was too lazy to write a caption (he says that Acropolis needs no more words), so here is Herodion and Acropolis, without comments.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Greek Parliament

The Parliament building was the royal residence from 1843 to 1924 when the Republic was proclaimed. (Monarchy was restored in 1935 after a military coup. It is a Greek tradition that monarchy and dictatorship are always in need for one another. It was abolished once and for all in 1975).

The building was designed and built by German architect Friedrich von Gärtner, known as the most famous architect of Bavaria under Ludwig I. He is known, among others, for Feldherrnhalle in Munich. It's interesting that all major buildings in Athens made before 1900, are of neoclassical style but were all designed by foreing architects, mostly German (Ziller, Gärtner etc) or Danish (Theophil Hansen).

The building houses the Parliament from 1929. Parts of it are open to the public.
Metro Station: Syntagma (Constitution Square), Blue or Red line.
Official Site
Greek Parliament in Wikipedia

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Syggros Estate and Forest

One might say that this magnificent (but, sadly, completely abandoned) villa is somewhere in north Africa. Actually, it's the summer house of Andreas Syggros, one of the wealthiest Greeks of 19th century and one of the largest donators of the state. The house, a work of Ernst Ziller, was the place where all athenian high society and the royals would frequently go, and is near Marousi and Kifissia. Despite the deceitful first photo, the house is situated inside a large area of 900 stremma (about 90 hectares or 225 acres) of forest. It's the largest natural forest in Athens area.

Syggros died in 1899 and his daughter donated the whole property to the greek state in 1921 under the term that no other use apart from educating farmers, foresters and agronomists would be allowed. That's why the forest remains intact and is open to the public. There are some schools also in the area, and a small open air theatre.

Unfortunatelly, the house remains in bad shape, vandalized and with no use whatsoever. Pity for such a piece of art...
You can visit from Marousi metro station (Green Line).
Satellite photo from Google Maps

Friday, July 28, 2006

Curves, triangles and parallels

Art can take several forms. In fact, everything in life is art. Here, from foreground to background, are painted cows from the (as you already know) Cow Parade, the pyramid which domes (hhmmm...can a pyramid dome?...anyway...) the Metro station of Panepistimio and, finally, the main building of Athens University where, between the columns, the Sciences from the previous post are barely visible.

Every basic geometrical shape is here, it seems everything fell into place.

All Aboard 2

Athens train terminal is a rather modest station and is too small to even consider comparing it with the large european ones. It is open air and very far from pretty. The only good thing that happened to it is the arrival of thοse beautiful trains (first photo). A large part of rail transportation, though, is made with trains like the second one.

Save the planet

The sign is part of an ecology campaign. It reads: "The climate change depends on you" and it urges people to adjust the thermostat, switch off the light (when not needed), recycle and walk.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Meet the Sciences

This painting adorns the entrance of Athens University and it depicts the sciences as women. From right to left are Physics, Astronomy, Theology and Medicine. Beside them is Legislation, grabbed by Otto, the first king of Greece who was ousted in 1862, probably because he wouldn't let Legislation off his hands. :-)

Bright Sunset

Sunset is usually orange in color. In this photo, taken by my sister minutes before the James Brown concert in Athens, is bright, just like sunrise.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Retro Travel

Close-up at another shop window. Stamps and postcards from other places and other times.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Super Models

Shop windows can be really deceitful some times. Those miniatures are so well crafted and placed, that you are ready to believe that the house and those ferraris are real. Up untill the moment you see the photo camera on the back-background.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Topless marble and some wifi

This statue resides inside one of Athens Starbucks shops. On the background (left and right) some laptop users take advantage of the WiFi internet connection which is available at all Starbucks. Some would prefer a live sexy waitress to a marble one but, then again, who needs a sexy waitress when you have WiFi? :-)

Aegean light

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Classic Modernism

Architectural modernism arrived in Greece just after the neoclassical era. It was about 1925-30 when buildings like this begun to rise their height in athenian sky. In the same time, neoclassicism was something like a national duty. The columns could not be abandoned at once. So (in this example) they included them plain and simple as an element of the last floor. Just as a touch, a reminder of the past.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Close Encounters@Attica Zoological Park

The one and only such park in Greece. Almost every wild animal is here: Lions, tigers, monkeys, bears, girrafes, zebras, wolves, foxes etc. Here is also the biggest bird collection in the country. It's not like a zoo (cramped animals, tiny cages etc) but it's a whole big area with room for every species to feel as home as can be (although capture is capture).
Attica Zoological Park
Satellite photo from Google Maps

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I am glad that Cow Parade gives people the opportunity to "play" with their national symbols. Last year I was in Barcelona and after I saw Cristobal Colon (or Cristopher Colombus if you like) on his column I run into Cowlombus and I was happy to discover that no man is safe from the cow menace. :-)

This is "Cow-lias" (Cow Tsolias , evzon, or Cow Helias, I am not sure) by artist Athanasios Papatheodorou. Every resemblance with the guards at Constitution Square is far from incidental :-)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Punk Teacher

Adamantios Korais is one of our "Nation's Teachers" (something like the founding fathers of our education system). We meet him in front of Athens University. On his head is a sample of slight vandalism: A long tuft of grass to make him look like a punk. Sometimes those vandals have humour, albeit impertinent.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pigeon and clock

When technology (though ancient) and nature are perfectly aligned

Athens WiFi

This is Syntagma (Constitution) Square, just opposite the Parliament, where free Internet by WiFi is available to anyone who has WiFi device. Free=absolutely free. You just log in and you are in. In the second photo it's me writing this very post. If you come to Greece, remember that until the end of 2007, this WiFi spot will be available for everyone.
Athens WiFi (in Greek)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

All aboard!

The catamaran boat that goes to Myconos from Rafina, a port at eastern Attica. Flying over the waves with 33 knots speed, this impressive vessel carries 604 passenges and 70 cars. Similar boats connect Piraeus with Cyclades.
Official Site

Rafina Port from Google Maps

Still in service

After a kiosk and a train, here is a kiosk that used to be a train. An old wagon from the century old Athens-Kifissia line (today part of Green metro line) serves now as an information point at Amarousio (Marousi) station.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Transportation: Suburban Railway

I was driving along Attiki Odos when this train overtook me. Proastiakos (Suburban) Railway connects Athens centre with some north suburbs and, eventually, with the Airport, most of its way in the middle of Attiki Odos (see previous photo).
Suburban Railway Official Site

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Culture Pot

Iggy Pop (for 100th time) and DJ Tiesto (again after the great performance at 2004 Olympic Games opening ceremony) are frequent visitors in Athens. Other upcoming concerts this summer are Scorpions (they 're still alive), Guns and Roses (although only Axl remains) and Shakira (in full glory!).

Concerts booked and confirmed but cancelled (for a variety of reasons) were Rolling Stones (they couldn't get up from their coffins), Ricky Martin (almost nobody bought tickets) and Jennifer Lopez (just because).

One thing is sure about Athens: you never know who is gonna sing (or not).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fierce Animals

Greek stray animals are legendary, especially among the foreing media (the stories about the stray dogs at old Athens airport are classic). Some travel guides even refer to them as dangerous, unvaccined, mad, rabby monsters that will bite you if you come close. That is if you are a tourist, because locals seem to get along very well with them. Look closer, doesn't this dog look mad enough? Doesn't that (semi-stray) kitten have the face of a fierce killer? Maybe, to a mouse. :-)


This is why we don't need 7-11s in Greece. Kiosks like this are everywhere and sell everything: Press, cigarettes, chewing gum, magazines, milk, snacks, juices, phone cards, beer, ice cream, potato chips, toys, chocolate, water, alcohol and non alcohol soft drinks, you name it. The kioskman himself sits in the tiny booth making everybody wondering where he goes when he go :)

For those wondering how they came to look like this: Just after World War Two, the devastated greek state could not pay compensations or pensions to war theatre victims (amputated, widows of those killed etc). So, it granted them lisences to sell cigarettes in small booths. Time went by and the kiosks became larger and begun to sell other things like magazines, even soft medicine like aspirine. About 30 years ago refrigerators were added. One thing led to another, kiosks became larger and larger and today they occupy the space of a small store, though outdoors. Isn't that an interesting story?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Attica Freeway and Holiday Inn

This is part of "Attiki Odos", the motorway that connects Athens Airport with almost every suburb of the city. Here you see one of the rest areas, on the east section, near the airport.
The bridge over the road.
In almost the entire freeway, a railway is present in the middle where the suburban trains and metro are running.
Here is, also, the Holiday Inn hotel. A rather unusual place for a hotel like that, practically in the middle of nowhere, in fact is very convenient since it's only 10 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes drive from downtown Athens.
Attiki Odos
Attiki Odos in Wikipedia
Info about Attica Avenue
Holiday Inn Athens

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Psatha Beach

Athens can be really hot this time of year. In Psatha beach, west of the city and between two mountaisides that "dive" into the blue sea, people are swimming and surrendering themselves to the sun.

Light and dark in Acropolis

Acropolis looks great and white under the bright greek sun but when the night falls in Athens, the ancient temple glows with the grace of 25 centuries of grandure.
Every summer when the moon is full, Acropolis and many other archeological sites, are open to the public till midnight.
(photo credit to jois)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Play it again...

Athens DP correspondent Jois, sent this nice photo with two musicians performing on the street by the sea in the afternoon. The pole beside them is not falling, it’s merely bending. Just like the Pisa tower but without the tourists. :-)
The picturesque athenian tramway passes just meters away from there, rolling along the coast until Glyfada.
Athens Tramway
Glyfada in Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The athenian sun sets gently between a forest of masts at Alimos marina.
(Photo taken by my good friend Jois, thanks)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cappuccino Freddo at Flocafé

Flocafe is Greece´s Starbucks. If you ever come to Greece and you see its sign, then you know that you can drink a good coffee there. Wi-fi Internet is available too. The sole (but very important) shortcoming is that smoking is allowed almost everywhere in the premises. But, then again, whenever you sit for coffee in Greece it’s almost always outdoors.

This is a Cappuccino Freddo, an alternative to greek “frappe” (shaken instant coffee, our national beverage). Although “Freddo” is an Italian name, in Italy they don´t serve a coffee like this.

Here is how you can make one on your own: Make one dose of espresso the usual way (machine etc) and collect it in a cup. Allow three minutes to cool. In a shaker, shake the espresso with two icecubes, some fresh milk and, if you like, sugar (or substance). Take a big glass and put a handful of icecubes and some fresh milk too. Add the shaken coffee. Ready!

Alternatively, order a cappuccino and a glass full of ice and just put the cappuccino in the glass. Delicious! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Olympic Stadium Agora

The Agora, a large promenade arcade, works to shade the pedestrian path that winds through the Complex. The Agora also acts as a central hub, connecting these facilities to various venues, such as the Olympic Stadium, the Tennis Courts and the Velodrome.
Created by the Spaniard architect Santiago Calatrava.
Photo taken and originally uploaded by Stigmabuster

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Syros Island

Only a couple of hours out of Athens, this beautifil island in the middle of Cyclades, is the ideal getaway.This is the town hall of Ermoupolis, one of the largest such buildings in Greece, built between 1876 and 1898 by the famous architect Ernest Ziller. The town, in general, has very interesting architecture. Impressive old mansions made from marble built at the edge of the sea, streets with flat stone paving, monuments and hidden beauty. Pretty unusual sight to see in the middle of the Aegean Sea.
Syros Site

Future F1 World Champion and some red beauties.

About a dozen Ferraris were on display in Athens Mall till June 30 (that was yesterday). One of them, the 1974 F1 312, is the first real contact with the world of speed for this little fella. All the Ferraris on display are real models (no dummies). Enjoy.