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Top 7 Things To Do in Athens in 12 Hours

One of the oldest cities in Europe, Athens, the capital of Greece, bursts with Aegean sunshine, bouzouki music, and boasts a history over 3,000 years old. Whether you fly into Athens or arrive in Piraeus, you immediately feel welcome. You could easily stay in Athens for weeks, walking the calderimia (narrow streets made of stone) in Plaka, watching the sunset from the dry hill of acropolis, or taking time to taste delicious Greek mezedes at night in bright tavernas. To know Athens completely might take a lifetime. But if you had just 12 hours to spend there are 7 things you should not miss.

Visiting Athens in 12 Hours
Visiting Athens in 12 Hours

Have Coffee in Zappeion
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Many people skip it, but in Athens you will need it. A cup of Greek coffee is a must. Greek espresso comes in a tiny cup containing a big shot of caffeine, and people usually drink it in one go. Head to Zappeion and sit in the middle of the National Gardens. Here you will have a view of Megaro, a gorgeous, neoclassical building. While you sit among ordinary citizens drinking their coffee, and sophisticated professionals working in their laptops, you also might spot celebrities and politicians hiding behind newspapers and huge sunglasses.
Coffee in Zappeion, Athens
Coffee in Zappeion, Athens


Go shopping in Monastiraki
Located at the south bottom of Acropolis, near the Attalos loft and the ancient Agora (market), Monastiraki is famous for its flea market and is a great place for a walk. An early morning visit to Monastiraki, while most tourists are still asleep, is the best time to grab the greatest deals. The area also is known for the shops with colourful nargile selections, sandals makers, original icon shops, and antique prints. Most of the action is near the Metro train station where stands and chairs will fill the place by noon.
Shopping in Monastiraki, Athens
Shopping in Monastiraki, Athens

Take pictures of the guards in the Parliament
Built in 1834, the Greek Parliament was the palace for the first kings of Greece. In front of the main gate is a war memorial guarded day and night by Evzones, or official guards. The guards alone are a huge attraction, particularly with female visitors. The Evzones will let people take their pictures but they cannot talk, move or look. Nobody knows if the story is true, but once a lady tripped a guard who fell flat on his face. She waited until he was off duty to apologise and the two of them lived together happily ever after.
Guards in the Parliament, Athens
Guards in the Parliament, Athens

Eat gyro and a Greek salad
By early afternoon you will be starving and declare it is time for lunch. The traditional Greek food is gyros. Made of crusty pita bread, thin slices of lamb, white onions, and tzatziki, a delightful yoghurt based dressing, a gyro is usually served with the traditional Greek salad of big chunks of sweet tomato, thin slices of cucumber, black marinated olives, crispy lettuce and salty feta cheese. Olive oil and oregano dressing is an option. An overstuffed gyro with salad is around 5-6 euro.
Gyro and Greek Salad, Athens
Gyro and Greek Salad, Athens


Visit the Caryatids
Obviously there are many things to see in the acropolis. After the Parthenon the most famous sight is the Caryatids. Symbolizing women as pillars of strength within the family and society, the Caryatids are literally pillars, or more appropriately, they are columns located along the porch of the Erektheion.
The Caryatids, Athens
The Caryatids, Athens

Test your voice at the Odeum
The Odeum of Herodes of Atticus is the ancient theatre used today for public performances of music, drama and poetry. Some of the world’s most famous artists have been here, including Maria Callas who performed in this building her last concert. It has no electronic speakers. Instead, all sounds are magnified by the building impeccable acoustics so that even if a pen is dropped the entire auditorium will hear it.
The Odeum, Athens
The Odeum, Athens

Watch the sunset from Mars Hill
Nothing is more romantic than watching the sun set on Mars Hill during a quiet evening in August. The hill once was dedicated to Mars, one of the 12 Olympic gods. It also was the same hill that the Apostle Paul first spoke to open minded Greeks. As the hill overlooks the city, the music and smells from Plaka’s lively tavernas fill the air. Sunset this time of the year is around 9pm but party-minded Greeks start to go out after 11:00pm.
Sunset in Athens, Greece
Sunset in Athens, Greece


Written by Alex Papa
Alex Papa lived in Greece for over 20 years. He is now based in the UK but travels somewhere almost every month. He sponsors his travel from his blog where he offers Norton antivirus discount coupons. As a business consultant he loves helping people find new business ideas.

Traveling to the Best Culinary Destinations

Traveling is often associated with food, dishes that can be found only in a certain area, which creates a trademark for that town, region or country, making it famous worldwide. Below there is a list of the top ten specialties tourists should not miss at all when traveling to one or more destinations cited below. Mexico, Sonoma, France, Japan, New Orleans, Syria, Italy, Morocco, Singapore, Greece, are just a few of the many culinary destinations in the world. There are many tourism agencies, which organise trips to these locations, in order to teach the food enthusiasts new local recipes, during classes, which are conducted by very skilled and famous cooks. Either you are a vegetarian or a fan of meat, then don’t miss one of these destinations, because the rich floavours will definetely win you over.
1. Mexico
Marylin Tausend is an expert on Mexican cuisine who led many culinary tours in Mexico. However, a regional specialty there, is papadzules, which are tortillas filled with chopped hard boiled eggs and covered in a pumpkin seed and tomato sauce and cochinita pibil, which is basically pit-roasted pork.

Papazdules, special and local dishes in Mexico
Papazdules, special and local dishes in Mexico

2. Sonoma
Eating in Sonoma sounds common at first sight, where a basic dining contains cheese and dewy grapes. If you choose to go on a culinary holiday, then you should know that in the morning, tourists will spend time dicing, flambéing, and nibbling.
Local dishes and drinks, wines in Sonoma
Local dishes and drinks, wines in Sonoma

3. France
When going to France, then you should taste pata negra ham for breakfast and the local cheese. Burgundy’s Côte d’Or is the place of finest wines and rustic cooking. You will learn very many recipes during sauce classes.
Pata Negra Ham, local dish in France
Pata Negra Ham, local dish in France


4. Japan
If you go to Japan, then don’t miss Tsukiji Fish Market, in order to make soba noodles by hand. Moreover, in Hiroshima, you can dine on the local delicacy okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). In Takayama you can visit a centuries old market, tour sake breweries, and taste local specialties such as Hidu beef.
Soba Noodles, special dishes in Japan
Soba Noodles, special dishes in Japan

5. New Orleans
In New Orleans one can find custom made specialties such as boudin, etouffée, mirliton, beignet. Actually, New Orleans is a unique combination of French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Cajun, Creole, and Cuban flavors. Locals use crawfish (“mudbugs”), which is an ingredient! pompano and black drum fish, plump shrimp and blue crab, sweet pecans and Gulf oysters.
Boudin in New Orleans, special dishes
Boudin in New Orleans, special dishes

6. Syria
Syrian cuisine is also a blend of Middle Eastern countries recipes, however it uses also distinctive touches — like the use of pomegranate molasses to impart a sweet-savory flavor and kebabs of dried fruit and tiny meatballs. Ice cream is a specialty in Syria, too, because it is made from powdered orchid tubers (salep) in order to make it ‘chewable’, besides, Damascus is famous for its flaky baklava.
Local dish, Kebab in Syria
Local dish, Kebab in Syria


7. Italy
When you say ‘Italy’, then what comes in your mind are Pizza and Pasta, however these aren’t the sole dishes highly appreciated in this country. There are also many types of breads, antipasti (vegetable-based, fish-based, Arancini, Fritters and Snacks) soups (fish soups), meats (Cutlets, Braciole, & Steaks, Poultry, Pork, Lamb). Desserts should not be missed, though, you should definitely try Frittelle, Cenci and other Fried Delights, or Preserves, Frittate.
Antipasti, special dishes in Italy
Antipasti, special dishes in Italy

8. Morocco
The resident chef Baija Lafredi from Marrakech leads cooking lessons on the roof, where guests will create, say, a chicken and-pear stew in a tagine and caviar d’aubergine.
Chicken, local dish in Morocco
Chicken, local dish in Morocco

9. Singapore
Singapore mixes as well many worldwide flavours, such as the Chinese, Indian, and Malay ones. Fish is almost everywhere, and stalls in the streets are ready to serve you with the fish-head curry, grilled stingray, or spring rolls of stewed turnips.
Grilled Stingray in Singapore, Local and Special Dishes
Grilled Stingray in Singapore, Local and Special Dishes


10. Greece
Greece represents a unique cuisine, apart from that of all other countries’. This is because the traditional dishes are a trademark for their culture. Patsas is a soup eaten usually in the morning, Masticha is an agricultural product removed by chipping mastic bushes. Ouzo is a famous local drink in Greece and goes very well with seafood.
Patsas Soup, traditional dish in Greece
Patsas Soup, traditional dish in Greece

The Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

The monasteries of Meteora in Greece can be considered an unexplicable phenomenon, a mystery of nature because they were all built on huge rocks. Word by word, ‘meteora‘ means ‘hovering in the air’, just like these spectacular monasteries built on cliffs. Their construction originates back to the 11th Century, when monks, because of the unsecure times they were living, had to build such places. During the Turkish occupation it was the monasteries which kept alive the Hellenic culture and traditions and were not only relgious centers but academic and artistic as well. It is believed that were it not for the monasteries, Hellenic culture would have disappeared and modern Greece would be a reflection of the Ottoman empire with little knowledge of its roots and history. The monasteries attracted not only the deeply religious, but the philosophers, poets, painters and the deep thinkers of Greece. Today only six of the monasteries are active.

Nowadays, these monasteries of Meteora are a safe place, with roads and paths, where you can go by car. In order to visit the monasteries, you should be dressed adequately. Do not wear sleeveless cloths or shorts and this is both for men and women. Skirts and shawls are available at the entrance for those who are deemed to be unacceptably dressed.

In order to enter a monastery, you have to pay a small entrance fee (about €2). But if you are Greek, then the entrance is free of charge.There are several towns in the neighbourhood, such as Kalampaka and Kastraki or Zagoria and the Halkidiki peninsula. If you do not have time to do all these, then you can take a bus from Athens, which takes you to the Meteora monasteries. If you want to see the neighbouring parts on foot, then go to the village of Kastraki.


If you have decided to visit the monasteries of Meteora, then try spending a whole day there, you will not regret it because it is worth seeing the play of light on the rocks and their changing moods. At night, the rocks are dramatically illuminated by spotlights while autumnal mists shroud them in an ethereal mysteriousness that must have appealed to the hermits and monks who sought refuge from the things of the world. Explore the paths between the rock towers but be careful because they are not all intact and some scrambling over uneven ground is required. If you want to find more about iconography, volunteers at the Church of the Transfiguration will tell you more about this tradition. Don’t forget to take enough water with you. Prices are very high along the road.

Agia Triada or Holy Trinity Monastery was built in the 15th century. The walls were painted in the 18th century by the brothers Antonios and Nikolaos. To reach it, one has to walk up 140 steps cut into the rock, past the church of Saint John the Baptis with its wall paintings from 1682. It offers the most spectacular view of Kalambaka, Penios River, and the Pindos mountains beyond. Because of the very many steps a visitor has to climb, this is the least visited of all.
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 12:30 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Thursdays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 5:45. Closed on Thursdays

Agia Triada or Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora
Agia Triada or Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora


Varlaam Monastery was founded in 1517 by Theophanis and Nektarios Apsaradas from Ioanina, although the first to establish a monastery here was an ascetic anchorite named Varlaam. There, visitors can find icons, manuscripts and embroidered epitaphois. It is situated near to the Great Meteoron monastery. Its little chapel became a monastery and was expanded in the 16th century.
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Thursdays and Fridays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 6:00. Closed on Thursday
Varlaam Monastery, Meteora
Varlaam Monastery, Meteora

Agiou Nikolaou Anapafsa Monastery was founded in the 16th century by Dionysious, the Metropolitan of Larissa and named after an old Patron. The Katholikon is decorated in wall paintings by the renowned Cretan Iconographer Theophanis Bathas-Strelitzas. It is built tall on the rock’s small footpring. In the chappel of St. Anthony the 14th century wall paintings are still visible. Moreover, visitors can also see around this monastery, other deserted ones such as: Prodromos, Agia and Pantokratoras.
Winter Hours: Closed
Summer Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, Meteora
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, Meteora

Rossani Monastery was built in the 16th century by two brothers from Epirus who built it on the ruins of an even older church. In order to reach the monastery, then you have to cross a small bridge from another peak. Inside you can see extraordinary wall paintings, wood, iconstasis, panel icons and icon stands.
Open from 9am to 1pm and from 3:30 to 6pm, except Wednesday (closed).
Roussanou Monastery, Meteora
Roussanou Monastery, Meteora

Megalo Meteoro Monastery (Monastery of the Transformation of the Savior) is the most popular of the monasteries and it was constructed on the the highest rock. It was built by Athanasios the Meteorite, one of the most well-known figures in Orthodox monasticism, in the 14th century. The katholikon has a twelve sided dome 24 meters in height with a striking series of frescos by Theophanis which depect the persecution of Christians by the Romans in somewhat gruesome detail. It was dedicated first to “Theotoko” and later to the Transfiguration of Christ. There are 400 steps to the monastery.
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 6:00. Closed on Tuesdays
Megalo Meteoro or Metamorphisis Monastery, Meteora
Megalo Meteoro or Metamorphisis Monastery, Meteora

There is also a covenant in Meteora – Agios Stefanos – but, nobody knows when this was built but the present katholikon dedicated to Saint Haralambos was built in 1798. The saint’s skull which was given to the nuns as a gift from Prince Vladislav of Wallachia is kept here. It can be reached through a road
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Mondays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 6:00. Closed on Mondays
Agios Stefanos Monastery, Meteora
Agios Stefanos Monastery, Meteora

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