Author: Athensguide

The National Art Gallery of Athens

Today I visited the National Gallery of Art in Athens.  To my surprise, despite the tepid descriptions of this museum which I found in several guidebooks, I enjoyed a couple of hours there.  To begin with, the building is quite beautiful, airy and light. I think that I was expecting a museum that was filled with antiquities, perhaps musty and not very well displayed.  However what I found was art, which while not outstanding, was attractively displayed – clearly a curator well versed in the “less is more” school of exhibit display. The permanent exhibits are well labeled in both Greek and English.  What I found most interesting was the chronological arrangement of the collection with attention to both the historical perspective of modern Greece and the influence of the develpment of different styles of art of various European countries and periods. About half of what I saw displayed was from the 20th century, some of it as part of a special exhibition and others as part of the permanent collection.  One section did have the work of some other European artists but most of the work is by Greek artists. There were very few other visitors there and although the staff seemed very anxious to close by 3 PM, and in fact did ultimately hustle me out at 2:50, I was offered a repreive and a chance to view the second level by a...

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Bike around Athens, Sunday October 21

As a Chicagoan transplanted to Athens, I often miss the bike routes and paths of the Windy City, where even our mayor has been rumored to bike to City Hall on brisk autumn mornings. Envious of the images of the bicycle racers speeding in front of Syntagma Square during the 2004 Olympic Games, I always assumed my chance to pedal my way through history was gone when I gave up training for the Tour de France (a training period which lasted about 45 minutes!) Imagine my excitement this morning when Basil appeared with a flyer announcing “Bike Around Athens” – a 7.2 km ride through downtown, starting near Omonia Square, Plateai Kotsia, across from City Hall, to be exact, passing through Syntagma Square (and thus helping me fulfill my fantasy of pedaling past the Evzones!) and circling around the National Gardens past the Old Olympic Stadium. He’s signing us up right now, having located rental bikes from Vasili at Acropolis Bikes (www.acropolisbikes.gr). The bike route is posted on the ONA website, www.ona.gr and here http://www.ona.gr/images/stories/Podilatikos_Gyros/xartis%20podhlatikoy%20gyroy.jpg Share...

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Athenian treasures begin journey to their new home

This past weekend in Athens, three cranes began the work of moving antiquities to their new home in the long awaited new Acropolis Museum. The process will take months, but began on Sunday, with crews moving a 2.3-ton section of the Parthenon frieze: a 160-meter-long strip sculpted in relief with some 360 human and 250 animal figures from a religious procession. From the terrace of our Acropolis View penthouse, we watched in the distance as the cranes moved in slowly and surely. While the media covered this story, heralding the historic nature of this event, we noted a radio story here in Athens which provided an even more historical event: one of the three crane operators is a Ukrainian woman, trained to work on cranes in the Ukraine, but unable, despite tremendous experience, to find work in her field when she emigrated to Greece. Finally, with the support of the crane operators union, she landed her first job in Greece. Once her employers saw how skilled she was, finding work, despite the “handicap” of her gender, was no longer a problem.   Share...

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One wandering Jewess, one Greek guy and their Greek dog …

How does a little girl from Skokie, Illinois find herself in historical Athens, leading curious explorers through the winding streets of Plaka, down “pezodromos” to hidden ouzeries for tempting mezedhes and homemade barrel wine? The journey  began more than twenty years ago, and regardless of whether the wanderlust comes from the spiritual and culture DNA flowing through my veins, or the alignment of the stars on that cold mid-December day this Sagitterian came into the world, I never seem to tire of exploring my adopted homeland of Greece. Here you’ll join me as I explore Athens: be it the back streets of Psirri and Gazi, or through the National Gardens and Zappeio where a family of turtles makes their home, or down wide, treelined Imittou Street in Pagrati, which pulses with Athenian life 24 hours a day.  And while Athens has stolen my heart, the rest of Greece vies for my curiousity and wanderlust. My two guys (that’d be the Greek God, Vasilis and our Greek dog, Scruffy) and I can often be found settling in for a long weekend in some charming mountain village, or a quaint fishing port on a nearby island, or learning how Greek vitners are producing wines that rival some of Napa Valley’s finests productions, or celebrating a panayeri in Epirus or sharing in the festivities as a family of Cretan sheepherders come together to sheer their 1500...

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