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Athens is the capital of Greece and a city with a rich history. Therefore, for a visitor of Athens there is a big variety of things to do, no matter if he is staying for one night or more. The best way of getting around in Athens is on foot since the most archaeological sites and monuments are located in the center of Athens within a small distance to walk from one to another . The best option is to start your walking tour from Syntagma Square and head towards Monastiraki, Plaka, and Anafiotika. However, if you want to explore deeper the city and get to other attractions, or visit off the beaten sites in Athens, bear in mind that the Athens Transportation Network, (consisting of the metro, suburban railway, buses, trolley-buses, and taxis) is relatively affordable and really convenient to use.
Discovering Athens and its myths
Athens is awash with ancient wonders, from theaters and temples to the mighty Acropolis and no goddess is more closely liked to it than Athena beloved daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill It is likely that her name is derived from that of the city, not vice versa as some scholars state as it was a tradition for many goddesses when honored in one city to take the city name as their own.
The Greek philosopher, Plato (429-347 BC), identified her with the Libyan deity Neith, the war goddess and huntress deity of the Egyptians since the ancient Pre-Dynastic period, who was also identified with weaving. This is sensible, as some Greeks identified Athena’s birthplace, in certain mythological renditions, as being beside Libya’s Triton River. Scholar Martin Bernal created the controversial “Black Athena Theory” to explain this associated origin by claiming that the conception of Neith was brought to Greece from Egypt, along with “an enormous number of features of civilization and culture in the third and second millennia.” The earliest mention of her seems to be a 15th-century BC Mycenaean Greek inscription from Knossos on Crete.
Αθηνα was the daughter Zeus and Metis, goddess of intelligence and to keep on the Oedipus complex and curse in this family ( remember Cronos overthroned his father Uranos and was himself overthroned by his sons Zeus as their leader!) The same prediction was stated to Zeus so when goddess Metis became pregnant he decided to get rid of the problem. He challenged Metis with the Oracle of Gaea clear in his head that Metis first child would be a girl but, her second child would be a boy that would overthrow Zeus as had happened to his father and grandfather. Zeus took this warning to heart. When he next saw Metis he flattered her and put her at her ease. Then with Metis off gaurd Zeus suddenly opened his mouth and swallowed her. This was the end of Metis but, possibly the beginning of Zeus’s wisdom.
Birth of Athena.
According to Homer , the goddess was born to Zeus alone, without the intervention of a mother (Iliad, V, 875); Hesiod (Theogony, 924) says that she came from the head, without further explanation; in another passage he shows Zeus absorbing Métis, daughter of the Ocean and Tethys, to prevent her from giving birth to a god more powerful than himself.
He then gives birth to Athena Tritogeneia, the girl with sparkling eyes, endowed with the vigor and wisdom of her father. This tradition has been more fully developed by a poet who is probably as old as Hesiod himself (in Galen, De Hipp, and Plato dogm, III); Zeus swallowed up Metis, always for fear of a rival, and bore Pallas Athena near the banks of the Triton, on a height (by koryphes) from which came to the goddess the nickname of Coryphasia under which she was honored in Messinia, while her birth in the vicinity of the Triton river in Boeotia earned her the nickname of Tritogeneia.
It is in the Homeric Hymns that the myth of the birth of Athena takes for the first time the formulas of cosmogonic poetry and takes on the character of artistic anthropomorphism. Athena goes out, armed and brandishing her spear, from the head of Zeus, who holds the aegis (made up of the shell of a monstrous reptile from which she delivered Libya).
She was the patron of Athens, handcraft, and agriculture. She invented the bridle, which permitted man to tame horses, the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the plow, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She was the embodiment of wisdom, reason, and purity. She was Zeus favourite child and was allowed to use his weapons including his thunderbolt. Her holy tree was the olive tree and she was often symbolised as an owl. In Greek mythology, Athena is the shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patron of Athens, which built the Parthenon to worship her.
Did you know that In French card games the Queen of Spades is Athena.?
Her name Athenai is likely of Pre-Greek origin because it contains the presumably Pre-Greek morpheme *-ān- That is a graver matter, and there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in explaining the view of the ancients. For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by Athena “mind” [νοῦς, noũs] and “intelligence” [διάνοια, diánoia], and the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her; and indeed calls her by a still higher title, “divine intelligence” [θεοῦ νόησις, theoũ nóēsis], as though he would say: This is she who has the mind of God [ἁ θεονόα, a theonóa). Perhaps, however, the name Theonoe may mean “she who knows divine things” [τὰ θεῖα νοοῦσα, ta theia noousa] better than others. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence [εν έθει νόεσιν, en éthei nóesin], and therefore gave her the name Etheonoe; which, however, either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer form, and called her Athena.
Then and now
Athens may count a couple of millennia of history, but only 180 years as capital. It was in 1834 that a royal decree declared Athens the capital of the newly established Kingdom of Greece.
Its history has been both calm and tumultous and far from its former glory with economical issues. The average wage for a athenian is 700€/month. This situation as well as the lack of communication, available service and persons led to a terrible catastrophe due to wildfires in July 2018
Athens rebirth ..One year after
We went back to Athens to see if the situation improved and if of course more could be done just because of this horrid catastrophe.
A year ago , July 23rd at 6pm when the smoke reached the town of Mati on the east coast of Greece, 18 miles from Athens, the seaside resort was full of holidaymakers in hotels, or visiting their weekend homes. Within an hour, flames had started to engulf the town, turning the sky red.
By 8pm on 23 July 2018, the fire had destroyed Mati and nearby Kokkino Limanaki; it left 103 dead and more than 140 in hospital, many with severe burns. People died in their homes, in their cars, or as they tried to get to the sea. Those who made it dipped below the waves to stay cool as they waited for the coastguard and local fishermen to rescue them. The flames were propelled by gale-force winds, and the heat reached 800C. The next day, officials estimated that about 40,000 pine and olive trees, along with 4,000 homes, had been destroyed.
One year on, people are still asking how Greece’s worst natural disaster could have happened. Before the fire, Mati had been synonymous with pleasure; it evoked the best of Greece, even if, like many resorts, it was also an unregulated hodgepodge of villas, houses and multistorey apartment blocks built beyond the gaze of town planners. Roads and utilities were basic. Beach-side tavernas, cafes and homes were all connected to a chaotic grid, with electricity supplied from power lines hung from wooden posts.
Many people sued the goverment for negligence police, fire and emergency response services had been utterly disorganised . If not many lives could have been savec but in the meantimes they still live in precarious conditions for the y lost everything they owned. Some are living in military camps, some severely burned figting to pay for the medication they need, no financial compensation given to this day, the grieving, the trauma and this constant fear are part of their daily life.
As we kept in touch with some local helpers we worked with last year, as human beings, and with the purpose we defend with our yearly humanitarian festival “Solve me aka Résous-Moi in French” we couldn’t stay insensitive or give a deaf ear. So when we learnt about July 19th earthquakes we changed our plans and decided to go back to help once more. Helping to clean, recycle the garbages, visiting shelters with first aid kits and basic medical supplies, clothes, food.
The road to lead a normal life again has not been found so far. The contrasts are so heartbreaking between the joyful animation of this coastal tourist town, the laughter that resounded and this kind of ghost town worthy of the greatest moments of westerns she has become. Unfortunately, it’s not cinema .. Just the sad reality
Some nice spots in Athina
But let’s not sink down into depression for it is not in the Athenian spirit. They are fighters and will rise again for sure,sooner or later.
So, we spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday discovering Athens, in the summer, when most locals head to the islands leaving the streets without traffic, we love it a little bit more. The hectic rhythm of regular life is impossible to maintain in August, partly due to the heat, and the city settles into vacation mode. It’s the perfect time for a so-called “staycation”, and the Athenians who do stay in the city have perfected the ways in which they spend their summer days.
We tried to find some cool air and of course it is summer so we HAD to try some ice-cream there. Real italian gelati..and almost as good, almost because Italians are the top for nicecreams according to me ..but this one
In Monastiraki we stumble upon this wonder that belongs to a highly trained pastry maker, who studied at Paris’ famous Cordon Bleu and at the Espaisucre School in Barcelona, before completing his professional training at Michelin three-star restaurants.
Adress: Protogenous 2, Athina 105 54, Greece
Periptera: the eat, drink, read. The Greek kiosks
You’ll stumble upon multitudes of them during your visit to Athens and you will surely purchase something more than once. They’re like condensed supermarkets parked on street corners and squares, whose tiny size belies their vast stock: anything from magazines to yoghurt to tissues to beer. Most stay open late into the night and some, especially in the city centre, are open round the clock.
The first Athenian periptero appeared in 1911 on Panepistimiou Street. It would probably still be standing if the construction of the nearby Metro station hadn’t caused it to collapse (nobody was hurt).
In the beginning of the 20th century (and up until a few years ago), kiosks were given exclusively to war veterans and the disabled to help with their livelihood. The licences passed on to their wives and children after their death. Originally kiosks only sold newspapers. After the first World War, they began to sell cigarettes, a few sweets, and not much else since, by law, the wooden stands could not be larger than 70x70cm.
Pangrati is the quintessential middle-class neighbourhood with a definite artsy aura. The home address of musicians, writers, directors, academics, and journalists, past residents include composer Manos Hatzidakis and poet George Seferis. This makes for a lively café culture radiating from two hubs, Platia Proskopon and Platia Varnava. Shops, restaurants, small bars, and green spaces—plus a couple of galleries, an art house cinema, and a theatre—reflect the locals’ cosmopolitan outlook. When it opens in October 2019, the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art will boost the area’s profile among visitors, already drawn by the Kallimarmaro stadium and Athens First Cemetery. The unique vibe undulates between edginess and convention. This is one of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods, and finding an apartment in the Pangrati or Mets areas has always been hard, as people move in but rarely move out. Though technically right in the city centre, the mood here is decidedly detached from it: Pangrati isn’t where change is sparked, but where it settles in.
Tavli a typical Greek game
The game of Tavli is one of the most common and popular forms of leisurely board game playing in Greece. It’s a game played by almost everyone, but it is especially common among men at the local kefeneio, a Greek coffee shop. Tavli literally means ‘board’ and is basically the Greek version of Backgammon…with a lot more shouting! The game is generally played for fun, but sometimes also for money. Tavli is a very old game, which comes from the Eastern Mediterranean and the civilizations of Mesopotamia. Although there are many mentions in history and in archeological findings, the origin of Tavli has not been researched in depth and most conclusions are quite arbitrary. Nevertheless, the traditional backgammon games that are played in Greece, were born in Greece. There are even mentions of this table top game by Homer. From the moment it was recorded, Tavli has been the mouthpiece of at least a thousand oral traditions of Greek civilization.
Vouliagmeni: Athenian’s riviera
But for those Who prefer wildness, jumping into the water, maybe it is. It is located about 25 km from Athens centre. There is not direct bus line from the downtown- You can change from bus A2 or tram T5 and enter the bus No 118 at Glyfada. Or come to Elliniko by metro red line (2) and then take bus 118. There is a bus stop Limanakia B. Water is pretty clean and intensively blue coloured, deep all the way. But You don’t have to jump if don’t feel like jumping, there are steps, just like in the pool. Palms, cacti, rocks and one bar with great house music. Mostly kids, young and family people are visitors. Dope and unique beach on Athens riviera, between Vouliagmeni and Varkiza.
In-the-know Greeks and their celebrity friends have long decamped to its sandy shores on the coastline of Attica, a triangular peninsula jutting into the sea. Rustic boîtes like Limanakia Beach Bar, tucked into a craggy inlet and where sun-bronzed Greeks leap from the surrounding cliffs into the turquoise sea), Blue Flag beaches (a premium designation for water purity) equipped with curtained sun beds, waiter service and access to secluded swimming coves, plus a cool-kid cocktail scene, lend glamour to this pocket of suburban Athens
The diving site is accessible by swimming from the shore. The average depth is 2m. On the site, there is a lake, where thanks to the source of thermal water, it is warm all year round. Although the lake is shallow and suited to every diver’s predisposition, you can swim here only after prior permission to explore the caves. It is better to start the diving along the walls. The lake has a cave system where sweet and salty water mixed together.
Time to say goodbye and two days is too short. Because the more you get to know about Athina, the more mysterious she becomes .
A perfect mix of strenght and frailty, beauty and decadence but such a resilient and generous soul. Thanks for all the love received
That was her magic, she could still see the sunset, even on those darkest days.
Heading to Crete
Thalatta. The Greek word for sea. Sailing away from Athina to head to the kingdom of Minos, cradle of greek #mythology. Find out why reading my chronicles on my blog #leblogdangenic Let’s hope Poseidon 🔱will be gentle and send us warm and pleasant winds during our cruise
Limanaki : | 2nd Limanaki to Varkiza, Vouliagmeni 16671, Greece
Sources: the guardian & Cosmosvisions
To help the Red Cross
Financial support. The municipality of Rafina-Pikermi (one of the ravaged areas) announced the activation of a specialised bank account in collaboration with Piraeus Bank, for the support of the citizens that were affected by the fire.
Piraeus Bank –ACCOUNT ID NUMBER: 5186092291418 . IBAN : GR20 0172 1860 0051 8609 2291 418
The Greek Red Cross has proceeded to the activation of a bank account for the relief of the victims of the fire.
Account Information: EUROBANK
BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER: 0026.0240.31.0201181388