Wondering what’s the best place to eat during your holidays in Greece? We are more than excited to present you the highlights of the most stunning Greek gastronomy ceremony, ”Golden Chef’s Hat”, held in Athens on Monday April 20th in the Ballroom of the hotel “Grande Bretagne”. Foreign journalists and ministers, as well as Greek tourism professionals shared their excitement for culinary experiences celebrating the best restaurants in Greece. As gastronomy is amongst the most authentic cultural elements of Greece, the ”Golden Chef’s Hat” awards, for the first time in 22 years, brought not one but two restaurants to the top of the Greek culinary scene. Read More
I was so happy to hear that TBEX, the travel blog exchange will be held in Athens, Greece in 2014. There’s a simple reason for this. Although I’m not from here, it’s been my home for the past three and a bit years. In that time I’ve come to feel very proud of Athens: it’s lively and vibrant, friendly and fun, parties go on all night, food is incredible and so cheap and is nothing like what you see on tv… it’s much more than that. Everyone knows about the sites like Anafiotika, The Acropolis, and Plaka. All incredible sites that I never get tired of… but I wanted to share some practical local knowledge – when you first arrive somewhere, where should you eat, drink or dance? This list is a bit nightlife heavy and I could have kept writing all day – but seriously, who would be still going on page 55? If you’ve got any other questions about local stuff to do or see during TBEX Athens, please feel free to get in touch, I’ll do my best to help out.
Head for the Acropolis, but instead of turning right up to the Parthenon, turn left and watch out for a metal staircase that leads you up to the open rocks opposite. A free and lovely place to soak up a glorious sunset behind the ancient temple. Known to locals or me certainly) as the slippery rocks, it’s best to wear good shoes up there. There are also lots of bars with great views in Athens, I’ve been to many of them. If you’re in Monastiraki avoid A for Athens. The overpriced drinks and rude staff don’t help you appreciate the view too much. Instead, head for the roof of the AthenStyle hostel for decent value drinks and a panoramic terrace or the cool surrounds of a 6th floor roof bar called Sole e Luna in a hotel in Neos Kosmos, where you can find a sunset to rival the Monastiraki bars and enjoy an expertly made Mojito.
A spy museum, all you’ve ever wanted to know about toilets and real life samples from Big Foot, we’ve got 10 really weird museums from around the world for your pleasure.
Want to become a spy? Actually, can we just ask, who doesn’t? Well, now you can, for a day anyway, at the International Spy Museumin Washington DC, USA. We’re talking gadgets, code breaking and generally being a bit James Bond as you learn about the history of secret agents and get to grips with a life of espionage.
Iceland’s Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, is as the name suggests all about biology and takes it very seriously too. It is home to a collection of more than 215 penis specimens from various mammals found in the wild all over the island including a walrus, a rogue polar bear, a whale. There are also four examples from humans, but we didn’t ask where they came from.
We always hear of the priceless art found in countless cities throughout the world, but what about the bad stuff? The Museum of Bad Art in Boston claims to be the only one of its kind in the world. Featuring art that’s ‘too bad to be ignored’ it features plenty of paintings of dodgy blue people, symbols that don’t mean much and some weird uses of nudity.
For all you’ve ever wanted to know about the humble toilet, you could do worse than the International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. The curators tell us: ‘the toilet is a part of the history of human hygiene which is a critical chapter in the growth of civilisation.’
Athens is well known for its museums filled with thousands of years of artefacts that document the birthplace of science and democracy. We like the Tactual Museum, where you’re actively encouraged to touch everything. There are all kinds of replicas, statues and frescoes that you can get up close and personal with.
The Hair Museum of Avanos in Cappadocia, Turkey is a fairly simple idea, but definitely one of the most bizarre things you’ll see. In a room under an unassuming pottery shop, you’ll find caves covered with a collection of over 16,000 locks of hair from women from all over the world. It’s free to enter, and women can leave a lock of their own if they want.
For the latest information and conjecture on the likes of Big Foot, the Montauk Monster, or the Abominable Snowman, then the Cryptozoology Museum, in Portland, USA is a good place to start. It claims to have ‘actual samples’ of hair and unique pieces of evidence from mythical creatures from all over the world.
Your green fingers will start tingling when you hear about the British Lawnmower Museum. As you would expect, it’s dedicated to all things grass cutting and is home to specialised gardening machines, vintage lawnmowers and all manner of parts and conservation materials from all over the world. A truly British experience.
If you’ve got a weak stomach, it might be best to skip the Paris Sewer Museum. You’re guided through the tunnels and pummelled by historical and factual information about the famous underground areas that have featured in French literature including Les Miserables and Phantom Of The Opera.
Love chips? So do we and so do the Belgians apparently, if the Friet Museum is anything to go by. The ground floor offers a 10,000 year potted history of the humble spud and it’s development into the tasty chip we know and love today.
1.Pythagoreion and Heraion (Πυθαγόρειο και Ηραίο Σάμου) Samos Island The remains of the ancient fortified port Pythagoreio, as well as the Heraion, temple of the Samian Hera, have been listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1992.
2. Metéora(Μετέωρα) – Metéora, literally means “in the heavens above,” and you’ll realise why the moment you arrive. It consists of six Greek Orthodox monasteries built on huge natural sandstone rock pillars in central Greece. Metéora was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
3. Corfu Old Town (Παλιά Πόλη της Κέρκυρας) – The Old Town of Corfu Island features two forts designed by renowned Venetian engineers and is filled with neoclassical, as well as Venetian influenced buildings. It is considered to be home to some of the best and most authentic remaining ruins in the world. The Old Town of Corfu has been included among the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2007.
4. The Acropolis of Athens (Ακρόπολη Αθηνών) – Quite possibly the most famous of the lot, the Acropolis is a huge collection of architecturally perfect buildings, natural landscapes, the historic and dramatic Parthenon and was the scene of some of ancient Greece’s most important moments. You shouldn’t leave Athens before you see one of the most important expressions of Greek architecture, listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites since 1987.
5. Olympia (Ολυμπία) – The ancient sanctuary of Olympia is famous for giving the name to the Olympic Games and as a sanctuary of the gods, Zeus in particular. In the Peloponnesos region, it was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1989.
6. Mycenae(Οι Μυκήνες) – Thanks to the famous Lion’s Gate and Treasury of Atreus, the archaeological site of Mycenae has been listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site since 1999. Found in the Peloponnesos region, it’s an important site dating back to the 15th and 13th century BC.
7. Delos(Δήλος) – Greek mythology tells us Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis; so, the sacred island was one of the most important pan-Hellenic sanctuaries. Listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1990.
8. Ancient Theater of Epidaurus (Αρχαίο Θέατρο Επιδαύρου) – The excellent acoustics and almost perfect condition gave the ancient theater of Epidaurus a place among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1988. It’s a highlight to visit and enjoy a performance with the crowds in summer.
9. Delphi (Δελφοί) – In 1987, the sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, and was once called the ‘naval of the world’, was included among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
10. Rhodes Μedieval Town (Μεσαιωνική πόλη της Ρόδου) – The Medieval Town of Rhodes, also known as the Town of Knights, was once a great stronghold where knights fell and bitter battles fought. It is an outstanding example of an architectural heritage illustrating the island’s history. Rhodes Town was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1988.
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In Athens, the Greek capital it would be really difficult to find yourself starving! Souvlaki outlets are all over the city. Souvlaki is the term for what is basically the Greek equivalent to a burger, quick to eat, tasty and really cheap. It’s usually made of meat, chicken or pork, cooked on a skewer and put into a pitta bread with onion, tzatziki and tomato.
However, as a tourist you’ll probably be wandering around the centre. So, here are some tips for an ultimate souvlaki experience in Athens city, whether you’re staying a few days or heading for the beautiful islands.
Some of the most charming areas in downtown Athens are undoubtedly Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio. Apart from the many archaeological sites, there is also a heap of local restaurants and spots serving various versions of the infamous Greek souvlaki. But, take our advice and have a delicious meal in one of the following places. We bet that you’ll be asking for more food in Athens before the end of your holiday.
Try Thanassisin Monastiraki and taste the best traditional kebab in town, as this is its one and only specialty. What’s more prices are so low that you’ll be coming back again and again to saturate your cravings. For the traditional gyros, you can’t get much better than Bairaktaris, slap, bang in the middle of Monastiraki Square. Huge portions and great value will set you up for a great night out.
Kavouras in the nearby neighbourhood of Exarcheia is all about the taste. Simple food – no refinement here. And the neighbourhood, a kind of alternative place where people gather is really worth a look.
Another great choice is Nikitas in Psyrri, just across from Monastiraki square, is a good spot for an authentic and tasty lunchtime treat. This place has been serving since 1967, so they must be doing something right. Plata Iroon in the same area is also a firm local favourite.
For those savouring the Greek sun and sea on the shores of Attica, Zachos in Varkiza is also a worthwhile choice. This place serves a wide range of dishes, such as pork or chicken souvlaki, gyros (sliced pork meat, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce, wrapped in pita bread), even traditional burgers. You choose!
It takes a special kind of tourist, one with a keen eye, a patient disposition and a thorough approach to research (not to mention an iPhone…), to visit a city and discover the gems that even its locals have no idea about. Anyone can stumble out of the tube at Knightsbridge and find themselves in Harrods and even my grandmother wouldn’t be too hard-pressed to locate one of the better boutiques on the Champs Elysees, but the real challenge, the one that may ultimately reward months of MI6-style investigations with a pair of one-off Chanel sandals, requires a far keener tourist.
Before you read on, be warned. This blog post is not for the faint-hearted, the sun-seeker or the “let’s just have a MacDonalds”-er, this is for the shopper – the real shopper. While the list may be subject to add-ons or removals and is far from a comprehensive European shopping guide, I believe it contains some of the best-kept secrets of my own European travel experiences. Consider it a work in progress and feel free to reveal your own hidden treasure coves. Enjoy…
As Scandinavia is fast becoming the centre of cool, it is no surprise that first on the list is the Acne Archive store in Copenhagen. Archive is an Acne outlet store, selling a collection of classics by the offbeat Swedish foursome, as well as some recycled pieces from catwalks and samples. With 50% off all year round and new stock coming every week, it’s actually cheaper for Acne-lovers to fly over to Denmark for their new season wardrobes than it is to purchase the collections full price in their own country.
Following the philosophy, ‘one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure’, Bohbo, a contemporary second-hand store in Athens, is an Aladdin’s cave of pristine Chanel, rare Marc Jacobs and well-selected vintage pieces. New items arrive daily, mostly donated from the wealthy, well-heeled women of the nearby Kolonaki neighbourhood, so the choice is continually diverse and fresh, with something on offer for everybody. Expect to find a wide range of unusual pieces alongside fashion classics such as Balenciaga motorcycle handbags and unworn Louboutins. On a recent excavation, I picked up a pair of cork-heeled Chanel Mary-Janes for just €120.
A renowned spot for stylists seeking retro designer looks, Bang Bang Clothing Exchange offers a dream mix of impeccably kept ‘I want you’ labels, excellent quality vintage and rare pieces from local designers. A little like New York’s Buffalo Exchange, Bang Bang also allows you to take your own unwanted clothing (as long as it reaches the standard of their stock) and exchange it for others within their store. However, unlike Buffalo, Bang Bang is extremely selective in its stock, meaning only the most pristine and fabulous clothing will be accepted.
With so many interesting and unique stores flooding through Berlin at present, it’s impossible to choose just one. However, Darklands, situated in the arty area around Heidestrasse, north of Berlin’s main station, has really thrown itself to the forefront. Currently offering an impressive selection of avant-garde menswear, the shop is nomadic, moving every 15 months or so to a new location in a new area in order to shake off those shoppers whose noses are perpetually stuck into the air (buyers, stylists, anyone who works at Net-a-Porter – this means you). For this reason, the interior of their third instalment (Darklands 3.0) is the antithesis of a high-fashion world; expect life-sized dolls hanging from the ceiling, unsurprisingly dark clobber embellishing the walls, including coveted designer brands such as Damir Doma and Christian Poell and exposed lighting fixtures, all housed within what used to be non-descript, rough warehouse.
Stepping into Milan’s Cavalli e Nastri is like walking into some wealthy, old lady’s very well-organized designer closet. The petite shop, situated close to Moschino and Armani houses some of the most pristine vintage finery you’ll ever be so lucky to lay eyes upon. Pieces can date back to the late 1800s, but equally may include a 1950s organza prom dress or a pristine beaded flapper, hanging neatly beside a quality ’70s Pucci print. There is row upon row of glass drawers containing colourful stone brooches, earrings, and costume jewellery and a serious handbag collection (think Hermès, Dior, Chanel) in the rear room.