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36 Hours in Athens, Greece

stray citadel beads eclipsed leafy


abound quickie

FOR years, Athens was little more than a one-night stand on the
way to the Greek isles. Concretized and crowded, it lived off its
archaeological sites and dirty-dancing-on-tables night life. But now
a visit has become more than just a . for the sake of the
Parthenon. Athens is reinventing itself as a city where antiquity
meets edginess. Museums and galleries .., and new ones
are in the works. Late this year, the New Acropolis Museum,
designed by the New York-based architect Bernard Tschumi, is
scheduled to open at the foot of the ancient . . Not a bad
warm-up for Mykonos.

Friday

5 p.m.
1) WALK IN THE PARK

Once the private grounds of Greeces long-deposed royal family,


the National Gardens is one of the few .. oases in Athens.
Cypress, pine and palm trees shade trails, brooks, bridges, duck
ponds, a botanical museum and prides of .. cats. The
stately parliament building is next door and faces the Monument of
the Unknown Soldier, where tourists try to distract the photogenic
young evzones (the elite military guards who wear the skirt-like
foustanella).

6:30 p.m.
2) CAFE CULTURE

The jolting iced Nescaf frapp and the thick, grainy elliniko (dont
call it Turkish coffee) have lately been in Athens by the
freddo, cappuccino or espresso blended with crushed ice. The best
is at Clemente VIII (City Link, Voukourestiou 3; 30-210-321-9340), a
cafe packed with Athenian yuppies and coffee snobs on an elegant
pedestrianized street near Syntagma Square. The area is also a hot
shopping district, home to the Attica department store; designer
boutiques; high-end jewelers; ptisseries, including baklava-crazy
Karavan (Voukourestiou 11); and specialty shops like
Kombologadiko (Amerikis 9; 30-212-700-0500;
www.kombologadiko.gr), where you can buy variations of
traditional worry (komboloi).

mansion ridiculously dowdiness dazzles stewed


overpriced

9 p.m.
3) CRAZY ABOUT CRETE

The rustic cuisine of Crete is the latest regional food craze to hit
Athens. In the Ilissia neighborhood, Alatsi (Vrassida 13; 30-210-
721-0501), which means salt in the dialect of Crete, the chef
Dimitris Skarmoutsos . with dishes like gamopilafo, a pilaf
made with rich meat broth and sheep-milk butter; snails
boubouristi fried in olive oil, vinegar and rosemary; and rabbit
in wine (25 to 35 euros for dinner, about $40 to $57 at
$1.63 to the euro).

11 p.m.
4) BAR WITH A VIEW

Cynical Athenians say the city looks best at night, when darkness
hides its cement .. . For a panoramic view of nighttime
Athens, go to the balcony of the Galaxy bar (Vassilissis Sofias 46;
30-210-728-1000) on the roof of the Hilton near central Athens. You
can admire the Acropolis while sipping a . expensive
drink.

Saturday
9 a.m.
5) MUSEUM ROW

The old-money neighborhood of Kolonaki is big on


shops and gorgeous museums. The Benaki (Koumbari 1 and
Vassilisis Sofias) has a magnificent collection of Greek works from
antiquity to modern times, all in a restored .. . Nearby,
the Museum of Cycladic Art (Neofytou Douka 4 and Irodotou; 30-
210-722-8321) has possibly the worlds largest collection of art
from the island group that includes Mykonos as well as Delos,
Milos, Naxos and Siros. In neighboring Exarcheia, the renovated
National Archaeological Museum (Patission 44; 30-210-821-7724)
has classical sculptures and gold treasures from Mycenae.

minuscule chapels stonemasons mouth-watering


artichokes

11 a.m.
6) ATHENS DOES BRUNCH

Many Greeks like to joke that breakfast is coffee and cigarettes,


with maybe a greasy cheese pie. But at Sofias Valaoritou Cafe
(Valaoritou 15; 30-210-361-1993) near Syntagma Square, youll
find a selection of brunch food like frittata with
truffles, tomatoes and or a tart with spinach, feta and
smoked bacon (15 to 20 euros, with coffee).

1 p.m.
7) STEP INTO HISTORY

The Unification of Archaeological Sites walkway is one of the best


things that has happened to Athens in recent decades. About 2.5
miles long, it connects the citys most important historical sites and
is lined with .., neo-Classical homes and cafes. For 12
euros you get into the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Theater of
Dionysus, the Kerameikos Cemetery, the Temple of Olympian Zeus
and the Roman Forum. Expect more buzz later this year, when the
New Acropolis Museum opens.

4 p.m.
8) ISLAND LIFE

Though Plaka is touristy, this old neighborhood is far richer


architecturally than most in Athens. Skip the tavernas and cafes
and walk through the pretty streets packed with churches, modern
art museums like the Frissiras (Monis Asteriou 3-7; 30-210-323-
4678; www.frissirasmuseum.com) and ruins. Then take a walk to
Anafiotika, a slice of old island life in Athens. In the early 19th
century, homesick from the tiny island of Anafi
chiseled a tiny reproduction of a whitewashed Cycladic village into
the foothills of the Acropolis. The lanes are lined with
courtyards and balconies blooming with jasmine and roses.

soot grooving stunning laid-back howlers


roe

5 p.m.
9) ACROPOLIS SUNSET

Built in the fifth century B.C., the Acropolis temples the


Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike and Erechtheum are
considered the greatest architectural accomplishment of classical
Greece. Enjoy them after the Mediterranean sun cools and bathes
the city in a warm-toned glow. The view of Mount Hymettus is
especially .. at sunset.

8 p.m.
10) GAS ALLEY
In the last five years, the Gazi district once the site of the citys
gasworks, which blanketed much of the area with ..
has turned into the hottest area in central Athens. A central square
where a new metro stop opened last year is lined with bars,
restaurants and cafes. At Varoulko (Pireos 80; 30-210-522-8400; 50
to 60 euros for dinner), the star chef Lefteris Lazarou cooks
creative dishes like caramelized octopus with mavrodaphne-
sweetened trahana cream. Far less expensive but still delicious are
the deep-sea squid, thick-cut fried potatoes and taramosalata
fish dip at Sardelles (Persefonis 15; 30-210-347-
8050; 25 euros for dinner).

11 p.m.
11) BAUHAUS TO BEACH HOUSE

Artists and intellectuals like the . Nixon bar (Agisilaou


61B, Kerameikos; 30-210-346-2077), which also has a screening
room. The post-alternative crowd hangs out at Bios (Pireos 84,
Gazi; 30-210-342-5335) in a Bauhaus building, . to
everything from electronica to avant-garde noise, while the more
mainstream Soul (Evripidou 65, Psyrri; 30-210-331-0907) has pop,
hip-hop, R & B and fantastic mojitos. If you must dance on a table
to bouzouki music, skip the goat-throated .. and go for
sweet-voiced pop stars like Michalis Hatziyiannis, the Greek pop
John Mayer, who headlined at the club Vox (Iera Odos 16; 30-210-
341-1000) last season. Tickets start at about 25 euros for standing
room, and tables start at about 100 euros, though prices vary with
the performer. In summer, try the beach-side clubs like Bo
(Karamanli 14; 30-210-895-9645) in the southern suburb of Voula.

gorge riotous goofy cab frescoed blue-collar

Sunday

10 a.m.
12) HONEY MOUNTAIN

Hop on the No. 224 bus to Ethnikis Antistaseos Road, then walk
about 20 minutes to hike through the blooms and pines of Mount
Hymettus, which the ancient Greeks believed was the source of
honey. Spring is especially beautiful, enlivened by ..
colors and scents of lavender, sage and thyme. For 2 euros you can
see the chapels at the Kaisariani Monastery (30-210-
723-6619; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

2 p.m.
13) HARBOR CHIC

Athenians used to turn up their noses at Piraeus, the


harbor city, but scenesters are staking it out again, especially the
yacht-lined Mikrolimano harbor. The results have been mixed, with
trance bars kicking out some wonderful old fish
tavernas, but a few good places got coveted spots on the harbor.
The best include Plous Podilatou (Akti Koumoundourou 42; 30-210-
413-7910; about 30 euros), where you can have crayfish tails
sauted in ouzo and aniseed, and Ammos (Akti Koumoundrou 44;
30-210-422-4633; about 15 euros), a family-style taverna where
you can happily (and cheaply) on fried squid, grilled
octopus, sauted cuttlefish and all the fixings. Maybe Mykonos can
wait.

ATHENS NEWS , 31/10/2008,

We need another planet


Greece has the second-highest water consumption rate per person
in the world
THRASY PETROPOULOS

ALMOST three planets would be needed to absorb the fallout of Greece's


energy and water consumption habits, according to WWF's biennial Living
Planet Report.

Published on October 29, the report concludes that the world's global
footprint - a combination of so-called ecological and water footprints - now
exceeds the Earth's capacity to regenerate by about 30 percent. In other
words, if the demands on the planet continue at the same rate, by the mid-
2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to sustain our lifestyle.

In Greece's case, the report (compiled by environmental groups WWF, the


Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network) estimates
that the country's current ecological footprint per person would require 5.9
hectares of productive land and sea to provide the resources we use and to
absorb our waste.

The world average is 2.7 hectares per person, leaving Greece 11th in a list of
more than 148 countries (up from 17th in 2006). The world's worst offenders
in this category are the United Arab Emirates and America, who with China
account for 40 percent of the world's global footprint.

The report estimates that 2.1 hectares of land per person are available to
sustain the global population at current consumption levels.

Most glaring for Greece is a new addition to the report, measuring individual
country's water footprint - the total volume of water used by a country to
produce the goods and services consumed by its inhabitants.

Greece occupies second place with a staggering 2,389 cubic metres of water
consumed per person annually, second only to America and almost double the
global average.

"Our way of living has far exceeded our ecological limits. This is mainly due to
the mentality of seeing the environment as an inexhaustible resource," said
WWF Hellas head Dimitris Karavellas.

"At the same time, the overconsumption of energy in conjunction with the
insistence of the state in utilising 'dirty' sources [of fuel in electricity
production], such as lignite, reinforce the impoverished position of our
country."

As much as 87 percent of Greece's water use is for agriculture, while the


country's carbon footprint (second only to Ireland in the EU27) is explained
by the country's 2.4 percent yearly rise in energy use between 1990 and 2004,
"far above the European average".
The report's Living Planet Index - an attempt to measure worldwide
biodiversity - shows an average decline of about 30 percent from 1970 to 2005
in 3,309 populations of 1,235 species. Specifically, the index shows a 51
percent decline in 585 species in the tropics.

"The ecological credit crunch," the report's foreword says, "tells us that more
than three-quarters of the world's population live in nations that are
ecological debtors - their national consumption has outstripped their
country's biocapacity."

The world's water footprint

One cotton shirt: 2,900 litres: Some 3.7 percent of the global water use in
crop production - equivalent to 120 litres of water per person, per day - goes to
produce cotton.

1kg beef: 15,500 litres: Meat, milk, leather and other livestock products
account for 23 percent of global water use in agriculture, equivalent to more
than 1,150 litres of water per person, per day.

1kg of cane sugar: 1,500 litres: The average person uses 70 grams of
sugar per day, equivalent to 100 litres of water. Cane sugar accounts for 3.4
percent of global water use in crop production.