WHY IONIAN ISLAND HOLIDAYS?
AWARD WINNING HOLIDAYSIONIAN & AEGEAN HOLIDAYS ARE PROUD TO HAVE BEEN VOTED BEST TOUR OPERATOR TO HELLENIC EUROPE AT THE BRITISH TRAVEL AWARDS 2011 AND 2012.
EXPERT ADVICEOur team of experienced and knowledgeable advisers are here to make your holiday to the Greek islands memorable - and for the right reasons!
The highly successful Olympic Games of 2004 not only confounded the critics, but also saw a city transformed. A new Olympic stadium, one of the most radical and dramatic architectural designs of the century, a new international airport and rail and motorway links into and around the metropolis. A million trees planted and many miles of streets pedestrianised. Nothing of past glories has been swallowed up in inappropriate development, but where else in western Europe can you enjoy a permanent exhibition of priceless archaeological artefacts whilst standing on the platform waiting for a metro train that is on time, fast and clean.
The Rock of The Acropolis with the temple of The Parthenon is undoubtedly one of the defining sights of the Western world, and the National Archaeological Museum in the city has the finest collection of Greek antiquities in the world. But Athens is far more than a living museum. Athenians call it the ‘largest village’ in Greece, and despite a population of over 4 million, there is a certain amount of truth in the saying. The city centre is in fact relatively compact, and with the recent pedestrianisation of many streets, exploring this metropolitan ‘village’ on foot is remarkably easy, especially as there are now many excellent guidebooks and maps available.
One of the joys of a stay in Athens lies in discovering the diversity of the various quarters of the city. A morning’s walk can take you from the maze of narrow streets of the 19th century Plaka district, with its famous Sunday flea market, through the gypsy town of Rouf with its amazing produce market past the sophisticated restaurants of Pangrati, and up the landmark hill of Lycabettus to one of the best viewpoints for the Acropolis.
You can also enjoy a walk along Hadrian’s other wall, before stopping off at any of a hundred or more “Ouzeris” where you can enjoy a glass of ouzo and that famous microcosm of Greek gastronomy the ‘mezedhes”. Syntagma (Constitution) Square is the political and urban heart of Athens and all of Greece for that matter. One can find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the Parliament Building, guarded by two Greek soldiers in traditional Greek uniforms. It has been the sight of many demonstrations and even battles for the Greek struggle for independence over the years.
No other capital city in Europe defines its nation in quite the same way as Athens. The Greeks are a passionate and independent people, proud of the rich diversity of culture, landscape and history that exists in every one of three thousand or more islands spread across the Eastern Mediterranean. Athens is a true metropolis that reflects such diversity, gives it identity, and provides it with a centre.
For the visitor, a stay in Athens will add immeasurably to their own journey of discovery before they travel out across the sea or into the mountains of this fascinating country. The spirit of Athina lives on in this immortal city.