NorthernNotes

Santorini, Greece. Courtesy
of www.gogreece.com A Virtual Tour of Greece



Greece: getting there

Going abroad requires some special preparation. There are many things to know before you go, especially to Greece. Be warned the following information is the product of several late nights at Buster's and multiple cups of coffee as well as combined knowledge of people, books and experience.

Planning my trip to Greece last summer, I found Go Greece, the best travel book. Not only is it written in plain English, but it has all the information you need, up-to-date and down to the detail.

There I found that I would need some basics, like a passport (anywhere from $35 to $60 plus about six months), traveler's checks and a calculator, not to mention plane tickets.

I also learned how to speak a little Greek, how to deal with persistent vendors and how to get the best deals. Some of the most useful advice was to take good walking shoes and eat a lot. I obeyed to the letter.

A word on taking planned tours: it's not a bad idea. It can get you to many places in not so much time. I attended with the Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, Ill.) art program. We covered Athens, the Pelopennese and the main islands in less than two weeks.

Where am I, again?

Greece is made of of three main land areas: the mainland, the Pelopennese and the islands, which stretch across the Aegean Sea. The islands include Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, Crete and Rhodes, among others. The mainland includes the provinces of Attica, Central Greece, Thessaly, Macedonia, Thraki and Iperos. A good source for maps is Michelin. Some general facts include that tourism is the largest source of income. In other words, watch out for tourist traps, especially the islands. More or less, if you want some good stuff, especially jewelry, get it in Athens. Sure, you'll find nice stuff on the islands, but you'll pay for it, too.

Map of
Greece. Courtesy of www.gogreece.com


So, Athena and Neptune got in a fight...

Athens, named for the goddess Athena, is the largest city on Greek mainland. Flea markets dot the city every four or five twisted blocks, beckoning for your drachmas (dr). The marble streets are narrow, barely allowing a car to zip by. Restaurant proprieters will usher you in, shops with ambitious vendors will force you to bargain, and before you know it the sun will be coming down on the Parthenon, the central landmark towering above the city.

By all means, try the food, whether it be spanokopitas, baklava or pastitsio. It's so great, you'll never eat or look at gyros(250 dr, $.75) in the same way again. Cheap food and drinks makes Greece, especially Athens, the college kid's economic dream.

The
Erechtheum on the Acropolis at Athens. Courtesy of www.gogreece.com

Hey, where's her arm?

As far as art and architecture, Athens is all that and a bag of tiropitas.

In Athens, check out the National Archeological Museum, home to most of the famous stuff like Hermes by Praxiteles, many stele and vases. Don't miss the Parthenon on the Acropolis. The hike is worth the view of the entire city.

Olympus and Delphi, on the Pelopennese, are famous historical sites, complete with the small town flavor sure to relax and restore. Even now, the Olympic torch starts at Olympus with a ceremony by the local young women. Delphi is home to the mythic Oracle, though the exact location is not known.

If you're not hip with the myths, take a quick trip with Elysium, to get in touch because most of Greek art tells a story. Greek art forms are not limited to buildings, but include greek theater, dance and crafts.

Speaking of crafts, the islands are expensive, but are a virtual archival of history. Check out Akrotiri on Crete, an ancient town that was bustling with indoor plumbing while Europeans were still living in caves. For more of a party atmosphere, Go Greece recommends Mykonos and Ios for a Dionysian good time.


Who else has a site about this stuff?

Other links of Greek worth:

NorthernNotes from Northern Illinois University

To NewsPlace for News and Sources