Help us maximize our trip to Greece.
June 30, 2015 12:20 PM   Subscribe

We are spending a week in Athens in August. Help us get the most out of sightseeing ruins and art/artifacts by suggesting ways to learn about them in advance.

We don't want to end up getting urn and column fatigue due to our own ignorance, so what are some fun ways to learn in advance about the things we will be seeing on our trip. I want ruins and artifacts to have context and come to life somewhat.
posted by Senor Cardgage to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If I were going to Greece soon, I would almost certainly re-read Will Durant's The Life of Greece, which you can find used for next to nothing.
posted by jquinby at 12:34 PM on June 30, 2015

If you don't have to spend the whole time in Athens, I highly recommend that you don't. Get out to the islands- commuter ferries run constantly for little money. Athens is hot and crowded and kind of ugly, without a week's worth of urns or columns. You can see the best of it in a day or two, then hop on a ferry and see some of the most beautiful places on earth. See "Greek Island Hopping" by Frewin Poffley for detailed information on ferry schedules and the highlights of the islands.
posted by Clambone at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

This lecture series helped my husband and I decide how to plan a trip to Greece last fall.
posted by ersatzkat at 1:10 PM on June 30, 2015

Definitely be in Athens for 2 days. It wasn't the prettiest city but it was lively and the museums, particularly, in my opinion, the Acropolis Museum, were fantastic. My suggestion is going to the museum first and then the site in general, to get context and then see the ruins.

(And if you want cool ruins, go to Delphi. It's a small town not worth more than a night, and can be an easy day trip from Athens by bus or car, but I spent hours and hours in the two incredible sites there).
posted by clarinet at 1:12 PM on June 30, 2015

Athens in August has the potential to be terribly hot and only the moirai know what will be going on with the Greek economy and civil (dis)order then, but the potential for chaos in the capital is pretty high.

Even without those concerns I still think clambone and clarinet's advice is good.

I particularly loved Delphi.

I would recommend at least a survey of Greek history so you understand major periods and events -- knowing what it means for something to be from the Mycenaean civilization as opposed to, say, the time of the Peloponnesian War, will help you appreciate what you're seeing. And don't make the mistake of thinking that Greek history concludes with the classical period -- Greece is (in some places quite literally) a civilization of layers of history one on top of another and most visitors give short shrift to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods but you'll want to know about them as they are at least as much a part of what makes modern Greece as earlier periods.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:42 PM on June 30, 2015

Athens can easily be done in 2 days. I'd spend the rest on an island.
posted by quince at 2:04 PM on June 30, 2015

Here are some book and movie recommendations for you.

Seconding Delphi. We did it in a day trip via Chat Tours but staying overnight is nice.

There are islands close to Athens worth going to. Here's some info..
posted by gudrun at 2:52 PM on June 30, 2015

Don't go to Athens for a week. This is the only big city I've been to that I would say that about. Really. We were there for four nights, and it was too long. Rick Steves has some quite good free podcasts for listening to while you walk around the sights.
posted by kjs4 at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2015

Response by poster: OK Guys, I just mean we have a week in Greece. We ARE doing the islands.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:54 PM on June 30, 2015

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