Summer has arrived and a record number of tourists have flocked to Athens. While the crowds overflow at the Parthenon and other well-known monuments, Discover Greek Culture reminds visitors that the Greek capital is replete with unique cultural experiences worth exploring. Here are seven of our favorites:
 

#1 – Experience the City’s Urban Life

Just off the tourist trail, the traditional urban center of Athens – stretching from Monastiraki to Omonia Square, along the Aiolou pedestrian thoroughfare – has been reborn as the cultural nerve center of Athens. A historic trade hub for the city, today infused by  international and youth culture, this area of Athens is bustling with hip bars, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and ateliers.

This is the place for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or a night out on the town in true Athenian fashion.

 

#2 – Check our the Numismatic Museum (Iliou Melathron)

One of the most impressive and least-known collections in Athens, the Numismatic Museum (est. 1834) is one the oldest public museums in Greece and boasts one of the greatest collections of coins in the world. The museum’s permanent collection comprises over 500,000 items—coins, medals, lead bullae, gems, obeloi, talents, etc.—dating as early as the 14th century BCE, and puts special emphasis on Greek artifacts. Originally housed in the University of Athens, the collection was moved to its current location, Iliou Melathron, in 1998. Commissioned by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann and designed by the famed architect Ernst Ziller, the luxuriously decorated Iliou Melathron was considered the most magnificent private residence in Athens at the time of its construction, in the late 19th century.

Behind the museum is the enchanting garden of the Black Duck Bistrot – Athens City Museum Bistrot, one of the city center’s great hideawa


 

#3 – Dine Like Athenian Aristocracy

After a tour of the spectacular Museum of the City of Athens, guests can enjoy a taste of aristocratic life in the early years of the modern Greek state. A specially catered meal will be served in one of the museum’s accurately reproduced period dining rooms, and guests will enjoy their meal at a 19th century dining table set with antique tableware. In the evenings, dinner versions of this exclusive feature are accompanied by live violin music to further enhance the 19th century atmosphere.

The museum also offers children (up to 15 years of age) a fantastic opportunity to dress up in period costumes—child-sized reproductions of clothes that once belonged to the Greek royal family! (Note: special arrangements must be made in advance for this dinner, please contact us for details).


 

#4 – Walk with the Ancients in Philopappou Hill

Pristine, tranquil and bearing the marks of ancient settlements, Philopappou Hill is located just southwest of the Acropolis rock, together with which it forms the broader Acropolis archaeological area. The hill offers unrivaled views of the Acropolis and Parthenon and boasts several significant monuments and sites of its own, including the Church of Aghios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris and the Philopappos Mausoleum, after which the hill is named.

It is the ideal place to take a quiet walk in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks (and there is no better time to do so than in the early morning).


 

#5 – Cocktails in a Convent

Located in the up-and-coming Metaxourgio area of Athens, El Convento Del Arte is a unique Dinner Theater meticulously decorated as a medieval convent. Each evening El Convento Del Arte offers sensational performances – ranging from traditional Greek mythology to modern Tango – accompanied by sumptuous cuisine and fine beverages.

This is a one-of-a-kind outing not be missed.

 

#6 – Become an Athenian Literati

One of Athens’ greatest cultural tourism secrets, and one of the most centrally located, the Katakouzenos’ home was once one of the capital’s great salons literaires. A popular meeting place for the Greek ‘30s Generation, Aggelos and Leto Katakouzenos’ home hosted many of the leading artists and intellectuals of the time.

Re-opened to the public in 2008, the Katakouzenos House Museum houses a collection of works and objects d’art by prominent Greek and international artists.


 

#7 – Get Lost in the National Garden

Originally commissioned by Queen Amalia, the first Queen of Greece, as her royal gardens, the National Garden has provided the backdrop for much of the country’s modern history. Located just next to the Building of Parliament, the gardens have witnessed much of the social and political history that forged the modern Republic of Greece. They are as full of facts and fables as they are flora and fauna.

Commenting on the gardens, Henry Miller wrote: “It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds”.

Source: Discover Greek Culture

From iconic ancient monuments and classical heritage in the morning to traditional Greek cuisine and liqueurs in the evening, this full-day tour is an ideal introduction to Greece, both classical and contemporary.

Greek Essentials is a day-long private tour that will show you around the Acropolis archaeological area and Philopappou Hill and introduce you to the fascinating history and secrets of the Parthenon. The tour also includes a visit to the award-winning Acropolis Museum, and gives you the opportunity to taste traditional Greek cuisine—including the well-known souvlaki—and sample traditional Greek ouzo and raki.

view of the parthenon and the acropolis of athens as seen from above - Global Booking
 
Take an archaeologist-led guided tour of the award winning Acropolis Museum, to admire its impressive collection of artifacts.

View of the acropolis museum in athens one of the most important archaeological museums in the world - Global Booking
 
Visit the Parthenon and explore the archaeological area of the Acropolis to discover the secrets of this ancient rock, accompanied by a field expert / archaeologist.

View of the acropolis of athens during daylight - Global Booking
 
Visit the 16th-century Church of Aghios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris, situated at the foot of Philopappou Hill.


 
Take a stroll down Ermou Street, one of the main shopping streets in Europe. Along the way, visit the 11th-century Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, a Byzantine church dedicated to The Virgin Mary.


 
Wander through the picturesque streets of Plaka, a vibrant neighborhood with elegant neoclassical houses, situated at the foot of the Acropolis.


 

Sample traditional liquors at a cozy distillery – and – bar that’s been in business for over a century. Don’t miss out on its home brands of ouzo and raki!

 
Enjoy traditional Greek cuisine whilst enjoying spectacular glinting views of the Acropolis.

Source: Discover Greek Culture

Global Booking Rentals - the grilled octopus a must taste traditional sea food from the Greek seas

Known for its diversity and seductive flavor palette, Greek cuisine is a reason unto itself to visit Greece. But what happens during Lent, when tradition restricts the consumption of Greek favorites like fresh fish, grilled meats, and feta-rich salads and pies? Simple, healthy, and vegan-friendly, the Greek Lenten menu is bound to surprise you.

Last week, Greeks celebrated Kathara Deftera—literally: Clean Monday—a public holiday that marks that beginning of the Great Lent: seven weeks of fasting and reflection leading up to Easter. People of all ages took to the mountains and beaches, flew kites, and tucked into lovingly prepared picnics in the company of family and friends. And whilst every year, Greeks look forward to Clean Monday for the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend and some time outdoors, many are those who look forward to the beginning of lent… for the food!

So what’s on the menu that actually makes people look forward to fasting?

Let’s start from the top. The basic rule of the Lenten fast is simple: no animal products. Well, mostly. Red meat, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs are all off-limits and so is fish—but here’s where it gets interesting: Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and shellfish are allowed. And so is honey. Of course, there’s no shortage of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains, and whilst traditionally, olive oil and wine are only permitted on the weekends, that restriction is no longer widely observed.

True to the spirit of Lent, which calls for modesty and simplicity, Lenten cuisine does away with luxury and extravagance and centers on modest, flavorful dishes that showcase the simple elegance of the Greek culinary tradition. And these dishes, called nistisima (literally: for Lent), just happen to be delicious! They’re also healthy, perfect for clean eating, and—with the exception of seafood—fantastic options for anyone looking to enjoy vegan and vegetarian Greek food.

With Greek cuisine widely associated with grilled meat and feta cheese, you might still be wandering what we’re talking about. Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite Lenten dishes.

We’ve marked vegan and vegetarian options for you, but different cooks have different methods, so make sure to double check before ordering!

Lagana is a traditional unleavened bread eaten almost exclusively on Clean Monday. Flat and roughly oval-shaped, it’s traditionally decorated by making small depressions in the dough with the fingertips and then sprinkling over generously with sesame seeds. The foundation of Clean Monday menus, lagana is an essential tool for consuming the various dips, spreads, and small dishes that are served on this day, • vegetarian & vegan!

Lagana a Greek traditional type of bread served on Clean Monday-global_booking

Taramasalata — Made from fish roe, olive oil and lemon juice, this delicious savory treat is widely popular throughout Greece and is one of the most characteristic Clean Monday dishes. Naturally beige and sometimes colored pink, this might take a moment to get used to, but it’s guaranteed to have you reaching for another bowl.

Fava — Not to be confused with fava beans, Greek fava is made from split yellow peas, which are boiled and mashed and served drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped raw onions and fresh herbs. Simple and delicious, this is the Greek answer to hummus! • vegetarian & vegan!

Horta is the Greek catch-all term for boiled greens. A delicious side dish or salad that’s served with olive oil and lemon, horta can be made from dozens of cultivated and wild varieties — it’s not uncommon to see Greeks roaming the hills to harvest wild greens! — but the most popular and widely available kinds are: vlita (amaranth), radikia (dandelion), vrouves (mustard greens), and zochoi (sow thistle). • vegetarian & vegan!

Ladera — From the world ladi, meaning oil, this is an entire range of vegetable dishes cooked with a base of tomato, onion, garlic, and plenty of olive oil. From simple green beans or okra stews to more elaborate dishes like the baked stuffed eggplants known as imam bayildi (literally “the imam fainted”), these are a staple of Greek cuisine. • vegetarian & vegan!

Gemista — Literally meaning ‘stuffed’, these are a quintessentially Greek warm-weather dish that is made with plump tomatoes or bell peppers that have been hollowed out and stuffed with rice and a mixture of chopped onions and herbs. Often prepared with minced beef, the Lenten version usually sees the addition of raisins and pine nuts into the rice mixture. • ask the cook

Grilled octopus — An absolute essential if you’re anywhere near—or even not so near—the Greek coast, octopus grilled over an open flame is a classic Greek meze that rightfully claims its place on any gastronomic bucket list. Enjoy it with a small glass of ouzo, preferably at a seaside taverna.

Global Booking Rentals - the grilled octopus a must taste traditional sea food from the Greek seas

Fried calamari Locally known as kalamarakia, this is taverna staple that’s hugely popular during the spring and summer. Battered and fried in olive oil, these are fantastic with a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Halva — is a versatile dessert eaten across much of Europe, Asia and North Africa. In Greece, there are two main varieties: one based on sesame and one on semolina. Both are sweetened with sugar or honey and are often flavored with nuts, fruit or cocoa. A favorite childhood treat and classic Lenten dessert! • vegetarian! (and sometimes vegan, but ask the cook)

The list goes on: stuffed vine and cabbage leaves, plump juicy olives, lentil stew, bulgur salads, bean soups, and vegetable casseroles. Using fresh, quality produce and key ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, and tomatoes, Lenten cuisine opens up a whole new world of Greek gastronomy.

Lenten dishes are available everywhere from Clean Monday until Easter, and you can also find nistisima options in bakeries and supermarkets. Whether you’re a first-time explorer of Greek Lenten fare or a seasoned gastro-traveler, there’s a wealth of delicious options to try and enjoy. So let us know, what’s your favorite Lenten dish?

Source: Discover Greek Culture

Estate agents are seeing a steady stream of enquiries about property in Greece, especially at the high end, but prospective holiday home buyers might want to adopt a wait and see approach due to the current financial crisis in the country.

One agent seeing demand is Chestertons International which has found that so far the property market has proved to be stable and in particular, the island of Mykonos continues to grow in popularity.
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Enquiries from potential buyers of luxury property in countries that have been suffering from the current economic downturn in the Eurozone have increased, new research shows.

Buyers from Greece, Spain and Italy have upped their interest in the last 12 months and so have buyers from Russia, according to the analysis of data from international online property platform Luxuryestate.com.
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On March 23 2012, Up Greek Tourism, a private initiative promoting Greece as a touristic destination, will be announcing the successful completion of its first task, to place a giant billboard in Times Square, New York, inviting Americans to visit Greece. The electronic billboard, which will be on display for 30 days, will remind the public of the natural beauty of the Greek land.
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