Before you guys start thinking about something in a bikini, let me clarify that the 'bird' that one should look for in the general vicinity of Attiki, but more specifically at the lake of Vouliagmeni, is a very brightly coloured Greek 'Kingfisher.' This little bird was well known in ancient times as 'Halcyon.' Today unfortunately, as have gone the way of many exotic species of wildfowl, the 'Alkioni' (modern Anglesized spelling) have become so scarce that few modern Athenians could even tell you the name of this beautiful and mythical bird. If you are at the lake, early in the year, when the weather has become suddenly warm, but only for a short time...the time of the year known to the Greeks as 'Alkioni'...then maybe...just maybe you will catch a quick flickering glimps of this elusive elegant bird. If not, you may see a likeness of its namesake on one side of the Greek National Lottery ticket! For the wonderful myth of the Alkioni, please fly on to my next tip...
Can you spot the little fellow on the edge of the Lake? Is he looking for little insects floating on the surface of the water to feed his young or is he thinking of going for a swim?
Everyday of the year, you will see local people walking along the footpath on the mountain above the Lake of Vouliagmeni. People walk their dogs here, or just go for exercise.
If you look carefully, you may see one of many 'Perdika' birds that have been released here by local hunters for their dogs to practice finding. Or, you may take something to dig and cut the wild 'horta' especially Roka that grows along the rocks and at the top of the mountain.
One day, as my friend and I were walking her dog, Thalos, we found some very strange 'holes' that had obviously been carved by some local 'artist?' We are not sure who or why these recessed carvings have been made in the rock at the top of this mountain. Maybe someone just has a lot of time on their hands and enjoy cutting into the rock to make some kind of a statement...who knows what goes through the minds of artists! At any rate, perhaps the birds are thankful for some fresh water that gathers there after a rain.
If you walk here, you may find these also, but you will have to go off the 'beaten path,' even further than this normal 'off th beaten path!'
One of the best, if not THE best beaches along the Attiki coast, is the public 'Plaz' at Vouliagmeni. This is the public beach on the North shoreline of the Vouliagmeni Bay, just across from the Vouliagmeni main square.
This beach is well organized, with very clean sand, changing rooms, toilets, concession stands with drinks and snacks, umbrellas, wooden lounging chairs and LIFEGUARDS.
It is a perfect beach for children, as the sand is clean and the water is fairly shallow for some distance going into the sea, and because there are lifeguards and a first-aid station.
This is the beach where young Athenians often go when they can't go far from their homes, usually because of work or school, and where they go to be seen and to 'see.'
My first visit this summer, 2007, I capriciously thought of walking along the beach and taking pictures of the 'tattoos!' (A great excuse, don't you think, to start up a conversation!) Actually, it was quite fun and the looks on the faces of the people I asked if it were o.k. to take a picture of their tattoo, was worth a thousand words! I also told them that I was taking them for my pages on VT! What a hoot! Most of the young tattoo bearers were more than willing to comply with my unusual request and I could tell that they were very proud of their personal art work displayed on their tanned and muscled bodies!
So, next time you are at the beach girls, (or guys) try taking your own portfolio of Tattoos at the Beach!
Even if you just bask in the sun or sleep in a lounge chair, the peacefullness of this place is difficult to beat. Best in early Spring and late Fall or when the sea is too rough and windy to swim. Perfect for those who suffer from arthritis or psoriasis or for those who want to swim 'laps' in a natural setting. A very civilized way to spend a Sunday without getting caught in heavy traffic!
There are many beaches at Vouliameni. There are expensive pay beaches, (Astir Beach) and free beaches (all along the coast) There are rocky beaches and sandy beaches. The best all-round beach is the public 'Plaz.'
The Public Plaz in Vouliagmeni is clean, has great chairs and umbrellas, life guards, concession stands, paddle boats to rent, showers, clean toilets, waste areas and no rocks going into the sea! So, see you there?
Pausanias believes that in this location Leto, who was pregnant by Zeus and chased by angry Hera, thinking that she was about to give birth to the twins brother and sister, Apollo and Artemis, loosened her gilt belt (zoster).
The temple was founded in the 6th C. B.C. (Archaic Period). It is a rectangular construction measuring 10.80mX6.00m and consists of a sekos and an adyton. The floor of the timple is a unique and fine construction of big, rectangular slabs.
There is a marble alter bearing an inscription that refers to the repair of the temple during the 4th C. B.C. when Polystratos was priest of the temple.
The temple of Apollo Zoster was discovered when children from the Vouliagmeni Orphanage were playing on the beach sometime in 1926.
If you really want to treat yourself to a very, very special beach experience, and if you can pay an extra amount for that special occasion, then by all means GO FOR IT! Going to the Astir Beach is like going to your favourite expensive restaurant. Maybe not an everyday event, but it sure feels good when you are there. Granted, the ticket is 15 Euros during the weekdays, and 25 on Saturday and Sunday, but if you consider the money you would have spent driving; gas, road toles, hot cars, traffic, nerves, food out, long tiring drives home..then I think a close-by luxury day at Astir Beach is well worth the extra cost!
Once you get in, Astir Beach has a great Beach Bar and Restaurant. You can have your meal brought straight to your chair on the beach by the waiters and waitresses who gladly attend your hunger for something tasty to eat. Or, you can sit in the lovely beach side open air restaurant and enjoy a casual meal. Prices are not more than they would be at a nearby restaurant and even a bit cheaper than might be expected.
Astir Beach has a Starbuck's coffee shop just for you. While you are drinking your coffee, you can lay on the luxury beach beds and just laze away the day! What better way to spend a hot summer day?
Please don't get sick at AStir Beach...but if you do, don't worry too much...there is a very modern and clean First Aid room and Doctor on duty to assist you.