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attica Athens cradle of

attica Athens cradle of civi Photo: Y. Skoulas Gastronomy & Shopping Glyfada. The endless list of available sporting and leisure activities includes tennis, gliding, horse-riding, bird-watching, sailing, skin-diving, water-skiing, hiking and bowling. Athens is the Mediterranean capital with the most “blue flags” for its marinas and beaches. In the summer, when the days are long, most of the capital’s inhabitants ride the tram or one of the many city buses and head for a refreshing swim after a long day’s work. Most of the beaches lining Athens are very well organized, complete with lounge chairs, umbrellas, snack-bars and facilities for water sports, all for a nominal entrance fee. Well known for its leisure industry, the capital offers plenty of opportunity for fun, pleasure and relaxation at several adventure parks and amusement theme parks with rides and adrenaline filled attractions, roller coasters, bumper cars, rafting and the largest Ferris wheel in the Balkans. Nightlife & Entertainment Athens is virtually a paradise for night owls. Whether you start with dinner and then hit the clubs or begin with a couple of drinks before making your way to one of the many live music establishments, the city is sure to keep you entertained until the early hours. There are giant indoor-outdoor discos and clubs where famous Greek singers perform nightly to packed houses. In the winter, Athens club scene comes alive with shows ranging from blues-rock-jazz to traditional popular music and, naturally, punk-rap. In summer in particular, it appears that everyone is out on the town. The seaside resorts of Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza and the northern suburb of Kifissia are especially popular and provide a cool respite from the city. But choice is not limited to bars and clubs. There are countless coffee shops that are open all day until late at night, tavernas, restaurants, theatres and cinemas (both indoor and outdoor). Gastronomy & Shopping Athenians, like most Greeks, view dining out late in the evening as one of their main forms of entertainment. Literally thousands of traditional tavernas serving delicious, inexpensive food can be found throughout Athens and Attica. In addition, there are hundreds of restaurants, ranging from small, cosy bistros to ultra chic establishments, serving a wide variety of local and international cuisine. And of course there is the ubiquitous Greek souvlaki! Athens has an impressive variety of goods on offer, from top designer labels and exquisite jewellery to rugs, carpets and high quality leather goods. A large section of the city centre is now for pedestrians only, making shopping a real treat. Ermou has always been one of Athens' busiest shopping streets and is packed with clothing, accessory and quality souvenir stores. Nearby Voukourestiou has some fine jewellery shops and the district of Kolonaki is decidedly chic with 26

ization boutiques of top Greek fashion designers with successful international careers in Paris, New York and Milan. The downtown Monastiraki area encompassing the Flea Market is one of the most fascinating areas in Athens, with scores of tiny shops selling everything imaginable - souvenirs, copper pans, icons, ceramics, old coins, battered furniture, bags and shawls, folk art, etc. Monastiraki lies next to the Plaka, the old quarters of Athens at the foot of the Acropolis. With its winding narrow streets, neo-classical houses, tavernas, souvenir shops and old-world charm, the Plaka is undoubtedly one of the most attractive areas of the city. Conference Facilities Athens has been the choice of Professional Congress Organisers who have long ago been aware of the advantages involved in holding events in the Greek capital. Advanced infrastructures equipped with the latest technologies for meetings and congresses, air and land transport facilities, a hotel network that is among the best in the world and a climate that is very attractive to congressgoers, are just a few of the factors that have made Athens a success story in the field. The decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens energised a nation imbued with the historic memory of the Olympics of ancient times. Millions of visitors to Greece and billions of TV-viewers enjoyed a unique celebration of sports and culture on a more human scale, linking the ancient with the modern, when the Games returned to their birthplace in August 2004. The smashing success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games did not only prove the city’s immense capacity of organising major international events, it also left a legacy behind such as a great number of prestigious conference venues: Due to its amphitheatric shape and amazing acoustics, the Olympic Weighlifting Centre in Nikaia is slated to be used for cultural events and conferences, while the big sports complex built on the site of the former racetrack at Faliron Bay – on the southern coastal zone of Athens - will also be used as a state-of-the-art conference centre. In the Ano Liosia area, in the western suburbs of Athens, the Olympic Wrestling and Judo Center, with a 9,400-seat capacity, is converted into a conference and cultural venue centre. The Olympic Center for Rhythmic Gymnastics and Table Tennis in Galatsi (northeast of the centre of Athens), with 6,000 seat capacity, will be utilized for sports, cultural events, and conferences. In the Municipality of Markopoulo, in eastern Attica, the Olympic Equestrian Center along with the Olympic Shooting Center are slated to operate as reception areas for amateur sports, cultural events, and to serve as conference centres, as well as recreational and tourist areas. Olympic-related renovation fever and major investment also brought great changes in the accommodation sector. Backed by almost half a century of experience in hosting international visitors, as well as the reputation for Greek hospitality, major hotel chains and medium-to-small size units in the Greek capital have undergone extensive upgrades and renovation. Almost all units have obtained a professional makeover, targeting eclectic tourists and above all business travellers and conference organisers. Executive floors, business centres and the concept of "an office in your hotel room" have become almost standard features for Athens hotels. Committed to satisfy the growing global interest in Athens as a meetings destination and determined to accommodate the needs of the international meetings industry, the City of Athens established in March 2008 the Athens Convention Bureau (ACB), as a division of the Athens Tourism & Economic Development Company which is the official tourism board of the city. Athens is a dynamic city that matches upper-market conference infrastructure with its milestone monuments and glorious history, peaceful and safe atmosphere, strategic geographical position between three continents, gastronomy, markets and nightlife, modern services, traditional hospitality and inspiring working environment due to its climate and natural beauties. It can offer delegates what constitutes a sine qua non in terms of organisation, infrastructure, accommodation, transport and quality, which will certainly surprise and spoil the visitor. Choosing Athens for staging congresses and incentives is a sound investment and an assurance for the success of any event. Conference Facilities 27

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