Greece Hub

5 Things You Can't Miss In Athens, Greece

ATH4 Harvey Barrison

This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital gay travel magazine for iOS and Android devices from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

AthensAthens gets a bad rap. For most Western gay travelers heeding the siren call of Mykonos and Santorini, it’s an unavoidable waypoint, to be avoided except for a quick tour of the Acropolis. But stay long enough to explore, and you’ll see how outdated that reputation is. While the country is grinding through its sixth year of recession, there’s no mistaking the energy in the air, and for visitors this translates to a burgeoning street life that feels like New York’s East Village 20 years ago when the first swanky cocktail bars were opening. There are new museums (the five-year old Acropolis Museum is a marvel); the city offers cutting-edge art galleries and performances; and there’s a rapidly evolving food scene with a number of Michelin-starred restaurants muscling into Souvlaki land.

Neighborhoods once considered quite dull and pedestrian (to wit: Agia Eirinis’ mid-level fabric district, yawn) have erupted in recent years as hot gathering places. Eirinis’ labyrinthine streets are now punctuated by super cool spots with funky names (like TAF, see below), attracting hipsters à la Grecque (who can work thick beards like no other race on earth!). The limited gay bar scene starts quite late and Gazi, the gayborhood, is still a hot spot late at night though, like many Western gay ghettos, it seems to be on the wane, giving way to straight gentrification.

Athens is ready to reclaim the spotlight in any Greek itinerary. If you’re heading to Mykonos or Santorini, take a few days to discover it. If you’re coming for work, spend a few days to enjoy its pleasures. If you’re coming for the beaches (and there are spectacular ones nearby), bracket your visit with the city’s historic and modern urban appeal. An early June visit means lovely warm weather and Athens Pride, held June 13 in Klafthmonos Square. Whenever you visit, on your next trip to Greece, make time for Athens, but first be sure to check out our top five picks below.

1. New Hotel: This exciting, boundary-busting 79-room hotel with informal but efficient service is centrally located between the National Garden and the Acropolis just 200 yards from Syntagma Square. The New Hotel sports its Modernist Fifties facade proudly but inside it is cutting edge with its insides completely refashioned from the existing materials in whimsical and exciting ways.

2. KuzinaThis funky cool restaurant sprawls over several floors of a renovated 19th-century building. One floor is devoted to art. You can eat on the ground floor but it’s best to schlep to the Terazza, the rooftop, which opens in early afternoon. It’s best right at sunset.

3. TAF: TAF (the Art Foundation) is an incredibly cool multi-functional space offering drinks, art, culture and a buzzing hive of activity in a beautifully lit space. Hipsters and attractive Athenians of all ages and sexual orientations hoist craft brews and organic Greek wines while enjoying the latest art installation or live musical act. Our friends at GayGuide Greece have a full rundown of gay venues updated frequently.

ATH1 Greg Neate Acropolis & Acropolis MuseumThe best way to see the Acropolis is in tandem with the stunning new Acropolis Museum. There are arguments for seeing each first — our recommended approach is to go to the Acropolis with a guide who can explain everything (and sneak you by some of the horrendous lines. Then head directly to the fabulous, beautifully designed museum to get some context. 

5. Astir BeachAstir Beach located in Vouliagmeni is the most “in” beach where you’ll find lots of men, including many closeted guys with their girlfriends. Rent a car for the day; take a taxi; or take the tram to Glyfada, then bus no. 114 or 116. The beach is clean and you can find many amenities (shops, cafe, restaurant, and sport facilities). There are even ruins (a temple to Apollo) so you know you’re really in Greece.

For even more insider recommendations in Athens, Thessaloniki and our favorite islands, as well as opinionated travel information and inspiration for destinations in the U.S. and around the globe, get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). 

Image credits: Top: Harvey Barrison; Right: Greg Neate; Bottom: Panos Asproulis

ATH5 Panos Asproulis

New Greek Justice Minister Promises Legal Recognition For Same-Sex Couples

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 4.37.56 PMGreece’s new left-wing government is promising to grant same-sex couples legal status reports ABC News. Greece’s Justice Minister Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos, who just took office on Jan. 27, addressed parliament on Monday saying that civil partnerships, which were first legislated in 2008, would extend to gay couples but did not provide a timeframe for when the changes would occur.

The pledge comes two weeks after Greece’s left-wing Syriza party ousted conservatives in a general election and formed a coalition government with a right-wing, anti-bailout party, one which in the past has opposed awarding gay partners legal status. In 2013, the Council of Europe’s Court of Human Rights awarded plaintiffs damages after they successfully challenged the Greek state over civil partnerships law.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) Explains Why Same-Sex 'Massages' Make Gays Unfit for Military Service - VIDEO


Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who has found ways to oppose gun control because...same-sex marriage (?), was quite vocal recently about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Of course he opposed the repeal of the discriminatory policy, but who knew his reasoning could be this far-fetched.

When the ancient Greeks and man-on-man massages play into your law-making, you can't exactly claim you "know your history," as Gohmert does. 

Right Wing Watch reports on his statement:

"I've had people say, 'Hey, you know, there's nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks,'" he said. "Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it's a different kind of fighting, it's a different kind of war and if you're sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you're not going to last very long. It's guerrilla fighting. You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that's what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did ... as people have said, 'Louie, you have got to understand, you don't even know your history.' Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It's not a good idea." 

Right, because gay servicemembers, given the chance to enter combat, will resort to the ancient Greek philosophy: massages before fighting, what could go wrong?

Someone please keep history from repeating itself and do not reelect Gohmert.

Watch the historical crash-and-burn, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) Explains Why Same-Sex 'Massages' Make Gays Unfit for Military Service - VIDEO" »

Protests Follow Delay In Greece Civil Partnership Battle

Protests in Greece

Protesters gathered outside parliament buildings in Greece last Friday following the government’s decision to delay legislating civil unions for same-sex couples, reports The Huffington Post.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6dc84a9970b-320wiThe delay comes despite a European court ruling that Greece has been discriminating against LGBT people.

Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said civil partnerships had been left out of anti-racism legislation because further study was needed on how the partnerships would affect tax, social insurance and family law.

Last year, the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights ordered Greece to pay damages to four gay couples who had taken a discrimination case against the country.

Another 162 gay couples from Greece filed a similar complaint in the international court earlier this year to pressure the government to change the law.

However, same-sex marriage remains a divisive issue in Greece, where several prominent members of the Greek Orthodox Church and members of the ruling conservative party have argued that civil partnerships for same-sex couples would undermine the institution of family.

Tom Koukoulis, one of the plaintiffs who attended the demonstration said that the legal battle is “about the right to ... visit a relative in hospital, to file a joint tax declaration, and all the rest. We do think it is going to happen because we are on the right side of history."

European Court of Human Rights: Greece Must Allow Civil Unions for Gay Couples

Yesterday we reported that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that persecuted gays from Africa have grounds for asylum in European Union member countries.

GreeceBut there's more, the WSJ reports:

A separate ruling was issued by the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU and has jurisdiction over 47 countries, including Russia and Turkey. That court said that countries that legally recognize relationships outside marriage, such as civil unions, must extend that option to same-sex couples. That ruling could force legal changes in Greece and Lithuania, which currently permit civil unions only for heterosexual couples...

The civil union judgment was prompted by a case brought by two Greek gay couples:

The Strasbourg-based court said that the Greek government failed to explain convincingly why such unions shouldn't be open to same-sex partnerships. The court noted that, in 17 of the 19 European countries with legal alternatives to marriage, those unions also included gay couples.

"The decision is a small revolution. Greece has finally lost the case and the Greek government is being dragged into becoming European," said Grigoris Vallianatos, one of the complainants. "The issue of gays is no longer one of sex hidden behind the bushes, rather something that relates to the Greek family."

Olympic Flame Met With Protest In Athens Over Russian Anti-Gay Laws

(twitter Vivian Efthimiopoulou)

On Saturday, a throng of people gathered to protest Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws as the Olympic flame made its way through Athens, Greece. The protest was reportedly peaceful.

The AP reports:

The activists sat on the steps of the Acropolis Museum, with some holding rainbow flags, while others held a banner reading "Homophobia is not in the Olympic Spirit" and "Love is not Propaganda."

Police presence was light and there were no incidents.

The official handover ceremony will take place later Saturday.

This protest could precede an arduous journey for the flame. Where else will it be met with outcry about Russia's recent legislation? 


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