Nothing major has changed since I wrote this in 2007. Major changes have taken place here in Athens prepatory to the Olympic games in 2004. Some are still coming on line like the metro which is adding stations here in Athens. Other on a national level are in progress such as much needed the Ignatia highway.
Most were long over due and finally got attention because of the upcoming worldwide Olympic 2004 spotlight on Greece and fears of Rezili or national humiliation. Billions in foreign funds helps too! Its one thing to know you need need improvement and another to pay for it! Greece is a beautiful country, but poor in infrastructure. Greece received 5.5 billion euros in Eu aid in 2002. That's 432 Eu for each of the 11,500,000 citizens of Greece.
Athens Mayor recently launched a catch-neuter-relase/home stray animal program scheme that aims to reduce the number of wandering packs of street canines before and long after the Olympics August 2004.
Strays will be micro-chipped and released back into their habitat at a cost of some 50,000 Euros so authorities will be able to identify them as stray animals again and receive pensions and other benefits for the rest of their lives. Authorities plan to neuter about 5,000 strays a year between the 4 clinics they will set up for another 1,400,000 euros thus ensuring the perpetuation of their tenure. Dogs breed a bit faster than they will be neutered and this promises to be another very good job for employees with no end in site for ambitious and industrious civil servants who show initiative.
The new airport is completed but the blue print was an old one so you have to walk and walk and walk. Did I say walk?
The New Metro, still being extended, is operational and pleasantly clean/fast with in station(s)installation exhibits of ancient and Byzantine artifacts found during construction. Metro fare is 70 euro cents and ask for the free map too! The Acropolis, Syntagma, Thission and Panepistimiou Metro stops all have cool artifacts on display. Other stops have an assortment of art work.
The completed tram track for the futuristic Italian designed electric trams departing Syntagma Sq., Athens center for parts of sea shore via Nea Smyrini, Kallithea and Neos Kosmos to Phaliron and Voula and. Open but subject to traffic conditions!
For Athens' many, many drivers, 90 km of new ring roads are now completed. Even to the airport, although the metro now goes there too. There are toll roads and 2.50 Eu is the scheduled new toll price up from the earlier 1.40!
2.25 km of Athens' Saronic Gulf shore is being beautified from Flisvos in Paleo Faliro to Glyfada, replete with new squares, parks, jetty's and bicycle course a la Barcelona, Spain. That's about a mile and half or so in total of promenade. 1 km = .6 m
The Athens area EOK public beaches of Vouliagmeni, Voula 1 and 2 and Varkiza are being upgraded and equipped with modern facilities. A small fee entitles one to showers, changing booths, umbrellas and lounge recliners known as Xaplo-strez. Umbrellas are Umbrellez. There are free beaches too and, if you have rented a car in Athens, several other options including coves. More below!
Omonia Sq. has been transformed yet again; from an confusing traffic circle, to a sun blasted cement wasteland juxtaposed with metal sculpture. Way to go! Tip: Omonia Sq. is The important downtown metro stop where the old electric train meets up with the new metro.
Several other smaller but major central squares are being re paved as well (including Exarhia Sq.), and a whole passel of new stadiums, facilities and major infrastructure upgrades are all now pretty much laying around doing little.