Questions Before You Go
WHAT IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS WILL I NEED?
You should have your passport with you at all times as theoretically, at least, you could be asked to produce it by the authorities at some inopportune time.
WILL I NEED A VISA?
WHAT ABOUT INSURANCE?
Any U.S. or Canadian citizen who plans to spend more than 90 days in Greece and/or any other member of the Schengen block of countries (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands) within a six-month period must obtain a special visa BEFORE entry into the Schengen zone. This visa must be issued by a Greek consulate/embassy in a country where the applicant is a resident, and the application process can take at least a month. Read more detailed information here about visas, residence permits, and insurance requirements. . .
If you plan to drive in Greece, U.S. drivers must carry a valid U.S. license AND an international driver’s permit. The U.S. Department of State has authorized two organizations to issue international driving permits: AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
WHERE WILL I LIVE?
Participants in the academic year and summer session members can all be accommodated at the School’s residence facility, Loring Hall. Depending on the time of year, space is sometimes also available for other visitors. Loring is the focal point of social and intellectual life at the School and has 26 rooms, most of which are singles, with common bathroom facilities. There are limited accommodations for married couples.
The School does not offer assistance with housing other than at Loring Hall. Those seeking an apartment in Athens can try online websites, such as Air B&B, Home Away, Holiday Lettings, and Flip Key, which members have found useful in the past. The Assistant Director keeps a pdf of all of the local apartment listings that are kept on the Bulletin Board in the Member Saloni; please contact the AD directly for this information.
(Note: the School provides this for informational assistance only and does not imply endorsement by its posting.)
WHERE WILL I EAT?
Meals are provided at reasonable cost in the Loring Hall dining room. Although there are eating options in the upscale area of Kolonaki where the School’s main building is located, it is only a five-minute Metro ride or ten-minute walk to cheaper and more diverse dining in areas like Psiri, Pangrati, or the Plaka.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
Athens is a vibrant city with plenty to do and see. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture contains details on opening times, staff, and contact information for sites and museums throughout the country, as well as links to various cultural activities.
HOW WILL I GET AROUND?
Getting around Athens, and the rest of Greece, is much easier than before the 2004 Olympics. The underground Metro system runs almost to the door of the School (“Evangelismos” stop) from the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, and then allows access to most of the city. The suburban rail system (“Proastiakos”) provides access to Corinth, but, for exploring the rest of the country, bus and air services are more reliable than train.
Be aware that transportation strikes can occur. Before traveling, consult the Livin'/Lovin' Greece website or the Greek Strikes website, both of which constantly updates the most up-to-date information regarding transport strikes.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK?
Above all, bring good, sturdy, broken-in walking shoes or boots, and hats. Long walks are the rule on School trips. You will need both warm and cold weather clothing, as well as rain gear. Bring layers of clothing so that you can bundle up if the weather turns cold. It does get cold (40 to 50s Fahrenheit) in the winter. It does snow but usually not often or much. Students should also bring a travel alarm clock and a flashlight. Likewise, specific brands of medicines and toiletries (e.g. contact lens solutions, deodorants) may not be readily available, so Members should be prepared either to purchase alternative brands or bring an adequate supply of their own. You will not need formal dress wear, but there will be garden parties, lectures, receptions, and dinners where you will want to look at least presentable. Skirt, low heels are suggested for women and coat and tie for men.
Pack the minimum you think you will need and then discard half of that. Do not take more on any given excursion than you can carry easily yourself a quarter of a mile.
The School’s Blegen and Gennadius libraries are non-circulating, and you may wish to bring with you dictionaries and texts. Pocket translations of Pausanias, Herodotus, and Thucydides are extremely useful. Modern Greek grammars and dictionaries are available in Athens, but if you already have them, you should also bring them with you. A basic guidebook for Greece will also be useful. The Blue Guide is the most complete and informative.
The Saloni in Loring Hall has a piano and a few guitars, and those interested in playing it should bring their own music.
SHOULD I BRING MY COMPUTER?
Members generally bring their own laptops. There is also a computer lab in the School which is available to Members at all times and is equipped with PCs, Macintoshes, printers, and scanners. A limited number of general applications are available in the computer lab, including word processing, database, spreadsheet, and graphics programs (e.g., the Adobe suite), but Members should make sure their computers are equipped with whatever programs they are accustomed to using.
Internet access from computers in the computer lab or from Members’ own computers is available. Within the library, Members can connect to the internet both through wireless connections. There is wireless internet access available in Loring Hall.
The Blegen Library makes available a number of internet resources, including L’Année Philologique, JSTOR, Dyabola, TLG, and WorldCat; additional CD-ROMs are available from terminals in the library. Consult the IT Department’s FAQ section for more.
I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF TO BRING. SHOULD I SHIP IT TO ATHENS?
Book parcels to Members of the School generally arrive without customs formalities (although V.A.T. is now being charged on all items, including books, whether sent in or purchased here), and books are all more expensive in Athens than abroad (except, of course, for books published in Greece).
Sending personal belongings to Greece by means other than air is extremely difficult. Packages and freight sent by sea will take anywhere from 5-9 months. You should, therefore, bring as much with you as you can or send it by airfreight. Address shipments to yourself in care of the American School and make sure that the forwarding agent in America provides you with all the necessary documents (bill of lading, etc.) and the name and address of the receiving agent in Greece. You will have to go, personally, to customs in order to retrieve your shipment.
HOW DO I GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE SCHOOL?
The School is located at Souidias 54 in Kolonaki. The main entrance at number 54, is at the corner of Souidias and Gennadiou streets. There, you will find a guard house, which is staffed 24 hours a day.
If you are heavily laden, it is best to take a taxi. Change money at a bank at the airport (or use one of the ATMs). The taxi stand is on the lower (arrivals) level of the airport at exit 4. Tell the driver to take you to “Kolonaki”, “pano apo ton Evangelismo” (to “Kolonaki [the area of Athens where the School is located] up from Evangelismos” which is the hospital just below the School). All taxi drivers know Kolonaki and the hospital. The School is located one block up the hill from the hospital at “Souidias peninda tessera,” Souidias 54, at the corner of Gennadiou and Souidias Streets. The fare will be 38.00€, along with an extra baggage surcharge (usually 1.00€ a bag). Between the hours of 12.00p and 6.00a, the taxi fare increases to 55.00€.
If you are traveling light, public transport from the airport is efficient and inexpensive. The metro line 3 (the blue line), which terminates at Egaleo, stops at the "Evangelismos" station--directly below the School. Tickets are 10.00€ and can be purchased before heading down to the train platform. Once you alight at "Evangelismos," leave the station by the exit on the left of the ticket hall and continue more or less straight (in the direction of the large Hilton Hotel) ahead along to the next street (Odos Gennadeiou). Turn left (up the hill) and walk to Souidias Street at the top (3 long blocks); the guard house is at the gate on your left. To reach Loring Hall, the residence and dining hall of the School, cross Souidias and go left. Loring Hall will be on your right, the first building as you go down the street.
There are two public buses - the X94 and the X95 which depart from the arrivals level near exit gate 5. Buy a ticket from the stand next to the buses for 6.00€ and validate it in one of the orange machines on the bus. [N.B. Always be aware of your belongings on public transportation in Greece, as there are known to be pickpockets.]
The X95 bus (“labeled “Syntagma Express”) goes directly to the Evangelismos Metro (subway) station. Get off the bus there and turn right along the park to the next street (Odos Gennadiou). Turn left (up the hill) and walk to Souidias Street at the top (3 long blocks); the guard house is at the gate on your left. To reach Loring Hall, the residence and dining hall of the School, cross Souidias and go left. Loring Hall will be on your right, the first building as you go down the street.
Alternatively, the X94 bus (labeled “Ethniki Amyna”) will take you to its final stop - the “Ethniki Amyna” metro (subway) station. Your 6.00€ ticket is valid for a connection to the metro. Go downstairs and take the metro in the direction of “Egaleo” to the “Evangelismos” station.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
For information not available here, remember that the School’s administrative staff is there to help and would welcome your questions.