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, 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, but none for children.
The School does not offer assistance with housing other than at Loring Hall. Those seeking an apartment in Athens can find listings here.
(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.
For dining, nightlife, and events in Athens, consult Time Out Athens.
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. Hiring a car is expensive and driving in Athens can be nerve-wracking.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK?
Above all, bring good, sturdy, broken-in walking shoes or boots, hats, and sunscreen. 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 50’s Fahrenheit) in the winter. It does snow but usually not often or much. Students should also bring a travel alarm 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 very useful. The Blue Guide is the most complete and informative.
The Saloni in Loring Hall has a piano and CD player. Those interested might want to bring their own music or CD’s.
SHOULD I BRING MY COMPUTER?
Members generally bring their own laptops and have experienced little trouble bringing them into the country. 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, 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 and ethernet connections. However, Members who wish to connect to the internet from their tables in the library should make every effort to bring computers equipped with wireless cards since the majority of seats in the library are not yet wired with ethernet 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.
WHEN SHOULD I ARRIVE AT THE SCHOOL?
You should plan to be in residence by the evening of September 7, 2012. Loring Hall opens at noon on that day; you will not be able to have access to your room before then. Please notify Nicholas Blackwell, Asst. Director, as soon as possible when and by what means you expect to reach Athens. Should you arrive earlier, you will need to secure your own accommodations. The following are relatively inexpensive hotels: Achilleas (210-32-33-197), Marble House Pension (210-92-34-058), Thisseon (210-34-67-634), Phaidra (210-32-38-461).
HOW DO I GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE SCHOOL?
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,” the corner of Gennadiou and Souidias Streets. The fare should be somewhere around 30 euros, depending on traffic, time of day, etc.
If you are traveling light, public transport from the airport is efficient and inexpensive. 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 5.00 euros and validate it in one of the orange machines on the bus. [N.B. It is necessary to be wary on public conveyances in Athens. Professional groups of pickpockets are now working them.]
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); cross Souidias and go left. Loring Hall, the residence and dining hall of the School, will be on your right, the first building as you go down the street. Ring the bell on the metal gate to gain entrance.
Alternatively, the X94 bus (labeled “Ethniki Amyna”) will take you to its final stop - the “Ethniki Amyna” metro (subway) station. Your 5.00 euro ticket is valid for a connection to the metro. Go downstairs and take the metro in the direction of “Egaleo” to the “Evangelismos” station. Leave the station by the exit on the left of the ticket hall and continue more or less straight ahead along to the next street (Odos Gennadeiou). Turn left (up the hill) and walk to Souidias Street at the top (3 long blocks); cross Souidias and go left. Loring Hall, the residence and dining hall of the School, will be on your right, the first building as you go down the street. Ring the bell on the metal gate to gain entrance.
N.B. Metro Line 3 runs from the airport to the Evangelismos Metro station. A ticket costs 8.00 euros and must be validated before you enter the train.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
For information not available here, remember that the School’s administrative staff is there to help and would welcome your questions.