Tag Archives: Funicular

Lycabettus Hill – Fond Memories from a Lovely Spot in Athens

By Lakshmi:

Lycabettus Hill, a limestone rock over a 1,000 feet tall is one of the highest points in the city of Athens.  You can pretty much spot this landmark with the Church of St. George from many points in the city.  Given all the bad rap Athens gets as a city (congestion, pollution, not a place to hang around for too long), this spot away from the crowds is a lovely place to soak in the city and its views.

On our first trip to Athens, the discovery of Lycabettus Hill gave my husband a tremendous source of joy.  Eureka!  He had discovered the perfect workout.  Run up and down the spiral path 3-4 times and get an amazing challenge.  So, while he indulged in his drive to best his time, I soaked in what the venue had to offer.

First, you can get to the top of Lycabbettus Hill either on foot or using the funicular railway.  Given what I just mentioned about my husband, my taking the two-minute funicular ride would have been viewed as a major act of laziness.  So, while he ran, I walked my way to the top.

It was a lovely clear day and it was not too crowded either.  Once up there, I spent time taking in the 360 degree views and identifying the various places that we had either been to or had to cover.  Next I stopped at the Church of St. George and after offering a prayer and lighting candles, alighted to the cafe to reward myself with a treat.  There was absolutely no sense of guilt as I watched my husband continuing his run.  In fact, I might have just eaten enough for two!

At the hilltop, there was also an open air theatre where many a renowned artist has performed.  So, you might want to time your trip with a musical celebration as well.

The second time up at the hill, I was with my father and the girls and this time we took the funicular up there.  While I did feel some guilt at not walking up, it wasn’t strong enough to prevent me from enjoying my dessert and coffee.

I would love to go back and visit and if I do, would actually love to take a picnic lunch up to have an amazing meal with such lovely surroundings.

Lycabettus Hill is a nice long walk from Syntagma Square.  Alternately, you can take the metro to the Evagelismos stop and walk from there.

First Impressions of Quebec- A French Experience in Canada

By Rohan:

We checked into our little hotel in Montreal, thinking there was so much to do and see that we could never imagine conquering it all. Next to us was a family buying train tickets to see Quebec, a city that I thought was similar to Montreal in architecture and culture. I could not have been more wrong. As the day progressed, I noticed more people following in that family’s footsteps and buying their tickets to the city. So as flexible travelers, we decided to see what the big deal was about Quebec.

Our trained pulled into the station on a bright Sunday morning and the lines for the train station coffee shop were already beginning to form. We grabbed our bags from the compartment above us and double-checked to make sure we had our return ticket. Since we only had a day in Quebec and no prior knowledge of any of the attractions, we just decided to wing it. We told the cab driver to take us “downtown” so we could at least get a sense of what this city looked like. The drive was picturesque to say the least. To our right, there was a sparkling river with everything from fishing boats to cruise ships filing in and out. To our left was… a wall?

Quebec was designed by the French to serve as a city rich in art and ideas but also for protection during battles like the French and Indian War. It’s a unique city, boasting a fortified wall that stretches endlessly and several cannons and turrets perched overhead.

As we entered the main city, we noticed the roads began to become steeper and bumpier. We’re not talking asphalt. We’re talking cobblestone. Seventeenth century cobblestone designed for horses to be exact. The cab driver looks in the rearview mirror and grins.

“First time in Quebec?”

After a long nap on the train, I was able to churn out enough energy to nod. The anticipation was building and the sights became more and more inspiring. Busy streets turned into quiet alleys with boutique stores and coffee shops. Modern skyscrapers began to blend into impressive fortresses. Topping it all off was the Chateau Frontenac, a building that is considered to be one of the most beautiful hotels in North America. And boy does it live up to that title! It looks like a palace with strong brick walls, gothic architecture, and Disneyland-like spires. Walk inside and you are treated to furniture from the 18th century, stunning glass chandeliers, and beautiful works of art like the real oil paintings in the lobby.

Exit the hotel and you are at the highest point of Quebec. Here, you can take a funicular to all the shops and restaurants or just kick back, grab a cold drink, and enjoy the view! There are remnants of old battle stations you can explore, making everywhere you look seem special. If you’re in Quebec, I highly recommend first taking a taxi to the Frontenac and then working your way downhill, literally eating through the bakeries and pastry shops as you make your way to the surface. It’s the perfect way to spend a day in French-inspired heaven.