It’s been 2 years since I last got on a bike….

So, 2 and a half years ago, while we were still living in Palaio Faliro, I used to cycle every morning for about half an hour before going to  work and more on the weekends. I loved cycling by the sea when the rest of the city was still asleep.

It helped me a lot with a diet that I had started and generally I felt better doing a little exercise everyday.

Unfortunately I started to exercise fanatically. I started to compete against myself using an App called Strava and tried to improve my score daily..one day my knee gave out and I couldn’t continue cycling…

I had to give up cycling altogether to get better. After that happened we moved to Nea Filadelfia and the bicycles remained in the storeroom. We have talked continuously about getting them out fixed up and go for rides but in the meantime we got a dog, Farah, who needs two walks a day and the bikes remained where they were.

When we started doing the private dining for tourists at home we thought about how in the future we could work together with others to combine maybe food and bike tours or some such thing.

Then our friend Alexis told us about Dimos. Dimos is an incredible person who organises tour around Athens by bike….and I was thinking how dangerous is it to do a bike tour in a very bike unfriendly city such as Athens but there are ways around that.

We went to see him and loved his great personality , we found we had common friends and acquaintances, and he lives in an apartment with the most impressive view of the Acropolis and the inner city and a large outside terrace.

We met there for coffee one afternoon and a chat..about cycling..the city of Athens..about Greeks, literature of which he has great knowledge, publishing which he has done for years, about travel and tours and just about everything..an amazing man!

He said it’s all well and good talking about it but we should go with him on a bike tour to get an idea of exactly what it entails…so we booked for the following week. We told him we had done no cycling for two years and not much exercise either!

He said don’t worry, it’ll be fine….. 

The days passed by quickly and we met him at the base of his building in Voreou St Monastiraki where he has a shop for his bike tours and we chose bikes for the tour according to our height etc. so off we went.

We thought we wouldn’t be out long so we didn’t even wear helmets..but in the end the bike tour took 3 and a half hours and it needed to!!

I didn’t know what to expect and generally I didn’t expect it to be easy…..

In the end I wasn’t right. The route was easy and anyone could have done it even if they were unfit.

We started in Monastiraki, went down to Psyrri and after arrived at Thisseion…

We went up towards the Acropolis via Plaka and up the pedestrian walkway leading up the hill to the entrance to the Acropolis.

At the top of the hill we turned left and arrived at the little church of St Dimitri Loubardiari and then continued on towards Philopappou with its amazing view of the Acropolis and the city and then left via the back way through Petralona, Thisseion again and back to Monastiraki!

During the ride we stopped, admired the sites and heard the history of everywhere we went from Dimos and it was a truly stunning experience that evening.

I have to mention that the hill in Petralona nearly killed me but I managed it finally so all was OK in the end!

At the end we stopped at his apartment for a little water and to catch our breath while looking at the sacred rock from Dimos’s beautiful terrace directly opposite.

Generally the tour surprised me and is really worth doing! You see the city from a completely different perspective and I would certainly love to do it again!

Dimos has in his portfolio of tours others, which go down to the sea from the city (on a dedicated bike path) and he also does one to the area around the Academy of Plato with a talk about Philosophy! That’s one that I would love to do!

Information can be found here! They have a wonderful site and you can get all the information you need.

If you decide to go tell Dimos I sent you …he will be glad to hear it!

 

 

Published in GREEK JOURNEYS

It was a few years ago when we last spent Easter in Athens, it was nice and lovely but after that the countryside won our hearts, as spring in Greece is probably the best time of the year to visit and explore.

Even the Cyclades (the islands) that we usually think of as scorched and dry and brown, during the Spring months are full of colour, beautiful rolling green hills and the scents of the herbs permeating the air as you walk among them.

It isn't strange that this time of he year, that signifies the revival of nature, is so closely related to Easter and the Resurrection. 

Since Ancient Greek times and even travelling further back in history, people “killed” and resurrect their Gods… 

The Greek God Dionysus died and was revived every year, another Greek demi-god Adonis, travelled to ancient Egypt where the God Osiris was killed and was resurrected and his son Oros was crucified between two thieves, the Indian God Krishna and the Persian-Indian God Mithra was born on the 25th of December by a virgin mother and so many more connections to Christ… as they both got crucified and both ascended into the heavens. And coming to the west the God Odin was crucified on the tree of life… 

Some information about it all you can see here, here και here!

It is almost comical that the burial customs of Christ were not accepted by the official Christian church and were only fairly recently embedded in the rituals. 

But it is not easy for church to stand up to customs going back thousands of years. It simply integrates them to it’s own rituals and moves on.

Athens is an ancient city. It’s temples and churches are numerous and in many layers and material from temples were used to build churches and so on. 

It is said that at the time that the Cathedral of Athens was built, right after the second world war, the city was very poor and so there was not much funding around for the project. So they decided to demolish about 70 old churches from the Byzantine era in order to find the materials needed to finish the new Cathedral.

So the city has hundreds of churches and each church has it’s own procession of the bier (the framework holding the coffin) of Christ on Good Friday and so on the streets that night the crowds are crazy and all the processions meet up. Many Churches are in the Plaka area of Athens so that is a great place to go on that night to experience it all.

This year, with so many people leaving Athens to celebrate Easter away from the city, and add to that the beautiful weather,  Athens was simply at it’s best! 

We came to the centre of town on Good Friday and followed the procession at a small church built in the 11th century A.D. and after that we went around the Plaka area to visit the other churches and see the Epitaphs there adorned with flowers. We had a great time!

Next day I had organised a food tour for a group of Spanish people down town and we had a blast! Wonderful guests and was such a pleasure showing them around the city and my favourite places to grab a bite. We had a really lovely time and feels like I made some new friends!

Every day of the week before Easter, some people from the island of Naxos come to Athens to sell their wonderful products. Mostly cheeses and meat!

They set up their stalls on Miaouli str. off  Monastiraki sqr. I go every year to buy my favourite cheeses from there especially the beautiful hard cheese called Arseniko. I have never bought meat from them but my friend Savvas said that I must try it next year.!

Easter Sunday we spent at home and how nice it was! 

The garden was just incredible all in bloom and the mosquitos are not to be seen yet. So we set up a table there next to the pond and we had a great soup with fresh carrots, beetroot salad, a pie with wild greens and a stuffed leg of lamb with herb pesto from the garden and some peppers. 

Our friend T. Had arranged for the desserts and wine and they were all fab! 

Food and wine and all until late and we just had the best time!!! 

The next day we went down town again and it was just super! Weather was stunning yet again and it felt great being a tourist in your own city!

So I definitely suggest that next year you stay in Athens for Easter or just visit the city!!! You will have a great time for sure!

Published in GREEK JOURNEYS