Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jogging in Athens #1: The Olympic Stadium

When you're living overseas one of the most effective ways to get yourself settled and feeling like you really live in a place is to start a jogging regiment. It helps you get your game back, while also making you feel like you're an active member of the community. It also helps you pretend to stay in shape when you're usually sitting on your rear in the library. So if you're interested in jogging in Greece, I'll be posting some routes here.

I like greenery, so my main jogging spots are in places where there are trees. The most fitting place to begin is the Olympic Stadium. No, you can't run on the stadium track itself, since they've got that thing locked up tight. Instead, there's a track up at the top of the stands, running along behind the seats.

It's pretty soft and cushy on the feet and miracle of miracles has the distance in meters painted along the wall. If you're taller than me and can see over said wall, you'll have a nice view of the city. Halfway along the track there is a path that runs up the next-door hill, which is covered with trees and is a pleasant place to wander about.

The main path is well-maintained and, if you choose, there are very short dirt paths that you can take to vary things up. The hill is not particularly large nor the path that long, but it is steep in places. If you follow the 'outer ring,' you'll find some decent things to look at.

There also some archaic looking pieces of exercise thingies, if you are interested in climbing ropes, hanging on rings, doing sit-ups and that sort of stuff.

Some things to keep in mind. First, because the Olympic Stadium is a tourist destination, there are actually bathrooms down below at the front of the Stadium. This will probably be the only jogging route with that luxury. Second, the track is pretty well-used, so there will always be some other people walking or jogging along it. If you go up through the trees, and you are a woman, keep your eye out. Violent crime is very rare in Greece, but for some reason a large number of men think public exposure is acceptable. Be prepared. Your best bet is to yell loudly, ridicule or confront the person. After all, their whole point is to freak women out - so be aggressive instead.

This has never happened to me before, but I've heard of two great ways for dealing with this sort of situation. If you happen to have a camera, take a picture. This upsets them, what with the 'shame culture' thing going on. As another alternative, at the Stadium a few weeks ago a teenager chased after two Associate Members with his junx hanging out. To his dismay, one of those girls turned around, chased him down the hill, grabbed him by the hair, and beat the crap out of him until he cried...a story with a happy ending! All in all, though, jogging in Greece is a pretty safe endeavor, so don't let the creepo's get you down.

The stadium is located at Vasileos Konstantinou about 2km from Evangelismos. If you are coming from Lykabittos, the easiest way is to go down the hill to where Vas. Soph. and Vas. Kontant. intersect at the Hilton. Turn right down Vas. Kontant. so that the Hilton and Art Museum are on your left. Walk for a while.

When you get to the Stadium, you will realize that every single gate is locked. For some reason that I cannot understand, all the gates that would allow the public to enjoy the shady park or the running track are closed.

Instead, take the little street (Agras) on the left of the Stadium.

When you get to the main road, you will see on your right the public buildings associated with the Stadium, and usually there is a little door that is open. Just stroll on through like you own the place, go up the slope, and there you'll be. Happy Jogging.



What a great posting. So much better than jogging on Lykavettos, where I was once attacked by a dog and had to deal with teenagers hanging cats, junkies and exhibitionists. The only bummer is that once you've reached the end of the Stadium horse-shoe, you have to turn around. It is amusing, however, to see how others facilitate this switch, like swimmers in a pool. Keep on joggin'/bloggin' -Kostis

Johanna said...

Just did this run this morning! Thanks for the directions :)