Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jogging in Athens #2: The University Run

One of my favorite walks/jogs in Athens runs from Lykabittos Hill down through the University to the base of Mt. Hymettos. Like the Stadium run (Jogging in Athens #1), there is approximately 2km of city walking to do before you get to the relaxing, 'outdoorsy' bits. In total, the path is roughly 5km in one direction.

Here's how it goes. Head down Lykabittos to the Hilton. Go past the hotel on Leoforos Vasileos Alexandrou - this is the street that runs between the Hilton and the Art Museum. Follow this for just a few blocks until you turn left on Euphronios St. - you'll know you're in the right spot because this is where everyone has inexplicably decided to park their cars on the sidewalk. Cross over Hymettos St. and do a little jog to the left, where you will see the entrance to the University (called the Athens Polytechnic), which has a little gaurd gate.

Go through the gate and you will have entered a magical place where people actually do exercise. There is a long stretch with nice side walks, green lawns and sports areas (i.e., a scary concrete track and rusty basketball hoops). Walk along here until the little sidewalking bit dead ends (the paved road keeps going). You will see a gravel road with a yellow barrior across it to keep out cars. This is your destination point.

Now you have entered what I consider the University 'park' area. You'll see people wandering around, walking, riding their bikes over little dirt ramps (which still give me chills and reminders of my childhood's worst skinned knee). You will also see people with their dogs, many of whom have not heard of a thing called a 'leash law.' Today I got pseudo-attacked by a lady's dog. The creature did the whole run up to you, growl, look menancing, bark, slaver, nip at your pants, repeating the whole process any time I tried to move on. The lady had another dog she was trying to hold on to so she just kept yelling at her aggressive dog to 'Ela, Ela!' (trans. 'Get over here!). So obviously this went on for a while because the dog had no interest in getting over there. I didn't get bitten, of course, but it made me a tad more wary when I went past another dude with his rottweiler sitting sphinx-like in the grass. Not on a leash.

Anyways, this woodsy area is quite large for Athens. It is mostly up-hill because it is actually part of a spur of Mt. Hymettos. There is a central gravel road and lots of dirt paths that you can explore running along beside it.

You will never be beyond yelling distance of civilization/roads, but it definitely feels like you are.

You will pass a few buildings and a place where cars can come in and get on the road. Go until the paths/center road dead end at the university buildings.

Take a right down to the road that runs by the university, turn left and keep heading up the slope. This part is a sidewalk. Once you get to where you can't go anymore, you'll see a little fence with a gate in it. Go through this and you will see a dirt road that carries on through the trees.

This will dead end at the Attiki Odos (i.e., the highway). This is where I turn around, although if you were going on to Mt. Hymettos, you would continue on under the overpass.

I like this walk/jog because it really allows you to pretend that you have left civilization behind.

I don't like this walk/jog because the incline never seems to end, although if you take the side paths you actually can find flatter ground. Besides the central gravel road, the paths come in many forms: hard packed dirt, pine needle soft, very rocky. As with any good jog in Athens, you'll catch glimpses of the Acropolis. I usually plan for the whole round-trip to take an hour and a half. It can be shorter or longer, depending on how much time you walk vs. jog and how many paths you decide to explore.

Hope you enjoy it!


Anonymous said...

"you'll know you're in the right spot because this is where everyone has inexplicably decided to park their cars on the sidewalk."

I take it that's not the norm where you live? Cause it happens everywhere in this neighborhood. :)

Glad to see you've discovered so many places where you can exercise.

Katie said...

Ha! Well, they've actually taken it to the extreme, so there's about 10 or 15 entire cars parked in all directions on the sidewalk, and sometimes you actually have to walk in the street! It's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Katie, most of the time I DO walk in the street because there are cars parked all over the sidewalk.

You should have taken a picture and labeled it "extreme parking" or something like that. :)

Katie said...

Oh yea, you're right. I guess this isn't so extreme really.


Katie, your photo (looking back from Hymettus) reminded me of the location where Isadora Duncan built a house (early hippie commune), pp. 92-95. I'm not sure if it exists anymore. The location is known as Kopanos Hill. Maybe this could be a jogging expedition? I'm not even sure if the house survives, but I'll send you pictures. See, also Duncan's autobiography,, pp. 92-95. KOSTIS


Katie. I have a blog challenge for you. See,

Jeremy LaBuff said...

You found my run! I usually go around the "track" to get my mileage up, but this takes some definite zombie skills to endure

Anonymous said...

So, Greece has not changed much! My husband and I went to Lykabettos Hill in 1993. As you mentioned, people parked on the sidewalk. One guy on a motorcycle almost ran over us because he was in a hurry to park where we were walking. He actually hit my husband with the fairing of his motorcycle. The guy had the nerve to yell at us. After he got out of his motorcycle, he continued to scream at us. When he saw my husband in front of his face, he stopped screaming . He was about
5'7" and my husband is 6'4". I was so upset at that incident because he would, without any doubt, run over us.