The feature of this day, here in Athens, was the bright sun, the clear blue sky and the atmosphere, filled with the impatient «whispers» of spring which seems to be here earlier than expected. Only two days after the latest snowfall, the weather is really warm, with the temperature being unusually high, considering that it’s only February.
Since we decided to stay here for the weekend, I found it was a great idea to visit the center of Athens in order to do some “vegan” shopping and spend some time with a good friend, drinking coffee and talking.
If you are planning to visit the center of Athens, maybe the best idea is to use the metro in order to reach Omonia station and from there you can start walking across Athinas Street.
The first place I visited was the 19th book bazaar that took place on Kotzia Square. The bazaar lasts 2-3 weeks (until March 6) and opening hours are 9 am to 9 pm. (Update: This book bazaar takes place on Athens 1-2 times each year and last 2-3 weeks each time.)
The next stop is definitely the grocery flea market in the central market of Athens. Usually I buy from there pickles, avocados, mushrooms and many different kinds of breads from all over the world, in really good prices, often 100 % lower than those of supermarkets.
After a walk around the markets, you can visit Evripidou Street –it’s the very next street- where you can find shops with a great variety of spices, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, pulses, grains and nuts. If you are used to buying all this stuff from the supermarkets, you will be surprised by the low prices, compared to the supermarkets and for sure one can have a quite significant economic benefit by choosing to buy in bulk from here. On top of that, you can certainly buy really fresh and good quality products if you do a small research.
Although we don’t live near the center, I often do my shopping from there, since I can choose between a huge variety of good quality products, from rare super foods to giant black beans and Ceylon cinnamon. Since there is a wide range in prices and quality, one has to do a survey in order to buy on a budget. For example I have found that there is a shop on Evripidou Str where you can find fresh and relatively cheap nuts and seeds, whereas another shop in the same street sells excellent pulses and grains. If I want to buy peanut butter, tahini, agave syrup and molasses in bulk I have found a small shop, located only few meters away, on Athinas Str.
Today, however, because of the upcoming Lent, beyond the ordinary products, there was fresh, handmade halvah in many shops and bakeries in different qualities, values and flavors -from the classic vanilla – almonds to the postmodern pink version with cranberries! Of course I couldn’t resist and I bought not one or two but five different varieties! I think I will make soon halva ice-cream!
Certainly the most charming part of the day is having a coffee in one of the beautiful cafes of the area, especially when the weather is sunny. Shortly after the central market of Athens towards Monastiraki, turning in one of the streets on your left, you will find Aiolou Str and the cosmopolitan square Saint Irene, with lots of coffee bars, and bar restaurants. Alternatively very close to Athinas Str there is the famous historical Monastiraki Sq where you can find cafes and juice bars, as well as lots of markets selling clothes, souvenirs, accessories, antiques etc.
And last but not least, in case you are hungry after walking, there are some take-away falafel restaurants with many vegan options.