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Aeolou Street

Aeolou Street, AthensAeolou Street begins in the Plaka at the Tower of the Winds on the northeast corner of the Roman Agora which makes sense since Aeolus is the God of the Winds in Greek mythology. It was the first street in Athens to be paved in the 19th century. It was also one of the first to be a designated pedestrian street and as in the past, is one of the major shopping streets in Athens. From where Aelou Street originates on Pelopida Street, it continues down past Platia Agoras which is the small square covered with tables and chairs at the beginning of Adrianou Street on the western age of the Plaka, not to be confused with the Adrianou Street that begins on the eastern edge of Monastiraki and borders the Ancient Agora. In fact these are the same street, separated by the archaeological site of Hadrian's Library. For all practical purposes, if you are a shopper, you could say that Aeolou Street begins where the massive Roman wall still stands, a few steps from Pondrosou, the small shopping street that is on the main shopping trail for those making the journey from Monastiraki to the Plaka in search of souvenirs.

Agia Irini Square, Aiolou StreetIf you walk down Aeolou, because it actually begins on the slope of the Acropolis before flattening out, you will pass Pondrosou, and Metropolis Street which comes down from Syntagma, past the Metropolis, the main cathedral of Athens, to the souvlaki shops that have crept up from Monastiraki Square and now dominate the area and now threaten Aeolou itself. Aeolou Street crosses Ermou Street at the exact spot where they both become pedestrian streets. From here on you have one of Athens most popular shopping streets, now transitioning from tourist shops and fast food to becoming a street full of cafés and restaurants, many of them located around the Square of Agia Irini and its historic church, the original metropolis of Athens. Starting at the intersection and surrounding the square and the church and even continuing up the small streets is a continuous line of restaurants, cafés and bars with a very European ambiance, not frequented by many tourists but known to most young and middle aged Athenians. The square used to be the flower market of Athens but now there is just one flower shop left in the center of the square, and all the others have become cafés and bars. Kostas' souvlaki shop, considered by many Greeks to be the best in Athens is located here, though it is only open in the day. At night the tables and chairs in the square are full and the buzz of voices so loud that one modern Greek philosopher said to me "If the Germans came and saw how much we are 'suffering' in the financial crisis they would be really pissed off."

Aiolou Street, Athens Agia IriniThere are two hotels on Aeolou Street, right next to each other, both overlooking the square. The first is the economical Hotel Tempi, made popular by former Lonely Planet writer David Willett, to whom it was a second home while he explored the city in the days when popular guidebooks could afford to pay professional travel writers. Recent renovations and a slight increase in price has put the hotel beyond the budget of some guidebook writers, (or what we call in America, interns), since they are often given a set fee and whatever they don't spend on hotels and food they get to keep, which is usually nothing or even less. Whether this is the cause or effect of the decline in sales of guidebooks is open to discussion. But if you have come to Greece without the objective of spending as little money as possible you will find the Tempi quite reasonable. Also on the square is the newly renovated Emporikon Athens Hotel which was closed for 100 years before quietly re-opening in 2015 and immediately becoming one of the most popular hotels in Athens.

Mama Roux, Aiolou Street, AthensAs you continue on Aeolou Street you will pass a number of cafés and bistros. Just off Aeolou on tiny Karori Street is the famous Feyrouz, a Greek-Syrian owned laxmatzoun shop where you can eat what is to Syrians as souvlaki is to Greeks, either with meat or vegetarian and a number of other Syrian dishes. One of my favorite places on Aeolou Street is the Pera Cafe at #57 on the corner of Bissis Street. It looks like just another cafe but it is owned by a family from Istanbul and besides having excellent coffee, teas, deserts, breakfast and the usual salads and toasts you will find in a Greek cafe, they have a varied menu of Middle Eastern dishes including laxmatzoun, tabouli, hummus and deserts. If you wake up late it is a good place to come for coffee and stay through lunch.

Aeolou StreetIf you continue walking north, which is away from the Acropolis, past numerous cafes and fast food restaurants as well as a number of small shops, just beyond the Church of the Crissospiliotissa (Golden Lady of the Cave) and the little religious kiosk next door, you will come to the famous Evripidou Street. To your right is Agiou Markou Street which is another pedestrian street mostly for women looking for yarn, fabrics, sewing stuff, buttons, towels, bathroom slippers, and clothing. A left turn down Evripidou takes you to Athinas Street and the dry goods, herbs, sausage and smoked meat and cheese shops, and oriental and Middle Eastern shops. This is one of the most popular food shopping areas in Athens due to the proximity of what many call the Athens Central Market but is officially known as the Athens Dimotiki Agora (Public Market) or Varvakios Agora.

Athens marketThe corner of Aeolou and Evripidou streets is where the large Athens Central market begins, which can be entered by going straight and turning left into a narrow hallway that will lead you to the covered street that is the meat market. Or you can go left on Evripidou and make a right after the dried nut store. Besides raw meat and fish, which you probably have no use for if you don't live in Athens or are renting an apartment, there are two very good working class restaurants that serve patsa and other delicacies to the market workers, tourists, businessmen and late at night to people on their way home from the clubs. They used to be open 24 hours but now I am not certain. However they do open very early. Early enough for the workers who bring the meat and fish at 4am to eat there. No. They don't serve breakfast. Just oven cooked or stovetop meat and vegetable dishes in hearty servings which I think is good any time of day or night.

Athens banks on Kotzia SquareAs you continue on Aeolou Street you will pass Sofokleous Street which is the northern border of the market. You are now entering the financial district of Athens, an area of long suffering banks in massive neo-classic buildings that look like they could be the capital buildings of a small country. This is Platia Kotzia, also known as Ethnikis Andistassis Square, or Dimarchos Square since this is where Athens City Hall is located on Athinas Street. (Many squares and streets have two names since it is a fact that if someone is a hero or a famous politician in Greece half the country loves him and the other half hates him). There are parts of the square where ancient Athens has been uncovered, part of the ancient wall and the street as well as some graves. The north end of the square has two old 19th century buildings with an old cafeneon. In the early days of Greek tourism this was the tourist section of Athens.

Patission Street, AthensAround the square and towards Stadiou Street there are a couple department stores and some clothing shops on the side streets that intersect Aeolou and connect it to Athinas Street. Then suddenly you are back in what looks and sounds like a normal city with taxi cabs and horns, traffic lights, buses and trolleys, as you have officially reached the end of Aeolou Street. Going left will take you to Omonia Square and the metro station where the red and green lines intersect. Going right will take you to Syntagma Square. If you go straight (watch the traffic, it goes in the wrong direction) you can walk about 6 more blocks down Patission (or 28 October) Street to the National Archaeological Museum or a block further to the Hellenic Motor Museum. Or if you turn right at the Politechnic University you will be in the super hip neighborhood of Exarchia where even policemen fear to venture. If you really like walking you can keep going down Patission past Alexandras Avenue to Kypseli and have lunch away from the tourists on Fokionos Negri, where I hang out. Patission Street is actually an extension of Aeolou Street and even miles away you can still see the Acropolis.

Hotels on or Close to Aeolis Street

Eolis Street, AthensAs I mentioned before the Hotel Tempe and the newly renovated Emporikon Athens Hotel are both on Aeolou Street and right on Agia Irini Square, which is a great location. They are both easy walking distance to every major site in Athens and all the restaurants and shopping areas. The Hotel Adrian is right at the beginning of Aeolou Street, on Adrianou Street in the Plaka. The economical Carolina Hotel is two blocks from Aeolou as are the Cecil Hotel and the Hotel Attalos and the Plaka Hotel. Both the A is for Athens Hotel and the 360 Degree Apartments are in Monastiraki Square, a block or so away from Aeolou Street as is Nsplace Apartments.

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