Keramikos Calling: Market Day within the Backstreets
Quick bite: On this walk through Keramikos, on the day of the vibrant weekly street market, we’ll get a taste of the creativity and tradition that reside here, visiting neighborhood institutions, both old and new. From Cretan homecooking to classic Northern-style pastry, spankingly fresh seafood to souvlaki al fresca, it’s a miracle that Keramikos remains a neighborhood under the radar.
Located just a ten-minute walk from Athens’ buzzing historic center, the laid back Keramikos neighborhood seems to live in a magical world of its own. It’s a place where old and new, Greece’s storied past and often turbulent present, tradition and forward-looking creativity, all coexist happily together. There are few other places like it in the Greek capital and on the day of the weekly street market, the neighborhood comes alive in a riot of sights, smells and flavors.
Famed in ancient times for its pottery – hence the area’s name – made from mud collected on the banks of a sacred river that once ran through it, in the last few decades Keramikos was better known as a run-down working-class neighborhood of closed factories and abandoned properties. The neighborhood’s struggles have paradoxically proven to be its savior. In recent years Keramikos’s low rents and old-time Athens feel have lured creative young Athenians to the area, where they have opened up inventive restaurants, bars and cafés along with galleries and theaters. Joining Keramikos’s rich trove of existing old-school establishments, these new spots have helped create one of the Athens’ most exciting dining and cultural scenes.
On this walk through Keramikos, we’ll get a taste of the creativity and tradition that reside here, visiting neighborhood institutions both old and new. Our day will start off at a small store that sells homemade specialties from the island of Chios, where we will have breakfast in the shop’s courtyard. As we continue our way through Keramikos, we will drop by neighborhood stalwarts, from an old bakery that sells bougatsa – a type of savory phyllo pastry – to a hole in the wall run by two friends whose tiny kitchen turns out superb renditions of Cretan dishes rarely found on the mainland. We’ll also stop by some of the area’s enticing newer spots, including a cozy food shop that procures artisanal products from across Greece, where among other things we’ll taste goat’s milk yogurt drizzled with wild thyme honey, and a meze restaurant where classic Greek regional recipes are being both lovingly revived and cleverly updated. We’ll also walk through the neighborhood’s lively weekly open-air market, tasting what’s on offer from the vendors and getting a sense of the seasonality of Greek produce and how that shapes neighborhood menus.
Over the course of our walk we’ll also explore the cultural and historical side of things, visiting two of the area’s defunct 19th-century industrial landmarks, an old gas works and a silk factory, which have been turned into vibrant arts centers and neighborhood gathering spots. And, as we work our way through a few of Keramikos’s small back alleys, we’ll even stop by some still-functioning ceramics workshops, which serve as a living link to the neighborhood’s – and Athens’ – ancient history. Things may be changing in Keramikos, but at its heart, the neighborhood remains firmly rooted to its past – which is just how both the old-timers and newcomers here like it.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|Can be altered for gluten-free diets||Children welcome|
|Samples fish, can be altered for pescaterians||Includes market visits|
|Can be altered for vegetarians, not vegans||Terrain fairly flat/ Stroller – friendly|
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work?
Once you have made a reservation, we require the full $135 fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at email@example.com if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans?
This walk can be altered for vegetarians and pescetarians, however, we do not recommend this activity for vegans.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?
This walk can be completely modified for gluten-free route.
How physically demanding are the walks?
The walk is about 2KM (1.25 miles) of fairly flat terrain, broken up into almost a dozen stops. The streets and sidewalks of Athens are quite well kept but we do recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes.
Can children join the walks?
Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
Is Athens safe these days?
Yes, despite the current economic instability, Athens is still a safe place to explore. Though demonstrations are a regular occurrence, they are largely peaceful and focused in certain parts of the city. In the area where we spend most of our time – the old market streets of downtown Athens – it’s business as usual.
There’s a yellowy crust, a puddle of honey and a scattering of walnuts, and it’s quite the most delicious yoghurt I’ve ever tasted. … A trained chef, Caroline is passionate about Greek cuisine and expertly weaves a path through the Central Market, pointing out the best fish, pork and tomatoes, before leading us to a tiny stall selling herby sausage patties with salad, olives and a glass of tsipouro (a pomace brandy). Read more
Greece may be plagued by financial woes but it is also in the middle of a culinary renaissance, and this has wide-ranging ramifications for travelers.”The culinary scene has been influenced by the crisis as many Greeks have retreated from global culinary trends to the comfort of Greek cooking,” says Despina Trivolis, who runs the Athens branch of the global network Culinary Backstreets . Read more
Un nouveau monde de fromage Vous le savez sûrement déjà, j’adore faire une visite guidée culinaire quand j’arrive dans une nouvelle ville pour me donner une petite idée de la scène gastronomique locale. J’ai fait la même chose à Athènes avec Culinary Backstreets pendant la Culinary Secrets of Downtown Athens Tour. À part plus de six heures de bouchées exquises, ai-je besoin de vous dire pourquoi je recommande la visite avec eux? C’est d’ailleurs pendant la tournée que j’ai découvert qu’il existe plusieurs sortes de fromage feta et que c’est un monde à part entière qui m’était jusque-là totalement inconnu. Attention, c’est cochon! Read more
There was far more to our Culinary Backstreets walk in central Athens. Starting with breakfast, we ate, walked, talked, photographed and ate even more around central Athens with our guide, the lovely Despina. I thought I knew Greek food, having eaten a lot of it during my life. And I did. It looked familiar, but in reality it was completely different. It was Greek food, but not as I knew it. And I loved it! Read more
Everyone else on my tour loved their time in the meat market and I absolutely loved the tour as a whole. I would heartily encourage anyone visiting Athens to give it a try. Read more
A Tailored Gluten-Free Card for Greece Read more
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