On Sunday 16 September 2012 the Athens Strollers walk in and above Alsos (park) Veikou, on Tourkovounia hill in Galatsi suburb. Xenophon (6937055502) is leading this fairly easy walk which starts at 17:30 hours, and will take up close to 1 ½ hours. This time will facilitate a cooler walk, whilst we will be sitting down for refreshments around 7 pm, an ideal time. Alsos Veikou is a central, easily accessible park, popular with families; it houses playgrounds, a cafeteria, an open air cinema, an open air amphitheatre. The Park has acquired a new fully equipped outdoor gym; time permitting, we shall stop at it at the end of the walk, for those who may choose to try it. Since the Park is rather small for our needs, our walk will extend outside and above the park, on the hill of Tourkovounia, from where we will have some nice views. In addition, we will take a back look at the premises of the Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute. Hence the walk includes a few climbing sections.
Coming from the North: You need to find yourself on the well-known Leoforos (avenue) Kifissias, heading south. When you get to the OTE tower (on your right hand side), in Maroussi, zero your odometer. Continue straight through the tunnel and then (at 0.6 km) through a second tunnel. At 1.2 km you see Carrefour on your right hand side. Take the right lane. At 1.4 km you leave Leoforos Kifissias, taking the side road to the right. This goes down. You go past the Golden Hall. At 1.6 km you reach traffic lights. A blue road sign reads ‘Iraklio, OAKA’. Turn right at the traffic lights. You are now driving on Spyros Louis street, along the various buildings of the OAKA sports centre, on your right. At its end you get to traffic lights (3.4 km). A blue road sign reads ‘Galatsi, Athina’. Turn left here. You are now on Leoforos Kymis. Continue straight, staying on the main road. At 5.1 km, you reach traffic lights. You see a church facing you (on your right). The main entrance to the park is on your left hand side, exactly at this level. The two designated parking areas are on either side of the main entrance. So, you need to find yourself in the opposite direction, on this busy road. To do so, take a right turn at the traffic lights. You can then do a U-turn at the next crossroads (5.5 km), where you see an EKO petrol station, to get back to the traffic lights (5.8 km). You now have the church on your right and the main park entrance facing you. Turn left and immediately after enter the (free) parking area. We meet just inside the main entrance.
Coming from the Centre or the South: You need to find yourself on the well-known Leoforos (avenue) Kifissias, at the junction with Leoforos Alexandras, heading north. Zero your odometer. At 1.0 km you see a blue road sign high up, reading ‘Galatsi, Kareas’. Take the right lane and prepare to leave Leoforos Kifissias. You go past a ‘Kotsovolos’ store, on your right hand side. At 1.2 km you take the side road to the right. Stay on the left lane, on this side road. At 1.4 km you get to traffic lights. Turn left. The road climbs. At 1.6 km the road forks out into two. Do not take the road going right. The main road is named Mouson, goes past a private hospital (Lito) and continues to climb. At 1.9 km you reach another fork. Turn left. A blue road sign reads ‘Galatsi’. At 2.3 km you reach traffic lights, the road is named Perikou. Go straight. At 2.4 km you reach traffic lights again. A blue road sign reads ‘Galatsi’. You turn right here and follow the road as it climbs sharply. At 3.3 km you ignore a right turn (signed ‘Psychico’). Stay on the main road as it descends for the next one km. At 3.6 km you turn right. A blue road sign reads ‘Galatsi’. At 3.7 km you get to a Stop sign at a T-junction. Turn left, into Protopapadaki street. You drive past 2 sets of traffic lights. At the 3rd traffic lights (4.5 km) you turn right. A blue road sign reads ‘Galatsi, Olympic Hall’. You are now in Veikou street, a busy high street, lined with shops. You drive along, past successive traffic lights. At 6.0 km you drive under a foot bridge. At 6.1 km you reach the first of two designated (free) parking areas, for the park, on your right. Park here. Do not get into the park at the first entrance you will encounter. Walk along for ~250 m to reach the main entrance. You will recognize this, from its signage above the gate, reading ‘Alsos Veikou, Dimotiko Gymnastirio Galatsiou’. In case you have not parked at the 1st parking area, drive along. At 6.5 km you reach the main park entrance at traffic lights (a church is on the left hand side of this junction). At 6.6 km you reach the 2nd parking area on your right.
Coming by Bus: Bus 608 stops just in front of the main gate. You may take it from Akadimias street in central Athens or from Zografou cemetery.
Dogs: Are not allowed into the Alsos.
After the walk: We will sit at the Park cafeteria, where we may enjoy anything, from drinks to snacks to a fuller meal, for as long as we feel like. The cafeteria (named Alea), is situated on the right hand section of the Park and at an elevation. It has both a spacious indoor, as well as an outdoor part. What makes it most attractive, is that the kids play ground is right below it.
About Tourkovounia hills: Up to the 2nd world war, the broader area of Tourkovounia was rich in trees. Tourkovounia took its name in the 15th century, when Athens fell to the Turks, following the collapse of Byzantium, from the Turkish ruler (pasha) who liked to use these hills as an army camp.