The Athens Classic Marathon is one of the most important sports events hosted by the city of Athens. Thousands of runners from all over the world participate in every year’s race. Apart from the sportive event, they have the chance to enjoy Greek hospitality, to discover the fascinating landscape and to explore a city which is constantly improving its standards.
Today the Marathon race is held in many major cities around the world, but there is only one “Authentic Marathon”, taking place every year in Athens, beginning of November.
Do you like riding your bicycle? In the last 10 years, biking became steadily more popular in Athens and Greece. It is healthy, cheap and many times quicker than using public transport, to reach your destination! Even better, every year more biking roads are becoming part of the city and biking shops are popping up in every neighborhood of the capital.
During warm and sunny days and especially in spring and summer, Greeks prefer to drink the cold Frappe instead of the warm Greek coffee. Also Omilo students many times are crazy about the frappe and would like to continue drinking it back home as well.
Mastiha is a product that comes from the mastic tree. The sticky secretion, the resin, has the color of old wax and might not seem very special, but it has become a product that is known and wanted all over the world. Mastic has not only a unique taste but it has also been shown by scientific research that it is beneficial for the health. When a mastiha tree produces the resin, locals often refer to it as “tears”, or the “crying mastiha tree”!
Every Summer, since 2005, Omilo organizes Greek Language and Culture Courses on the Cycladic island of Syros. After all those years, the island feels like a second home to the Omilo team, as well as to many returning students.
The village of Nemea is situated in a valley, southwest of Corinth and around 10km north of Mycenae. If you come from Athens, it is a scenic drive of two hours.
Whether you are living in Greece or just visiting, you will quickly notice that food has an important role in Greek society. Greeks consider a meal as quality time with friends and family. It is their way to socialize, to discuss various topics and concerns, to make fun and to offer hospitality.
We all have heard about “waiting customers”, but did you ever hear about a “waiting coffee”? Well, it actually exists already for many years. The “waiting coffee” («suspended coffee» is the term in English and «caffé sospeso» in Italian) is a prepaid coffee by a customer in a coffee shop or a cafeteria, anonymously, and will be consumed afterwards by a citizen who cannot afford to pay himself.
I knew I wanted to take some Greek lessons in Athens, since I was planning my walking trip in Greece. Only, I wasn’t sure where. Someone I knew suggested The Atens Center, and I looked closely at this school on the web. It was appealing in certain ways, but I decided to keep looking. My Google search took me to Omilo.
So I studied at Omilo, in Athens, for two weeks before heading for the hills. I took private lessons the first week, and a group class the second.
Although Omilo says—quite correctly—that they do not provide a homestay option, my experience was in fact very close to a homestay. The school arranged for me to stay with a very welcoming older woman in her large apartment, less than a ten-minute walk to the school. Kyria Ioanna made me breakfast every morning, and we chatted a little in my rudimentary Greek as I ate—and she was usually home in the evenings, so I would exchange a few words with her again then.
Another thing I loved about this arrangement was the proximity to Syngrou—the very large park in Marousi. This was a 10-minute walk from the Omilo school. What I usually did was walk there for an hour before class in the morning, and an hour after class (just before sunset) in the evening. (I love to walk!) When I needed to buy a special something, I walked through Syngrou to Kifissia, one of the wealthiest suburbs of Athens, where there are plenty of boutiques and high-end cafes. The walk to Kifissia from where I lived, through Syngrou, took about 45 minutes. Or sometimes I took the metro—just one stop.
My Greek lessons in Athens came to an end, and I said goodbye to my classmates and thanked the Omilo-team.
(take a look at the video of the last day, with Thomas and his classmates)
My walking holiday now started.
One evening in the mountains, we were at a café in a small village. Everyone there was very simply dressed, but suddenly a man in expensive outdoor gear came in. He immediately came to our table and asked us, in fluent English, if he could help us in any way. We chatted for a bit, and—as we were chatting—I ordered something to eat. He then excused himself, and said, “You don’t need me! Manolis called because he thought you needed a translator—but your Greek is fine.”
I felt I had graduated! Thank you, everyone at Omilo—I’ll be back!
Peter Thomas, USA
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