Travel Destinations

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Athens Food Tour on Three Wheels

Bougatsadiko I Thessaloniki Stou Psyrri Athens Food Tour Scooterise

Greece has an abundance of food and dishes unique to the country and it can be overwhelming for a traveler to Greece who doesn’t have knowledge of Greek food beyond Greek salad and baklava.  A great introduction to traditional Greek food is with an Athens food tour.  Even better is an Athens food tour that also provides an overview of the layout and sites of Athens, all while riding around on three wheels.  Scooterise provides such a food tour of Athens.

The Vehicle

Scooterise Trikke Syntagma Square Athens Food Tour

Scooterise provides tours of Athens on trikkes, battery powered three-wheeled scooters.  Scooterise’s motto is “see more, sweat less” because the trikkes enable their guests to zip around Athens, covering a lot of territory in a short amount of time.

Driving a trikke is a little bit like driving a Segway in that you’re standing on a moving battery powered vehicle.  However, while a Segway is controlled by moving the handlebar, a trikke is controlled by a throttle on the handle and brakes. 

Driving the trikkes around Athens was a lot of fun as we really did get to see a lot of neighborhoods in a short amount of time, plus we got to eat.  I had a little trouble getting the hang of accelerating smoothly, but other than that driving the trikke was easy.

The Sites

Psiri Athens Food Tour Scooterise

All of Scooterise’s tours start in the Plaka neighborhood as that is where their store is located, a short walk from the Acropoli metro station.  We drove through Plaka, bouncing around on the bumpy stone paved street for a couple of blocks until we got to smoother surfaces.  Our route was usually through pedestrian-only areas though we sometimes traveled along streets with light traffic for short distances.

Academy of Athens Scooterise Athens Food Tour

We passed by sites like the Roman Agora and Hadrian’s Library, then through Monastiraki Square on our way to our first food stop in the Psiri (also Psirri, Psyrri, and Psyri) neighborhood.  Psiri is a destination unto itself.  It is a trendy neighborhood known for its authentic food places and also its buildings covered in graffiti and street art.  After a few food stops, we drove by the Academy of Athens, Greece’s national academy, and got to do some donuts in front of Syntagma Square before driving down Athens’ main shopping street Ermou.

The Food

Bougatsadiko I Thessaloniki Stou Psyrri Bougatsa Athens Food Tour Scooterise

Our Athens food tour was in the morning and our first stop for food was at Bougatsadiko I Thessaloniki Stou Psyrri (Μπουγατσαδικο Στου Ψυρρη) for bougatsa.    Bougatsa is a very traditional Greek breakfast pastry that comes from the city of Thessaloniki.  The outside is crunchy, flaky phyllo dough and the inside is a sweet custard made with sugar, eggs, flour, and milk.  The warm bougatsa is served sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.  Bougatsadiko opened in 1956 and its name simply means the place that makes bougatsa.  If sweet isn’t your thing, you can also order savory bougatsa filled with cheese.

Miran Pastourma and Soutzouki Spices Athens Food Tour Scooterise

Our second stop was not far from Bougatsadiko.  Miran Pastourma and Soutzouki (Μιράν Παστουρμάς και Σουτζούκι) has been around since 1922.  When you enter the store there is no question what you’ll be eating here.  The place is full of meat, meat, and more meat.  There’s even meat hanging from the ceiling, which Rome was disappointed to learn was fake.  

Miran Pastourma and Soutzouki Athens Food Tour Scooterise Miran Pastourma and Soutzouki Charcuterie Athens Food Tour Scooterise

But what we were served was not fake. Miran is a family owned business started by the grandfather Miran Kourounlian.  It is believed Miran brought pastourma to Athens.  Pastourma is a dried, cured, and highly seasoned pressed meat.  It is usually made with beef, but camel, turkey, or sheep can also be used.  In addition to pastourma, we had soujouk, a spicy dried sausage, and pastrami.

Aigaion Athens Food Tour Scooterise

For me, since I like sweets and carbs in the morning, our third stop rivaled our first for my favorite.  Aigaion (Λουκουμάδες Αιγαίον) has been around since 1926 and makes loukoumades.  

Aigaion Loukoumades Athens Food Tour Scooterise

Loukoumades are fried pudgy rings of dough served drizzled in honey.  They’re airy, slightly crunchy, and not too sweet.  You can also add cinnamon and sugar and even dark chocolate.  The pastry and the décor of Aigaion reminded me very much of Café du Monde in New Orleans.  My verdict?  Loukoumades win over beignets.

Marzipan Candies Athens Food Tour Scooterise

Our last stop was a pretty pastry shop selling colorful pastries and candies.  Here we tried marzipan candies (made with almonds in the south and walnuts in the north) covered in powdered sugar and accented with a clove.  The shop has been around for three generations and had to move locations when the Nazis burned down the original store.

Scooterise’s Other Tours

Scooterise Athens Trikkes

Scooterise is a relatively new company.  Two brothers, Nikos and Kostas Sarifidis have been running the company for two and half years and 2015 marks their third season.  Their Athens Food Safari Tour is their newest tour, which has only been going for a few months.

Scooterise has five other tours.  The Scooterise Athens Highlights Tour visits the Panathenaic Stadium, National Gardens, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, Zappeion Exhibition Hall, and Roman Baths.  The Art and the City Tour visits the Lyceum of Aristotle, Museum of Cycladic Art, Presidential Mansion, National Gardens, Academy of Athens, University of Athens, and Library of Athens.  The Scooterise Athens Complete Tour visits the Plaka neighborhood, Monastiraki Square, Monastiraki Flea Market, Roman Agora, Tower of Winds, Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, changing of the guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Greek Parliament at Syntagma Square, and Hadrian’s Library.  The Acropolis & Athens Combo Tour visits the Acropolis, Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheion, Propylaea, Theatre of Dionysus, and Dionysus Sanctuary.  The Athens Riviera Tour gets out of the old town and visits the Athens Riviera, Kavouri beach, Vouliagmeni town, and Vouliagmeni Lake.

Nikos Sarfidis Scooterise Athens

All tours are private tours.  Sometimes they run tours for large groups from cruise ships, but they also run small tours for couples, families, and friends.  Scooterise tours are fun for the entire family, as little ones can ride around on a scooter with their parent if they are too young to drive one themselves.

If you’re looking for a unique way to get to know Athens, a trikke tour with Scooterise is the perfect choice.  Since travelers to Athens spend very little time in the city before heading out to other parts of Greece, a Scooterise tour provides a great introduction to Athens in a short amount of time. 

Thank you to Scooterise for hosting our Athens food tour and making this post possible.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Travel the World: An Athens food tour with Scooterise.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.