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Hiking poles. . purchase in Athens

Reading about the cobbles and such in Athens and other sites makes me think that hiking poles would be a great idea as we travel with the RS tour. We pack light and only use carry-on so taking them with us is not ideal. Can you purchase them easily in Athens. . . . .airport? close to the main tourist area? Can you rent them from RS for the 2 weeks? I'm happy to buy something locally and reasonably priced and leave them with the guide for some future user. Any ideas are welcome; I walk 6-8 miles fairly easily but am "of a certain age with knees to match" and don't want to spend the trip hobbled because of a misstep!! Thanks!

Posted by
8850 posts

Did the RS Greece tour. Do not recall being anywhere I wanted to be carrying a 5 ft stick around. If you need a walking stick to navigate an unpaved, designated trail in a USA National Park, it may be a good idea. Otherwise, probably unnecessary.

There are areas where you have to be mindful of the surface you are traversing, but those areas are obvious

Unless its a new feature of the RS tour, their is no RS rental sticks program.

If you really want to use one, you may want to get a collapsible one here rather than hunting for something there.

Posted by
11 posts

Hi Joe!! I love having the insight of someone who has done the tour!! No, no 5 foot sticks for me. . definitely would do the collapsible trekking poles. Seems like the trade-off of doing checked luggage in order to have the poles might be over-kill. Would love to hear from others though. . Thanks again and getting excited about the trip!!

Posted by
3469 posts

Marilyn, We took the RS Greece Tour last year. Although no one on our tour used walking sticks, it certainly would be helpful along the way. There has been a number of previous discussions on the forum that may be helpful.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for referencing earlier notes; read those though only went back a year. . . everyone who uses them seems to like them with cautions to be aware to have rubber tips. Yet whether the poles are necessary enough to trouble with. . .the jury still seems out on that. . .and then where can you get them if you do only carry on? Any ideas are appreciated. Love the insight that you might have wished you had taken them. Maybe I'll find an old stick along the way to use ;))

Posted by
257 posts

On my RS Greece tour, one of the tour mates acquired a hiking pole on the second day in Athens. Perhaps she had ask at the hotel where to purchase. Maybe you could email your hotel, explain and ask for a store suggestion. We were at the Acropolis Select Hotel.

Posted by
166 posts

Went on the Greece tour last May and there really are very few if any places the group goes that would require walking sticks. If you feel you need them I’m sure you can find sporting goods store in Athens without to much trouble.

Posted by
2930 posts

I struggled with this before I went on the Greece trip due to the descriptions of the walking. I would say if you use trekking poles at home, then bring a collapsable pole or two. My husband loves them as he feels his knees are happier during his long treks. I don't generally use poles (I do have them, but they usually stay in the trunk). I just have to pay attention to the walkway sometimes when the stones are uneven, but we should all do that anyway. I did not bring poles and there was only one place I might have, for the climb up to the top of Monemvasia, but that is more because I can get vertigo if there is no vertical reference point. I went over to the light house instead as I thought the photos would be better/more my style.

I googled pre-tour to see if I could find a place in Athens to buy them, and couldn't. I didn't see anyplace where they were sold in the historical areas, other than sometimes wooden walking sticks. There were two people on our tour with two poles each. I am not sure specifically why they wanted them, but they used them for all the up and down hikes. I threw some breakwater stone hopping into my fitness regimen...(which isn't much of a regimen, LOL) in hopes of being able to avoid issues. I had none. That being said, if I were to go on another tour with such descriptions, I'd take some collapsable poles and check my bag. Better safe than sorry. It's a great tour!

Posted by
714 posts

I have some knee problems and last fall while in Greece I used a lightweight collapsible pole. It really helped when exploring sites etc. and also on Athens’ aged sidewalks. I got it through Amazon; it weighs in 9 oz at and comes with its own carry bag. It fit my in my carryon baggage and no problems at security. I did the change the tip to a “foot” easier, and quieter, for walking on pavement and marble. The pole can be folded up and slipped into a purse or Day pack when visiting museums etc. At around $30 it was a good investment. Noticed lots of people using poles in Athens and elsewhere.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you!! Great details and information!! I have to say that I'm skeptical about carry-on but I think that might just be the luck of the draw for whether you can or not. Sure sounds like everyone has loved the adventure in this beautiful country!!

Posted by
257 posts

Another option is to have the hiking pole in a (strong) poster type tube and check it as luggage. If it gets there late (or not at all), it isn't as serious as having your entire luggage missing.

Posted by
5532 posts

You should be skeptical about getting the poles through as a carryon. For everyone that says they were able to do it, there are 8 that were not. Official TSA policy is that they are not allowed as a carryon. This topic comes up quite a bit. Those who are most successful with the carryon approach are those who use just one, have it extended, and are using it as an assistive device through the airport.

Posted by
11 posts

Good to have that validation! Thanks also for ideas on getting sticks from the US to Europe. Looked up outdoor stores in Athens, too. Is that really how I want to spend pre-tour time, though....looking to purchase these, in Greece?

Posted by
1316 posts

Only you can judge whether you want to spend time doing this. If you do there's an outdoor shop in Kallithea: three tube stations from Monastiraki and then a few minute walk. It's not an area of town that has anything really to attract a visitor.

http://www.outdoorway.gr/

I can't think of anywhere more central but that doesn't mean there isn't anywhere ;-)

Alan

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the hint...I think I have enough info for decision-making! Thanks to all for your very helpful comments!!!

Posted by
2898 posts

I have 2 "Earthtrekgear" trekking poles (Shorter women's poles) p from Amazon for $21.95 each. Superlight ... alumininum tubes that socket into one another, the center is STRONG bungie cord. It "folds" into a "W", push together & it's the size of a quality-paperback. Supereasy to put in bottom of your suitcase, less space than a pair of loafers. What's the big deal about packing such a pole? MUCH preferable to devoting precious vacation time trying to find something in Athens. Pack a foldable stick. Full stop.

Posted by
11 posts

I love the recommendation for poles that you have liked; thank you! The issue is that the TSA website states that trekking poles must be included in checked bags. We pack light and only do carry-on. I suppose that for $22 I could risk it, yet that just seems silly. . .

Posted by
257 posts

I contacted Earth Trek Gear (in reference to Janet of Philadelphia forum post) and asked if they had any definite approval for carryon (as their advertising suggests). Here is their answer:

Very few people have had problems with our poles in carry-on. We have had a couple of customers that said TSA would not accept the poles in carry-on. We have sold thousands of these poles with very few complaints regarding this.
Originally when our poles were listed back in Sept. 2014, TSA did not restrict many things that they do now. There is no official information whether our poles would be denied as a carry-on. Ours are pretty short and fold down to 12". We don't know if that would make a difference, but as we said, we receive very few complaints about TSA.

I thought this info might be of interest to others reading this topic in deciding to chance it or not.

Posted by
2898 posts

Marilyn, is there some financial advantage in only doing carry-on?? I believe you are entitled to a free checked bag. Or is it simply that you want to save the 20 minutes that you would have to wait at the baggage carousel??? If you are going to be in Greece for more than 5 days, I think you could spare the 20 minutes at the carousel .... it would take far more time than that to locate a suitable trekking pole in Athens.

Posted by
11 posts

Janet. . .your post made me laugh!! "Penny-wise and pound-foolish", isn't that the saying? Good point and I don't have a good response. It mostly has become a badge of honor since my first trip to Europe with my then boyfriend (now husband of 30 years), following the RS "21-days in Europe" book. As I hauled out my 34x24x12 hard-sided plastic Samsonite HS graduation gift suitcase, my boyfriend said "you know you have to carry that on and off trains, up stairs. . ." That trip was a far cry from the back of the car travels that I had taken so I learned then to pack light and have had that as the goal ever since when touring; I just don't think beyond that mantra. That's the badge of honor part. . .traveled for 24 days in Australia the same way in their winter. So-o-o-o, in truth and after reading everyone's thoughts, I'm actually now thinking of checking the trekking poles in a sturdy tube or maybe small duffel. . .still, your post gave me a good chuckle!! Thanks!!

Posted by
3714 posts

I took a folding pole and used it in Greece in 2014. It was one of the 2 in my set of these poles. My orthopedist wrote a note for me to give the TSA if I had problems. I took the pole to the Tucson airport and showed it to the TSA supervisor and she said it was fine for carry-on, even without the note. I got her name and documented the day and time she said that.

We fly standby so carry-on is our only option. There were no problems at all, at any airport, foreign or domestic. I should've taken it on subsequent trips to the UK and Italy. It really would have helped with stability.

I'll never understand why a cane like this is okay, but not a walking stick like mine with a rubber tip. The only real difference is the angle of the handle. I have that cane, but walking with it does not work nearly so well as using the vertical handle of the walking stick.

I got the cane because next trip I'll be leaving from Seattle, which is typically pickier than Tucson. Now that there have been so many responses of successfully taking sticks, I'm going to take a chance, my sticks and a note from my new orthopedist.

My sticks are 120 cm, for people 5'8" - 5'11". They fold up to 15" long, have a carrying bag, and the pair weighs about 13 oz. I've had them a long time, so they are no longer available for purchase, but there are many similar ones that are. Most are not as light.

When we were in Greece I noticed many obvious tourists with injuries. I'd never seen that before and haven't since. Wrapped ankles, legs in casts, arms in slings, you get the idea. All I could think is that they somehow fell. I didn't have my stick with me and I slipped on loose dirt at Delphi. Fortunately, I landed on my well-padded bum, so I wasn't hurt.

Posted by
11 posts

Hmmm, we are leaving out of Seattle for Greece, so I'm glad to know they might be more fasitidious about the rules. . . Guess with some time on the front end in Seattle, I can ask TSA there about whether they allow the poles and be prepared for checking them if needed. I will see if my orthopod will write a note. . .in truth, I am getting them for stability and prevent recurrence of a knee issue.

Posted by
106 posts

I got mine from Intersport. It is a chain store you can find in many places in Greece. They specialize in sports clothing and equipment. Though, you might not need it. I mean, I've been plenty of times hiking around Greece, the trails we used were pretty easy. On Mt. Parnitha for instance and all around the Peloponnese. I don't know, the only place I've seen hikers with poles was Mt. Pelion. It depends on the region. Which destinations are included in your tour? Why not ask your guide if you're gonna do a difficult trail first and then start looking... ? Just saying ;)

Posted by
2898 posts

Anniesweetie, it may not be the steepness of the climb that has marilyn musing about poles... you'll note that she talks about the cobbles... and also "of a certain age with knees to match". I'm willing to bet (given the giveaway screen name) that you may be at least 10 years younger than Marilyn (remember she talked about a trip with boyfriend more than 30 years ago, do the math). I'm a lucky duck, never thought about knees until after age 70, and even now steep climbs aren't always the issue .... sometimes sticks can make a big difference just in fairly level walking, more spring in your step for a lengthy hike. I loved that post by Lo... If I were Marilyn, I'd take a page from her book. Get that MD letter and (if necessary) stop by the airport for a talk with TSA guy before the trip. Problem solved, let's move on.

Posted by
11 posts

Oh Anniesweet. .. . .to again have the energy and abilities of youth (where "youth" is anyone less than 60. . ha!). Janet hit the nail on the head; too many years of skiing, bicycling, and working as an ER nurse has taken its toll on my joints!! The poles will help especially on downhills. I suspect others will appreciate knowing your perspective on the trails in Greece so I'm so glad that you posted!!

Posted by
106 posts

Marilyn and Janet I didn't think of that... My bad :/ Those hiking regions I was referring to are places I've visited with my parents or groups. I'm 36, my mother is 56 and my father 62. We had members in the group that were 75 years old for sure. They didn't happen to need one. I think it depends a lot on the route that you're going to follow. Since your joints have suffered through the years you have to be careful, though you will not know until you try it. From my experience the group tours etc use marked trails that are of low level of difficulty. I went on a recent trip to Arcadia (for hiking) and we only had to walk around the beach, on dirt roads etc., by the lake etc. If you do get a hiking pole at least take one that folds so that you can put it in your bag and won't have to hold it through the whole hiking trip.. Some of the cobblestone streets are slippery, especially in the Plaka district..