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Trekking Poles...purchase in Athens?

Hi, Backstory: whenever I skied above the tree line I would feel as if I was going to fall to my side and land on the roof of the lodge. To counter this I would have to look at the ground no further than 20' ahead of me. With a tree on the slope, I could be on the steepest slope and be fine. So...obviously my orientation is a bit off. Consequently, and also due to the comments about slippery surfaces on inclines/declines on the RS Greece tour, I believe I should have a trekking pole (or two) with me. Ordinarily, I check my bag so that would be no issue as I could put the pole(s) in the bag. However, because I have a 15 hour layover at Heathrow, I will not check my bag on the way over as I don't think it would be a good idea to have my bag sit for 15 hours 'somewhere' at Heathrow. And it costs more money to have the bag appear mid-trip so I don't want to do that. Consequently, I have two options that I can see:
1. Just check only my pole(s) through to Athens and hope for the best?
2. Buy poles in Athens?
2a. Has anyone bought poles in Athens? Where? I've tried to locate stores by googling but have not been successful.

What would you do? (And don't say ditch the long layover, because that is my lovely night's sleep and pampering. This is a day flight to London.) I'm particularly concerned about the acropolis steps because I can't find photographs...handrails would alleviate vertigo. And also, I'm confused by RS's term strenuous: for whom? I've also read several blogs about people falling from the slippery marble on hills to the ruins. Am I over-thinking this? It is really difficult to figure out what is an exaggeration. I'm pretty fit. I won't be running up hills, but can walk long distances. And I'll add a more hill work into my routine (as I live in the middle of a big hill this won't be a problem. I see the acropolis is 200 steps. The Paris catacombs are 270 steps out, and even anemic at the time, I did that. So I'm really confused also by the word 'strenuous'. So if strenuous or precarious or precipitous, I'd like at least one pole...

So what choice would you make? Or am I being mislead by the descriptions of the walks to the ruins and/or the word strenuous? I'm not 21 anymore...

Thanks, Wray

Posted by
2416 posts

Wray, from your description you definitely need poles. Your sticking point, apparently, is the cost of checking your bag midway. I would suggest checking your poles in a soft-side "gym bag" type of holder. I have collapsible poles I bought online that I love and adore. Name is EarthTrek Gear Shorter Version pole. Consist of 5 tubular sections fitting together (and HELD by Strong internal bungie-cord thing); folds to only 12"; you can easily fit one in a daybag, if u use a knapsack, u can fit 2. Only about $32 on Amazon. If you are unable to retrieve such a bag midway, I suggest you talk to a human being at your airline about what they do with a bag that's unclaimed; Is it possible to have it marked "Hold for arrival of flight #xxx at (date tme)."

Posted by
484 posts

Wray, I KNOW exactly what you are saying as I, too have some inner ear/vertigo issues at times. We were in Greece May of 2015 and I can tell you exactly that the Acropolis has many stones at the very top that are slippery, even in dry weather. I would make sure your footwear is good and a trekking pole will help you feel secure. I did not have one. The steps up and down are not that problematic and as we were coming down it was so crowded that we went so slow. The terrain around all of the islands and in the cities can be very uneven (my husband took a face plant walking down a street in Mykonos and a fellow traveler fell on uneven steps in Crete and broke her arm, both of these happened in low light, too)

We were planning a trip to turkey (with RS- our first) and I bought folding trekking poles that are very strong when put together and still fairly light weight. Now that we are going to Croatia I'm still planning on taking one and packing it in my carry on. I guess the worse that could happen is they confiscate it. Anyone travel with a folding trekking pole in their carry on????

Posted by
2454 posts

@Janet. Thanks. I'll look at those poles. How much easier it would be if I could just carry them on in my suitcase! I saw that to interrupt a flight plan to get luggage costs a fee. It may be that it is a typical fee so no big deal really as this flight cost me 25% of what it should have cost. So maybe, I'll just check to London. It is my impression otherwise it will sit in storage in Heathrow as it would be checked on to my next day's flight to Athens...all BA flights. However, if there is a trekking pole shop in central Athens, that still might be better.

Posted by
2454 posts

@tgreen Oh, thanks for that information. I definitely want one with me then. Is your Croatia trip this year? If so, I'll wait to see how you do with your poles in carryon!

Posted by
5845 posts

Amazon.com has collapsible, lightweight poles that pack easily in a auitcase.

Posted by
5539 posts

Planning on carrying on trekking poles is a risk. See:
http://blog.tsa.gov/2014/05/tsa-travel-tips-travel-tips-for.html

Trekking & Hiking Poles – These can only be packed in checked baggage.

If you are flying the usual (not low cost) airlines, you usually get one free checked bag as an allowance. Pack you collapsible trekking poles in a duffel bag and you have room to bring stuff back.

Posted by
5845 posts

Amazon.com has collapsible, lightweight poles that pack easily in a suitcase.

Posted by
484 posts

Yes Wray, we leave in less than a month. I wonder why the collapsible poles can not be brought on? Doesn't make sense as I'm sure people carry on selfie sticks and canes or monopods.... (I've bought a adapter to allow me to use the stick as a selfie stick, so I could say it is a selfie stick. )

We simply can't check our luggage due to tight connections and being ticket separately in Europe on flight home. and I hear the Turkish Air does not have great reputation at keeping people and luggage together.

Posted by
11681 posts

You might read Lo's response at the bottom of this thread---something about poles with sharp tips not being allowed at the Greek archeological sites (probably due to possible damage to the stones). So choose carefully what poles you will bring (or buy).

I just looked at my Black Diamond z-poles ( folding) and the tip is blunt---and not metal. They fold up to 14" and probably would not be recognized as trekking poles by the scanner, but I am unwilling to take a chance on losing them, so always check my bag when I have them.

Posted by
2416 posts

I would definitely not take a chance on them "not being recognized as trekking poles" in the scanner, anything with short pole-parts are very identifiable... and particularly in the US, since recent "mini-scandals" when undercover proved that guns and big knives got through, I think the scanners will be superviligant. It's a shame, since some people may actually use a trekking pole as a cane that doesn't have the "old guy" stigma.

Posted by
2416 posts

PLUS -- I wouldn't count on a shop in Athens having nearly the selection at reasonable price as you can find here in shops or. particularly, online. I sometimes have counted on getting an item in Greece, and found the selection wanting. Remember, the Greece financial situation means they are not importing at the rate they were a few years ago.... and trekking poles are not something that Greeks use, only tourists. Greeks manage to climb amazing hills just to get down to the grocery & back uphill to home ... PS their longevity is admirable.

Posted by
484 posts

After more research, it looks like the only way I can get my trekking stick on this trip to checking it as checked luggage. So I guess I'll take my chances and check it to Ljubljana on our flight there. It is looking very probable that inorder to make our connections in Croatia we must carry on all luggage. 'complicated!

Then I'll make it a gift to our tour guide, perhaps some next RS tour member will be thankful. Here is an idea: RS Guides have some loaner trekking sticks!

Posted by
2454 posts

I was just reading British Airways' rules and they don't allow trekking poles to be carried on either, but do allow walking sticks. If I can't find a walking stick that doesn't make me feel like I have a cane, perhaps I'll carryon. Otherwise, I think I'll just make a cute little cover for foldable poles and check it all the way through, but due to the 15 hours of it storage in Heathrow and their small size I won't hold my breath. IF they don't arrive in Athens, I'll deal with it then. Or I'll mail them to the hotel... This whole idea is interesting because my husband is recovering from a serious illness and he's used trekking poles with guidance from the physical therapists in hospital and now outpatient, two poles, to one, to sometimes one. OR as I'm planning on only using one, I could check one and carryon the other and see what happens...

Posted by
484 posts

Wray,

It appears that with proper doctor's note you may be able to have the poles with you in carry on. My doctor knows about my uneasiness on various locations.
I also thought about shipping the poles to the first hotel and will research that.

I wouldn't worry any longer about the 15 hr. layover ... I just feel bad you have such a long layover. I work hard at finding good ways to travel to my European destinations with minimal layovers, and that usually has us hustling thru airports.. haha.

Posted by
2976 posts

TSA would not let me carryon trekking poles last year. It didn't really have much to do with pointed ends as much as that they could be handled as a club. I checked them (thanks to some quick thinking by Alaska Airlines service agents) and all ended well. You should not count on being able to take them as a carry on.

Posted by
5539 posts

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/prohibited-items

The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is
allowed through the checkpoint.

As Harry Calhoun (C. Eastwood) said:

"...you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya...."

And if you are unlucky, you either need to surrender your poles or run back to check your poles.

Posted by
2454 posts

@tgreen: the 15 hour layover is my planned and desired layover for my own first class system of flying. I take the day flight from Boston, relax over dinner at the Sofitel Hotel in terminal 5, sleep in a wonderful bed (as compared to trying to sleep on an overnight flight) and then I take a late morning flight out, in this case to Athens.

I don't think I'd feel right asking for a doctor's note as I am healthy, I just think it would make it a little more pleasant with a pole, but I don't need one as in medical terms. It's not really vertigo I get, but a weirdness...

Posted by
1465 posts

I run into the same issue you do and was concerned before our RS Greece tour. I put our collapsible poles in a duffle bag and checked them. It sounds like you've talked to the airlines, since you know there would be a charge to get them at LHR. It might be worth checking with the gate agent when you check in for your flight to see if they have options. MOre than one of us has found a different, more accommodating answer at the airport than we did prior.

So, let me address the rest of your post. I did not see many (any?) sporting good stores in Athens that would have sold trekking poles and I looked. I also googled sporting goods stores in Athens before I left and didn't see any options (2014). I did not need them as much as I thought I would. Actually, I found the Acropolis easier than the temple at Delphi and Mystras. I used mine on the downhill portion of both of those. Our guide broke up the ascent to the Acropolis into manageable chunks. There are places where there are handrails and I just waited to use those. I made sure to watch my step and go slowly at the top, but no one in our group slipped. I think the RS guides are pretty vested in making sure everyone stays healthy. I was apprehensive about the "strenuous" label and it turned out we were in fine shape for the tour. We've only done 3 RS tours and this one did require the most walking. We did not do the climb to the top of the fortress in Monemvasia , but it turned out to be closed anyway and I'm not sure they ever reopened. You're in for a great trip.

Posted by
2454 posts

Edgar: I can hear Harry's voice...

Patty: Thanks, particularly about your experience and the lack of sources in Athens for poles. I'll probably end up doing what you did and check them on their own all the way to Athens.