My big fat Olympic decision.

image.jpegWhile debate rages over whether Russian athletes should be competing in Rio, the state of the Olympic village facilities and the risks of the Zika virus I have a big decision to make. Where in Athens, the home of the modern Olympics, am I going to watch all the action?

After appointing myself Chef de Mission for this decision I went to where it all started in 1896, the Panathenaic Stadium.


On a hot day I did a circuit of the track.


Then finally settled for bronze.


Having worked for the organisation that funds and supports Australia’s Olympic athletes for the last 6 years I am keen to see how it all plays out in Rio.

So where will I watch? With my still limited knowledge of the bars of Athens I narrowed it down to 3 venues:

The Wee Dram – a Scottish pub close to where Iive but unfortunately closed for August. ( August in Athens is like January in CanberrA – everything shuts down and residents go to the coast or in this case the islands.)

The James Joyce- a friendly Irish pub where I watched the last Origin game.


The Athens Sports Bar – owned by Aussies from Perth for that green and gold hospitality.


On balance I think I will hop between the 2 venues.

Greece finished 75th in London and is sending 95  athletes to Rio.

Australia was eventually placed 8th in the 2012 games after race walker Jared Tallent was awarded Gold retrospectively. The Aussies have selected a large squad of 419 competitors.

I will be following both countries with great interest.

So let’s get the viewing started!


Cheers and Giassas



Are the grungy areas the best part of a city?

Athens has its fair share of great tourist sites. The Acropolis, Parthenon and Panthenaic Stadium quickly come to mind, along with a host of world class museums and galleries.

After a couple of visits to this city, the area that excites me the most is immediately south of Monastiraki Square commonly known as the “flea market”.

Walking through the laneways with initial stalls selling t-shirts, shoes and suitcases, you will quickly reach a point where the  shops are hawking second hand goods. Records, books, furniture and retro household items greet you in every nook and cranny.

This is a grungy world only metres but on the other hand a thousand miles away from Ermou street the bustling modern shopping strip popular with the people of Athens.

A local told me about a bar in the area I might like to try. I went a round the block 3 times before I found it. It is called Taf Metamatic.

Once through the door you find yourself in a sunny courtyard bar or beer garden as I like to think of it.

The bar was fairly quiet while I sat and sipped on my pint of beer, but I have a feeling night time is when it fills up.

A pleasant afternoon drinking beer surrounded by the rustic charm of this art gallery come hidden courtyard  bar.

A good find in my favourite area of Athens. 

I have barely scratched the surface on the “hidden” delights this place has to offer.

Cheers and Giassas


Mex in the heart of Athens and Jimmy the Greek/American

I really do love Greek food and I have been eating plenty including the best souvlaki I have ever had at Kostas in Pentellis street. More about that later.

We decided to mix it up and try a Mexican place called Taqueria Maya recently and came away very happy.

“Props” to my daughter Milly  for her research and choice.


The restaurant is in a side lane off the bustling Ermou street shopping strip.

We started with a margarita. Best one I have had since a work trip to Mexico City and that was a while ago.


From there it only got better. I ordered the Cubano  based on a movie called Chef where a guy travels around the US selling Cuban sandwiches. I have wanted to try one ever since. A tasty and spicy meal.

However the winner on the night was Milly’s chicken burrito. The corn chips are good too!


On of the best features of the place is the friendly guy behind the counter and rattling the pans Jimmy.

A Greek American from Connecticut (surely the best pedigree for a Mexican chef) Jimmy says he speaks 2 languages,  Greek and American. Although I am sure I heard a bit of Spanish banter with some customers.


A good night at Taqueria Maya. We will be back for sure.

To top off the international evening in Athens we then walked around the corner for gelato to Le Greche in Mitropoloes street. Le Greche means “the Greek woman” in Italian I think.

We backed a winner again!


Cheers and Giassas


It’s Friday – Market Day

Yesterday was market day in the Athens suburb where I am living, Paleo Psychiko.

image.jpegFarmers markets have been a welcome addition to the lives and stomachs of many Australians including me. The market at EPIC in Canberra is one of the best.

In Athens the “laiki agora” have been around since 1929 to prevent the “middlemen” taking all the profits from the primary producers.

They occur on specific days for each neighbourhood.

Mine is on Fridays and it is 3 minutes away (just down the hill).

image.jpegThe fruit and vegetables are high quality and  a fair bit cheaper than the local shops.

I bought zucchini and green beans which I cooked last night and ate with aged steaks. Very nice!

image.jpegI also got a bit loose and bought a heap of oranges which I juiced this morning. The family verdict again was positive.

image.jpegI experienced  an amazing moment with Yiannis who sells eggs telling me about his hard life in Athens and then refusing to let me pay. Greeks appear to have generosity in their DNA.

image.jpegI bought too many things early in the piece including some good looking cherries and peaches leaving me with a tougher walk back up the hill to the apartment.

Next time I will try the fish.


Cheers and Giassas



The dog, the heat, Origin and RL in Greece

Our dog (Scamper) arrived in Athens from Canberra, where it has been snowing recently, to the furnace with temperatures up to 36 degrees.

Scamper is spending a lot of time in front of the air conditioning while we all adjust.


The alternative to beat the heat is swimming so the girls and I went to the pool at the Hilton Hotel (very classy pool with matching prices).

While  I hung out at the bar drinking Espresso Freddo ( I have caught the Greek bug for cold espresso coffee).


The girls actually went in the pool and relaxed on the deck chairs. This was the view for them.


I was contacted late last week by a Greek Australian, George, who is heavily involved with rugby league in Greece inviting me to watch the Origin game at an Irish pub (The James Joyce).

I felt like I was in Australia at the pub watching the game and talking rugby league. George, Jim (Tigers fan) and the other Greek guys love their footy and are real enthusiasts about the game.

The game in Greece has undergone political maneuvering and break away factions in recent times, both elements common to  rugby league generally and this country.


Rugby League in Greece ( @rlgreece on FB ) will have 5 teams for next season and George has hinted that there is a club coaching vacancy if  I am keen. (Never say never!) We will see.

(Selfie photo below courtesy Jim Minadakis)

image.jpgOn a sadder note my elder daughter Lucy went back to Canberra for school yesterday but we will see her again late September. She will be missed.


So as the sun sets on another scorcher in Athens.


Cheers and Giassas


@discomclennan on Twitter




Athens – the first week

I arrived in Athens a week ago with my wife and family so it is time to start the blog.

We are here for at least 3 years and I couldn’t be happier about it.

My passions are sport and food with a bit of music so I am thinking that is what I will write about.

So far we have moved in to a nice apartment in Paleo Psychiko which is a quiet leafy suburb in the northern suburbs of Athens.

I have made myself familiar at the local shops using my almost non-existent Greek language  skills, relying on the  owners’ English  skills.

I have found the cafe where I  think will spend a lot of time with our dog Scamper who arrives tonight hopefully OK after a long arduous flight.


I was also impressed  with the local butcher’s paper bags – yeah I know small things and no I don’t know what it says.


So last night we went to an embassy function at a very cool bar with a food truck inside called 48 Urban Garden.


On the way I literally stumbled across the home ground of the Panathinaikos football club. The ground looks eery and intimidating but I can’t wait to get to a game and feel the experience.


Impressions so far- the Greeks have been incredibly friendly and welcoming and the food is sensational.

Priorities for me are seeking work and learning as much of the language as I can in a short space of time. Meanwhile I am enjoying the ride.

Cheers and Giassas