Can you tell us some more about yourself?
I was born and raised in Athens Greece. After high school, I went to the U.S. to study Physics. I came to Switzerland for my doctoral research and ended up spending 9 years at CERN in Geneva. In the year 2000, I moved to Zurich where I have been employed as a data miner for different industries.
I also teach at the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich. I love the city life in Zurich but spend all my vacation on the Greek islands in the summer. I am married. My four year old son is the coolest guy I know. My wife finds both of us cool but she thinks I am crazy. My hobbies include photography, multimedia and reading.
How do you like being a Spotter so far?
I like being a spotter for a simple reason: I have always been one. As a kid, I took black and white photos of places in order to “document” my memories. In the 90s, I programmed a simple website as a tourist guide for the Greek island of Corfu. I used html programming on my workstation at CERN. Since there were no digital cameras at the time, I scanned my own photos as well as some postcards. At some time a document of some Greek authority mentioning the site fell in my hands. Apparently, the web really turned out to be an effective medium for spreading “documented” memories.
Today we have better technologies (Web 2.0 like Spotted by Locals) and better gadgets (digital cameras) but the main idea remains the same: Spot and tell. The more you practice, the more you train your eyes in spotting and the more you can figure out the story behind a spot. To put it the other way around: if there is no story behind a spot, then it is not worth talking about, then it is pure documentation without the quotation marks.
If I were rich or retired and didn’t have to work, I would possibly choose some other place on the planet. But under normal conditions, Zurich competes for the trophy “best city address on earth”.
Why? You don’t need a car thanks to the best public transportation system in the world. The city has a beautiful waterfront with a lake and a river. There are numerous cafés, restaurants, bars, night clubs etc. You can eat any type of food, dance or listen to any kind of music etc. And you can enjoy a lot of the possibilities in a short time by moving around as a pedestrian.
And this is exactly the picture I give to my visitors: they experience me as a local and not as a tourist guide. I don’t take them to museums and places I wouldn’t go myself. I politely impose my own agenda and in the end they are happy, they feel they have gotten under the skin of the city.
Which prejudices about Zurich are true? Which ones are not?
“Zurich is a city of bankers with a high cost of living”. This is a prejudice which is true and false at the same time. There are a lot of bankers but this definitely not a place for bankers only. Yes, Zurich is expensive but for somebody coming from Athens, this is certainly not a problem. At the end of the day it is the purchasing power that matters, not the price level.
Another old prejudice labels Zurich a conservative city with little life. Twenty years ago, this was true. You could find some life in the Niederdorf till midnight and that was it. Nowadays, you go out on Monday evening and find places which are crowded. Thanks to economic growth and the influx of foreigners, the previously conservative city has become “shockingly” liberal.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
Let me take Saturday as a typical example and describe the following workflow (applicable to groups of one or more persons): Go downtown to have a light meal followed with a nice desert and an Espresso. Stroll around the city center to feel the pulse of the crowded streets but avoid entering the overcrowded stores.
If it is summer, go to the lake for some swimming and spend the warm hours relaxing and reading. If it is winter, try the same but use extra measures to compensate for the cold (like Sauna Enge or Sauna Utoquai). Consume the next Espresso(s) to make reading or socializing more effective. When hunger strikes, choose a nice restaurant, preferably an ethnic one. Crown the meal with an Espresso. Move to a bar for a drink (and the last Espresso of the day).
Read all of Miltiadis’ articles here
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