Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, my nationality, my interests, my friends and almost everything else is mixed and diverse. Starting with the nationality, I am half Greek-half Austrian and never really felt as any of those. I am a molecular biologist and please don’t ask me the names of any tree or flower. I have no idea. I grew up in Greece, went off to Austria to study, spent there 7 years and after that even though I was ready to pack my stuff to go to London, somehow I got stuck in Athens. So here I am.
Why Athens? What is a must do when you visiting Athens? What not?
Why Athens? Well that is a question I had to ask myself a lot of times when I first decided to stay here and the truth is I still haven’t figured it out. I just stayed because it felt right and probably this is the answer. Without knowing why it is probably a city which will not only stay in you facebook look-what-I-did-last-summer-link but will most probably secure a little spot of its own in the back of your mind.
What you should do? Everything! And nothing at the same time. Walk around, visit all centre areas, go for a coffee in places where you would most probably never imagine yourself in. Don’t get dragged by the tourist-wave to all the hot spots. I mean of course you will visit the old-time classics the Acropolis and the museum but even when you are there for example don’t go straight back to Plaka to eat at a tourist-shaped taverna.
Walk down to Koukaki for example, go to Filopapou to end up at the other side of the hill. Thousands of choices! I would suggest as well a trip with the Elektriko (green line of the Metro). Hop in and get out at different stations as for example Patisia or even the high class Kifisia. No tourist was ever spotted there!
What do you know about Athens what no tourist will know?
In Athens open air cinemas have quite a tradition. In the 60’s the number of open air cinemas outnumbered the ‘normal’ closed ones! The first open-air cinemas were built in the 20’s and some of them like Aigli (Zappeio) and Box (Exarxeia) still exist.
And one more thing that won’t really change your life but anyhow it is weirdly interesting! Almost every afternoon there is an old lady standing at the cross of two streets (Irakleidon and Thessalonikis). She is not begging for money, she is not waiting for anyone she just stands there, for hours. I have asked her a few times if she needs something and she always says no. If you ever figure out her story let me know!
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Athens at this moment?
This is a quite tricky question. Most popular neighbourhood based on what criteria? Well, based on my criteria and lets say the ones of my friends (don’t let me down now!) I would say that the centre area around Petralona-Theisio-Koukaki has gained some plus points in recent years.
A lot of bars have started opening and in general there is much more going on as compared to before. Proximity to the centre and a more neighbourhood-like feeling which you lack in all other centre areas of Athens, you will definitely find here. Of course, areas like Exarxeia will always be popular and with good reason. Just ignore the media isolating Exarxeia as the terrorist-anarchist broiling point, exaggeration makes the world go round. It is a very lively place and if you are not too sensitive to noise and you like having a selection of over 5 cafes just around the corner of your apartment you will probably love it there.
There is also the ‘new’ area of Kerameikos where Gazi is located (thousands of bars and thousands of people) that has gained popularity lately. There used to be a lot of really nice old houses which you could rent quite cheap but now they have started building lofts (we all want to become New-Yorkers?!) and I guess prices have gone up and even though you have a metro station nearby I am not sure how convenient it really is to live there. But be my guest!
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
A working day or a free-day? Makes a huge difference! Well as 5 days a week I do work my description begins in the afternoon. I love walking around so very often I just start walking from Syntagma to cosy-little-thing-called home. It takes about one hour and believe me in between you get thousand of chances to change plans.
Either I will stop for a quick coffee or drink at Bartesera or I will end up going to the cinema Microkosmos for drinks or movie (that too depends) or I will bring an end to my walking tour in Petralona Troon street and will enjoy, especially in summer, the liveliness of the street, or finally, of course, I might end up somewhere totally unexpected and probably this will be my favourite choice! No matter what day it is I would say walking around in Athens does pay off.
Is there something else you want to share?
I just want to say that in any city that you might live you are probably going to find the things you like and enjoy doing and you will end up having fun. Every city has its little-something and luckily for almost everyone it’s something else. I just hope that we give the people that visit Athens a nice peek into our enjoyable moments in Athens and give them the chance to make their own photos, memories and funny stories out of it.
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