Discovering secret Athens through the eyes of a local

25 Aug

It’s the people that make a place
– Ruth Wiemer, Guest blogger

Discover secret Athens in our new website!

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Photo 1: Athens by night, Source Spiros Lioris, 500px

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a Greek friend of mine I met in London in Athens. I had no real expectations of Athens, apart from the fact that I would probably be confronted with a lot of history and historical monuments. But, oh – how wrong I was! Athens, albeit not the prettiest city in the world, is one of a kind.
I had the incredible luck of being with my own local Athenians – Stella and her amazing gang of friends.  Through her and her friends I saw things past the already impressive ruins, saw different sides to Athens rather than ‘just’ its glorious, but meanwhile dusty Ancient Greek past. Although we did do the typical touristic routes across town, the things that stood out for me was the hidden side of Athens that only locals could have showed me.
I went to eat in small traditional tavernas that had the best olive oil that I had ever tasted. Ate feta cheese, and other delicious Greek dishes that still make my mouth water when I think of it. I learned how to cook a Greek vegetarian lasagne dish, and make authentic Greek Salad with some weird, big crouton-like things. I learned about the political tension in Greece, not through the news, but through people directly involved in it.

food

Photo 2: “Ntakos”, a Cretan meze

I sampled some of the nightlife by going into “secret” bars that I, as an oblivious tourist would have just walked past, if I hadn’t been with Stella and her friends. I tried dishes that I wouldn’t have known existed. I walked past artistic streets lighted with hundreds of different lampshades instead of lanterns. It often struck me in Athens that a very dodgy looking place from the outside, could be spectacular from the inside.

Athens Photos

Photo 3: A for Athens bar restaurant in Monastiraki Square

I also went to the beach not far from Athens, and sipped on amazing cocktails in perhaps the most romantic bar I have ever been to. I went and saw a new release film in an outdoor cinema (who knew those still existed, right?), and wandered aimlessly through beautiful neighbourhoods, watching local vendors praise their goods.

Island

Photo 4: Island bar restaurant

For me, it is odd to be in a country, where you can’t read the signs. I speak 5 languages, and yet little good that did me in Greece, where I couldn’t even pick up the basics of conversation. But I found that a little English could go a long way, and if that failed, gestures, like anywhere was the universal language. From my experience, I found Greek people extremely hospitable, warm and eager to understand you.

Prior to my visit I had done some research on Athens by searching on Tripadvisor about good, and not too touristic bars and places to go. There were some suggestions, but I think I was incredibly lucky to be with locals, since they knew where the real authentic and excellent places were.  If you go, don’t go expecting great, green parks, and phenomenal architecture. You won’t find it. Go because you want a good time, good food, and good company. It’s the people that make the place.

Ruth Wiemer

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 11 things to know before visiting Athens! | diskaverins - September 29, 2013

    […] Discovering secret Athens through the eyes of my local friend, Stella. (diskaverins.wordpress.com) […]

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