GREECE IS | ATHENS | SUMMER 2018

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EXPERIENCE CULTURE, GASTRONOMY & MORE

AT H E N S

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ISSN: 2529-041X

ISSUE #30 | SUMMER 2018 EDITION

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WELCOME

Cool Athenians share a few of their favorite things, innovative guides offer fresh perspectives and an American friend discusses the city’s revival.

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D ISC OVE R

The secret stories behind some of the most iconic statues of Greek antiquity and the enduring global appeal of ancient Greek drama.

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CONNECT

Let’s meet some leading figures of the city’s dynamic cycling community and join the bookworms celebrating Athens 2018 World Book Capital.

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EX PERIENCE

Summer in Athens, from A to Z: cool places, colorful attractions, exciting activities and mouthwatering treats to help you get the most out of the city.



© ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU/POOL VIA REUTERS

WELCOME

A WARM SPOTLIGHT Athens is making the news for all the right reasons these days. B Y G I O R G O S T S I R O S / E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F, G R E E C E I S

Images from the recent leisurely springtime stroll that Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, took through the center of Athens very quickly made their way around the world. The couple could be seen sampling local sweets and sipping cold coffee (without the benefit of a plastic straw, as the new measures for protecting the environment dictated), all while interacting with members of the public during what appeared to be a most enjoyable unofficial break from an official state visit replete with both symbolic and practical significance. In fact, positive publicity for Greece’s capital seems to be everywhere these days. “In the districts of Koukaki and Monastiraki, terraces in the sun, gastronomic canteens and arty galleries reinvent a life after the crisis” notes Dominique Savidan, writing for the magazine Grazia. “Gritty, graffitied yet graceful, Athens is an intoxicating mix of old – very old – and new,” concludes Hannah Summers in The Times. “Welcome Back, Athens,” declares The New York Times in an insightful and much-discussed article by Charly Wilder, which you can read in full in this issue of Greece Is. Only days before this magazine went to print, Athens played host to leading figures of the tourism industry from across the continent, on the occasion of the World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony 2018, which took place at Zappeion Hall. There, the Greek capital beat out 13 nominees, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris, Rome and London, to scoop the title of Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2018. What’s

more, the Acropolis has been named Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction for 2018, topping other landmark sites such as the Buckingham Palace in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Rome’s Colosseum, while the Athens Convention Bureau was named Europe’s Leading City Tourist Board for 2018. There is another happy reason that Athens is in the international spotlight: it is the UNESCO 2018 World Book Capital, and as such, it is welcoming authors, publishers and artists from around the globe. Together with its neighboring port city of Piraeus, the capital will be hosting more than 270 events over the next few months, including a multimedia trilogy entitled “The Unwritten Library,” which will be launched on July 10 at the brand new Annex M Center of Visual Arts at Megaron - the Athens Concert Hall. The trilogy will include educational activities, video screenings, readings and open discussions. Rounding out the good news is the projection of a further increase in visitor numbers to the city; arrivals are expected to break an all-time record by the end of the year, surpassing the 5-million mark. As it happens, that number includes you, our readers. In the pages that follow, you’ll find inspiring stories and practical tips for an enjoyable stay in a city that has not only survived through the recent rough times, but is once again becoming fashionable, in its own, unique way. Yes, it’s a city that still has a few faults, but being boring has never been one of them. Enjoy our magazine, enjoy your stay, send us your input and please do come visit us again, soon.

The royal couple give one of the street vendors in Athens a day to remember. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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CONTENTS G R E E C E I S - I S S U E # 3 0 AT H E N S 2 0 1 8 S U M M E R E D I T I O N

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110 14. THE COOL CHART Guilty pleasures, hiddens gems and tips for when the temperature is rising.

36. NEW ON THE MENU Some of the latest arrivals that are spicing up the citybreak experience.

18. SHOW ME THE WAY Follow the experts on roads less taken.

40. ATHENS, RISING An American reflects on how the city she discovered during her youth has changed over the past decade.

26. WHAT’S ON Stirring performances and compelling exhibitions abound.

52. TIMELESS ATHENS An introduction to the city’s historic sites and museums.

ISSN: 2529-041X PUBLISHED BY:

Exerevnitis-Explorer S.A. Ethnarchou Makariou & 2 Falireos, Athens, 18547, Greece Tel. (+30) 210.480.8000 Fax (+30) 210.480.8202

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Giorgos Tsiros

(editor@greece-is.com)

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR:

Natassa Bouterakou

62. THE SURVIVORS The stories behind the National Archaeological Museum’s most spectacular statues.

98. RIDE ON Members of the local cycle community reveal all you need to know about experiencing the city on a saddle.

74. DRAMA KINGS What is it about ancient Greek theater that moves us so profoundly?

110. ATHENS A TO Z Our pick of places, treats, activities and attractions for a cool summer city break.

88. BOOKS EVERYWHERE Athens, UNESCO World Book Capital 2018 has put together an impressive program of events.

COMMERCIAL INQUIRIES:

Tel. (+30) 210.480.8227 Fax (+30) 210.480.8228 E-mails: sales@greece-is.com emporiko@kathimerini.gr

PUBLIC RELATIONS:

welcome@greece-is.com

ON THE COVER: ILLUSTRATION BY MIKE KAROLOS GREECE IS - ATHENS

is a biannual publication, distributed free of charge. It is illegal to reproduce any part of this publication without the written permission of the publisher.



WELCOME INSIDERS

THE COOL CHART Six Athenian influencers recommend some of their favorite spots. 1

DRINKING AND SOCIALIZING

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GUILTY PLEASURE

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FAVORITE SUMMER SPOT

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SHOPPING TIP

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A SECRET

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COSTAS VOYATZIS CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF www.yatzer.com

THE CLUMSIES (30 Praxitelous, Monastiraki), a permanent presence on the World’s Best Bars List since it opened in 2012, for imaginative cocktails.

MADAME GINGER

FOUNDER OF THE FOOD BLOG www.madameginger.com

AU REVOIR BAR (136 PATISSION), FOR ITS OLD ATHENS ATMOSPHERE AND ARTSY REGULARS.

THANOS PRUNARUS

OWNER OF BABA AU RUM BAR AND PUBLISHER OF FINE DRINKING MAGAZINE www.finedrinkingmagazine.com

BABA AU RUM (6 Klitiou), because I literally built it with my own hands; and because it is a truly cosmopolitan bar, where you’ll meet people from all over the world.

A big fat juicy burger at JUICY GRILL (2 Kerameikou, Holargos) is worth straying from the city center.

A FRESH TRAY OF SYRUPY GALAKTOBOUREKO CUSTARD PIE AT VARSOS (5 KASSAVETI, KIFISSIA) OR STANI (10 MARIKAS KOTOPOULI, OMONIA), AND CHOCOLATE NIBBLES FROM ARISTOKRATIKON (7 VOULIS).

None other than the enormous SWIMMING POOL at the HILTON, in the heart of the city. Also a great spot for a snack, meal or drink. Sardines with amaranth greens is my usual order.

EXPLORE THE ATHENS RIVIERA, VISIT THE MAGNIFICENT CAPE SOUNIO AND FEAST WITH A HOMECOOKED MEAL AT THE COZY FISH RESTAURANT THODOROS & ELENI.

Catch a movie at an open-air cinema or visit MIKROLIMANO, a small picturesque port for yachts and seafront taverns, 20 minutes from downtown Athens, near Pireaus.

THE CENTRAL MARKET, A GREAT STOP FOR ALL FOODIES, AND FORGET ME NOT (100 ADRIANOU, PLAKA), AN UNCONVENTIONAL SOUVENIR SHOP IN THE HEART OF ATHENS’ TOURIST DISTRICT.

If you’re looking to stock up your kitchen, check out your local FARMERS’ MARKET for a week’s worth of fresh produce.

HEAD TO THE STREET MARKET TAKING PLACE EVERY SUNDAY MORNING IN THISEIO. SOME FRIENDS OF MINE GOT A VESPA HERE FOR €30 – THEY HAGGLED THE SELLER DOWN FROM HIS ORIGINAL ASKING PRICE OF €50.

PROFITEROLES (CREAM PUFFS) AT SOROLOP (17 ANDREA METAXA) IN EXARCHIA.

The BLACK DUCK GARDEN - ATHENS CITY MUSEUM BISTROT (5-7 Paparrigopoulou) which is part of what, for some years (1836-1843), was the first palace of King Otto and Queen Amalia.

AGHIOS GEORGIOS SQUARE IN KYPSELI IS ONE OF THE PRETTIEST SQUARES IN ATHENS (AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE).

MT YMITTOS is really close to the city center and offers amazing views and an unbelievable sense of serenity. It’s perfect for walking, and has Byzantine ruins, plenty of green and lots of critters.



WELCOME INSIDERS

NALYSSA GREEN

SINGER-SONGWRITER Nalyssa will perform at the tribute concert for Leonard Cohen on September 21, at the Megaron Garden.

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DRINKING AND SOCIALIZING

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GUILTY PLEASURE

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FAVORITE SUMMER SPOT

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SHOPPING TIP

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A SECRET

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BARRETT (11 Protogenous) in Psyrri.The neighborhood is always lively and the bar plays interesting music, has a welcoming vibe and serves good drinks.

A SANDWICH FROM SAN FRANCISCO (99 KERAMEIKOU, METAXOURGIO), FOR ITS FRESH INGREDIENTS AND FLAVORSOME COMBINATIONS.

PANAGIOTIS MENEGOS

IOANNA KOLLIOPOULOU

GALAXY BAR (10 STADIOU), IF YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR CONVERSATION, OR PROTOGENOUS STREET IN PSYRRI, WHERE YOUTH IS, FORTUNATELY, WASTED ON THE YOUNG.

OINOSCENT (45-47 Voulis), a friendly wine bar with a large selection of wines and delicious finger food, and ODEON (19 Markou Mousourou, Mets), a quiet spot with nice drinks, music and a great team running the place.

RADIO HOST AT EN LEFKO 87.7 FM AND CO-FOUNDER OF www.popaganda.gr

Try LEFTERIS’ heavy Anatolian-flavored souvlaki (20 Satovriandou, near Omonia Square). It’s exotic and yet comfortably familiar at the same time.

STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION CULTURAL CENTER for a stroll beside the canal and between the olive trees of its Park.

ON A WEEKDAY, BUT NEVER ON SUNDAY, GO FOR A SWIM AT SANTA MARINA BEACH, RIGHT AFTER VARKIZA, ON THE ATHENS RIVIERA.

THE MEET MARKET, WHERE ARTISTS, VENDORS AND SHOPPERS COME TOGETHER AT WHAT IS BASICALLY A PARTY, OFFERS ALL SORTS OF GREAT BUYS, INCLUDING UNIQUE, HANDMADE ITEMS (THEMEETMARKET.GR).

Record shopping at ROCK & ROLL CIRCUS (21 Sina) for soul/funk/jazz; KASSETA RECORDS (5 Sofokleous) for disco/electro/house; and HOMCORE (38 Voulis) for electronica/techno/ avant-garde.

Right on one of the busiest streets of downtown Athens, the CAFÉ AT THE NUMISMATIC MUSEUM (12 Panepistimiou) is a cool, calm surprise where you can enjoy a coffee or a drink in the evening.

THE VERY INSTAGRAMMABLE FARMERS’ MARKET ON KALLIDROMIOU STREET IN EXARCHIA, WHERE SELLERS THINK THEY’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME STAND-UP COMEDIANS.

ACTRESS Ioanna will play Electra in Euripides’ “Orestes” on August 3-4 at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus.

THE FOOD TRUCK (47 MICHALAKOPOULOU), AN AFTER-HOURS JOINT, SERVES HOT DOGS, FINGER-LICKING CHICKEN NUGGETS WITH A DELICIOUS SAUCE, AND OTHER STREET FOOD.

FILOPAPPOU HILL for a breath of fresh air, a relaxed walk and a view stretching all the way to the sea.

AT MATALOU AT HOME (5 YPITOU, SYNTAGMA), YOU’LL FIND CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES BY LOCAL DESIGNERS. ARGOURA (49 Agisilaou, Kallithea) is a lovely restaurant with a vintage look, serving fresh fish and hard-to-find shellfish prepared with great originality.



GREEKING

WELCOME PERSPEC TIVES

SHOW ME THE WAY

The days when the only city tours available involved a bus ride and a guide with a microphone are long gone. As activity tourism grows, so does the range of alternative ways you can explore Athens. B Y PAU L I N A B J Ö R K- K A P S A L I S

GRAFFITI CITY A peek through a fence in Metaxourgio reveals an intriguing sight. As if you were looking through the window of a gallery, you’ll see art on the walls − the abandoned plot is surrounded by artwork, painted on the walls but respectfully organized so that each piece stays within its own space. This is one of the stops on tour company Greeking’s threehour Street Art Tour, where renowned local artists take center stage. Aside from artworks hidden in places you’d never think to look, the tour also includes individual pieces that have be18

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come artistic reference points in the city. “Snowblind,” by iNO, is the portrait of a faceless businessman with a blue smear across his shirt that represents his liver and is meant to create awareness regarding the prevention of Hepatitis C. On another wall, the picture of a dog titled “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” by the three artists Smart, Grams and Martinez, seems a sentimental tribute to a family dog – but as your guide will tell you, “Loukanikos” is the stray dog who participated in street demonstrations, and was made famous by Time Magazine. The tours, which are all private (avail-

able for groups of up to eight participants) and conducted in English, are led by Sophia, a practicing street artist with a degree from the Athens School of Fine Arts, or by Theo, an archaeologist with extensive knowledge of history and a passion for modern art. They focus on art with political and cultural references, which often has strong messages about Greece today. From €40, depending on the size of the group (free for children under 10), Tel. (+30) 694.207.0899 & (+30) 210.956.7326,

greeking.me



WELCOME PERSPEC TIVES

VINTAGE BIKE TOURS

VINTAGE BIKE TOUR When Agis Kolivas, who assembles and sells tailor-made bicycles at his shop 48x17 Cycles near the Acropolis, noticed an increased interest in his two-wheelers, he decided to create a vintage bike experience for tourists. For the last year and a half, along with his colleague Kostas, Agis has been giving tours of central Athens, operating as Vintage Bike Tours. His way of seeing the city is the perfect experience for bike aficionados or anyone else who is comfortable pedaling. On the tour, which lasts three and a half hours, you’ll roll through the city center and learn about all the historic and contemporary must-see places. The many stops include the Acropolis (which you’ll see from below), the Panathenaic Stadium, and a pause for a bite at Kostas, one of the city’s oldest and best souvlaki joints. The bicycles provided are all restored vintage models, and include road bikes, city bikes, cruisers and mixte-frame bicycles. They’re all in top shape, with vintage gears and modern brakes. You’ll need to have a bit of experience with city riding, as you’ll be traveling on a few high-traffic 20

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streets and breaking a sweat now and then in your helmet. The tours are available for English-speaking groups of up to seven people, and take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. They start and end at the 48x17 shop, located at 2 Veikou near the Acropolis Museum. •

€35, Tel. (+30) 210.922.5488,

vintagebiketours.gr

SHOPPING TOUR They call it “fearless post-crisis fashion.” The guides at Alternative Athens aren’t state-licensed professionals; they’re real local insiders who care about their city. In this spirit, the Greek Designers Shopping Tour is a way of promoting the country’s many innovative up-andcoming designers while also giving tour participants the chance to discover tomorrow’s trends today. Greeting tour participants on pedestrianized Tsakalof Street in upscale Kolonaki, the guide leads them on a three-and-a-half-hour walk through the neighborhood, where the group makes

ten stops at spots offering various types of shopping, from women’s fashion at Punchi Pupunchi and affordable jewelry at Prigipo to deli products at Yoleni’s Flagship Store. Other stops include a Greek cosmetics store, a furniture store, and a museum gift shop that promotes new designers. Join-in tours are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:00, and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 16:00, in English and French. Private tours, which have a two-participant minimum, are also available in Spanish. €50 (free for children under 12, €40 for children 12-17), Tel. (+30) 211.012.6544,

www.alternativeathens.com

FOOD ON FOOT After living in Athens for just five years, Anna Tsogia realized she had already managed to discover more than most locals about Athens’ eateries, so she decided to share that knowledge. Her company, Food on Foot, now offers several different food tours (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French,



WELCOME PERSPEC TIVES

BE A GREEK

ATHENS PHOTO TOUR

ALTERNATIVE ATHENS

Dutch and German) for groups of up to 12 people. Tour options include wine tastings and street-food explorations, but perhaps the best starting point is the Classic Tour. The three-and-a-half to four-hour tour starts at 09:30 at Omonia Square. The first stop, for a breakfast treat, includes freshly fried loukoumades (a local version of the fried donut hole) with thyme honey, from one of the city’s old dairy shops. From there, the group moves on to grab what’s a more realistic breakfast for modern Athenians: a cheese pie from a bakery. Not eating too much of these first treats is a challenge, but a little restraint is well worth it in the end. Consisting of many brief stops for everything from goat’s milk ice cream (from a chocolate boutique) to hearty bean stew and moussaka (in a taverna 22

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located inside the famous Varvakios meat and fish market), the tour serves up information as well as wonderful food. €52 (free for children under 5, €25 for children 6-11, and €39 for children 12-18), Tel. (+30) 697.911.0469,

www.athensfoodonfoot.com

FAMILY TREASURE HUNT “A tour where the kids are bored is horrible for the whole family,” says Antonis Chatzis, managing director of Be a Greek. Their four-hour Athens for Kids tour is designed especially for families traveling with kids aged 5-13, and is in the form of a treasure hunt. The adventure starts at 10:00 at Hadrian’s Arch (the “door” to ancient Athens), and continues through historical Plaka, where teaching experts Vicky, Danai and

Katerina will enthusiastically share stories about the daily life in ancient Greece, the philosophers, the Gods of Olympus, and the birth of democracy. At every stop, there is a series of activities to complete, including writing in ancient Greek, playing custom board games and recreating events practiced at the ancient Olympic Games; all these require cooperative effort. There’s also a break for refreshments at a café. The tour is available for private groups (of up to eight participants) every day, and for semi-private groups on Fridays, and can be conducted in English or Italian. From €50, depending on the size of the group (free for children under 4), Tel. (+30) 694.833.2630, www.beagreek.com



WELCOME PERSPEC TIVES

ATHENS INSIDERS

ATHENS FOOD ON FOOT

PHOTO TOUR After meeting your guide from Athens Photo Tour at the foot of the Acropolis Hill in the morning (09:00-10:00), you’ll start your full-day tour shooting the Parthenon from below. Later, at Lycabettus Hill, you’ll photograph the city from above. You’ll also visit the Panathenaic Stadium, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The tour continues with a trip to the coast and a stop in Mikrolimano in Piraeus; a ride along the Athenian Riviera to amazing Vouliagmeni Lake; and finally, as the sun sets, an incredible photo opportunity at the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio. (Tripods 24

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are available for evening shots.) Your guide is a professional photographer, ready to help you with everything from camera settings to suggestions for editing apps, whether you are shooting with a professional camera or your phone. The tours, which are in English, are all private, with groups no larger than four people, ensuring that everyone gets the help and attention they need. €249 (free for children under 13), Tel. (+30) 210.920.0361 / (+30)

693.728.4218, www.athensphototour.com

CUSTOMIZED BAR-HOPPING As the guides at Athens Insiders know, fine-drinking tourism is a new, but growing concept and the Athens bar scene is one of the liveliest in Europe. Exciting things are happening at Greek cocktail bars as well as on the beer scene, with local microbrewery products suddenly available everywhere. Meanwhile, the quality of the domestic wines has also improved greatly, inspiring the establishment of a number of excellent wine bars.

On the three-hour bar-hopping tours that the company offers, any of these different bar scenes can be explored. Depending on the interests and preferences of each group, Athens Insiders creates private tours which can include tasting sessions for beer, spirits, or wine, as well as stops at up to six bars. The guide that you’ll get depends on the specifics of each tour, so participants will always have the benefit of an expert. Locations will change as well; for instance, if it’s about drinks with a view, the guide will chose the city center, whereas if the group is looking for alternative neighborhood hangouts, the destination is likely to be Exarchia. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included for those staying within walking distance of the areas visited. The tours are available in English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese, and in other languages upon request. €150 for first person, €10 for every additional participant (drinks excluded), Tel. (+30) 694.284.2188 / (+30) 211.790.9879, athensinsiders.com



WELCOME AGENDA

A PACKED SEASON

The Athenian cultural summer sizzles with compelling exhibitions and stirring performances.

© DIMITRIOS HARISSIADIS, OMONIA SQUARE, 1955. © BENAKI PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVES

BY X E N I A GEORGI A DOU

15092018 AN ACT OF PROTEST

Mrs Tependris, the eccentric persona created by the renowned Greek visual artist Konstantin Kakanias, is once again the protagonist of his works (drawings on paper and paintings on ceramic tiles). On some of the tiles, she imagines herself as a statue from classical antiquity, while in certain sketches she takes part in radical activism, demanding the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. Is satire the most effective way of communicating? • “That’s Mine Bitch! Do Not Touch. Back Off,” Rebecca Camhi Contemporary Art Gallery, 9 Leonidou, Metaxourgio (Metro: Metaxourgio) and Kalfayan Galleries, 11 Haritos, Kolonaki (Metro: Evangelismos).

15072018 ATHENS IN THE PAST

Greek and foreign photographers have been immortalizing facets of the Greek capital since the 19th century, capturing its rapid transformation into a major city: squares, arterial roads, boulevards and picturesque Athenian neighborhoods all caught their eye. Using material from the archives of the Benaki Museum, this photographic travelogue charts the years up to the end of the 1960s. • “Images from Athens from the Benaki Museum’s Photographic Archives,” Athens International Airport, Art & Culture Exhibition Area (Arrivals Level - Exit 1), Spata.

MAY2019

© KONSTANTIN KAKANIAS

Three hundred and forty ancient artifacts – receptacles, jewelry and statues – from the rich collection of the National Archaeological Museum offer testimony to the aesthetic preferences of ancient societies from the Neolithic period to late antiquity, demonstrating at the same time the changes in attitudes regarding beauty over this time. • “The Countless Aspects of Beauty,” National Archaeological Museum, 44 Patission (Metro: Omonia).

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© NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM/TAP. PHOTO: STELIOS SKOURLIS

ON BEAUTY


©ALESSANDRO CALABRESE

29072018 CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY

The Athens Photo Festival has invited 80 artists from 32 countries to submit work on issues surrounding contemporary social reality, creating a record of both the main trends and experimental approaches in the world of photography. Alessandro Calabrese, for instance, photographed scenes of Milan and took pictures of close friends, and then uploaded the photographs to Google to conduct a reverse image search: each of them returned many visually similar shots. He then printed those shots onto acetate sheets, scanned them and merged them to make a single digital image. • “Athens Photo Festival 2018,” Benaki Museum - Pireos 138, 138 Pireos & Andronikos (Metro: Kerameikos). AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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PHOTO: PARIS TAVITIAN © MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART, 2018

1507 1707 NO MORAL INHIBITIONS

14102018 THE PEOPLE OF GEORGE CONDO

© STEFANOS

The American George Condo was a member of a generation of artists – including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Jeff Koons – who, with their work, returned representational painting to prominence. Drawing on elements from classical Greek antiquity, the 17th-century Old Dutch Masters, Goya, Velásquez, Picasso, Warhol and many others, Condo creates figures at times imaginary, at times inspired by real characters, on whose faces are imprinted the absurdities of everyday life. In his first museum exhibition in Greece, the celebrated artist presents a series of self-portraits from 2017, as well as sculptures, drawings and paintings from the past 20 years. • “George Condo at the Cycladic Museum,” Museum of Cycladic Art, Stathatos Mansion Vasilissis Sofias & 1 Irodotou (Metro: Evangelismos).

The dinner party is over, but the guests can’t leave their host’s mansion, even though the front door is wide open! Aristocratic fine manners give way to animal instincts. With her incisive gaze, Angela Brouskou adapts and directs Luis Buñuel’s surrealist cinema masterpiece “The Exterminating Angel.” With English surtitles. • “The Exterminating Angel,” Pireos 260, Building H, 260 Pireos (Buses: 049, 914, Scholi Kalon Technon or Yfantiria stops).

272829&31072018 A SYMBOL OF FREEDOM

Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” was first staged in Paris in 1875, without much success. The determination of the heroine of the same name, a gypsy from Andalusia, to govern her own fate in a world ruled by men by choosing her lovers herself, was deemed immoral and scandalous at the time. In this production – the Greek National

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Opera’s contribution to the Athens & Epidaurus Festival – directed by Stephen Langridge, the action is transposed to the present, to a Europe of closed borders and poverty. In French, with Greek and English surtitles. • “Carmen,” Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Dionysiou Areopagitou (Metro: Akropoli)



© VIVI TSIOGKA, KEFALODESMOS

WELCOME AGENDA

17072018 NIGEL KENNEDY’S EXPERIMENTATION

“If you’re playing within your capability, what’s the point? If you’re not pushing your own technique to its limits, with the risk that it might just crumble at any moment, then you’re not really doing your job,” says British violinist Nigel Kennedy. The best-selling classical violinist in musical history does not limit himself to the classical repertoire; he also plays compositions by Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, seeks collaborations with big names in rock like Kate Bush and Robert Plant, and presents subversive live events. For his Athens & Epidaurus Festival appearance, he will play works by Bach and jazz compositions by George Gershwin. • “Bach Meets Kennedy Meets Gershwin,” Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Dionysiou Areopagitou (Metro: Akropoli).

31082018 PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT

The institution of the dowry, which has been dispensed with in modern societies, is at the center of an interesting exhibition at the Angeliki Hatzimichali Museum of Folk Art and Tradition. Wedding objects and symbols (wedding wreaths, handwoven textiles, traditional wedding dresses) are arranged alongside art installations, transcribed dowry agreements and creations inspired by real objects inextricably associated with wedding preparations. • “The Dowry,” Angeliki Hatzimichali Museum of Folk Art and Tradition, 6 Angelikis Hatzimichali, Plaka (Metro: Syntagma).

© VANESSA SAFAVI/JOHANN BESSE COURTESY THE BREEDER, ATHENS

31082018 Swiss-Iranian Vanessa Safavi focuses on the female body, exploring how it is captured in art. In her third solo exhibition in Athens, the visual artist presents a series of photographic works and new wall sculptures in which silicon plays a central role. “It is a material reminiscent of human skin and it evokes the human body,” she says. • “Vanessa Safavi: Turns and Returned,” The Breeder, 45 Iasonos (Metro: Metaxourgio). 30

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© VIVI TSIOGKA, KEFALODESMOS

THE FEMALE BODY


07 09072018 TRUE STORIES

Greek artist Eliza Soroga transforms everyday life into representational art. For the performance “Women in Agony,” she was awarded first prize in contemporary art at the 11th Arte Laguna Prize exhibition in 2017 in Venice. In her stage production for the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, she talks about her place of birth and her roots. Arranged in two parts, the production, which combines film and stage narrative, traces the everyday reality of elderly women living alone in remote villages in Epirus. With English surtitles.

“Roots,” Pireos 260, Building H, 260 Pireos (Buses: 049, 914, Scholi Kalon Technon or Yfantiria stops). •

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WELCOME AGENDA © LEO MATIZ © PAUL CHAN, TOWEL (DESERT), 2017. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND GREENE NAFTALI, NEW YORK

© LEO MATIZ

0507 1410 THE BATHERS

29072018 IMAGES OF A MAGICAL CITY

Gabriel García Márquez, or Gabo, as he was affectionately called throughout Latin America, drew inspiration for the atmosphere of the mythical Macondo, with which he begins his masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude” from his birthplace – the quiet, provincial town of Aracataca in Colombia’s Caribbean region. The legendary photographer Leo Matiz, who was born in Aracataca a decade before Márquez, gives us 40 black-and-white images of the town, proving that the magic of the imaginary city, as presented by the great novelist, was in fact a palpable reality. • “Matiz - Gabo: The Chroniclers of Macondo,” Benaki Museum - Pireos 138, 138 Pireos & Andronikos (Metro: Kerameikos).

The internationally renowned artist Paul Chan will exhibit a series of new works in Athens: sculptures, paintings and drawings on paper referencing bathing figures, a common theme for many great artists, from Titian and Cezanne to Picasso and Lichtenstein. At the heart of this show are some textile figures, which he calls “Bathers,” attached to modified electric fans. • “Paul Chan: Odysseus and the Bathers,” Museum of Cycladic Art, 4 Neofytou Douka (Metro: Evangelismos).

JOAN LEIGH FERMOR’S GREECE

Born in 1912 in Britain, Joan Eyres Monsell first studied photography at her boarding school’s photography club. Her first images were published, to positive reviews, in the late 1930s in the magazines “Architectural Review” and “Horizon”. She herself, however, did not seem to have great faith in her talent. In 1944, in Cairo, she met and fell in love with travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. She followed him on his travels and often immortalized the places and the people they met with a Rolleiflex camera. This exhibition at the Benaki Museum presents photos of several locations in Greece – Spetses, Cephalonia, Kardamyli, Hydra, Meteora and Nafplio – and portraits of her husband and of leading cultural and literary figures of the time. • “Artist and Lover: Photographs of Joan Leigh Fermor,” Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, 1 Koumbari & Vasilissis Sofias (Metro: Evangelismos).

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NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND, JOAN LEIGH FERMOR PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION, EDINBURGH / © JOAN LEIGH FERMOR ESTATE

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© C.COUTAYAR/ARCHIVES MINAS

© C.COUTAYAR/ARCHIVES MINAS

0609 09092018 MINAS – RENAISSANCE MAN During his military service, he designed the hydraulic recoil mechanism for artillery pieces. In his long career, he has created furniture, everyday objects and jewelry – all of them elegant. To mark the 80th birthday of Greek designer

Minas, the Benaki Museum presents a total of 50 black-and-white photographs by renowned fashion photographer Costas Coutayar, which show people of all ages wearing the jewelry of this multitalented artist. Some of the creations worn by the models in the

photographs will also be on show in display cases especially designed by Minas himself. • “Minas: Clarity of Shapes through the Lens of Coutayar,” Benaki Museum Pireos 138, 138 Pireos & Andronikos (Metro: Kerameikos).

PUMP UP THE VOLUME

© GETTY IMAGES/IDEAL IMAGE

The roster of this year’s Rockwave Festival (www.rockwavefestival.gr) includes two great acts: Judas Priest (19/07) and Iron Maiden (20/07). Then, the Release Athens festival headlines with the legendary duo, the Chemical Brothers, which will present a spectacular show complete with special effects at the Olympic Fencing Arena (08/09, www.releaseathens.gr). Also in September, the “dandy of rock” Bryan Ferry will take the stage at the open-air Odeon of Herodes Atticus (11/09), performing hits by Roxy Music as well as from his solo work. He will be followed on the same stage by Luz Casal, the singer who has served as Pedro Almodovar’s greatest muse and has been hailed as one of the most seductive voices in the Mediterranean right now (20/09).

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W E LC O M E A R R I VA L S

WHAT’S NEW ON THE MENU?

There are some cool new kids in town who are really worth getting to know.

SPITJACK

© TALEXANDROS ANTONIADIS

B Y N E N A D I M I T R I OU & PAU L I N A B J Ö R K K A P S A L I S

PO’ BOYS

© THALIA GALANOPOULOU

PO’ BOYS What you see upstairs is a dining area that looks like an American diner. What you won’t see is the huge smoker in the basement where meat is slow-cooked just like they do it in New Orleans. If you’re not sure what to get, go for the brisket burger, cooked for more than 6 hours at120 degrees. It’s served with fried potatoes or with a flavorsome New Orleans potato salad that includes onion, mayonnaise and corn. The coleslaw salad, which goes perfectly with the meat, is delicious and particularly refreshing. You won’t go thirsty, either; there’s a a selection of 35 beers from Greek microbreweries. INFO 12 Agatharhou and Lepeniotou, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 210.323.4672, Open: Mon-Thu 17:00-01:00, Fri-Sun 12:00-01:00

SPITJACK This is a stylish rotisserie restaurant with hints of New York or Paris, although it’s actually located in Syntagma. It shares its name with a mechanical rotisserie system made up of a spit and a drive motor, or jack. The menu here is wonderfully minimalist: there are three meats (duck, chicken and porchetta), all spitroasted; five sauces; three side dishes and two salads. We tried the pork. It was masterfully done, its skin crispy and as delicious as the tender meat that it enveloped. The side dish of mashed potato (perfumed with truffle oil) is also a treat. The meats are served on their own or in sandwiches, and you can enjoy them with a cocktail or any one of five good Greek wines, available by the glass (from €5) or by the bottle.

QUEEN BEE Not just any bakery, this is a French boulangerie-bistro in the heart of Kolonaki, designed by K-studio, a wellknown architectural duo in Athens, and led by the internationally renowned French baker Kamel Saci. With fine French butter, organic flour and the freshest ingredients, they make delicious sandwiches on a daily basis with various kinds of bread, while serving a small comfortfood menu of American origin. This is a place where you can choose between mac’n’cheese or fine mortadella with pistachios in focaccia bread made with salt and rosemary. Cold-pressed juices, very good coffee and unforgettable croissants with almond praline and chocolate are also served.

INFO 10 Skoufou, Tel. (+30) 210.331.6003,

INFO 45 Patriarchou Ioakim, Kolonaki,

Open daily 13:30-23:00, Fri-Sat until 00:00

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Tel. (+30) 210.720.9933, Open daily 08:00-23:00



THE PIE SHOP Pies from all over the world are prepared in a tiny shop that brings together flavors from as far as Jamaica and Russia. We tried the beef patties – small pies with fresh minced beef, chili and spices from the Caribbean – the Spanish Hornazo de Salamanca recipe with Spanish pork ham, and the spicy chorizo in puff pastries. A favorite is the English chicken pie with bechamel, carrot and celery in fine buttery dough. France, Tanzania and Russia (with its Coulibiac – steamed salmon fillet with rice and five spices) all make contributions to this collection of a specialized yet global food product. There are sweets, too, most using fine French pâte brisée. Pies from €3.50.

© ANGELOS GIOTOPOULOS

INFO 16 Voulis, Syntagma, Tel. (+30) 211.403.7328 Open: Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00, Sat 09:30-19:00.

© THALIA GALANOPOULOU

W E LC O M E A R R I VA L S

DOS GARDENIAS In the busy Psyrri district, which is dominated by traditional restaurants and cafés, Dos Gardenias stands out from the crowd with a look that’s vibrant and perfect for summer. Whether you take a table on the sidewalk or sit down in the colorfully decorated inside space, the Caribbean theme of this bar is present everywhere. Beer is served in small glasses and accompanied by pinchos, snacks, as is customary in a cerveceria, and the mojitos, caipirinhas, and Cuba libres flow freely. Aside from the snacks, if you visit after 21:00 on a weekday or 20:00 on the weekend, you can pair your drink with paella, cooked in front of you on the street. INFO 21 Ivis, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 210.323.5349, Open: Mon-Fri 12.00-02.00, Sat 12:00-late, Sun 17:00-late.

TYCO The easiest Athens bar to fit into a packed sightseeing schedule is TYCO, which stands for “take your cocktail out” – a new concept in the city. Its cocktails, long drinks and mocktails are low-priced and meant to be enjoyed on the go, but they’re also really good, on par with many of the city’s other top bars. Try the #4, their dressed-up and summery whiskey sour, the #5, with tequila, raspberry, pineapple and coconut cream, or, for an awesome Instagram post, get the #1, with glittery blue Curacao. INFO 11 Romvis,

Open daily 12:00-02:00.

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A view of the Acropolis from the Acropolis Museum, one of several cultural institutions that have opened in Athens over the last decade.

WELCOME REPORT

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An American journalist revisits the city she fell in love with 12 years ago, and finds it coming back strong after a protracted financial and social crisis.

BY C H A R LY W I L DE R Š 2 018 N E W YO R K T I M E S N E W S S E RV I C E / PHOTOS: A N DR EA W Y NER/ T H E N EW YOR K T I M E S

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t was Saturday night in Athens, and I was surrounded by dozens of young Greeks on the packed veranda of Six d.o.g.s., a café-bar and arts space in the Monastiraki neighborhood. It was the 10-year anniversary party for Laternative, a local radio show launched in the wake of the country’s debt crisis, and people spilled into the gallery space and gathered under lightstrung trees in the back garden and club area where the first of several bands was about to play. Most of the partygoers looked to be in their early and mid 20s, just like I was the first time I came to this exact spot nearly 12 years ago, back when it was a tiny indie rock bar called Kinky. Standing here now, I could almost see myself as I was then: a 24-year-old backpacker sitting alone in the corner, smoking cheap Greek cigarettes and nursing a raki, unaware that my life had come to a crossroads. There are places we live and places we visit, and then there are the other places. Places we return to, where we put down roots, but not strong enough roots to hold us – places that change us, that we haunt and are haunted by. Nowhere 42

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embodies this for me more than Athens, a city I’ve watched shift and evolve, endure crisis and chaos and economic collapse, and yet emerge from the wreckage as one of the continent’s most vibrant and significant cultural capitals, more popular than ever as a tourist destination. (Last year Athens welcomed a record 5 million visitors, double the 2012 figure.) The first time I came here, I was more or less fleeing New York. I had saved up a chunk of money bartending after college at one of those high-volume, precrash SoHo bars that catered to young Wall Street types. Being a Midwesterner with no connections or career prospects to speak of, I did what countless other young Americans had done before me: I bought a backpack and a one-way ticket to Europe. After a week or so bouncing around the Cyclades, I arrived in Athens, planning to stay only a few days before moving on. People had told me the city was ugly and congested, basically a stopover, yet I remember the first romance of its winding, cracked stone alleyways overgrown with jasmine creepers and bitter orange trees, the roving packs of stray

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a Renzo Piano-designed cultural complex, that includes facilities for the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera and a 17-hectare park.

dogs, cats sunning on ruins, the smell of leather, honeysuckle and dust. One night I wandered into Kinky Bar, where the DJ was playing obscure postpunk records I happened to love. I drank until I was brave enough to approach him. He introduced me to his friends – Athenians, a bit older than I was – and at the end of the night, they did something I couldn’t imagine happening back home: They invited me to move in with them. They all lived on or near a small, leafy street called Semitelou on a hill near the Athens Music Hall. Over the next weeks, I lived between their apartments, typical residential buildings with wraparound balconies and sun-bleached awnings that faced each other over the street. They were journalists, DJs and architects. Two were identical twin brothers, one gay and one straight. They lived with the straight twin’s girlfriend, a biologist who traveled


The Clumsies bar in the city center is known for its creative cocktails.


WELCOME REPORT

At Sushimou, the sushi is sourced from Greece; the restaurant’s chef, Antonis Drakoularakos, has earned a spot on a list of the “100 Best Chefs in the World” put out by the French magazine Le Chef.

with a suitcase of human sperm samples. They showed me the city, its chaotic cafés and dusky tavernas. We packed into the car they all shared and drove around the gasworks of the Gazi district in search of after-hours bouzouki bars, saw concerts in Orthodox churches, prepared huge home-cooked dinners that we washed down with wine and vodka and other substances of varying toxicity and legality. “It’s like the show ‘Friends’ but with sex, drugs and balconies,” I wrote at the time in my journal. It was a period in my life when I kept one rigorously, documenting nearly every romantic and philosophical quandary, every insight, not least of which was my decision to stay abroad and try to write professionally. 44

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I loved Athens but wanted to see more of Europe, and it was my Athenian friends who directed me to Berlin, somewhere I’d had no desire to visit, but where I would end up spending the next decade, settling down, becoming a writer, meeting my husband. I returned to Athens with some frequency at first, but eventually my friends and I fell out of touch, just at the time their lives were growing increasingly difficult. The downgrading of Greece’s credit rating in 2009 kicked off a series of tough austerity measures that crippled the economy. “We are trying to be OK in this sinking country,” one friend wrote in an email in 2011. Like the rest of the world, I watched most of it from afar: shutdowns, riots, civil unrest, mass unemployment and deepening recession. How, then, to explain the Athens I find now, returning in the flush of spring with my old journals to reconnect with the city of my recollections? The commercial center, which I remember going dark at the end of the work day, was overflow-

ing with visitors and locals, patronizing stylish, next-generation bars, cafés and restaurants that have largely deposed the cheap souvlaki joints and outdated tavernas I remember. I ate soba noodles with chunks of smoked salmon in tahini broth at Nolan, a Japanese-Greek restaurant that opened in 2015 near Syntagma Square, then walked a block over to the 14-seat Sushimou where the sushi sourced from Greece has earned chef Antonis Drakoularakos a spot on a list of the “100 Best Chefs in the World” put out by the French magazine Le Chef. In just a handful of blocks, the same ones we used to traverse nightly between a few spirited dives, there are dozens of nightspots, including The Clumsies and Baba au Rum, two cocktail bars that have been ranked among the world’s best. Our old haunts are mostly gone, though as I passed the motley art-café Booze Cooperativa, I was heartened to see the eccentric proprietor and septuagenarian local cult figure, Nikos Louvros, still holding his



WELCOME REPORT

ATHENS FEELS MORE ALIVE, MORE CULTURALLY PROLIFIC, THAN EVER, AND IT’S HARD TO UNDERSTAND HOW THIS COULD HAVE HAPPENED IN THE MIDST OF THE WORST ECONOMIC CATASTROPHE IN THE HISTORY OF THE EU.

Six d.o.g.s. café-bar and arts space in Monastiraki.

position out front, intrepidly smoking and drinking in the noonday sun. Neighborhoods that were rundown and neglected have become seed beds for the arts, like Metaxourgio, which, not long ago, was best known for its junk stores and Asian groceries. Today it hosts the thriving multispace Bios as well as one of the city’s most important contemporary galleries, The Breeder, which has helped bring international attention to Greek talent like the painter Sofia Stevi and Stelios Faitakis, a street artist whose murals evoke Albrecht Dürer and Diego Rivera. Then there are the major public arts institutions, which were either donated to the state by private philanthropic organizations or funded, in part with foreign money, before the crisis: the spectacular, largely E.U.-funded Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, that rises next to the Acropolis like a glass-and-concrete mirror image; the Onassis Cultural Center, which opened in 2010 and encompasses two state-of-the-art performance halls, an open-air restaurant and an exhibition space; and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, a Renzo Piano-designed cultural complex, completed in 46

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2016, some 3 kilometers down Syngrou Avenue from the Onassis Center on the Bay of Faliro. It includes facilities for the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera and a 17-hectare park, all of which the foundation donated to the Greek state. In so many ways, Athens feels more alive, more culturally prolific, than ever, and it’s hard to understand how this could have happened in the midst of the worst economic catastrophe in the history of the EU. “It’s been interesting and hellish,” said Theodosis Michos, raising his voice over the music at the Six d.o.g.s. party. With his thick black-rimmed glasses and tattoos, his rake-thin build and wild, Richard Hell-esque hair, he looked exactly as I remembered him when I was staying at his place on Semitelou, give or take a decade of worry lines. Back in 2006, he was a staff writer for Esquire Greece, but like almost all the Greeks I know, the crisis left Theodosis out of work. “We all got fired or we quit because we weren’t getting paid,” he said. And yet in 2013, arguably the lowest point of the crisis, Michos was part of a collective that launched Popaganda, an online magazine that covers

culture and city life through an Athenian lens. “The first thing we did to resist the crisis psychologically was to tell ourselves again and again: ‘OK, we are artists, we are writers, this is the best time for us, because when artists have nothing, they can do anything,” he said, adding that this isn’t actually true. “We told ourselves this so many times, that we started to believe it.” In the past year or two, Greece has shown signs of recovery. Unemployment, which peaked near 30 percent in 2013, is below 20 percent and falling, and the economy is growing faster than the European average. Much of this growth comes from the tourism sector as visitor numbers have surged, increasing for the past decade at around 11 percent per year, in part due to fears about turmoil in Turkey and the Middle East, as well as increased tourism from the newly wealthy Asian middle classes. The country expects a new all-time high of 32 million visitors in 2018, three times its own population. “It’s crazy, the tourists in recent years. It’s like the whole world is coming on vacation to Greece,” said Fotis Vallatos, the travel editor of Blue Magazine, the



WELCOME REPORT

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in-flight publication of Greece’s largest airline, Aegean Airlines, and a founder of Popaganda, as well as the person who first invited me to move into Semitelou. As tourism has increased, Aegean Airlines expanded from 18 mostly Greek destinations in 2001 to 145 all over the world today. Vallatos is now often on the road, exploring those destinations and the many inventive restaurants and visitor attractions that have emerged in Greece since the crisis, from a wave of young chefs using Nordic, French and East Asian cooking techniques on local ingredients, to a multitude of “second-act producers,” people left unemployed or underemployed who returned to the villages where they grew up and began to sell homemade, organic, artisanal Greek products – with phenomenal results. “I think everybody became more creative after the crisis, more cooperative,” he said. We talked about the Semitelou days, how much fun it was to be so young and dumb. Back then, he said, “It was still a big party. We earned good money. We

worked a lot, but it was a period when everybody was happy. We thought this party would last forever, and because of this, we lived that way. We never thought this might be over in a few years.” Listening to Vallatos, I realized that for my friends, even more than for me, those years must feel like a distant dream. As often happens when I’m in Athens, I was introduced to friends of friends and wound up in the hours just before I had to head to the airport at a party I didn’t want to leave. This one, though, was fancier than I was used to. It was thrown by Afroditi Panagiotakou, the director of culture for the Onassis Foundation. Formidable and eccentric in the way of Mediterranean aristocrats, she’s the guiding force behind the foundation’s rebirth as an important engine of the city’s cultural scene. “I have to say, I’ve never felt closer to this city,” said Panagiotakou, as we sat on the roof terrace of the villa she shares with her partner, Anthony S. Papadimitriou, president of the business and public benefit wing of the Onassis Foundation.

“I THINK THAT ATHENS LIES BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, BEYOND BEAUTY AND UGLINESS.”

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01. The Breeder gallery has helped bring international attention to Greek talent. 02. Nolan, which has a Greek-Japanese menu, is among the many inventive restaurants that have opened in recent years.

We looked out over the Mets district, a palimpsest of red tile and concrete housing blocks behind which the Acropolis rises like a revelation. “I think that Athens lies beyond good and evil, beyond beauty and ugliness,” she said. “I don’t think that cities are supposed to be beautiful anyway. I think they’re supposed to be interesting. They’re supposed to be alive. Athens is definitely alive. It doesn’t have this constipated, sclerotic thing that cities like New York, London, Paris have, where, whatever you do, nobody will notice.” She added, “Athens is a city that’s changing all the time.” As we spoke, guests began to arrive – gallerists and producers, artists and writers on Onassis grants, mostly Greek but some Lebanese, part of the foundation’s effort to build more cultural exchange with the Middle East. Wine flowed and the music got louder, jumping from Bossa Nova to Italo-disco to Greek rebetiko as the sun began to set over Athens. By the time I left for the airport, nearly everyone was dancing.



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This five-star avant-garde boutique hotel pairs elegance with urban trends to create a unique setting, perfect for business travelers and families alike. Staying here in the city’s historical center, next to Athens City Hall and within walking distance of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the Plaka district, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do and see. The plentiful hot and cold breakfast buffet, with juices, coffee and homemade pies (including Cretan myzithropitakia), will give you all the energy you need before heading out into the city. The luxurious Family Rooms featuring original graffiti murals will be a real thrill for your little ones and, on the top floor, the stunning Loft Suites offer the inviting ambience of a superbly stylish Athenian apartment. •

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TIMELESS DISCOVER THE ESSENTIALS

A tour of Athens’ top sites is a unique “life experience,” as you travel through the 52

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© NIKOS PILOS

Terracotta Nike (Victory) figures offer visitors a warm welcome amid the daily bustle of the Acropolis Museum.

ATHENS

BY JOHN LEONA R D

ages, discovering treasures of Greek history and art.

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© GETTY IMAGES/IDEAL IMAGE

DISCOVER THE ESSENTIALS

T

he times, they are indeed a-changin’… Our current fascination with electronic devices, social media and a digital world has made traditional ways seem – especially for young people – odd or out of sync with contemporary life. Yet seeking adventure in front of a computer screen, rather than out in the wind and the wild of real nature, also seems odd. These days, fewer student-travelers are taking “grand” tours of the ancient Greek and Roman world, like modern-day Lord Byrons, Charles Cockerells, or Sanford Giffords, in search of tangible, inspiring traces of their historical, cultural roots. Nevertheless, Athens is the original 3D adventure site, where visitors can actually connect with the historical past, and with their fellow earthlings – unlike in a computer game or online “virtual tour.” In today’s world, 54

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it is more important than ever to savor the depth and breadth of past human thought and achievement, as we can never fully appreciate the present, or envision the future, without first understanding the past. Firsthand exploration of Athens can require stamina and determination, but this is all part of the “journey,” as one follows an enduring trail of archaeological discovery that imparts what it truly means, and what it has meant for millennia, to be a feeling, thinking, creatively expressive human being. Athens offers a panoply of historical, architectural and artistic riches, from majestic ruins and golden artifacts to simple grave enclosures, overgrown ancient streams and panoramic hilltop views. Often, it is the city’s humbler monuments and less conspicuous sights that “speak” to us in the clearest voice.

The Parthenon’s east end (main entrance), whose pedimental sculpture once told the story of Athena’s birth.



© PERIKLES MERAKOS

DISCOVER THE ESSENTIALS

ACROPOLIS AREA

The Sacred Rock… THE place for hardrockin’ history lovers! Athena’s Parthenon tops the bill, backed up by the Erechtheion, the Propylaia and the recently-restored Temple of Athena Nike. Around the slopes, don’t miss the Theater of Dionysus, the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the Odeon (“music hall”) of Herodes Atticus and the cave shrines of Pan and other ancient gods. On the adjacent Areopagus, Saint Paul gave one of his most powerful anti-pagan speeches. THE ACROPOLIS • Tel. (+30) 210.321.4172 • Open daily 08:00-19:30 (summer hours) • Admission: €20 (There is also a €30 ticket that allows admission to all main archaeological sites in Athens)

THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

The Acropolis Museum is a must-see when visiting the Sacred Rock, whether you’re pining for sculpture, architecture, mythical figures, bronze weaponry, ancient magic, or painted vases illuminating the lives of Athenian women. Here, you’ll find the Parthenon’s exquisitely carved decorations and the elegant Caryatids, in a new building that is itself a modern classic. 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Tel. (+30) 210.900.0900 • www.theacropolismuseum.gr • Admission: €5 • Open: Mon 08:00-16:00, Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun 08:00-20:00, Fri 08:00-22:00 (summer hours) • •

THE MUSEUM OF THE ANCIENT AGORA

Get a peek at the lives of ancient Athens’ diverse citizenry, traces of whose daily activities or ultimate fate are displayed in the Stoa of Attalos, a 2nd c. BC “shopping mall.” Don’t miss the warrior’s tomb with its “killed” sword; the eyelets and hobnails from Simon the Shoemaker’s House; the juryselection machine; and the pot-shard ballots nominating Themistocles (and other figures of resentment) for ostracism. AGORA AND MUSEUM • 24 Adrianou • Tel. (+30) 210.321.0185 • Open daily 08:00-20:00, except Mon 11:00-19:45 (summer hours) • Admission: €8

THE ROMAN AGORA

The Romans, Greece’s new overlords, revitalized aging, venerable Athens with a new agora, the personal project of Julius Caesar and his nephew Octavian (Augustus). Once home to merchants, shoppers and semi-literate prostitutes who left messages

scratched on the market’s columns, the area boasts a number of distinctive monuments, including the Tower of the Winds, an ornate Ottoman-era seminary gateway and the newly restored Fethiye Mosque (17th c.). Pelopida, Plaka Tel. (+30) 210.324.5220 • Open daily 08:00-20:00 (summer hours) • Admission: €6 • •

THE CITY OF HADRIAN (HADRIANOPOLIS)

This “new” district of Athens was developed by Hadrian, the greatest of Roman Hellenophiles. The district’s monumental entrance was the Arch of Hadrian, beyond which rose the enormous Temple of Olympian Zeus (or Olympieion). The banks of the Ilissos River, covered with shrines, temples and lush vegetation, made this area a pleasant place to stroll. OLYMPIEION • Entrance from Vasilissis Olgas • Tel. (+30) 210.922.6330 • Open daily 08:00-20:00 (summer hours) • Admission: €6

KERAMEIKOS

A riverine, clay-rich environment at the northwestern extremity of ancient Athens, the Kerameikos was a pottery-production are that was also frequented by soldiers and prostitutes. Others came, too, as it was from here, through the Dipylon and Sacred Gates, that Athenians accessed the common and state cemeteries and set off on the annual procession to Eleusis. Plato’s extramural academy was a short walk away.

STOA OF ATTALOS

THE MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART

148 Ermou Tel. (+30) 210.346.3552 • Open daily: 8:00-20:00 (summer hours) • Admission: €8 • •

THE SOUTHWESTERN HILLS

The Pnyx Hill, southwest of the Acropolis, is home to a natural amphitheater once used for the People’s Assembly (Ekklesia). Here, ancient statesmen played to the crowds, delivering fiery speeches from a rock-cut rostrum with a panoramic view of the Sacred Rock and Athenian Agora. On the adjoining Hill of the Muses stands the Philopappos Monument, a prominent tomb for an exiled Syrian prince.

THE ATHENIAN AGORA

The heart of ancient Athens, the Agora was the city’s central square, market place and governmental headquarters, where adult citizens, high or low, strolled, shopped, reported for jury duty, watched street performers and offered sacrifices, crossing paths with the likes of Themistocles, Pericles and Socrates. © KATERINA KAMPITI

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THE LIBRARY OF HADRIAN

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The Temple of Hephaestus and Athena marked the traditional metalworkers’ district, while today the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos contains the Museum of the Ancient Agora.

PLAKA

Hadrian also funded a new forum (agora), complete with a library and lecture halls. The Library of Hadrian’s central court later hosted two early Christian churches. East of the Acropolis stands the Lysikrates Monument, erected by a producer to commemorate his victory in the Theater of Dionysus. Lord Byron once used the hollow base of this oversized trophy-stand as his private study. THE LIBRARY OF HADRIAN • 3 Areos, Monastiraki • Tel. (+30) 210.324.9350 • Open daily 08:00-15:00 • Admission: €4

PANATHENAIC STADIUM

Meant primarily to serve Athens’ Panathenaic Games, the “Kallimarmaro” stadium was built in the 4th c. BC by Lykourgos, but given a marble veneering by Herodes Atticus almost five centuries later. After an extensive restoration project, the first modern Olympics were hosted here in 1896. This structure remains an extraordinary monument to timeless athletic achievement! Vasileos Konstantinou (opposite the statue of the Discobolus of Myron) • Tel. (+30) 210.752.2984-6 • Open daily 08:00-19:00 (summer hours) • Admission: €5 (with a guide) •

THE NUMISMATIC MUSEUM OF ATHENS

The former residence of the wealthy German businessman Heinrich Schliemann, father of Greek archaeology, this luxurious mansion now hosts the Numismatic Museum. From its lavishly painted walls and decorative marble floors to brilliant displays of gold, silver and bronze coins, this unique exhibition space commemorates the influential role of money throughout history. 12 Panepistimiou Tel. (+30) 210.363.2057 • Open: Tue-Sun 08:30-15:30 • Admission: €6 • •

THE NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM One of the world’s truly great museums, where you’ll find exquisitely sculpted masterpieces of bronze and marble; golden artifacts from Mycenaean palaces; delightful traces of Santorini’s lively but ill-fated prehistoric town of Akrotiri; and a huge

collection of vases with painted scenes featuring gods, heroes, favorite myths and fascinating glimpses into ancient life. 44 Patission Tel. (+30) 213.214.4800 • Open: Mon 13:00-20:00, Tue-Sun 08:00-20:00 (summer hours) • Admission: €10 • •

THE BYZANTINE & CHRISTIAN MUSEUM

The Villa Ilissia – another 19th-century architectural gem that served as the winter palace of the Duchess of Plaisance, a French-American philhellene – now contains the BCM. Here, you’ll see the splendor and the far-reaching influence of Byzantium and of Greece’s post-Byzantine Christian artists. 22 Vasilissis Sofias Tel. (+30) 213.213.9500 • Open: Mon 12:00-20:00, Tue-Sun 08:00-20:00 • Admission: €8 • •

THE MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART

Among the best museums in Athens is the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, which focuses on prehistoric Cycladic culture while also offering thematic exhibits that illustrate ancient Greek art (2000 BC-AD 395), gods and heroes, daily life, warfare and death. Also not to be missed are the unique Cypriot collection and – for kids – engaging interactive displays, touch screens and two short films. 4 Neophytou Douka, Kolonaki Tel. (+30) 210.722.8321-3 • Open: Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat: 10:00-17:00, Thu: 10:00-20:00, Sun: 11:00-17:00 • Admission: €7 • •

THE BENAKI MUSEUM

The Benaki Museum in Kolonaki offers a broad collection of ancient, medieval, Greek-Revolution-era and early modern artifacts and art, highlighting the full spectrum of Greece’s history and civilization. Fascinating exhibitions of contemporary art and photography are also available at the Pireos Street Annex, while Near Eastern art, jewelry, textiles, rare navigational devices and much more are displayed at the Benaki’s Islamic Art Museum in the Kerameikos district. 1 Koumpari, Kolonaki Tel. (+30) 210.367.1000 • Open: Thu, Sat: 10:00-24:00, Wed, Fri: 09:00-17:00, Sun: 09:00-13:00 • Admission: €9 • •

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SUMMER FUN WITH ANIMALS Ancient Greek art is rife with depictions of beasts both real and imaginary. A new children’s program at the Acropolis Museum explains their importance in ancient life and legend. BY JOHN LEONA R D

There’s always something happening at the Acropolis Museum, where summertime means fun time for kids! In addition to recent celebrations of the museum’s ninth birthday, a new program of activities (June 26-July 19, 2018) offers children aged 4-12 a unique opportunity to discover and explore the close bond between people and animals in ancient Greece. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, young visitors can join special private tours of the galleries of the Slopes of the Acropolis and the Archaic Acropolis collection, where a real-life archaeologist will introduce them to a huge array of animal friends, depicted in the form of marble and bronze statues and figurines, painted vase decorations, carved reliefs,

baby rattles and children’s toys. Here you’ll find everything from farm animals (bulls, calves, pigs and roosters) and wild water or land animals (birds, dolphins, lions, panthers, deer, owls, snakes and hares) to fascinating mythical creatures, including Tritons (half-man, half-fish sea monsters) and winged Sphinxes (halfman, half-lion)! Also not to be missed are the elegantly-groomed horses of knights and charioteers, and “man’s best friend” – the loyal dog. The ancient Greeks loved dogs and utilized their natural skills from time immemorial. As early as Homer (7th century BC), we read of the Greeks’ appreciation for hunting dogs in particular – especially those of Lakonia and Crete – who were

valued for their strength, perception and speed. On the Acropolis, archaeologists have found a life-sized marble dog in the debris from the Persian invasion (480 BC), which likely once guarded the gate to the small sanctuary of Artemis – goddess of the hunt – located between the Propylaea and the Parthenon. This slender dog (ca. 520 BC, possibly by the Rampin artist) is shown crouched, poised for attack, his sensitive nose apparently having just picked up the scent of his prey.

15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Tel. (+30) 210.900.0900 • www.theacropolismuseum.gr • •



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THE SURVIVORS Recovered from watery graves, rescued from the clutches of smugglers and painstakingly reconstructed – there’s plenty of drama in the stories behind the most spectacular statues in the National Archaeological Museum. BY JOHN L EONA R D / PHOTOS DI M ITR IS TSOU MPL EK AS

ZEUS OR POSEIDON CA. 460 BC The bronze “Zeus or Poseidon,” a shipwreck survivor and one of the most well-known ancient Greek statues today, was discovered in the Trikiri Channel, off the north coast of Evia, in 1926. At first, only one arm was recovered. Two years later, however, acting on the report of a concerned citizen, the mayor of the village of Istiea, Antonios Skouropoulos, gathered a group of officials, requisitioned a boat, staked out a suspicious-looking fishing trawler anchored near the findspot, and caught a crew of antiquities thieves red-handed as they attempted to wrest the remainder of the statue from the seabed. The would-be thieves were arrested, but not before they broke off the statue’s other arm in their efforts. Officials attempted the statue’s salvage, but were delayed for two days by stormy seas. Finally, on September 26, 1928, they managed to tow the shell-encrusted “Artemision Bronze” to shore. Today, fully cleaned and restored, the 2.09m-tall 62

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figure towers majestically above the National Archaeological Museum’s visitors, seemingly aloof to the differing opinions swirling below him concerning his identity and his creator. He is most likely Zeus, with near-perfect anatomy and a serene composure, preparing to release a hefty thunderbolt, rather than a slim trident – given the now-missing weapon’s large-diameter shaft indicated by his curled, gripping fingers. Fifth-c. BC sculptors who may have created the statue include Kalamis, Onatas, Myron, Kritios and Nesiotes. Further investigation of the Artemision Wreck site in 1928-29 revealed the famous Horse and Jockey statue group as well, along with a lead anchor, bronze nails, a piece of wood, and pottery including Pergamene skyphoi (wine cups). Judging from this, and noting testimony from Pausanias, archaeologist Seán Hemingway concludes the ship was bound for Pergamon, carrying booty from the Roman sack of Corinth in 146 BC.


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MERENDA KOUROS 540-530 BC

Together forever: in 1972, a kore (“maiden”) and a kouros (“naked youth”) were discovered buried side by side in a pit, in an ancient necropolis at Merenda in southeastern Attica. Their story is one of family tragedy, foreign invasion and inspired archaeological detective work. Laid to rest in the late 6th or early 5th c. BC, the pair were long forgotten. In 1730, however, Michel Fourmont, a French Catholic priest and antiquarian, noted an inscribed stone that had been reused as a column capital in Merenda’s Church of the Panaghia. In fact, it was an ancient statue base, which referred to “Phrasikleia,” a young woman who had died before having the chance to wed. Removed to Athens in 1968, the stone remained in obscurity until the Merenda statues were later unearthed near the chapel. Archaeologist Efthymios Mastrokostas recalled the inscribed base and deduced the kore – holding a lotus bud, symbolic of life and death (the scholar Mary Stieber describes it as a flower

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“plucked before it could bloom”) – might be the virgin Phrasikleia. Confirming his conclusion was a large lead ring found in the grave, which had originally affixed the kore to her pedestal. It fit the base perfectly. Who were the deceased? The statue of Phrasikleia, an ornate masterpiece by Aristion of Paros, and the kouros (from a later date), perhaps representing her brother, were thought to commemorate members of the Alcmaeonid clan, political opponents of the Peisistratids, who were exiled and may have buried their family grave markers following an incident of vandalism, or to protect them from one. The kouros, snapped off above the ankles, was later meticulously buried with his broken arms. A 2015 study of four associated black-figure lekythoi, however, has shown that the interment dates no earlier than 480-460 BC. The statues, probably damaged by marauding Persians, were treated as proxies, painstakingly buried in loving memory of unfulfilled youth.

PHRASIKLEIA KORE 550-540 BC

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MARATHON BOY 340-330 BC

Nearly 95 years after being lifted from the sea in a fisherman’s nets, the Marathon Boy is still surrounded by mysteries – who created him, what is he holding and how did he end up where he was found? With graceful, perfectly proportioned anatomy, an exaggeratedly S-curved body and a distinctive positioning of the head, he seems to come from the Praxitelean school, perhaps from the hand of the master himself. But who is this small boy (130cm), with delicate features, undeveloped muscles and a thoughtful gaze? He has variously been identified as an athlete; a contest-winner (indicated by his headband); the god Hermes; or an older man’s companion. From the early 5th century BC, painted vases depict mature men accompanied by nude boys, who were their apprentices, servants, musicians and lovers. Plato relates that handsome boys often provided men with comfort and amusement, receiving some wise guidance in return. Or is 66

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the Marathon Boy an ephebe (adolescent) or perhaps a “servant statue?” What he’s doing might provide a clue. Is he pulling a ribbon from a container? Preparing to pour from one vessel to another? Picking fruit and putting it in a bowl? Or holding a tray of delicacies, possibly to offer guests in a well-to-do home? His extended hip and raised foot result in an unbalanced center of gravity, thus requiring him to be supported, conceivably on a column or against a wall. Italian archaeologist Brunilde Ridgway has long suspected that the “Marathon Boy may have been such a servant statue, perhaps from Herodes Atticus’ [Marathon] villa,” since such adolescent figures were common in Roman houses. Despite recent searches, the statue’s 1925 findspot, near “some tiny island,” has also remained obscure, leaving us to wonder: was the Boy simply jettisoned, or is there still an important shipwreck to be discovered?


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APHRODITE OF SYRACUSE 2ND C. AD

The Aphrodite (Venus) of Syracuse, discovered at Baiae in the Bay of Naples (once a hedonistic seaside playground for ancient Rome’s rich and famous), probably adorned a luxurious bath or garden. Behind this beguiling goddess’ curves and polished surfaces lies an important legacy of artistic revolution. Around 350 BC, the Athenian sculptor Praxiteles pioneered a new perception of nudity in Greek art when he created the first beautifully unclad female figure, the Aphrodite of Knidos – which Pliny the Elder described as “superior to all the statues … of any … artist that ever existed.” So popular was this statue that many marble or bronze copies – and copies of copies – began to appear. The original sculpture, now lost, depicted Aphrodite standing naked, modestly covering her genitalia with her right hand, while her breasts were left fully exposed. In the 3rd or 2nd c. BC, however, an innovative copyist in Asia Minor showed the goddess shielding one breast in addition to her pudendum. This new type, known as Venus Pudica (Modest Venus), led to further copies – especially the Capitoline Venus (2nd c. AD) which subsequently inspired the unknown sculptor of the Aphrodite of Syracuse. Appearing more than three centuries after the earliest nude males, Praxiteles’ Knidian Aphrodite was a bold departure. Previously, women’s natural beauty had only been hinted at. Pheidias’ Parthenon sculptures (440s/430s BC) epitomize the High Classical taste for diaphanous, clinging (“wet”) drapery that accentuated the female anatomy. Aphrodite reclines languidly on the east pediment, her chiton slipping off one shoulder and thinly concealing her body’s curves. This is the veiled voluptuousness, self-confidence and innately powerful sexiness that Praxiteles finally reveals, and which later Roman sculptors likewise celebrated. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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THE ANAVYSSOS KOUROS CA. 530 BC

The serene expression of the Anavyssos Kouros, with its silent, powerful bearing, gives little hint of the Archaic statue’s dark past of theft, dismemberment and clandestine exportation. The statue, identified as “Kroisos” from an inscription on its base, was “kidnapped” after its discovery and borne away on a ship in the dead of night. In the early 20th c., antiquity smuggling became a profitable activity in the Greek countryside. One such area was the Attic village of Keratea. It was here that this statue was unearthed in 1936, deliberately broken into ten pieces and surreptitiously shipped out from the coast of Anavyssos, bound ultimately for France. Thankfully, the Greek police recovered the statue from a Parisian antiquities dealer the following year, according to an account by the National Archaeological Museum’s then director Alexandros Philadelpheus. While investigating the Anavyssos district in 1911, Philadelpheus had heard from locals about “ancient marble remains on a certain hill... and that statues had been smuggled from there.” Apparently, this was the spot where “our Kouros was discovered… and smuggled abroad.” The statue arrived back in Athens in 1937 – in three packing crates – but without a base. Additional reports in 1938 and 1949 describe two villagers from Keratea wishing to sell a block inscribed with an epigram honoring a young aristocrat, possibly of the Alcmaeonid clan, who died in battle: “Stop and show pity beside the marker of Kroisos, dead, whom, when he was in the front ranks, raging Ares destroyed.” Although now installed beneath the Anavyssos Kouros, the base may not be correct, since some accounts of its discovery place it nearer to the findspot of two other Archaic statues, one now in New York.

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HEAD OF A WARRIOR FROM AEGINA CA. 490 BC In April 1811, a small group of friends – aspiring young architects, painters and archaeologists on a Grand Tour of Ottoman-ruled Greece – sailed from Piraeus, wishing to explore the ruins of the temple of “Jupiter” in Aegina. Little did they know they were about to make an extraordinary discovery. Camping in tents within the hilltop sanctuary now understood as belonging to the Aeginitan goddess Aphaia, they set to work excavating and recording the building’s fallen architectural members. On the second day, their leader Charles Cockerell notes, one of their workers “struck on a piece of Parian marble, which … turned out

to be … the head of a helmeted warrior, perfect in every feature. It lay with the face turned upward.” Excited, they expanded their search and ultimately found “no less than sixteen statues, thirteen heads, legs, arms, etc., all in the highest preservation,” which once had decorated the temple’s pediments. Working quickly, Cockerell, along with John Foster, Jakob Linckh and Carl Haller von Hallerstein, packed up the group’s precious finds and quietly shipped them after dark back to Athens – eventually to be displayed as masterpieces of Late Archaic/Early Classical Greek art (ca. 500-490 BC) in Munich’s Glyptothek museum. What they

didn’t realize, however, was that below their feet lay many more treasures. A passage in a nearby cave, where Cockerell’s party had unwittingly billeted their workers, led to an adjacent reservoir and underground aqueduct. Here, in 1901, writes archaeologist Adolf Fürtwangler, “another six heads with the fragment of a seventh were … found in the depths of the cistern … and … shaft” – including this Warrior Head. Dating to the same era as the pedimental sculpture, but recovered alongside shattered statue bases, these heads likely belonged to votive dedications that once stood in Aphaia’s sanctuary. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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ANTIKYTHERA YOUTH CA. 340-330 BC

Salvaged from the Antikythera Wreck, one of the most significant ancient shipwrecks ever discovered, the statue known as the Antikythera Youth still lives up to the initial description (1901) given by archaeologist Panagiotis Kavvadias: “This is the most beautiful bronze statue that we possess, and … it gives us, for the first time, an adequate idea of what bronze statuary was in Greece, and in the 4th century BC.” Standing nearly 2m tall, with a handsome physique and unusually well-preserved inlaid eyes, the Youth’s present appearance belies its less fortunate condition when recovered in 1900 at a depth of more than 50 meters. The cargo of the Antikythera Wreck was first spotted by Ilias Stadiatis, a member of a sponge-diving crew from the island of Symi who had sought refuge from strong winds near Antikythera. Apparently bored with simply waiting out the storm, the divers decided to explore the

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ocean floor and lowered Stadiatis, in his bulky brass-helmeted diving suit, to a depth to 45m, where a grim sight awaited him: spread out below was what he perceived in the watery gloom to be a heap of rotting corpses of both humans and horses. Later, the Youth was found lying among dozens of other bronze and marble sculptures, its lower body a jumble of fragments. Today, cleaned and restored, the Antikythera Youth positively seems to glow, with its radiant bronze skin, evocative pose and penetrating stare. This is how the ancients must have seen bronze sculptural masterpieces – the bright material and the outstandingly realistic representations of their subjects doubtless inspired awe in those beholding these works. Variously identified as Apollo, Hermes, Heracles, Perseus, Paris or simply an unknown athlete, the Youth is likely a work of Kleon, a well-known Sicyonian sculptor and Polykleitan successor.


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STATUETTE OF A CHILD 1ST CENTURY BC

This small statuette (63cm) of a boy holding a dog was found in 1922 in the Bouleuterion-Gerontikon (Council House) at the site of the ancient city of Nysa on the Maeander, in western Asia Minor. The figure likely represents a Roman copy of a 3rd-century BC Hellenistic original by an unknown sculptor. The boy’s chubby face, sturdy little legs and hooded cloak, as well as the fact that he is clutching a puppy, imparts a special charm to the artwork. This modest statuette is an evocative symbol of both the Hellenistic development towards greater naturalism in ancient Greek art and of the turbulent history of early 20th-century Greece. Discovered almost a century ago, in the months prior to the Asia Minor Catastrophe (September 1922), the figure has come to be known as “The Little Refugee” (“Prosfygaki” in Greek). Together with thousands of Greeks and Armenians forced to flee Asia Minor, this ancient object also managed to escape, brought from Smyrna (present-day Izmir) to Greece by the archaeologist Konstantinos Kourouniotis and delivered to the National Archaeological Museum. The Little Refugee has become a cherished cultural icon, with images of the statuette and stories inspired by its “personal history” used as teaching tools in Greek schools and museums. In antiquity, small statues of children were usually home or garden decorations; or the votive offerings of well-to-do families whose children needed divine protection. Depictions of the young became increasingly common as Hellenistic artists shifted away from classical ideals of physical perfection and began to show more ordinary, naturalistic aspects of people and animals.

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DRAMA KINGS D I S C O V E R T H E AT E R

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© JOHANNA WEBER

What is it about Antigone, Medea, Oedipus, Electra, Hecuba or Orestes that moves us so profoundly?

BY L OU I SA A R KOU M A N E A

A scene from Euripides’ “The Bacchae” directed by Theodoros Terzopoulos. “All ideas about man, art, society and politics are rooted in tragedy’s archetypes. She [Tragedy] is the matrix of grand occasions, of maximum energy – she is the homeland of humanity,” claims the director. Moscow, 2015 (photo Johanna Weber).

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Laurence Olivier as Oedipus denounces the blind seer Tiresias, played by Ralph Richardson, in Sophocles’ tragedy “Oedipus Rex.” Olivier’s interpretation was unanimously praised for its intensity. New Theatre, London, 1945.

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ncient Greek drama is so widely performed throughout the world today that one would be justified in labeling this love affair a theatrical phenomenon. Ben Brantley, a critic for The New York Times, went as far as to write, half-jokingly, in 2015: “It is turning out to be an exceedingly busy season for tragedians from the 5th century B.C. If Greece were receiving royalties on its most famous playwrights’ works, the nation might never have had to face bankruptcy.” The tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides and, to a lesser extent, the comedies of Aristophanes have been a magnet for artists and audiences not only in Europe and the U.S., but also in Africa and Asia; parts of the earth that do not share the legacy of Western civilization. Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound” is one of the plays that have been translated 76

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the most in China; the scholar Helene P. Foley of Columbia University posits that this is “perhaps due to the heroic resistance of its divine hero to a tyrannical regime.” In his 1973 version of Euripides’ “The Bacchae,” Nobel prize-winner Wole Soyinka imagined Dionysus as being a deity of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. In 1984, the Alaskan production “Yup’ik Antigone” combined Greek legend with Eskimo myth and ritual: Creon, King of Thebes, carried a harpoon, and the actors were dressed in fur-trimmed parkas and boots. It’s truly remarkable that these texts, which were created 25 centuries ago, can still provoke passionate reactions not only on an emotional but also on a broader social and cultural level. What is it about Antigone, Medea, Oedipus, Electra, Hecuba or Orestes that moves us so profoundly? And, even more importantly, how is it possible to reflect on

current political situations through tragic plots and heroes of the pre-Christian era, set in a place where democracy and the judicial system had just been born? As strange as it may sound, much of the modern world did not really have the chance to enjoy Greek drama until the 20th century. In Great Britain, for example, Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” was excluded from the professional stage until 1910, since before then it was considered improper to present a play dealing with incest in any “decent” theatre. It was the struggle of well-respected scholars, the work of some forward-minded writers and the tradition established by outstanding universities such as Cambridge and Oxford that paved the way for the Greek tragedians’ burgeoning on the European and American stage. Some of the most important British, French and American poets devoted their talents to translating and/or adapting the


Š BRIDGEMAN IMAGES

Actors holding their masks as they prepare for a satyr play about Dionysus and Ariadne, appear on this ceramic red-figure volute krater found in Ruvo, Italy (c. 410 BC).

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D I S C O V E R T H E AT E R

(Left) Maria Callas during the filming of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s iconic movie “Medea” (1969), based on Euripides’ tragedy. It was her only film role and she did not sing... (Right) Greek actress Irene Papas as Helen of Troy in a scene from Michalis Cacoyannis’ film “The Trojan Women” (1971). “Ηer dark, ageless, almost masculine beauty gives real dimension to the role of the woman who was once the most beautiful in the world, and may still be,” commented The New York Times.

plays: Robert Browning, W.B. Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Hilda “H.D.” Doolittle, Ezra Pound, Robert Lowell, Tony Harrison and numerous others. Bertolt Brecht set his “Antigone” (1948) in the Second World War: the heroine’s brother Polyneices is a deserter and Creon is a Hitler-style dictator. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote his adaptation of Euripides’s “The Trojan Women” in 1964 as a direct response to the French war in Algeria. From his own perspective amid the political conflict in Northern Ireland, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney composed “The Cure at Troy” (1990), based on Sophocles’s “Philoctetes,” as a tribute to Nelson Mandela and as an indictment of apartheid in South Africa. But it was also the fervent input of some of the twentieth century’s most talented and committed directors and actors that helped establish the prestige and popularity of Greek drama. In an influential 1945 London production, 78

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Laurence Olivier interpreted the part of Oedipus in the Sophoclean play that seemed to express, more than any other, the despair of the post-war era. After the Second World War, Greece inaugurated its Festival of Ancient Greek Drama at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, situated in the Argolis prefecture of the Peloponnese. The Festival was launched on June 19, 1955 with a National Theatre production of Euripides’s “Hecuba,” directed by Alexis Minotis and with Katina Paxinou, a highly respected actress of the time, in the lead role. Over the 62 years of the Epidaurus Festival, the stage of this renowned and spectacular ancient theatre has hosted all the leading talents of the post-war Greek theatrical art scene: its stage has become the ultimate mark of success for Greek actors, directors, composers, choreographers and set designers alike. During the same decade, produc-

tions of Greek tragedy began to proliferate for the first time outside Europe. In 1955, Tyrone Guthrie − the Englishman responsible for making Greek drama popular in the United States − staged “Oedipus Rex” at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. It proved a very influential project, combining Greek tragedy with the world of psychoanalysis. (Freud, of course, named his “Oedipus complex” after Sophocles’s tragic hero, who, unbeknownst to himself, kills his father and marries his own mother.) Guthrie’s Canadian production was the first important staging of the play to be filmed, in 1956.

FROM PAPAS TO CALLAS Later on, famous cinematographers created their own versions of the legendary tragedies, using the medium of film to bring ancient myths closer to contemporary audiences. In 1962, Michalis



© GETTY IMAGES/IDEAL IMAGE

Vanessa Redgrave, Matthew Douglas (covered) and the chorus of Trojan women in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Euripides’ “Hecuba.” The artistic result was not well-received by critics. Albery Theatre, London, 2003.

Cacoyannis, a Greek-Cypriot director, created his own version of Euripides’ “Electra” as the first installment of his ”Greek tragedy” trilogy (it was followed by “The Trojan Women” in 1971 and “Iphigenia” in 1977). His “Electra” was unanimously praised − it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and won the award for Best Cinematic Adaptation at Cannes. The Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini chose the legendary opera singer Maria Callas to play the fierce and terrible Medea in his visually astonishing film of that name (1969), where he tried to recreate

an evocative, pre-modern, paganistic world, full of symbolic rituals and folk songs, putting his actors into traditional Middle Eastern costumes. When the Danish director Lars von Trier approached the tragedy in 1987 at an early stage of his career, he created a rare experimental film, a medieval fairy-tale steeped in foggy Scandinavian light and windswept coastal fields. His Medea is a part of nature: she speaks its language and uses its powers, at a time when it was still possible to forge such bonds. Deviating from Euripides’ version, the heroine is here shown to hang – instead of putting

GREEK TRAGEDIES SEEM TO HOLD THIS UNIVERSAL MOLD, WHERE WE CAN ALL FIND OURSELVES IN EQUAL MEASURE: THE GREEK AND THE CHINESE, THE YOUNG AND THE OLD, THE NAÏVE AND THE LEARNED, THE FREE AND THOSE STRUGGLING FOR FREEDOM. 80

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to the sword – her offspring, in the film’s most moving and horrifying scene.

THE POLITICAL DIMENSION When it comes to ancient Greek drama, there is no right approach, no correct mode of interpretation. Each artist, each generation, each culture provides its own outlook, using new methods and new aesthetic modes every time the encounter is made. Those texts are so malleable precisely because of their archetypal nature. In Tadashi Suzuki’s Japanese “The Bacchae” (1978), a group of political prisoners under a totalitarian regime re-imagine the story of Euripides’ play, whereas in Athol Fugard’s play “The Island” (1973), two prisoners held inside the infamous Robben Island prison decide to present a performance of “Antigone.” In the process of using Greek drama as a means of protest under the apartheid regime, they realize the extent to which Sophocles’ tragedy refers to their own lives. Stavros Tsakiris, an experienced Greek director, staged “Antigone” in Cyprus, as an indirect political comment on the trauma of the island’s 1974 Turkish invasion.


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Ben Whishaw, well-known as “Q” in the James Bond movies, was a successful Dionysus in “The Bakkhai,” at the Almeida Theatre, London, 2015. Here, with Bertie Carvel as Pentheus.

Charita Mandoles, a female symbol of the Greek-Cypriot resistance was, at the time of the production’s staging, still searching for her husband, her father and eleven other missing relatives, all presumably murdered by Turkish soldiers. She never gave up the struggle to recover their remains, even when everyone insisted that, after all those years, she should put their memory to rest. ”The dead demand to return home” was the unforgettable line she delivered to the director, who interviewed her during rehearsals. Antigone’s uncompromising passion, her unyielding sense of duty to her dead brother, her

fatal yet brave decision to bury him in his homeland, defying the king’s orders and jeopardizing her own life, acquired a poignant sense of immediacy when the play was staged in Limassol in 2005.

TRAGEDY AND TABOO In Ancient Greece, tragedy could not be separated from the community. It was a vital part of the city-state’s public festivals, during which time Athenians gathered to watch their glorious past re-imagined on stage. It was through those awe-inspiring stories of mythic heroes who had lived long before the

IT WAS THROUGH THOSE STORIES THAT CITIZENS TRIED TO COMPREHEND THEIR ROOTS, THEIR IDENTITY AND THE PARAMETERS OF THEIR POLITICAL SITUATION. 82

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5th century BC that the citizens tried to examine and comprehend their roots, their identity and the parameters of their current political situation. The stage reflected and, at the same time, questioned their value system. The scholar J. Peter Euben, in his study “Greek Tragedy and Political Theory” (University of California Press, 1986), writes “...tragedy explored passions and actions no public life could countenance, and problematized the city’s most fundamental cultural accommodations, whether these were sexual, generational, institutional or intellectual.” A woman kills her husband in “Agamemnon.” A son, aided by his sister, kills his mother in “The Libation Bearers.” Another son kills his father and beds his mother in “Oedipus Rex.” In “Medea,” a woman betrayed by her husband kills her own children. Could one think of more atrocious and shocking acts? What do they mean on a symbolic level? In his much-praised version of “The Bacchae” in 1986, the Greek director The-


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In 1955, the first Festival of Ancient Greek Drama was held at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in the Argolis prefecture of the Peloponnese. The Festival’s inaugural performance, a National Theatre production of Euripides’ “Hecuba” directed by Alexis Minotis, took place on June 19. Seen here are the actors who took part in that legendary performance; they are waiting to go on stage in front of a full house. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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Juliette Binoche as Antigone with Obi Abili (left) and Patrick O’Kane in a contemporary version of Sophocles’ “Antigone”, directed by Ivo van Hove. Barbican Centre. London, 2015.

odoros Terzopoulos tried to explore the connection between Dionysiac ecstasy and the unconscious. The actors’ bodies reached such levels of exhaustion − driven as they were to a delirium tremens − that they could be presumed to transcend the confines of consciousness. It was a kind of ritualized extremity that aspired to evoke the kingdom of the Id, the world of instincts and uncontrolled forces represented by the god of intoxication in antiquity. “What is so overwhelming in Greek tragedy today is the creative encounter between the body and the world, between memory and time, between myth and speech,” says Terzopoulos. “All ideas about man, art, society and politics are rooted in tragedy’s archetypes. Tragedy offers the opportunity of viewing the contemporary world in a deeper and wider perspective. She [Tragedy] is the matrix of grand occasions, of maximum energy − she is the homeland of humanity.”

A WOMAN’S STORY Needless to say, another reason for the popularity of tragedy involves the variety of great roles it affords female actors. Fierce, terrible and brave, the parts of Medea, Antigone, Clytemnestra, Hecuba (along with other, more 84

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WHEN IT COMES TO ANCIENT GREEK DRAMA, THERE IS NO RIGHT APPROACH, NO CORRECT MODE OF INTERPRETATION: EACH ARTIST, EACH GENERATION, EACH CULTURE PROVIDES HER OWN OUTLOOK, USING NEW METHODS, NEW AESTHETIC MODES

tender but equally complicated ones, such as Iphigenia, Alcestis, or Helen of Troy) prove irresistible challenges for the most talented artists working in the theater today. In the 2005 production of “Hecuba” in London, Vanessa Redgrave portrayed the weeping queen of Troy in a performance for which she received mixed reviews; in 1971, she had played Andromache in Cacoyannis’ film version of “The Trojan Women.” In that same film, Katharine Hepburn had played the part of Hecuba. In more recent years, Juliette Binoche took on the title role in Ivo van Hove’s version of “Antigone.” It is a difficult task to interpret those classical texts, whether you are an actor, a director or even a scholar. So much of

the original scenic presentation is lost to us today, and experts try to piece the puzzle together based on what little evidence we have from extra-theatrical texts, or from Attic vase painting. The goal, of course, should not be museum-like reconstruction, and thankfully this is a point upon which everyone agrees today. As early as 1965, Karolos Koun, an important theater innovator of the twentieth century, surprised his Greek and international audiences by proving that tragedy, despite its formal austerity and grand rhetoric style, can be a fertile field for modern experimentation. In his staging of Aeschylus’s “The Persians,” the oldest surviving play in the history of theater, which recounts the Persian


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Martha Graham and Company performing “Clytemnestra.” Τhe show opened with Clytemnestra in the Underworld, her restless, tortured soul unable to find peace. New York, November 1965.

response to news of their military defeat at the battle of Salamis in 480 BC, the Chorus − originally, a group of actors who described and commented upon the main action of a play with song, dance, and recitation − proved a revelation. The composer Jani Christou tried to find a way of “reproducing the raw material of the tragedy, the basic elemental emotions.” The members of the Chorus were led “to an ecstatic paroxysm that ended with their final collapse. Sound effects and movement were suggestive of the wavy sea that King Xerxes had tried to tame, and exhibited the confusion and fear the noblemen from the East had experienced.” writes Angeliki Zachou in her article “The use of music in Greek performances of Ancient Drama in the 20th century.” Minos Matsas, a well-known Greek composer who has repeatedly provided music for productions at the Epidaurus

Festival, adds another dimension. His work for Sophocles’s “Oedipus at Colonus” last summer proved a superb combination of Byzantine and Western ecclesiastical music, expressing simultaneously the longing of the East and the spiritual agony of the West. “Oedipus is a Man alone on a raft in a raging sea, or a nomad wandering in the desert. He is looking for a place to rest, after having suffered the most that a human being can endure,” says Matsas. Younger artists, like Robert Icke, Associate Director of London’s Almeida Theatre, who was 29 when he staged his much-acclaimed adaptation of the “Oresteia” three years ago, approach the genre with a completely different set of references: “I feel you have to be 100 per cent faithful, not to the letter of the original, but to the impulse that motors the whole thing forward. In my head, the play is quite like ‘The Sopranos.’ I think of adaptation as like using

a foreign plug. You’re in a country where your hairdryer won’t work when you plug it straight in. You have to find the adaptor which will let the electricity of now flow into the old thing and make it function. That’s the long job.” Greek tragedy has proven to be an incredibly inspiring, shape-shifting, and all-embracing genre. Its ability to unite artists, audiences, ideas, genres and cultures from every part of the world is breathtaking. The legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, well-known for her ability to re-imagine Greek myths, claimed that these stories constitute a broadly shared “family history.” For us Greeks, it certainly feels that way – and it looks like, lately, that’s become the case for every other country as well. For this season’s performances, check out www.greekfestival.gr

BIBLIOGRAPHY: (1) Helene P. Foley, ”Modern Performance and Adaptation of Greek Tragedy,” published in the journal “Transactions of the American Philological Association,” 1999 (2) Fiona Macintosh, “Tragedy in performance: nineteenth- and twentieth-century productions,” from “The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy,” 1997 (3) Peter Burian, “Tragedy adapted for stages and screens: the Renaissance to the present,” from “The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy,” 1997 86

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LITTLE TREE BOOKS & COFFEE

BOOKS EVERYWHERE Athens is proud to bear the title of UNESCO World Book Capital 2018, and has put together an impressive program of events related to the written word. BY M ATOU L A KUST E N I

ATHENS OPEN AIR FILM FESTIVAL JOHN CONNOLLY

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new chapter in Athens’ rich literary history began in April this year, when the Greek capital was declared UNESCO World Book Capital for 2018. Inspired by the slogan “Books everywhere,” the city has been celebrating literature, and the reading of literature, more than ever, with events taking place all over the city. The Municipality of Athens hopes the program of events will promote the city as a hub of culture, knowledge and history, while the publishing industry expects it will engage both regular readers and those keen to get back into the habit of reading. “This is a very important international honor from UNESCO, following on from a collective proposal, which focused on how to associate books and reading with enjoyment and creativity in a way that would appeal to a larger and more diverse

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group of people,” says Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis. “Athens is a rising cultural destination that combines tradition with contemporary innovation. “The variety of choices and landscapes, both natural and social, are what make this city so special. The title of UNESCO World Book Capital is both a challenge and an investment. In an interesting collaboration of city bodies, we are responding with activities that will appeal to everyone. We all stand to learn something from this.” From prominent cultural institutions to lesser-known groups – institutes, libraries, culture venues, popular festivals and open-air corners – the city is participating in the festivities in its own way. What, then, does Athens’ designation as 2018 World Book Capital signify? “It means that the city and its government, its residents, individuals, organizations and institutions must all deepen their O MOV SKIOUROS


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FROM PROMINENT CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS TO LESSERKNOWN GROUPS – INSTITUTES, LIBRARIES, CULTURE VENUES, POPULAR FESTIVALS AND OPEN-AIR CORNERS – THE CITY IS PARTICIPATING IN THE FESTIVITIES IN ITS OWN WAY. A group of dancers perform a "pop-up readings" show in front of the Greek parliament.

networking and partnerships, employ their passion and imagination, and work to convince donors and sponsors of the value and distinctive character of the activities they have proposed; it also means that the city is returning to a path of creativity and extroversion,” says Erifili Maroniti, program coordinator of Athens 2018 World Book Capital. And the slogan “Books everywhere"? “It means that we read more than surveys show, that a tablet can also be a book, that an SMS can also be a text, and that narration is a large reservoir of life and of stories, where everything co-exists: language and dialect, the familiar and the alien, novels and science, arts and technology, classic stories and modern takes on the same themes. Yes, Athens is reading! The city is celebrating!” Visits by renowned authors to Athens are endowing the festivities with an international and multicultural character. The city has already welcomed Ian McEwan, Herta Müller, George Saunders, Hanya Yanagihara and John Connolly. On September 6, the psychoanalyst and writer Joseph Knobel Freud (a great nephew 90

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of Sigmund Freud) is expected at an event on “Adolescents in our society” at Pataki Bookstore while on November 1, the Swedish writer and literary critic Arne Dahl and the Greek writer Petros Markaris will hold a discussion at Ianos Bookstore. The year-long program of events also extends to other forms of art, including film and music. More than 30 leading institutions are involved, offering activities which appeal to foreign-language audiences as well. The 8th Athens Open-Air Film Festival will show some well-known film adaptations of books. On July 18, the National Archaeological Museum will screen James Ivory’s “The Remains of the Day,” a 1993 movie based on a book by Nobel laureate and novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. On August 24, Terence Davies’ “The Long Day Closes” (1992), will be shown on the pedestrianized Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and on August 29, Peter Brook’s classic “Lord of the Flies” (1963), based on William Golding’s book of the same title, will be screened in the courtyard of the Numismatic Museum (the full

program is available at www.aoaff.gr). Musical performances, a summer feature in Athens every year, will also be included in the program. On July 11, the Hellenic Music Workshop of the Municipality of Athens will perform music to works by celebrated poets Giorgos Seferis, Kostas Karyotakis and Nikos Kavvadias at Pangrati Park (Alsos Pangratiou). A few days later on July 16, German rockers the Scorpions will join the Athens State Orchestra for a concert in one of the most spectacular venues in the world, the Panathenaic Stadium

INFO

Athens World Book Capital 2018 has been made possible by its sponsors and contributors. The major sponsor is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Gold donors are the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Core Construction. Donors are the Onassis Foundation, KIKPE (the Welfare Foundation for Social & Cultural Affairs), the Laskaridis Foundation and the Greek Collecting Society for Literary Works (OSDEL). Aegean Airlines, the Athens International Airport and Urban Rail Transport (STASY) are all valuable contributors.



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THE BOOK CHASE Some of the best places to find a good read in Athens.

THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF GREECE More than just architecture separates the former home of the National Library of Greece from its current premises; they are light years apart in terms of the concept that defines them. The neoclassical structure, designed by Danish architect Theophil Hansen on Panepistimiou Avenue, that housed the National Library from 1903 to 2018, is indeed magnificent, but it's also poorly lit and unable to showcase the breadth of a collection of two million volumes, rare books and manuscripts, including treasures dating to the 9th century. The new building at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, designed by leading architect Renzo Piano, is transparent, pleasant and welcoming. It’s a place where people of all ages and interests can do research, browse through the stacks or sit and read in an inspiring environment. The 24,000-sq.m library building is a thrilling architectural success, thanks in no small part to the light-filled reception area and the imposing, 18-meter-high Tower of Books, which contains two reading rooms. The library’s borrowing section is not yet open, as the transfer of books from the old building has not been completed, but the reading rooms on the ground and second floors are open to the public. 92

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BOOKTIQUE

BENAKI MUSEUM

INTERNATIONAL BOOKSTORES ΒENAKI MUSEUM PIREOS 138 Along with art works, ceramics, jewelry, silk prints and toys, this great shop also has a huge selection of English-language books on history, photography, art and design. (138 Pireos and Andronikou, Tel. (+30) 210.345.3111) BOOKPATH This establishment features a wide range of science and social science publications, recent literary releases and biographies. (69 Solonos, Tel. (+30) 210.646.6118) BOOKTIQUE With all the warmth of a neighborhood bookshop, Booktique boasts a well-curated international section, a selection of art items that will surprise you and exceptional English-language 94

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children’s books. (21 Patriarchou Ioakim, Tel. (+30) 210.723.5425) LE LIVRE OUVERT This store keeps an up-to-date stock of French-language books, and ordering volumes is also possible. (77 Solonos, Tel. (+30) 210.362.9703) LEXIKOPOLIO This is a space full of little decorative touches, including vases with bouquets and photographs from the French protest movement of May ’68 hanging on the walls. The staff is well-informed, and they sell rare foreign-language children’s publications and an endless list of dictionaries – thematic, electronic, secondhand and rare languages. (13 Stasinos, Pangrati, Tel. (+30) 210.723.1201)

MELISSA PUBLISHERS In business for more than half a century, this publisher is noted for its illustrated books on art, architecture and archaeology, most of which are available in English. (58 Skoufa, Tel. (+30) 210.361.1692) PUBLIC The main store of this prominent chain selling everything from books and dvds to laptops and cameras boasts a highly regarded international literature section. (1 Karageorgi Servias, Tel. (+30) 210.818.1333) RACHEL’S BOOKSTORE The bookstore of Kapon Publications, which has been producing high-quality volumes for the past three decades, offers stylish publications on culture, history and the arts. (22 Ploutarchou, Tel. (+30) 210.724.1442)



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FREE THINKING ZONE

MOSTLY GREEK

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O MOV SKIOUROS Vinyl spins on the turntable, the interior is homey and the attic is a secret retreat overlooking the busy square. It’s also open late for drinks. (4 Karytsi Square, Tel. (+30) 210.325.1872) POEMS & CRIMES Housed in a beautiful 1850s building, this bookstore café from the Gavriilidis Editions publishing house is worth a visit. The courtyard to the rear is ideal for hanging out in the company of a good friend and/ or a good book. It’s a perfect place for coffee in the morning, light lunch in the afternoon and drinks in the evening. (17 Aghias Irinis, Monastiraki, Tel. (+30) 210.322.8839) 96

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POEMS & CRIMES

O MOV SKIOUROS

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LEMONI Classical music drifts through fragrant lemon trees in the courtyard of this bookstore, which also stages art exhibitions. It’s located in the picturesque neighborhood of Thiseio, which still retains much of the charm of the Athens of yore. (22 Irakleidon, Thiseio, Tel. (+30) 210.345.1390) LITTLE TREE BOOKS & COFFEE This is a place where book-lovers come to relax. It’s not far from the Acropolis, and has outdoor seating during the summer. The décor includes old typewriters, and the shelves are packed with Greek and foreign literature and a special corner with unusual book choices for children. (2 Kavalotti, Tel. (+30) 210.924.3762)

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FREE THINKING ZONE Politicians, artists and writers have all sat on this store’s famed burgundy sofa, taking part in some of the most subversive and interesting discussions of the day. Free Thinking Zone boasts carefully selected titles and a cute café; it’s an area for expression that values personal contact, political and social action, activism and culture. (64 Skoufa, Kolonaki, Tel. (+30) 210.361.7461)


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CONNECT URBAN LIFE

RIDERS RULE Leading figures of the local cycling community spread the word about the joys of exploring Athens and its suburbs by bike. BY A LEX KING

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nlike Amsterdam or Copenhagen, Athens isn’t renowned as a bicycle city, but cycling is one of the best ways to discover the many wonderful surprises that the timeless Greek capital has to offer. A favorable climate is one of Athens’ biggest attractions, which makes cycling an all-year-round proposition. With an average of just 65 days of rainfall per year, you can leave the waterproofs and mudguards at home. What’s more, thanks to efforts from the Municipality of Athens, a popular network of segregated cycle paths is being expanded across the city, giving riders the opportunity to access even more of the capital. Exploring on two wheels not only allows you to move around in the historic center easily, it also lets you view it from a unique perspective. At the same time, being able to cover more ground makes it possible to enjoy more of the diversity of the city than is available at the main tourist sites. Tranquil, tree-lined suburbs; wonderful beaches, quiet countryside lanes and challenging mountains are all within a few hours’ ride from the center. Today, Athens boasts a vibrant cycling scene that caters to riders of all stripes and skill levels: from the street riders at Vicious Cycles bike shop to the Lycra-clad crowd zipping along the Athens Riviera on their carbon-fiber creations. 98

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PEPITA MIGLIACCIO

RAISING AWARENESS Pepita’s epilepsy meant that she was unable to obtain a driver’s license. When she began cycling to get to classes at her university, she had no idea how much it would change her life. Loving the freedom that came with her bike, she soon became a cycling activist. In 2011, she cycled 600km from Thessaloniki to Athens to raise awareness for the Greek Epilepsy Association. “I wanted to show people that, even with epilepsy, you can do everything,” she says. “Cycling has become such a way of life for me that now I’m glad I never started driving. I love the weather and cycling the hills of Athens.” Pepita, who studied to become a sports nutritionist specializing in vegan and vegetarian diets, regularly competes in cycle races around Greece. She’s 100

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passionate about making sports more inclusive and hopes one day to become a sighted guide for Paralympic cycling. If you don’t have access to a bike but want to de-stress and burn off some calories, you can attend one of Pepita’s weekly spinning classes at ZarouZone in Gazi or at Fitness Star in Renti. “My lessons are somewhere between spinning and comedy,” she says. “Spinning is supposed to be challenging, but success for me is to get a whole room of people sweating and laughing together.” When she’s not in the saddle, Pepita runs Petaei-Petaei in Kolonaki, a jewelry shop established by her mother that features the work of 30 independent designers. Each piece is unique and hand-made – one of her favourites is a tiny metal bicycle pendant.

Her Favorite Rides: “Down the coastal road to the Temple of Poseidon at the tip of Cape Sounion. It’s a flat route, but if your legs aren’t up to 60km in each direction, you can always stop early and turn around at any of the beaches or seaside towns along the way, like Vouliagmeni, Lagonisi or Anavyssos.” INFO Fitness Star, 226 Thivon, Aghios Ioannis Rentis, Tel. (+30) 210.493.5017, www.fitness-star.gr • ZarouZone, 31 Konstantinoupoleos, Gazi, Tel. (+30) 694.736.4597, www.zarouzone.gr Those who don’t speak Greek may, of course, attend the spinning classes, too, but they might not get the jokes.


© THALIA GALANOPOULOU

CONNECT URBAN LIFE

PAUL EFMORFIDIS

THE GAME CHANGER “The number one priority is the air we breathe,” enthuses Paul Efmorfidis. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a billionaire or you’re dirt poor, we all breathe the same air.” Sustainability and natural materials have been at the heart of Paul’s vision ever since he founded Coco-Mat in 1989. Over nearly three decades, the company, famous for making hand-made beds, pillows and mattresses, has become a global furniture brand with stores and hotels in 21 countries. Both in business and in person, the irrepressible Paul breaks the mold: he doesn’t have a car or a mobile phone. “I’m not a ‘cyclist.’ I never train,” he says. “I ride every day. The bike is how I live.” If there are two things Paul believes

in, they are bicycles and wood – so it was only a matter of time before they both came together in one product. In 2015, he offered a prize to find the best design for an all-wooden bike. Today, the Coco-Mat Bike is available in five variations – from a children’s model to city bikes – and the distinctive ash-wood open frame has been lauded on design blogs worldwide. “It’s my dream to change Athens,” Paul says. “I’ve offered to fund bike lanes across the city, and it’s my hope that the road space we currently use for cars will one day be planted with trees. When cycling becomes the main mode of transport, Athens will be full of happier people.”

His Favorite Rides: “Coco-Mat’s two wooden bike tours, which leave from the Zappeio at 11am daily. The Sightseeing Tour lasts two and a half hours and takes you around the main attractions of the historical center, while the four-hour Riviera Tour takes you down to the coast. Bikes can also be borrowed from the CocoMat Hotel in Kolonaki.” INFO Coco-Mat Hotel, 36 Patriarchou Ioakim, Kolonaki, Tel. (+30) 210.723.0000 Tours: info@coco-mat.bike, Tel. (+30) 698.381.2428

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DIMOSTHENIS KOUVIDIS

GUIDES ON WHEELS “There are endless stories to tell in Athens,” explains Dimosthenis Kouvidis, “and because I come from a publishing background, I enjoy telling them. I like to bring the history, archaeology and architecture of the city to life with some tales from Greek mythology.” Dimosthenis founded Roll in Athens Bike & Walking Tours with artist Lenia Economou in 2016. If you join them on their City Highlights tour, you’ll see monuments, temples and public buildings left behind by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as Byzantine churches where people still pray today. You’ll also come across Ottoman mosques, picturesque alleyways and secret spots you won’t find in your guidebook. “Cycling around Athens gives you a 102

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great feeling for the city,” Dimosthenis says. “You can stop whenever you like to talk with people and interact with the things around you. Even on hot days, there are plenty of shady spots to rest and escape the heat. We set our own pace, and the three hours pass very quickly.” Roll in Athens specializes in small, intimate tours for up to five people, and takes pride in customizing routes according to each group’s interests. Older groups might ask to see the city’s main Orthodox churches, while younger riders often want to explore countercultural neighborhoods, like Exarchia. No matter where the group goes, however, all rides end up with meze dishes and raki on Dimosthenis’ splendid terrace facing the Acropolis.

His Favorite Rides: “The circle of pedestrian walkways that ring the Acropolis is one of the most beautiful rides anywhere in the world; you should always end the ride with a quick pedal around the National Gardens. If you want to see the coast, pick up the cycle path that begins at the Thiseio metro station. You can do this route alone or with us, on our City-toSea Tour.” INFO Roll in Athens − Bike & Walking Tours, 10 Voreou, Monastiraki, Tel. (+30) 697.423.1611, www.rollinathens.tours


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The day starts with the delicious aroma of strong coffee from Starbucks, Coffeeway, Carpo, Flocafe, Danesi Coffee House, Il Barretto, Terkenlis or Ben & Jerry’s. Are you ready? A fascinating journey through 41,000 square meters starts. More than 134 stores of domestic and international brands in the worlds of fashion, beauty, decoration, art and technology await you!

14:00 TIME TO EXPLORE

Discover the trendiest choices with the signatures of Canali, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brooks Brothers, Boggi, Tommy Hilfiger, La Martina, Tru Trussardi, Victoria Secret, Massimo Dutti, Zara, Nike, Adidas, Gap, etc. as well as Moncler, Zadig & Voltaire, Burberry, Kenzo, Isabel Marant, Red Valentino at attica department store, Dsquared2, Balmain at Eponymo and BCBG Max Azria at Vardas.

16:00 LET’S PLAY

With many options for the whole family, Golden Hall promises a carefree shopping and dining experience for all, offering exciting kids’ activities such as an outdoor kids’ playground, an indoor playroom, PlayStation area, theatrical plays and workshops, LEGO® PLAY area, a board games area, illustration workshops, air hockey, table soccer and more.

18:00 SOPHISTICATED SERVICES

The No1 European shopping center makes your day with high quality services such as free Wi-Fi, a cloakroom, baby care, gift cards, mani-pedi, hair salon, taxi service and an advanced car cleaning unit.

20:00 FINE DINING

Call it a day at Golden Hall, by choosing among the most delicious dining options: La Pasteria, Pastis, Prytaneion Gold and Wagamama await you on the second floor, offering a relaxed setting and kids’ area/ facilities. Tomorrow, another bright day will dawn at Golden Hall. Enjoy!

GOLDEN HALL 37A Kifissias Avenue • 151 23 Maroussi • Athens • www.goldenhall.gr


CONNECT URBAN LIFE

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SOFIA GILITSA

MOUNTAIN RIDER You’re as likely to find Sofia Gilitsa competing in full race gear on her road bike as you are to spot her blazing along challenging off-road trails on her mountain bike or shooting around Athens with the fixed-gear crew, competing in an alleycat urban checkpoint race. “When I began riding ten years ago, there was no culture of cycling in Athens,” Sofia explains. “Drivers were surprised to see me on a bike. But, as people see others cycling, there’s been a real domino effect and cycling is now commonplace.” Sofia is excited to see more riders on the roads, but what really delights her is witnessing the evolution of a tight-knit and fun-loving cycling community. Sofia says the best place to get to know them is outside The Handlebar, a café in Psyrri where you can rub shoulders with racers, commuters and cycle couriers. Sofia’s first love is mountain biking. In Athens, she’s blessed: surrounded by mountains on three sides, the capital offers a variety of nearby mountain bike trails few cities can match. Even Filopappou Hill, right in the center of the city, has rocky obstacles and exciting trails. But if you have the time to get a little further out, you can enjoy a wealth of routes that crisscross the mountains of Ymittos, Parnitha and Penteli and the Tatoi Estate. “When you explore in the mountains, you really feel the adrenaline,” Sofia says. “You smell the trees, the earth and the fresh air. Riding hard boosts your serotonin levels and keeps you healthy – physically and mentally.”

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Her Favorite Rides: “I love to ride the mountain bike trails on Mt Parnitha. The nearby Tatoi Estate is easier for beginners, and more accessible. Mt Ymittos is great, too and much closer to the center, although it’s a far rockier proposition.”

INFO The Handlebar, 8 Melanthiou, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 211.409.3002



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CONNECT URBAN LIFE

DANAE MORAITIS

THE IRON LADY Growing up in a sports-obsessed family, triathlete Danae Moraitis had no choice but to join in the physical activity from a young age. Her family business, Moraitis Beach, is a water sports center complete with a beach bar in the eastern Attica area of Schinias. “I’ve always had an excellent connection with the open water,” Danae says. “When I competed in my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Thailand in 2016, I got hooked. I qualified for the World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the following year. But training for three disciplines simultaneously takes a lot of focus.” Luckily for Danae, Schinias is an ideal location to practice all three: the pristine coastline is great for both swimming and 106

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running, and cyclists come to train at the Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center, where they can ride on the wide perimeter paths without being distracted by cars. Over the last decade, Danae’s own company, Transition Sports, has organized a range of sporting events, including the Greek national championships in duathlon and triathlon. Today, Danae’s primary focus is on encouraging more women to get involved in sports. She started a women-only triathlon club and organizes a range of women-only events, including a run around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Faliro.

Her Favorite Rides: “Schinias is a pleasant 50km cycle from central Athens, but to avoid the traffic on the outskirts of town, you can take bikes on the train from the Athens Railway Station, the city’s central station, to Aghios Stefanos, then embark on a hilly but spectacular 23km ride across the Marathon Dam, through Vothonas and Marathon and then down to the coast at Schinias.” INFO Moraitis Beach, 210 Poseidonos, Schinias-Marathon, Tel. (+30) 22940.559.65, www.moraitisbeach.com Transition Sports, Tel. (+30) 22940.559.65, www.transitionsports.gr



CONNECT URBAN LIFE

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GARETH JONES

THE PARTY STARTERS “Cycling is really boring,” says Gareth Jones, who founded Vicious Cycles Athens in 2010. “The idea of opening an urban bike shop here in Athens was about doing rock ‘n’ roll, art and bikes together – and building a community of people who respect all of that.” Raised in Shropshire in the UK, Gareth was drawn to Athens in 2004 by the underground music scene. There he met his future business partner, Dimitri Koutsovasillis, a street artist known as Peio who was also a member of a punk band. They picked their location on Melanthiou, then a run-down street in the Psyrri district, and organized a series of alleycat races, street parties and music gigs that helped nourish an emerging urban cycling scene. Vicious Cycles Athens has helped revive the neighborhood’s fortunes; today, it’s one of the liveliest spots in the city. After the street became an unofficial cyclists’ hangout spot, they opened the Handlebar, a cycling-themed café, next door. Today, Gareth and Dimitri are focused on promoting their latest business project, Spray.Bike, a high-quality, nondrip bike paint that has been embraced by custom bike builders from Japan to California; every can that’s sold helps support a small, family-run factory in the suburbs of Athens.

His Favorite Rides: “The summit of Mt Ymittos. It’s a challenging, hour-long climb that doesn’t let up, but it takes you nearly 1,000m above sea level and rewards you with an incomparable view over all of Athens.”

INFO Vicious Cycles Athens, 8 Melanthiou, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 211.710.9378, www.vca.gr • The Handlebar, 8 Melanthiou, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 211.409.3002

GET ROLLING GR Cycling Road, mountain, e-bikes and city bikes for rental. Mountain bike tours to Mt Parnitha, guided rides to Lake Vouliagmeni and Sounion, and other routes across Greece. • 16 Tzaferi, Petralona • Tel. (+30) 210.867.5623 • www.grcycling.com

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Funky Ride A range of different city, hybrid and mountain bikes for rent; also handles bike repairs. • 1 Dimitrakopoulou, Koukaki • Tel. (+30) 211.710.9366 • www.funkyride.gr

Travelncycle.com Half-day mountain bike tours to Marathon and Mt Parnitha, as well as a range of other itineraries around Athens and Greece. • 2 Vilara, Omonia • Tel. (+30) 210.524.9878 • www.travelncycle.com

Attica Paths Guided bike rides, including trips to Mt Ymittos and Sounion. • 2-6 Troias, Aghios Dimitrios • Tel. (+30) 213.035.2130 • www.atticapaths.com

AthensBikes The Municipality of Athens recently launched a public bike-sharing service. • Industrial Gas Museum Shop in Technopolis • 100 Pireos, Gazi • Tel. (+30) 210.347.5518, (+30) 210.346.1589 • www. athens.easybike.gr/en


ADVERTORIAL

Imagine you have only two hours to spend in Athens: how would you get the most out of it? It’s All, Oh So Souvenir to Me! offers a unique selection of cutting-edge souvenirs, homewear accessories and uniquely designed jewelry and clothing. All our groundbreaking collections are available in our Monastiraki store, located in TAF–The Art Foundation, the most creative meeting spot in the heart of the city’s historic center. Explore the gallery, bar, shop and the rooms around the courtyard. If you can’t make it, there’s always our e-shop at www.ohsosouvenir.com. OPENING HOURS: Shop: Mon-Sun 10:00-22:00 • Bar: Mon-Sun 10.00-till late • Gallery: Mon-Sat 12:00-21:00 & Sun 12:00-19:00 TAF–The Art Foundation 5 Normanou, Monastiraki • www.theartfoundartion.gr

At the top of the President Hotel on Kifissias Avenue, on the 21st floor, the pool of the dazzling Penthouse 21 skyscraper bar restaurant awaits you. Minimal design with ethnic touches, comfortable sunbeds and the best view of Athens make Penthouse 21 the ideal solution for those hot summer days! Open from 10:30 to 19:00, it will surely make your days in the city more exotic! For 20 euros on weekdays and 30 euros on weekends and public holidays, relax by the pool and create summer memories. Just next to the impressive open-air swimming pool and featuring an eclectic and elegant décor, Penthouse 21 skyscraper bar restaurant will surely entice you to become a regular visitor. Its relaxed ambience makes this an ideal spot for a casual afternoon coffee and snack break, while its refined cocktail list will easily lure you to a fine drinking experience, with a stunning view and exceptional music selections in the background. www.president.gr


Our pick of places, treats, activities and attractions for a cool

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city break. After all, it’s summertime...

BY PAULINA BJÖRK-KAPSALIS, MARIA COVEOU, NENA DIMITRIOU, ALEX KING, MARIA KORACHAI, PAGONA LAPSATI, ALEXANDRA TZAVELLA

VING IS A-Z

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A F O R A E O LO U

One of the city’s oldest shopping streets makes for a nice stroll. As you walk along Aeolou from the Omonia area to Monastiraki, with the Acropolis in plain view, you’re surrounded by listed buildings – some dating to as far back as 1840. One of the oldest and most impressive is the National Bank, in front of which you can see a section of the ancient city wall displayed under glass below street level. Other historic buildings on this pedestrianized road are now home to stores selling lingerie, handbags and 112

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traditional crafts. You’ll also come across the Church of Aghia Irini, a domed church built on the site of a Byzantine temple. A lot of little street-food eateries have popped up on Aeolou lately. If you’re looking for a quick energy fix, why not do what Prince Charles did on his recent visit to the city: get yourself some traditional loukoumades (Greek doughnuts), topped with either honey and walnuts or chocolate sauce, from Lukumades (21 Aeolou), and enjoy them on your way towards Plaka.



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FOR ANAFIOTIKA Climbing vines, potted plants and brightly painted shutters all add charm to the small white houses down alleys with no names. It’s almost unreal, like some small-scale model of a Cycladic island. You half-expect information plaques and video presentations, but what you get instead are the most unpretentious of dwellings – albeit with incredible views of the city. Built on the slopes of the Acropolis by construction workers who came to Athens from Anafi in the early 19th century to help build the new capital, these homes were made to resemble the houses the islanders had left behind. Today, even though Anafiotika might be the most photographed residential neighborhood in Athens, many tourists never make it here at all – and the residents prefer it that way. So, if you do come, please explore with respect, don’t stick your head in any open windows, and mute your camera shutter. 114

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F O R B E AC H E S

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For a refreshing dip, Athenians head to the Riviera (look under R). Akti tou iliou in Alimos is a nice sand/pebble beach where you’ll find several dining options and a floating play area for the kids. Entrance is €5 on weekdays and €6 on weekends. Continuing along the coast, you’ll find two Blue Flag beaches: the Asteras Complex in Glyfada, hosts several beach bars with sun loungers; the Varkiza Resort Yabanaki Beach Park features restaurants, a beach volleyball court, and a playground. The entrance here is €5 on weekdays, and €7 on weekends.

However, the undisputable star of the Athens Riviera is Astir Beach in Vouliagmeni, a pristine stretch of sand with shallow waters, featuring luxurious facilities, a spa, water sports and dining options. You can book your sun lounger in advance and there’s even a VIP area. Prices range from €20 on weekdays to €75 for a Reserved VIP spot on weekends (www.astir.gr/beach).If you prefer free beach access and don’t mind fewer creature comforts, then head to Limanakia, also in Vouliagmeni, where you can dive from the cliffs into the clear, blue sea.

BOLIVAR BEACH BAR, AKTI TOU ILIOU

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BREW STR

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FOR BEERS Fancy a beer? Skip the multi-national brands you can find everywhere and opt for something local. Microbreweries have been springing up all over Greece, from Macedonia to Santorini, offering high-quality and tasty brews. While the production runs may be small, the range is wide, as the thirst for creative experimentation seems about as strong as the

thirst for a cold beer on a warm summer night. A new concept that has helped make this possible is nomadic brewing; small-scale brewers who don’t have their own facilities “travel” to larger breweries to make their beers. At Brew Str (50 A Nikis) you can try several such brews, including Flaros, an IPA from the island of Sifnos, or the flavorsome “American

stout”-style beer from Sparta-based Dark Crops Brewery. Worth chasing down are the Solo beers from Crete, the Red Donkey from Santorini, the Nissos Pilsner from Tinos, the Corfu Royal Ionian Pilsner, the Chios Fresh, the Voreia Stout from Serres and the Menalon Beer, from the mountains of Gortynia in the Peloponnese. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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NOEL

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stunning Noel (59B Kolokotoni), where you can try cocktails made with Greek spirits, like the one with mastic liqueur, lemon, cardamom bitters and mango soda. On the nearby Voulis Street, we recommend Barreldier (7 Voulis) for its homemade Italian vermouth and its barrel-aged cocktails. Then, there are those must-visits, too, from the World’s 50 Best Bars list: The Clumsies, no. 6 on the list (30 Praxitelous), and the authentic rum bar Baba Au Rum, no. 30 on the list (6 Klitiou).

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C F O R CO C K TA I L S

Award-winning bartenders put premium spirits, fresh ingredients and fragrant herbs to good use, establishing Athens as one of the most interesting destinations for fine drinking in the world. On Kolokotroni Street, you’ll find some of our top choices for enjoying great cocktails. There’s 42 (3 Kolokotroni), for drinks in a trendy yet elegant setting; The Bank Job (13 Kolokotroni) for good music and some dancing, too; the indie/ urban style Booze Cooperativa (57 Kolokotroni); and the visually



D FOR DESIGN

Îœignon leather handcrafted backpack (www.kooreloo.com)

The sun and sea are always an inspiration, but so is Greece’s wealth of folk art. Greek designers adorn modern clutches with traditional embroidery motifs, transform humble rag rugs into elegant totes and draw on folkart designs to create unique towels, beach wraps, scarves, caftans and espadrilles. Obvious in all these items is the attention paid to detail in terms of manufacture and quality. The result is a series of sophisticated collections that are as utilitarian as they are whimsical, created using age-old techniques yet in tune with the most modern trends.

Tholos canvas beach tote with cotton toweling and leather handles (www.summer-me.com)

Espadrilles with woven and metal details (www.ergonmykonos.com)

Twill silk scarf with abstract designs by artist Ekaterini AthanasiadouPoutetsi, THE ART & FASHION PROJECT (Benaki Museum Shop, 3 Kriezotou)

Cloth toiletry bag (www.thebluewhite.com, Forget Me Not, 100 Adrianou, Plaka)

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“For Your Eyes Only” towel, Talisman collection, (www.postfolk.com)

Jumpsuit from the Yesymphony collection (www. yiorgoseleftheriades. com)

“Odysseus” bathing suit (www. zeusndione. com)

“Gold” clutch, (www.argalios.gr)

Beruga and Bolanos beach towels, SEE YOU SOON (Flaneur, 110 Adrianou & 1 Flessa, Plaka and It’s All, Oh So Souvenir To Me, 5 Normanou, Monastiraki)

“Kalymnos” sandals (www.kymasandals.com)

“Cozy” towel and wrap/shawl, (www.fouta.com.gr)

Waterproof beach tote, (www.t-greeks.com, 3 Dexippou, Monastiraki)

JIM FRAME sunglasses (Flaneur, 110 Adrianou & 1 Flessa, Plaka)

Horizon Yellow and Pink beach wraps made exclusively for t.e.PAREO (www. tepareo.gr)

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FOR DEX AMENI

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D Dexameni is the Greek word for “cistern” and it’s also the name of a favorite Athenian haunt: a cool, shaded public square and pedestrian strip running between Irakelitou and Xanthippou streets high up in the neighborhood of Kolonaki, at the base of Lycabettus Hill. The Roman-era cistern that was part of Hadrian’s Aqueduct (and that gave the square its name) is still there, underground; restored in 122

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the 19th century, it provided Athens with water from 1870 until around 1950. Its “rooftop” is now home to an open-air movie theater, also called Dexameni, a favorite among locals. The ever-popular Café Dexameni, meanwhile, is where they go before or after the movie for an ouzo and meze. The café is a historic establishment that started life as a traditional kafeneio in the early 20th century – when

much of the area was still mostly grazing land – and became a haunt for great Greek writers like Alexandros Papadiamantis, Nikos Kazantzakis and, later, Nobel laureate Odysseus Elytis. A statue of Elytis stands in Dexameni Square. Tip: As you climb up the steps to the square at night, take a look behind you to catch a wonderful view of an illuminated Acropolis.



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E F O R E V ZO N E S

Armed with sunglasses, hats and even colorful paper parasols to protect them from the scorching summer sun, dozens of tourists gather every day in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square to watch the changing of the Presidential Guard, an elite group of soldiers also known as evzones. The evzones stand guard at their posts for an hour at a time, during which period 124

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they must remain absolutely motionless, despite distractions of all kinds, including wind, heat or rain. Each pair of guards standing their post are aided by an officer who ensures that they are maintaining the correct pose and posture and who wipes the sweat off their brows for them and gives them water if it’s needed. If you want to pose for a photo with one of these iconic Athenian figures, there are

rules you must follow: you can’t touch them or clown around in any way. The evzones appear in all their glory at the official changing of the guard ceremony that takes place every Sunday morning and involves an entire platoon (dressed in the traditional costume worn by Greece’s soldiers in the 1821 War of Independence) marching to the Tomb to the beat of the national anthem.



F FOR FISHING

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Why not spend a day at sea on a traditional fishing boat learning the ropes from a professional rather than lazing around the beach? Fishing Trip organizes excursions where you can help fishermen cast and collect nets or, alternatively, try your hand at deep sea fishing, waiting for that thrilling tug on your line while enjoying the scenery off the coast of Nea Makri, east of the capital, an area rich in snappers and bream. You might spot dolphins or seals, and there will always be time for a swim or the chance to explore with mask and snorkel. The organizers provide snacks, fresh fruit, soft drinks and wine, but you should also pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, a bathing suit and non-slip shoes. The day ends with an onboard meal made from the day’s catch. INFO: Book your trip at fishingtrip.eu. Excursions last seven hours and start in Nea Makri. You can choose between the morning trip, which starts at 08:00 (from €480 per trip, up to six people), or the evening trip, beginning at 17:30 (from €320 per trip for up to four persons).



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FOR FREDDO Though Greeks are famous for their iced coffee invention called frappé, bear in mind that the frappé’s heyday is over; we now pride ourselves on a newer invention, the freddo; this is an espresso that’s shaken with ice (and sugar to your preference), and served with or without foamed milk. No matter how you take 128

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yours, it’s far easier, thanks to Athens’ blossoming high-quality coffee scene, to find good iced coffee here than in most cities. Athenians spend uncountable hours sipping iced coffee made with third-wave espresso at cafés that pride themselves on the quality of their brews, which often sell for less than €3. Try a

freddo made with specialty coffee beans at the city’s first specialty coffee shop Taf (7-9 Benaki); at the micro-roastery Peek a Bloom (14 Lekka); at 2 Goulies & 2 Boukies (8 Dragatsaniou); or at The Underdog (8 Iraklidon) in the Thiseio area; Keep an eye out, too, for the latest trend: attractive biodegradable straws.

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PEEK A BLOOM



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FOR GARDEN

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You’re only steps away from the busy sidewalks, yet the temperature is noticeably lower. You can still hear the traffic, but as you look around, the world is green, lush, and bursting with life. No, you haven’t fallen down a magical rabbit-hole or been whisked away by a board game; this is neither Wonderland nor Jumanji. This is our own welcome dose of nature in the city, the 15.8-hectare National Garden, once the Royal Garden, commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838. It’s said that she was the one who ordered the planting of the now 25m-tall Washingtonia palm trees that grace the Garden’s entrance on Vasilissis Amalias Avenue. As for the park’s other plants, many of those were gifts given to the royal Greek family from around the world, which explains the presence of so many non-native species here. Permanent residents include turtles, peacocks, and tawny owls. Open from dawn till dusk, the National Garden is a favorite spot for joggers, families with children who come to use the pleasant playground, and, indeed, anyone looking for some shade and serenity. If it looks a little unkempt these days, don’t worry – the Municipality of Athens has signed an agreement with the Bavarian State Government for assistance in restoring the garden to its former glory. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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FOR HANDMADE

A hat and a pair of sandals are absolute musts when exploring Athens in the summertime, so why not buy them right at the source? Monastiraki’s Ifaistou Street is lined with dozens of shops selling souvenirs and sandals, but among all the tat you can also find the real thing: authentic Greek sandals handcrafted from real leather that will last a lifetime, if you treat them properly. Dinos Kallaniotis is a master of the art; he’s been making sandals 132

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in his small basement workshop since 1975, and he’s on hand to make final adjustments so that his footwear suits your feet. The workshop of Liza Sarigiannidis in nearby Psyrri is another delight, home to a trove of handmade hats ranging from voluminous straw affairs to chic Panamas and nautical caps. The milliner is carrying on a business that was started by her father in the 1960s; this is evident from the dozens of molds and shapers (some

of which date back more than 50 years), presses and early 20th-century sewing machines that are on display. INFO: Dinos Kallaniotis 26 Ifaistou, Monastiraki. Open Mon-Sat 09:00-21:00, Sun 09:00-19:30. Prices start at €25. Liza Sarigiannidis 14 Aghias Eleousis, Psyrri, Tel. (+30) 210.321.7087. Open by appointment only.

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LIZA SARIGIANNIDIS


FACEBOOK fb.com/flaneursouvenirsandsupplies INSTAGRAM www.instagram.com/flaneur_souvenirs_supplies 110 Adrianou & 1 Flessa, Plaka, Athens Tel. (+30) 210.322.6900 Mail: info@flaneur-shop.gr

Kalogrioni 6, Plaka, Athens Tel. (+30) 213.0364.214 Poseidonos Avenue 4, Vouliagmeni Tel. (+30) 210.967.1778 Email: bluefisvouliagmeni@gmail.com

ADVERTORIAL

ADVERTORIAL

Flâneur Souvenirs & Supplies is an independent store that offers a curated collection of “souvenirs for curious minds and supplies for the urban explorer,” including unique pieces from both local and international creatives. Jewelry harmoniously coexists with handmade soaps, explorer backpacks, illustrated books, hats, sunglasses and postcards. We called it Flâneur not just because it has to do with souvenirs, but because we wanted everyone who entered the shop to feel like a wanderer too: to look for things they might like, to discover items they don’t expect, to ask for directions and to listen to stories. In other words, to function as a hub for travelers. The pieces in the store have a fresh, creative feel with a playful or humorous touch, which is underlined by the clean lines of the space. Despite stocking a generous selection of items, the store allows the visitor to move around with ease and decide with peace of mind.


FOR ICE CREAM

In this city, ice cream is a year-round treat, and the outlets are countless. We prefer those shops that don’t use preservatives or artificial colorings, because their ice cream is always fresh and tastes better. If you prefer Italian-style gelato, try the Sicilian pistachio and the zuppa inglese from famed Le Greche (16 Mitropoleos), near Syntagma Square. More classic fla134

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vors can be found at the new shop -140 (3 Athinaidos), a family-run ice creamery that also makes excellent unusual treats like sesame sorbet. For yet more inventive flavors, check out Kokkion (2 Protogenous), one of the newest additions to the central Athens dessert scene, where an internationally trained pastry chef makes ice creams with flavors such

as pine and apricot parfait, peanut and caramel, and mascarpone with grape pomace and bergamot. If you like your desserts boozy, head to Cremino (50A Nikis) where you’ll find flavors such as mojito, ouzo cocktail, and sangria. In Glyfada, look for Kayak Boutique (2426 Metaxa & 9 Zisimopoulou) for multiple sugar-free options.

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FOR ISLAND GETAWAYS When the islands are calling you, but you have only one day to spare, head to Aegina, Agistri, Hydra, or Poros; all charming in their own unique way. Aegina (35-80 min away) is a great choice for those in search of excellent seafood and ouzo by the sea. We like Skotadis in the port and NOA on the pier; both perfect for watching the sailboats come and go and the horse-drawn carriages take tourists on rides around town. If you have time, visit the well-preserved 500 BC Temple of Aphaia. Agistri (55-95 min away) has crystal-clear waters and gorgeous beaches. Chalkiada, with large round white rocks and pebbles, is a bit hard to get to, and popular with nudists. Aponisos is a tiny islet connected to Agistri by a little bridge, featuring amazing views towards Methana (on the Peloponnese), where you’ll be in the company of birds and friendly

animals which roam free. At Dragonera, a beach popular with campers, you can relax in the shade of the pine trees. For picturesque alleys and village charm, Hydra (40-135 min away) simply can’t be beat. Walking around the main town, which is amphitheatrically built around the port, you’ll discover a perfect mix of tradition (there are no cars on the island – travel is on foot or by donkeys) and luxury; big, beautiful mansions line the walkways. For more action, head to Poros (60-155 min away from the port of Piraeus, or 120 min by car to Galatas, on the Peloponnese, plus a 5-min ferry ride) where the narrow channel separating the island from the Peloponnese is often as still as a lake and is perfect for some serious waterskiing. The Passage Water Ski Center (www.passage.gr) rents equipment and employs expert instructors.

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Athenians love to run. In the summer, they head out early in the morning, before the heat sets in, or in the evening after the sunset for a run in the city center. There are, indeed, few things as awesome as looking up in the middle of a run to see the Acropolis lit up against the night sky. The city’s coolest trail, without a doubt, is the dirt track crowning the Panathenaic Stadium (the entrance is on Archimidous Street in the Mets district). Another great route is a 2.5km jog that starts at Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus on Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, moves across Amalias Avenue, and up the pedestrianized street of Dionysiou Areopagitou. At the openair Ciné Thiseio cinema, take a right onto the dirt path running between the Areopagus and the Ancient Agora; this path leads to the Roman Agora and Plaka.


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FOR JUICE BARS The energy boost you need on a hot day in the city is just around the corner. Look for café counters full of fruit, or type one of our following favorites into your GPS. JOIN Juice Bar (24 Romvis) favors Greek fruit, including apples from Pelion and oranges from Lakonia, whenever they’re available, and they make smoothies using

Greek yogurt. The juices at Novagea (1 Vakchou, Plaka / 4 Amalias, Syntagma) follow recipes created by a nutritionist and contain Greek herbs proven beneficial to our health, like rosemary, mint and thyme. More super-healthy options are available at Pure Juice (21 Sina), where you’ll find detox juices and special

options for those with stomach issues, as well as energy bowls. Try the vegan chocolate mousse bowl with fruits and granola. Finally, all juices at Ethos (30 Petraki, Syntagma) are cold-pressed. We like their spinach, cucumber and orange juice, as well as the one with beet, carrot, apple and ginger. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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This is, hands down, Athens’ trendiest neighborhood right now. Chances are you won’t be coming here for the culture, but you should pay a visit to the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) (Kallirrois and Amvr. Frantzi), and the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (12 Kallisperi and Karyatidon), before you head off for some shopping in the many little stores, many of which offer vintage and/or handmade jewelry, or before you do what you really came here to do, which is eat and drink. Our own favorite places are Meerkat Cock-

tail Safari (7 Vizantiou), for cocktails, coffee, and sandwiches made with local products; Bel Ray (88 Falirou), housed in an old auto-body shop and car wash and named for the American engine lubricant manufacturer, for cocktails and brunch; Tuk Tuk (40 Veikou) for Thai food that you may have to wait in line for – but that’s absolutely worth the wait (get the tom kha kai); and the tiny Italian-style Drupes & Drips (20 Zitrou) for coffee in the morning and wine with charcuteries in the early evening – last call here is at 21:30.

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FOR KITE SURF

KITE SURFING TAKES LOUTSA BY STORM Regardless of the season, kite surfers pack their boards and head out to Loutsa beach, just 31k from downtown Athens.

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Why not add an adrenaline rush to your Athenian summer vacation with a day of kite-surfing? You can find the ideal conditions − brisk winds of 22-27 knots and clean seas −just a few kilometers from the city center. Don’t expect impressive ocean waves as the coast of Attica is home to largely sheltered waters. Artemida (also known as Loutsa) on the eastern coast is a popular spot that gets a good northerly wind, and the beach of Aghios Nikolaos has a couple of kite-surfing schools where you can take classes or rent gear. If the wind is blowing from the south, you’ll be better off at the Kouros Club on Alykes Beach in Anavyssos, also on the eastern coast of Attica. INFO: Nissakia Surf Club: 29 Karystou, Artemida, Tel. (+30) 22940.263.23 Kouros Club: 50th km on the Athens-Sounio Road, Tel. (+30) 22910.408.04



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along its long wooden deck. It also has its secrets, including a maze-like sub-surface cavern never fully explored, but known to have an 800-meter tunnel, believed to be among the longest of its type in the world. INFO: Lake Vouliagmeni is 24km northeast of central Athens on Poseidonos Avenue • Tel. (+30) 210.896.2237 & 39 • www.limnivouliagmenis.gr • Admission €12 per person (weekdays), €15 (weekends).

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You can’t help thinking that there must be fairies and elves living here when you first catch sight of Lake Vouliagmeni, a geological wonder on the Athens Riviera that’s under the protection of the Natura 2000 Network. Open from sunup to sundown so you can swim in its healing green waters, explore its depths with mask and snorkel or just stand in the shallows and let the Garra Rufa fish give you a great exfoliation treatment, the lake has full facilities, including comfortable sun loungers scattered


P R E S E N TAT I O N

YIORGOS ELEFTHERIADES IS A LEADING GREEK FASHION HOUSE. ESTABLISHED IN 1992, IT HAS ENJOYED AN INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE FOR OVER 18 YEARS. The brand’s collections have been showcased in Milan, Paris, Barcelona and Athens. The brand’s flagship store, YE Space, presents sophisticated and exclusive full collection lines for both men and women, including accessories and swimwear, that target an urban, timeless and innovative aesthetic. Using signature tailoring and an alternative design philosophy, the character of the brand is constantly searching for new horizons in fashion. Since the beginning of his career, Yiorgos Eleftheriades has been an innovator using natural and eco-friendly fabrics. He also follows the concepts of timelessness and continuity as the convertible clothes can be worn 24/7, at any occasion. His work has been featured in some of the most important international magazines such as Vogue Japan, Hommes International, Vogue Spain, Harper’s Bazaar Japan, Dazed, Numéro, Grazia, Soon, Schön!, L’Officiel Paris, L’Officiel Japan, Elle and Dapper Dan.

Eleftheriades’ collections have been presented in stores like Kabuki in Paris, Luisa Via Roma in Florence, Via Bus Stop in Japan, Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong and many more. Discover/shop at www.yiorgoseleftheriades.com


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liant Michelin-starred Varoulko Seaside (52 Akti Koumoundourou), where celebrity chef Lefteris Lazarou cooks alongside the talented Ioannis Parikos. Lazarou is known as the chef who introduced creative seafood to Greek cuisine, and his menu reflects it. Dishes include incredible fresh fish, minced shrimp-stuffed cabbage rolls with turmeric sauce, and spectacular desserts. For a cocktail after dinner, Mary Pickford, right next to Varoulko (50 Akti Koumoundourou), is the place to go.

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FOR MIKROLIMANO

A haven for foodies, especially seafood enthusiasts, this little seaport is as close to an island setting as you can get in the city. Houses are built amphitheatrically on the slopes rising around the harbor, and the tables of the fish restaurants – the main reason people come here – stand at the water’s edge. Among the many wonderful dining options, we like Papaioannou (42 Akti Koumoundourou), an old taverna that has transformed itself to an establishment that serves high-class restaurant-quality food, and, of course, the bril-

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When Athenians say “Let’s go to Niarchos,” it is not a friend’s home they are referring to – or is it? The Renzo Piano-designed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center – a 21-hectare expanse consisting of the National Library of Greece, Greek National Opera and a 17-hectare park – has been a hit with the locals from the very beginning, quickly becoming the friendly space where they can be themselves and do their own thing; jog, walk, bike, have a coffee, a drink, some lunch, read their book, do some kayaking, pilates, yoga, enjoy an open-air movie screening, a concert and so much more. www.snfcc.org

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acoustics are perfect. Moreover, the energy of the place is unique and watching a concert, play, ballet or opera here is a treasured experience, especially on those evenings when the Parthenon, which towers majestically above the structure, is bathed in moonlight. A great opportunity to enjoy the Odeon this summer is the Greek National Opera’s upcoming production of Bizet’s “Carmen,” staged by the famous British director Steven Langridge (July 27, 28, 29 and 31). If you prefer a combination of classical and jazz music, then try to book a ticket for Nigel Kennedy: this top violinist will perform “Bach meets Kennedy meets Gershwin,” creating his own “dialogue” between the two famed composers (July 17). - LOUISA ARKOUMANEA

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In the summer, the cobbled street of Dionysiou Areopagitou is filled with a sweet, neighborly feeling, reminiscent of old Athens: families strolling along, street musicians playing cheerful tunes, vendors selling roasted nuts, and cicadas singing their hypnotizing song. Upon reaching the entrance to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the visitor climbs up a set of marble stones and is faced with the imposing façade of a monument nineteen centuries old. Located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis, the theatre was restored for public use in the 1950s. Since then, it has been a popular venue for the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, which runs from June to August and features a variety of acclaimed Greek as well as international performers. The Odeon seats 5,000, but spectators never feel crowded, and its

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Athens has more open-air movie theaters than most cities in the world, and many of them are to be found in the most unexpected of places. During the summer outdoor cinema season, you can watch a film in a city garden, in the concrete spaces between apartment blocks, on a rooftop terrace with views of the Acropolis and even in schoolyards. All of these theaters have snack bars where you can stock up on drinks, nachos or even pizza, and many still allow smoking. From the rooftop of Ciné Paris, you can get an idea what early 20th-century Athens must have been like, thanks to an incredible view over the tradi-

tional red-tiled mansion rooftops of Plaka spread out below the Sacred Rock. The sight of the lights going on at dusk is quite magical. Off the tourist track in the residential neighborhood of Pangrati, Ciné Oasis is indeed a haven in the midst of the city. An old-school art-house movie theater ensconced in a small garden overgrown with jasmine and camellias, the theater is surrounded on all sides by apartment buildings and decorated with a hodgepodge of film memorabilia, ceramic replicas of ancient statues and potted plants donated to the owners by local residents. One of the city’s oldest open-air mov-


ie theaters, opened in 1910, Aigli in Zappeio Gardens serves up new blockbusters and street-food classics such as souvlaki, hot dogs and pizza. You can also reserve a seat on the private terrace upstairs to watch the film while enjoying a romantic, restaurant-class dinner. INFO Ciné Paris: 22 Kydathinaion, Plaka, Tel. (+30) 210.322.2071. Tickets: €8 (Tue, Wed €6). Oasis: 7 Pratinou, Pangrati, Tel. (+30) 210.724.4015. Tickets: €7. Aigli, Zappeio Garden: Tel. (+30) 210.336.9369. Tickets: €8.50.


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Piraeus has been a port since before 2000 BC – that’s about one and a half millennia before the construction of the Parthenon. It’s also been a base for the Athens fleet since the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. And while it was often damaged or even completely destroyed during wars (most recently during WWII), it never ceased being the link between the Greek mainland and the rest of the world. A shipping hub of global importance that connects Europe with Asia (the modern “Silk Road” starts here), it also serves as the gateway to many of the Greek islands. Every year, about eight million passengers pass through the Central Port, which is capable of handling up to eleven cruise

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ships at a time. And still, there’s even more to Piraeus than that. If you have time to kill before your boat departs, don’t be afraid to explore. To pick up some Greek snacks for the ferry, we recommend Mandragoras (16 Gounari). For a traditional meal with a contemporary twist, try Harlequin (104 Karaiskou), or enjoy the shellfish at Hams & Clams (Marina Zeas). If you need a break from Greek dishes, Rouan Thai (131 Notara) serves authentic curry and noodles in an unpretentious environment. For cocktails, head to South American-inspired CHE (151 Karaiskou), and for a great selection of wines from all over Greece, check out Paleo (39 Polidefkous). AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART

Escape the heat and noise of the city at any one of a number of museum cafés. In the garden of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, you can enjoy the songs of the birds in the fruit trees while savoring a slice of lemon pie – the specialty at the Ilissia café-restaurant – in the shade. Understated décor, weeping fig trees and plenty of light make the café of The Museum of Cycladic Art feel like a garden,too, even though it’s an air-conditioned atrium. Sit on the marble benches and enjoy something from the 154

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clever menu – perhaps a cold soup if the day is particularly warm. The café on the top floor of the Museum of Islamic Art is a pleasant surprise for those discovering it – and surprisingly few people do. The view from here is incredible but it can get quite hot, even with the café’s three large umbrellas, so plan to visit early in the day or on an evening when they’re open late. Top summer menu picks include the ice-cold lemonade and the sour cherry juice, as well as the different flavors of homemade ice cream.

INFO Ilisia Café-Restaurant: 22 Vas. Sofias, Mon-Wed 09:00-20:00, Fri & Sat 09:00-24:00, Sun 09:00-21:00. The Cycladic Café: 4 Neophytou Douka, Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat: 10:00-17:00, Thu: 10:00-20:00, Sun: 11:00-17:00. Museum of Islamic Art: 22 Ag. Asomaton & 12 Dipilou, Thu, Fri & Sun: 10:00-18:00, Sat: 10:00- 23:00.



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ALERIA The inseparable duo of chef Gikas Xe-nakis and wine enthusiast-owner Nikiforos Kehayadakis serve contemporary Greek creative cuisine in a building with a spectacular dining room and a lovely courtyard.

COOKOOVAYA

NOPOULOU

57 Megalou Alexandrou, Metaxourgio

Tel. (+30) 210.522.2633 • www.aleria.gr

COOKOOVAYA Five chefs have joined forces to reinvigorate and reinvent classic recipes of Greek cuisine in this welcoming and impressive space. Try a Greek salad, fresh fish with vegetables, and savory pies baked in a wood-fired oven. •

2A Hatziyianni Mexi,

Tel. (+30) 210.723.5005 • www.cookoovaya.gr

CUPOLA A small trattoria with a great reputation in the hip neighborhood of Pangrati, this eatery is all about flavors. Italian chef Stefano Rossi really knows his pasta fresca and other Italian comfort food, and makes pizzas with a splendid dough in a wood-fired oven. •

13 Eforionos, Pangrati

Tel. (+30) 211.411.7444 • www.cupola.gr

FABRICA TOU EFROSINOU After eating here, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the owner once studied theology. Efrosynos (the restaurant’s name means “The Factory of Efrosynos”) is the patron saint of cooks, and many recipes in this retro-chic modern taverna with its unique décor are inspired by the cuisine of the monastic community of Mt Athos. The easy atmosphere of this place and the food it produces have earned this eatery many believers. FUGA

34 Anastasiou Zinni, Koukaki

Tel. (+30) 210.924.6354

FUGA Acclaimed chef Dimitris Katrivesis, who introduced Greeks to Peruvian cuisine, presents an interesting marriage of Asian, Latin American and Mediterranean tastes in the garden of the Athens Concert Hall. Great cocktails are also served at the Holy Garden bar that shares the same space. •

NOLAN Before chef Sotiris Kontizas became a household name nationwide as a judge on “MasterChef Greece,” he had already made a huge impact on Athens’ gastronomic scene with his unique culinary fusion of Greek and Asian foods, relying exclusively on seasonal ingredients. The wonderful combinations in each of his dishes make for an unforgettable dining experience. •

31-33 Voulis • Tel. (+30) 210.324.3545

www.nolanrestaurant.gr

SUSHIMOU Sardine nigiri anyone? Onetime amateur cook Antonis Drakoularakos became a fully qualified sushi chef in Japan. Since then, the dozen seats of the sushi bar he opened back here at home are constantly occupied. This is the only place you’ll find such high quality and so great a variety of nigiri and sashimi, all made from the freshest Greek fish. •

6 Skoufou • Tel. (+30) 211.407.8457

www.sushimou.gr

VEZENE Here, you’ll find gourmet comfort food in the stylish ambience of a deluxe bistro. Chef and owner Ari Vezene uses the finest quality ingredients – the best aged meat and fresh seafood. He also makes his own dough for pies and pasta. It’s exuberant, primal cooking. •

11 Vrasida • Tel. (+30) 210.723.2002

www.vezene.gr

SEYCHELLES If you deconstruct their menu, you’ll find it full of the tastiest Greek products. This taverna, which has a great vibe and sources excellent local produce, offers delicious no-frills food. With tables on the main square of Metaxourgio, it’s the perfect easy-dining setting for those urban summer moments. •

49 Kerameikou, Metaxourgio

Tel. (+30) 211.183.4789

www.seycheles.gr/en

1 Kokkali, Megaron-

The Athens Concert Hall •

Tel (+30) 210.724.2979

www.fugarestaurant.gr

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Few people think of Athens as a city by the sea. Those in search of beach time and a quiet, less urban scene are more likely to head to the islands than to simply jump on the tram that runs from Syntagma to the coast. But those who overlook the city’s own coastline are missing out − and often traveling for hours in search of delights available right on their doorstep. After a hot and grimy day in the city, there’s nothing better than heading down to Flisvos, grabbing a beer (or an ice cream, if that’s your poison…) and wandering along the shore to wind down and cool off in the fresh sea breeze. The area has come back to life in recent years and it’s particularly popular in the evenings, with older couples, young families and twenty-somethings all coming down here to stretch their legs. When you get tired of people-watching, you can gawk at the yachts in the marina or join those sitting on the sea wall, chain-smoking and debating the issues of the day. Alternatively, you can catch a film at Cine Flisvos, the open-air cinema. Even with a full day at your disposal, you might be forgiven for simply setting up camp on one of the beaches, staring out over the crystal waters of the Saronic Gulf and refusing to budge. The first opportunity to dip your toes comes at Palaio Faliro, with a small beach at the corner of Flisvos Park. From there, heading southeast, you have nearly 60 kilometers of coastline until you reach Cape Sounion. This incredible stretch offers everything from public city beaches to premium seaside resorts and elegant beach bars. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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KAVOURI BEACH

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But the spots where you really feel as if you’ve left the four million people in the capital far behind you are the unspoilt bays and secluded little coves you’ll find from Saronida onwards. Glyfada is the place to eat and be entertained, with avant-garde art at Blender Gallery, and high fashion and slick interior design at Ensayar. It’s a suburb with its own, more relaxed, pace of life. The people here clearly aren’t Athenians; they’ve opted out of the hustle and bustle of the city center, and are far more concerned with kicking back and looking good. Many Athenians choose to end the day with international DJs at the swanky beachfront nightclubs, or with a visit to one of the numerous “bouzouktzidika,” or live music clubs, around Alimos. If, however, you’re looking for a more relaxing, more refined evening, make your way to Vouliagmenis’ Lemos Peninsula and take a seat at one of the outdoor tables at Matsuhisa, star chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Athens establishment. The immaculately designed space, just above the water, is the perfect blend of Japanese serenity and subtle Greek touches. Grab yourself an impeccably balanced cocktail and just stare out over the solid marble bar and DJ booth; you’re sitting at one of the most spectacular spots on the coast from which to watch the sunset. A cheaper but perhaps even more spectacular way to watch the sun sink into the sea awaits you at the far end of the coastal road; at the majestic 444 BC Temple of Poseidon, perched high above the sea on Cape Sounion.

BLENDER GALLERY

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AMANDINE

The Athens street-food scene delivers a cornucopia of flavors. At Zisis (3 Athanaidos), you’ll find a Greek version of fish and chips. There’s freshly fried seafood, served in paper cones, to take away or enjoy with an ouzo on the spot (beware: there is limited seating). If you like Anatolian cuisine, Feyrouz (23 Karori) makes lahmacun (a super-thin pizza relative from the Near East) and pide (its 162

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thicker-crusted cousin) with chicken or smoked eggplant and pork, and have several vegetarian options as well. For freshly baked bagels, head to Amandine (13 Nikis). Get them with anything ranging from chorizo to jam, or try the hot option, which changes every month. (We did and enjoyed a bagel with coq au vin.) For a more traditional baked good, buy a peinirli (cheese boat) made with

long-fermented dough from Smak (21 Romvis), or get to know people while waiting in line at the famous falafel house, Falafellas (51 Aiolou). Finally, Hoocut (9 Aghias Irinis Square) makes souvlaki with homemade pita bread and sauces. Owned by five famous Greek chefs, this souvlaki restaurant serves up less grease, more flavor, and delectable edibles made with the freshest ingredients.


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It’s hard to pick favorites among the city’s many rooftop bars, so many of which feature great views of the Acropolis. It’s not just that there’s so many choices, it’s that these places all have different styles as well. Bios (84 Pireos) serves fun drinks and alcoholic popsicles, and hosts all kinds of events, from live shows with upcoming artists to yoga sessions to experimental movie nights during which you watch silent movies while listening to special DJ sets via headphones. At A for Athens (2 Miaouli) in Monastiraki Square, you can tip back excellent cocktails while

enjoying a view of the square, the Plaka area, and the Acropolis. Their latest cocktail menu, created by head barman Thodoris Pirillos, is called “Odyssey: A trip back to the roots,” and is inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, with exotic flavors such as seaweed and mahleb. Though it’s close to Monastiraki Square, Couleur Locale (3 Normanou) isn’t easy to find; the entrance is hidden at the end of a short arcade flanked by curio shops. As a result, fewer tourists find their way to this colorful terrace, though plenty of locals choose it for their specialty coffee and long drinks.

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In a country where the sun shines 80 percent of the year, skin protection is a matter of paramount importance. We know the reasons all too well. The sun is responsible for premature aging of the skin and, more seriously, skin cancer. Without wishing to demonize the sun – don’t forget that it keeps us warm, improves our mood and contributes to the synthesis of vi-

tamin D – we should realize that, in order to enjoy it responsibly, we must take proper precautions in a timely manner and use sun protection daily. Greek cosmetic companies are here to help your skin. They draw on their experience and on modern advances in science to produce high-quality cosmetic products that are effective and easy to use. - ANTONIA THOMOPOULOU

FREZYDERM, Active Sun Screen Face Fluid SPF 50+. Liquid face sunscreen with moisturizing and anti-aging properties.

CARROTEN, Omega Care Suncare Oil SPF 30. Sunscreen oil containing Omega (3, 6, 7, 9) fatty acids and sunflower extract for protection and hydration.

APIVITA, Suncare Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream SPF 50. Sunscreen, antiwrinkle face cream with 77% natural ingredients.

SOLÈNE Dry Touch Oil SPF 30. Dry, sunscreen body oil with a wide range of photostable filters.

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BENOSTAN, Sunscreen Face Cream SPF 40. Protection and antiaging action with natural ingredients.

KORRES, Sunscreen Body Oil Red Grape SPF 20. Lightweight composition with red grape oil for sun protection and antioxidant protection.



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There are three spots in Athens that afford amazing vantage points and the chance to snap some postcard-perfect Instagram shots. To catch the Acropolis bathed in the hues of sunrise, get up bright and early and head up the Hill of the Nymphs, taking Otrineon Street up from the Apostolou Pavlou promenade to the flat area around the National Observatory of Athens (NOA). Make the trek in the evening and you can also join a planet-gazing session at the NOA (with tours in English on Wed, Fri and Sat, 21:00-22:30). Hands down, the best spot for a sunset view is located almost opposite the main entrance of the Acropolis. The Areopagus (“Ares’ Rock”), has served as the stage for many important events both mythological and historical. The Athenians call this 155m craggy hill Vrachakia (“Little Rocks”) and flock here on summer evenings to hang out as the sun drops and lights go on


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across the city. There have, however, been reports of pickpockets and purse snatchers, so keep an eye on your personal belongings. For a 360-degree view of both the mountains and the sea, Lycabettus Hill, the highest point in Athens, can’t be topped - literally. On one side, it affords a view of the Acropolis, with the Saronic Gulf in the distance, and, on the other, of the urban sprawl of Athens and the mountains that hug the city. At the top, you can relax at the Orizontes café-bar-restaurant or on one of the benches outside the Church of Saint George. The fastest and easiest way to the top is by cable car (1 Aristippou; tickets cost €7 round-trip and €5 one way). If you decide to walk down, take the path behind the church that leads down to Kolonaki – along the way, you’ll see dozens of huge Barbary fig cactuses on which people have etched their names.

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As more and more wine lovers from Greece and the rest of the world discover the amazing indigenous grape varieties, Athens is becoming a tasting destination for everything produced by the country’s wineries. With knowledgeable sommeliers on hand, the wine bars of the city are here not just to serve you, but to teach as well. Heteroclito (30 Pe168

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traki) has an excellent selection of Greek wine varieties, including biodynamic options. At Oinoscent (45 Voulis), the wine list includes over 1000 selections; the deservedly renowned sommelier will help you choose. Here, you’ll find all the latest good wines available on the market, and the food is scrumptious as well. Private wine tastings are available

upon appointment. At Warehouse CO2 (1 Iperidou & Nikis), in the shade of a large plane tree near Syntagma Square, you can try some of the finest sparkling wines from Greece and the rest of Europe. At Cinque Wine and Deli Bar (15 Agatharchou) in popular Psyrri, you can find a number of well-known wines and enjoy wine tastings, too.


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X When you’re moving around Athens in the summer, the metro is your best bet, as buses get crowded and sticky. When it’s time to say goodbye to the Greek capital and travel to the airport, however, you can take the X95, an air-conditioned express bus that leaves every 15 to 20 minutes around the clock from Othonos Street on Syntagma Square.

There’s plenty of room for your luggage and the hour-long ride goes by quickly. Grab a window seat so you can enjoy the sights, such as the aristocratic early-to -mid-20th-century apartment buildings on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue and Costas Varotsos’ giant glass sculpture across from the Athens Hilton − the hotel itself is adorned with a beautiful relief by artist

Yiannis Moralis. You’ll cover some key thoroughfares, including Mesogion Avenue, which, in ancient times, linked the city directly with Marathon; it continues to form part of the famous modern-day Athens Marathon route. Bus tickets, at €6 (€3 reduced), are cheaper than the metro. For the exact schedule, visit www. athensairportbus.com. AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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Y The active yoga community of Athens makes use of nearly all of the city’s parks and beaches, and it’s no longer uncommon to spot people rolling out their mats and doing the downward-facing dog in the shade of the Acropolis. Other great spots include the park inside the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, 170

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where you can join a group or have a go at it alone, and the National Garden. If you prefer professional guidance, many different yoga companies offer openair sessions throughout the summer; you can either stay in town or head to a nearby beach for a chance to do your yoga on a SUP board in the sea. Check

out what Lynn’s Kundalini Yoga (www. lynnroulo.com) offers, including yoga on a roof deck below the Acropolis, yoga on a cruise boat or yoga during the full moon. Alternatively, join a small group of people for a yoga workshop based out of the Karapanou House, on the island of Aegina (www.karapanou.com).


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ENDOCRINOLOGY IN GREECE A HOLISTIC APPROACH BY DR PARI RAPTI, ENDOCRINOLOGIST

Endocrinology is the science that studies the complex effects of various hormones as well as disturbances caused by excessive or deficient levels of those hormones. Endocrine glands are hormone-producing organs; hormones themselves are involved in the management and process of regulating and rehabilitating various functions of the body. They affect, among other things, metabolism, absorption of nutrients, physical growth, height, hair growth and skin quality. Hormones also shape the way an organism responds to internal and external environmental stimuli by causing biological activity in every cell and by providing the appropriate energy for the various functions of the human body. The endocrine system consists of the hypothalamus and of the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus and adrenal glands, as well as the pancreas, the ovaries and the testicles. Hormonal secretions begin in adolescence, accompanying – and determining – the lives of women and men throughout their lives. Chemical messengers transmit information crucial to all bodily functions, starting with sex hormones produced by the ovaries, including estrogen and progesterone, as well as androgen, from the adrenal gland, which must be present in defined amounts in a woman’s body, as it’s responsible for breast development, the shape of the pelvis, the density of the bones, the deposit of adipose tissue in specific locations that grant femininity to the female body and the stimulation of hair

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© AFP/LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/VISUALHELLAS.GR

49% respectively. In August, however, heat waves with temperatures reaching as high as 41°C are not unusual; when these are expected, weather warnings are issued by the media. To protect yourself against the heat, you should wear light-colored clothes, a hat and sunglasses. During heat waves, try to avoid crowded places and excessive exercise, including walking. Keep your meals light, take regular lukewarm showers, drink lots of water, and pray for one of the northern winds, known as meltemia (etesians), to blow in from the Aegean Sea and cool things off a little.

R

ZE

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Z FO

If you thought that the British held a monopoly on complaining about the weather, keep an ear out for the word “zesti” during your vacation in Greece. It means “heat” and we complain about it on a daily basis during the summer. You may hear “treli zesti” or “aforiti zesti” or even “den iparchei afti i zesti;” all of them variations on the same theme, that the heat on a given day is unbearable. According to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service, the mean maximum temperatures in July and August are 33°C and 32°C with an average relative humidity of 48% and

AT H E N S S U M M E R 2 018

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NISOS BY D&T

STARBUCKS

Each ready-to-drink Starbucks Chilled Classic is inspired by the coffee house’s beloved bestsellers. For all those coffee and chocolate lovers who are looking for a delicious, Starbucks-quality cold beverage to go, there’s a whole range of Starbucks Chilled Classics at supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores and kiosks all over Greece. Popular flavors include the ever-popular Starbucks Cappuccino and Starbucks Caffè Latte, which combine bold Starbucks espresso roast, 100% Fairtrade-certified, with just the right amount of milk, as well as the sweeter options Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and Starbucks Vanilla Bean Macchiato, with rich caramel and vanilla bean extract respectively. This summer, a new flavor has been added, the Starbucks Signature Chocolate, a delicious blend of rich Fairtrade cocoa and creamy 2%-fat milk for a unique, low-calorie chocolate experience.

DOMOTEL KASTRI HOTEL

We are D&T, Despina and Theodor, and in 2015, we decided to share our passion for ancient Greek sandals and Greek jewelry by establishing Nisos (“The Island”) on our beloved Skiathos. Our high-quality items are all handmade, with great attention to detail. Our materials, including our sandal leather, are entirely Greek. Our designs blend ancient Greek elements and modern fashion trends, and can feature gemstones, pearls, excellent quality coral, volcanic rock, tiger’s eye, agate and other high-quality stones. We use silver and brass, as well as alpaca fleece and other fabrics, along with wood, recycled plastic and several other imaginative materials. •

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LAFAZANIS WINERY

With its pale straw color with green hues, a rich fruit and floral aroma typical of the Malagouzia variety, a balanced taste and a lingering finish, Geometria is a unique dry white wine from Lafazanis Winery. Made from grapes grown at an elevation of 500m in vineyards in Corinthia, Peloponnese, this wine pairs perfectly with seafood, salads and fruits. •

Lafazanis.gr • FB: LafazanisWinery

Located in a luxurious setting, Kastri Bistro invites you to experience its eclectic, award-winning Mediterranean cuisine while enjoying the spectacular view of Domotel Kastri’s gardens. Inspired by pure, traditional Greek ingredients and employing the finest modern culinary techniques, chef Dimitris Karababas guarantees a fine dining experience, which includes delicious desserts and signature cocktails. • www.domotel.gr

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SPONSORED

AT H E N S W A S , S E N S E R E S TA U R A N T NOT YOUR USUAL ACROPOLIS DINING VIEW

Located near some of the most important monuments of ancient Greece, including the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Theater of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Sense Restaurant, on the seventh floor of the AthensWas Hotel, affords panoramic views of the Acropolis and Athens. The menu could not be anything other than Greek, so as to connect that which you are tasting with everything that you are seeing around you. In the open kitchen, creative chef Alexandros Charalambopoulos cooks with imagination and vision. The dishes he creates, based on rural Greek fare and tasty local cuisine, are not the standard Greek fare that the wider public has come to know. Employing contemporary gastronomic techniques, he serves his own version of modern creative Greek cuisine that is nonetheless deeply rooted in tradition.

The high-quality primary ingredients of the dishes highlight his culinary culture. Products and recipes from Lefkada to Xanthi and from Messinia to Naxos give his menu a distinct local character and a unique depth of flavor. The wine list includes Greek wines from approximately 30 vineyards, while the cocktails include classic recipes and variations using Greek spirits. Three Greekstyle desserts, including a modern version of galaktoboureko – Lefkada sponge cake with homemade ice cream and chocolate sweets – offer an ideal range of options to top off the perfect meal enjoyed opposite an illuminated Acropolis. The unique design elements, discreet hospitality and genuinely friendly staff at Anemi Hotels complement the food. It is our aim to provide you with an unforgettable travel experience that will live in your memory until your next visit.

5 Dionysiou Areopagitou, Athens • Tel. (+30) 210.924.9954 • www.athenswas.gr/en • info@athenswas.gr


YOUR ONE-STOP SOURCE FOR INSIDE INFORMATION ON WHAT GREECE IS ALL ABOUT.