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Athens: The top 50 of our Athens

Ι wasn’t born in Athens.  But it is in Athens where I discovered the meaning of Happiness, during those years that you give shape to your dreams when you try to put order to your internal world.

The shape of my heart has something from Athens shape, something from it’s colours.

And I fell in love with her. I walked her streets. I drove for her from one side to the other. For shootings, for classes, for late nights, for celebrations, for loves and friends. With a smile painted on my face, with tears in my eyes. With my dreams as a coat.

My first commutes

In junior high school I took the Isap train for the first time with my best friend to get to our conservatory in Patisia and Moschato for the rehearsals of our  choir.

And then when I was a teenager my mother let me take the A5 bus to go to the movies with my friends for the first time! At Galaxia and at Athinaion cinemas. At that time there were no malls or multiplex cinemas…

While at university I was taking the 550 bus because the metro had not yet been completed.  These amazing university years when everything was so different and so much the same at the same time.
I fell in love with the city centre from the very first moment. I was going to the center together with my mom…. There I saw for the first time the National Theatre, the Megaron, the Mpenaki…
I got familiar with the city centre through her. She was living in Asklipiou as a student and she knew it inside out. Ι would call her and she would give me directions. She was my phone guide.. during these years without google maps or smartphones.

Following in her footsteps, I walked every bit of the city. Psurri, Exarhia, Kapnikarea, Kolonaki, Koukaki, Kallithea.
And then Arthur came into my life. My first car and probably my last one. And with him I explored every single corner of Athens..

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The first welcome at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport

Athens is a mother. She lets you go, lets you leave, allows you to disappear, to go on your own into the streets but she has a blasé confidence because she knows that you will always come back to her. She is your home.
She doesn’t sleep, she only snoozes. She is amorous.
Athens is a center. Athens is the center. Athens is its center.
And her seas. This is Athens…

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She carries the weight of centuries on her shoulders.
You can feel it when it grows light. Because here it has dawned million of times. And the Attican sky has been scratched from the same language, for some thousands years now.

And now our Athens, the Athens of the whole world, claims the title of the Best European destination of the year. That’ why we all vote here.
Athens is yours, its mine, its everybody’s. It’s a global heritage. That’s why we spread the secret…

In the latest campaign the creators refer to 50 great things about Athens, using specific hashtags. For each of these hashtags I’ve placed my all time favorites.
1#The Welcomes

A city is its people. The people. The Athenians. The sun. The sea. Everything is a warm “welcome” in Athens.
 
2#The morning sun

Go to Plaka before it grows light, before 6 o’clock in the morning. Let the Parthenon say good morning to you and let the centuries embrace you together with the Attican sky. This is Athens.

3#The Attican Blue

This is the Attican blue. The Athenian Riviera. With the temple of Poseidon being your final destination

#4 The smiles

The smiles. The Greek smiles.

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5#The Gardens

While walking around the National Garden you should go to Zappeio. You already are at the Roman extension of the city which was built during the Adrianos years. You are walking where all the “great” ones have walked. You will walk into historical booby traps, that will creatively explode on you.

6#The Backyards

Black Duck Garden: A place that only Old Athenians know very well. Here is the garden of Othon and Amalia. And it is now the garden of the museum of the City of Athens (you will also see the palm tree that Amalia has planted).
Address: 5-7 Paparrigopoulou str.,  Platia Klauthmonos

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7#The Runners

 Experience the authentic Marathon. Follow the one, the classical route. 

#8 The Walkers

The presidential guard. We call them “palikaria”. Our “palikaria”

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#9 The Acropoli

Classic. Doric. Timeless. Endless. Ecumenical.
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10#The Technopolis

The former gasworks brings the light of Art in Athens. More than 800 exhibitions and more than 1.000.000 visitors per year at a rare industrial monument.

#11 The theatres

Athens is an open theatre itself. But Piraeus Municipal Theatre competes in finesse with some of its most famous French baroque counterparts.

I first went after its renovation and I watched “Still Life” by D. Papaioannou. At the same theatre hall where Rontiris, Koun, Minotis, Paxinou, Kotopouli, Katraki, Horn, Lampeti and Aroni all starred.
Address: Leof. Ir. Politechniou 34, Pireas

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#12 The open-air theatres
The Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro and Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

#13 The early drinks

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Frankie at his Drunk Sinatra.

The city center is a bar hop-on hop-off experience. Klauthmonos square, Agias Eirinis square, Mavilis, Haritos… These are some of my favorite places for going out.

Balthazar though will always be part of my youth. Drunk Sinatra, Loras, Half Note, Baba au Roum, Ippopotamos, Mpriki, Noël and many others are part of the mosaic of night-time Athens.

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14# The late evenings

Rock n’Roll. We were calling it Rock.
The old Rock at Loukianou street.
The 4 legendary tables. The strict entrance policy.
The music. The bar, The Greek Sundays. The masque parties.
All Athens in one bar. The bar that never became a club.

It recently moved to Kolonaki square. But we will always be nostalgic for the Rock of Loukianou.

15# The Food

I have countless favorite places for dining out in Athens. But there is one that I always return to – right in the center. At Karamanlidika of Fanis. Authentic Karamanlidikies recipes, cheeses from every part of Greece and Sary delicatessens from Drama all in a store that satisfies even the most demanding gourmants.

Address: Sokratous 1&Evripidou 52

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16#The museums

The museum of Acropolis.

The Acropolis Museum was established in 2009. The design team of Tschumi and Fotiadis enmesh the concepts of light, movement and architecture to showcase all the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens.
A narrative museum for the History of Democracy, of Art, a piece of perfection that sends the most resounding message for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

Address: 15 Dionusiou Areopagitou str., Acropoli

17# More museums

Benaki Museum: The building at Piraeus street and the one at Koumpari are the absolute destinations. Athens at its finest, at its absolute best.

18# The open-air museums

Its historical center. An open, universal, ecumenical museum.
Acropoli, Syntagma, Monastiraki, Thisio, Plaka. Our Athens.

#19 Flavors

Varvakios. The stores of Evripidou street, with its spices.
My favorite one is Bahar. With 2500 spices and everything that you might (or might not) imagine, taste and… smell!

Address: 31 Evripidou str, Athens

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#20 The night owls

Athens is a city where one can find something to eat 24/7, 365 days per year. You can listen to everything from refined jazz music to mpouzoukia (folk greek music). All of these sounds under the same Attican sky. Enjoy the most successful blender.

#21 The early birds

This magical coexistence. The people that come home after a long night out early in the morning and the people that wake up early to go to work…

#22 The ancient ground
The metro. This one is not just another underground. It’s the land of Ancient Athens.

23# The underground

“56” is one of the most well hidden secrets of Athens. They dragged me there some years ago at the ground floor of a building, and I fell in love with it. An authentic bar with Billie Holiday whispering in your ear her secret melodies.

Address: 56 Ploutatchou str., Kolonaki

#24 The beat
Its heart.

#25 The fish

With my friends we have a sacred secret. A favorite fishplace. Faros (I never remember its name… )

Athens by the sea. Irresistible. You can eat while your toes practically touch the sea.

A tavern by the beach. In paradise.

Address: Perikleous 22, Marathonas

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#26 The cats

The cats of Athens and the 7 miracles of the world.

#27 The Catwalk

Athens can take pride in its fashion. A fashion that creates and constantly evolves and expands.

Vassilis ZouliasDimitris Petrou. Celia Dragouni, Celia Critharioti, Mary Katrantzou, Sophia Kokosalaki, Parthenis, Vrettos Vrettakos, Zeus &Dione, Angelos Frentzos, Vlassis Holevas, Grace Atelier de Luxe and so many others.

Together with companies that create all kind of handcrafts and clothings.

My two favorites. The beautiful jewelries and all the handmades items, from wedding favors to customized creations by Marianna Symeonidi Design. Plus Greek Chic Handmades by Elefheria Turaki. The most beautiful sandals and accessories.

#28 The libraries

The National Library of Greece is part of the famous Trilogy of neo-classical buildings including the Academy of Athens and the original building of the Athens University.

The National Library is as imposing as the knowledge it houses. And Hansen together with Kapodistrias offered to Athens one more diamond.

Address: 32 Panepistimiou str., Athens

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#29 The bookworms
During my university years, there was a beautiful ritual. Every semester we were getting our university books directly from designated book stores. We were lucky enough to experience long strolls to the most historical bookstores of Athens.

My all-time favorite one: Vivliopolio tis Estias at Didotou street. 130 years in one field are way too many. And they are ours. Part of our culture.

#30 The post.

The “post”(after) running on the same piece of string as the “pre” (before)

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The diamonds… of Kypseli.

#31 The modern
In this city nothing is entirely purely modern. It always creatively blends with the classic and timeless.

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#32 The postmodern

Does it become postmodern?

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#33 The drives

Mikrolimano, Faliro, Vouliagmeni a coastal drive up to Sounio.

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#34 The music
Boite. The music stages of the 60’s and 70’s.
Boite: From the French word boite, that means small box.
Everything small and low. From the lights to the seats.
My all-time favorite one, “Apanemia”. There I saw for the last time Notis Mauroudis with my uncle Tonino… Never-fading memories.

Address: 4 Mnisikleous &Tholou, Plakampouat-apanemia

#35 The sounds

One sound. Laterna.

#36 The noise

The center.

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Athens is welcoming 2017…

#37 The silence

Marathonas. Sounio. Mati, Agios Andreas, Lagonisi. The blue silence of Athens.

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Ιανουάριος στο ΝΟΒΒ στη Βάρκιζα…. Ο γαλάζιος ελληνικός ουρανός. Η θάλασσα. Οι άνθρωποι. Οι γεύσεις… Η γη μας.

#38 The riders

One of the most beautiful bike rides I ever did was at Ktima Syggrou, across from my first home. A green ride… one of the beautiful ones.

#39 The skaters

The coolest skatepark can be found at Also Veikou.

#40 The sweets

Patisserie Paulou: It all started in 1969 when the love, the high quality and the unique ingredients unified and created the sweets that formed an indelible part of our childhood.
Patisserie Paulou obtained another sibling, the one I call “Paulaki”.
Mr. Tasos, Mrs, Giota, Efi, Anastasia and all the wonderful people that work for them. As sweet as their sweets.
The years I worked at Vima fm on Michalakopoulou were punctuated with tastes and Paulou hugs.
There was not even one day that I didn’t swing by for a “hello” while their sweets were courting my heart. Their “diples”, their ice creams, their cakes. EVERYTHING.
As classic as Athens.
PS. No one can eat only one.

Address: 24G Papadiamantopoulou, Ilisia and Lauriou Avenue 23, Kantza, Pallini

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Photo taken on 14/2/2014 at Vima fm 99,5. One more time that Mrs Giota sent us over sweets while working. We celebrated the love for Paulou deserts.

#41 The local architecture

The classic mansions. Athenian beauty.
One of the most legendary ones is the one at 27 Kidathinaion street, the Paparrigopoulos house, an iconic house dating back to 1842. My love is probably related with the fact that my grandmother was living –not in a mansion- but at Paparrigopoulou street in Theesaloniki

#42 The modern architecture

At the Arcade of the Book I had once attended some seminars run by the Open University about the modern architecture of Athens. There I was introduced to the “objets d’art” of the city. One of them is the Blue Condominim of Exarcheaia designed by Panagiatakos in 1932, a landmark of modernism in Athens.
When Le Corbusier visited the building he said “C’est tres beau.” And it is.

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Over time, notable people have lived in the Blue Condominium such as Renos Apostolidis, Leonidas Kyrkos, Sofia Vempo, Dimitris Horn, Alexis Minotis, Katina Paxinou, Dimitris Myrat and Fredy Germanos

#43 The secret passages

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Stoa Eirinodikeiou

Many. Secret ones. Promising. The square with the tree passages is one of the most legendaries: Dragatsaniou, Aristeidou, Stadiou, Pesmazoglou.

Thousand secret stories.

The Passage of Arsakeiou by Ziller. A precious heirloom. Offer yourself the pleasure to sit in a table of Orpheas. It stands here since 1926. You are also part of the story….
Address: 5 Pesmazoglou &Stadiou, Arsakeio Megaro

#44 The patterns 

One pattern. Its climate. Its sun. Its sky.

#45 The street food

Athens is famous for its junk food. In Mavili, in Mihalakopolou and the list just keeps going. Though more recently there have been some new additions.
The avant-garde cantine Überness. The kingdom of Vassilis.
A cinematic scenery that harks back to the old cantines of the National highway and to butcher shops. Here is located the canvas where chef Vassilis Kallidis is creating art with his cooking.

Address: 1 Tzon Kennenty 1

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#46 The street art

Street musicians. Street theatre. Laterna. Colours, sounds and music. A vibrant, living city.
#47 The contemporary art

The new Greece. The Greece that makes us proud. Even more.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art at the former Fix brewery. Greece of 21st century.
Address: Kallirois ave. & Am. Frantzi str., 11743

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#48 The brunch 
Takis Bakery: The most delicious “koulouri” in Athens. Koulouri is a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds. There is nothing like it.
Address: 14 Misarliotou str.,  Makrigianni

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#49 The balconies

The most breathtaking balcony of Athens. Kuzina.
Address: 9 Adrianou str., Thisseio

#50 The terraces

My most precious one is Cine Paris.
Open air cinema in Plaka. An experience that you should live at least once…
Address: 22 Kidathinaion str., Plaka

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#51 The stargazing 

We call them shooting stars. Watch them fall at Lycabetus theater and from the church of Prophet Elias up in Nea Penteli

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And I could write thousand of words for our Athens… There is no doubt that numerous things could have been better.
But I am not objective. And I don’t want to be. Because us Greeks we are known to be a fervent and warm blooded breed. We love without percentages and quotas and way beyond statistics. We love with absolute numbers. And the Big Picture is One. The contribution of a nation, of a country, of a city can only be estimated on global terms.

Athens and its contribution is not confined to its golden years. Athens defines Greekness and is defined by it. Athens is synonymous with the light of Greece.
Athens is endless. Timeless. Universal. Ecumenical. Classical and unsurpassed.

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At the beginning of this year I went to a primary school of Athens for a filming and I was amazed by this child’s drawing. Greece of new millennium. It looks like it is going to be even more exciting.

 

You will always have my uncompromising love, Athens

E

 

 

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