Thursday, April 13, 2017
Athens is booming! - My new list..until the next one!
I will not stay at the serious financial, social and psychological problems that my country is facing the last years, neither the tremendous efforts that my friends and all the Greek residents are putting in order to stay “alive” during these difficult times.
I just want to describe my experience, being in Athens a week, almost a tourist in my own country and being amazed from the creative, vivid atmosphere that flows around the city.
Of course, Athens was always a capital of the world, rich in history and open-minded enough to embrace and to inspire creative minds; with a particular vibe, a vibe of life, that you could feel strolling around the city centre.
But now, more than ever, Athens downtown is booming! It is full of art, street performances, creative concepts of all day bars and restaurants, combining the traditional and the modern, the old and the new, the values with the evolution.
So, this is my new list from downtown Athens.. until the next one!
Greek Gourmet Shops
“Gusto di Grecia” a delicatessen shop specialised in genuine traditional Greek products from all over the country. Careful selection of products, directly from the source, healthy options and authentic tastes, kind and helpful staff know all the details of the products, excellent value for money, a simple small gourmet store that feels familiar. Just make sure you have some space in your suitcase!
Yolenis Flagship Store - The first concept store of Greek tastes, it is a place not to be missed! 6 floors, each one offering a different experience, from the Greek traditional delicatessen designed on a traditional 1950-60s local grocery concept, to the bakery with the best handmade pita ever, to the butcher shop, to the restaurant for a nice lunch break, with a floor dedicated to organising cooking classes and olive or wine tasting, make sure you have some time to spend there when you go!
Greek-style Aperitivo Concept Bars
Babaarum, the House of Spirits has many stories to say. Quality cocktails, with Rum on the spot, blended with selected spirits around the world and combined with organic, locally produced herbs. Inspired by the Avant Garde movement that you can feel all around the place, it sets up a new intention, a tradition in transition! It has been included among the 50 Best Bars in the World 2016. Follow their blog and attend one of their music or cocktail theme sessions or just pass by for an aperitivo!
Odori, Vermuteria di Atene, a gastropub; the Greek version of the Italian Vermouth-Bar that we first met in Torino many years ago, integrated into a small botanical garden in the heart of Athens, takes the experience into another level. The successful team that we met before in Clumsies and the Palmitas the first pop-up bar in Greece, including the head bar tender Manolis - among the 6 best bar tenders in the world, they simply make art. Enjoy the catalogue and the stories of the signature cocktails, the home made vermouth based spirits or make your own negroni - Easy relaxing atmosphere during the day, aperitivo lounge mode during the afternoon, nice party during the night!
Noel, a Holiday Bar that smells Christmas all year round. Different rooms all in unique retro stylish ambience and an arcade, market-style corridor that feels like a pedestrian road with coffee tables, Noel travels you in space and time and offers a warm atmosphere that feels like home. The mixology team at its best, rotating also their creations around the tables from time to time, the place is also recommended for brunch or lunch during the day or a catch up with a friend. The music is mainly Cafe Paris and gypsy jazz in the afternoons and jazz souk and funk in the evenings. Check out also the happenings and cultural events at the first floor at Noel Etage.
Zillers Rooftop; On the other side of Syntagma, going down the Mitropoleos street you will find the Zillers Boutique Hotel on the foot of Acropolis embracing the exceptional design with the history! An architectural masterpiece in a neoclassical building, with an urban paradise on the top floor! The view from the rooftop is just stunning! A new hotspot, offering exceptional dishes, creative cocktails or just an urban escape in magic!
Food for Thought!
Still at the city centre, close to Kerameikos, but hidden at the recently revived Avdou Square, Seychelles travels you more to a village ambience and somehow you wonder how this name came from! I am sure there is a reason! Simple dishes, with local ingredients from various corners of Greece, homemade wine and friendly staff. Recommended to visit during a weekday and enjoy the weather and the atmosphere at the tables outside on the square – if you go evening time or during the weekend, you need a reservation and a bit of different sense of time! I will definitely go back for the “pappardelle with kavourma”!
And then, after lunch coffee at the opposite side of the square at the Blue Parrot (Ble Papagalos in Greek) and the travel in time continues! A vintage haunt, inspired from 60s with grandma delicacies and authentic tastes from the past! Definitely a place to visit, especially if you are looking for your blue parrot… do not hesitate to ask for the full legendary story of the Cuban rare-species-of-birds collector which was the inspiration for this beautiful retro all day café.
Gifts with soul and taste
A walk at the refreshed Andrianou street at the picturesque neighborhood of Plaka and Monastiraki was a pleasant surprise! The effort that commenced in Athens and the whole country a few years ago, from different individuals, local startups, designers, architects and young creative people is now starting to flourish! Creative souvenirs, gifts for the whole family and for friends abroad, items with aroma of Greece, useful, modern, well designed items that usually you find at museums of modern art, clothes that you really fancy to wear!
Forget Me Not shop at Andrianou 100 is a revolution at contemporary Greek design and memorabilia field, gathering carefully selected items that you just want to have or buy for your loved ones! Super friendly staff, do not miss the second space on the basement, more focused on fashion and accessories
On the same concept, now also at Athens International Airport, Anamnesia came to stay and its collection is full of colours that bring back warm summer memories from your last trip to Greece, from your childhood, from the little things in life! A shop to stop! Designed from local designers, you can find several items, from T-shirts to decorative items for the home, to accessories and small gifts for everyone, all inspired from the Greek summer and its everyday life!
Another revolution is the 6-storey Apivita Experience Store, near Kolonaki square. It all started as a pharmacy inspired by the honeybee society and the holistic approach of Hippocrates to health, beauty and well-being. Now Apivita inspires a holistic way of life with innovative stores and products in many countries of the world. Every corner and every floor of the flagship experience store in Athens is carefully designed and has a story to say. A Natural Pharmacy where you can create your own personal cosmetics, combining essential oils and aromatherapy with active ingredients such as minerals, vitamins, aloe vera etc., an Organic juice bar, the Lecture Hall, a cultural and intellectual focal point for art exhibitions and seminars,the first “green” hair salon in Athens and the Beehive Spa where you can experience the unique effects of the precious bee products
Bio Restaurants & Best Brunches in Town
For organic and bio breakfast and meals, the Nice & Easy with Mediterranean farm-to-table signature dishes, as well as the new entry IT Restaurant a few steps away in Skoufa, offer great choices of organic meals, integrating fresh local products on gourmet dishes and great artistic ambience; while the sweet vegetarian Avocado, at Syntagma square is not just a healthy food corner, but it is more about a community and a way of life! At the same tine, the pedestrian Aiolou street is thriving, and it offers great solutions of a nice brunch or a shopping break. We tried the Harvest, one of the best brunch in town, Spanish inspired tastes and great music!
Hidden corners from the past
#Life is Art
Last but not least, a couple of old favourites that i always try to find the time to visit, the 48 Urban Garden, a food-truck restaurant and bar, inspired from a contemporary airstream that was redesigned as a fully equipped food truck. Various levels with wooden platforms, benches and picnic tables, great food, signature long drinks infused with local herbs and spirits and one of the best Sunday brunch in town! It is located on the ground floor of Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre, so depending on the time of the day you can pop up on artistic events or exhibitions.
And of course the Six Dogs: a forgotten back-yard full of garbage transformed to a hidden paradise. An all day/night cultural entertainment centre at the heart of Monastiraki, organically combines a Gig Space, a Project Space, a Bar, a Foyer and a Garden - the diversity of the people visiting the place and the events hosted there represent exactly the diversity of the city of Athens. Stop for a homemade refreshment and a bit during the day or pass by for a cool drink later on!