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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Reis | Travel > Local is lekker

Local is ‘‘xalaros’’: Kyriaki Zervaki on Athens

Imke van Heerden - 2010-01-15

Kyriaki, tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in a small village in Crete, called Skalani. I am twenty-one years old and am part of a big family. I have three siblings! After I turned eighteen, I moved to Athens to study English at the University of Athens, where I’ve been living for four years. I visit my family in Crete during the vacation (either at Christmas or at Easter) and during the summer, of course.

Kyriaki’s photos of Athens, clockwise, starting right:

  • This guard is called the tsolias (“ancient Greek soldier”). These guards stand outside the Greek parliament, guarding the unknown soldier. They are trained to stand perfectly still for three hours, no matter what. Every three hours there’s a change of guard.
  • The Greek Parliament, where the core of Greek governmental power is housed.
  • This is the sacred rock of Acropolis. The famous Parthenon temple, one of Athens’s most famous attractions, lies at the top.
  • This glass statue, called Dromeas (“runner” in English), is located in the centre of Athens and is composed of pieces of glass.
  • These statues were unearthed during the metro constructions in the area of Acropolis. They are displayed at the Acropolis metro station along with other findings.
  • This is the School of Plato; the famous ancient philosopher had his school in Thiseio.

Which tourist traps in Athens are worth seeing and which should be avoided?

Athens (Αθήνα), pronounced Athina, is the capital and largest city of Greece. It is also one of the world’s oldest cities, so it is definitely worth seeing the Akropolis, the Akropolis Meusem, Plaka, Thiseio, Suntagma and Kallimarmaro Stadium. Please avoid Eksarxeia, a district characterised by turbulence between young boys and policemen.

Where would you recommend tourists go if they want to experience a typically Greek night out?

I would recommend "mpouzoukia", which are live concerts of traditional Greek music that are hosted in huge closed clubs. I would also suggest going to the Taz Mahal, an oriental club. Both places are quite typically Greek. Even though it might feel strange to tourists, this is how Greeks entertain themselves!

If I visited you in Athens, which places would you take me to that I as a tourist wouldn’t have known about?

I would take you to the two big shopping centres, The Mall and Golden Hall, as well as to the fun park with its breathtaking rides.

Which other three places would you recommend I experience in Greece - after I’ve visited Athens, of course?

The other three places that should not be left out are Crete, Thessaloniki and the Greek Islands. Each of these places offers extraordinary natural beauty and good quality of life. Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece and differs from Athens in various ways.

You make a mean mousaka! What food and drink do tourists have to sample when they visit Athens?

Except for mousaka, you have to try ntolmadakia, keftedakia and pita guros. Greece also produces fine wines.

Are there any interesting trends and traditions in Greece that those unfamiliar with the city would find interesting?

We break plates on (and only on) festive occasions as a way to express our joy and happiness. It is not limited to only one place or region, but is done everywhere in Greece.

Please give us two phrases that a tourist cannot do without when touring Greece – and one that will greatly impress the locals.

1. “Kalimera”, meaning “good morning”.
2. “Efxaristo”, which means “thank you”.

If you want to impress the locals, you can say “Ti kanete simera, kala?” which means “How are you today?”

Click here for the Athens Survival Guide
and here for more information.

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