Tuesday March 3, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
20o C
11o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Alternative Athens helps visitors discover the city through locals' eyes

A woman walks past an Athenian souvenir shop. Alternative Athens acquaints visitors with aspects of the city enjoyed by locals.

By Lina Giannarou

Chris, a professor of criminology from New York, was visiting Athens for a conference. Under normal circumstances, he would have spent his free time with his colleagues in Plaka and Monastiraki, eating out and buying souvenirs for his children. But not this time. He had read about tours of the Greek capital offered by Alternative Athens, which sounded particularly tempting. I was right, Chris told Kathimerini after a three-hour walk around the real side of Athens in the company of his guide Melina. Those who claim that Athens is not even worth one afternoon before departing for the islands are deeply mistaken. Your city is magical!

For years now, the Greek National Tourism Organization and others have been trying to help Athens shake off its bad reputation. They are finally managing to convince travelers that the city as a whole is not the dirty, hostile and inhospitable place that years of bad press had presented it to be, but rather has a wealth of interesting, charming and fascinating aspects that make it a destination well worth visiting.

Alternative Athens, a simple initiative, is doing its own bit to boost public opinion regarding the Greek capital. We must show visitors Athens as it really is, Tina Sklavolia-Kyriaki told Kathimerini. The founder of Alternative Athens organizes a range of themed tours: from the popular Food Walk, stopping at restaurants and other eateries where the locals go, and the City Walk, an off-the-beaten-track tour that helps participants to discover links between the past and present, to the Night Bar Hopping Tour and the Hip Athens Street Art Tour, which takes in some of the more impressive graffiti works to be spotted around town.

The idea originated from her own experience of exploring cities. We wanted to help visitors understand the country beyond the stereotypes, eating with the locals, and discovering local shops and places that usually get left out of city tour schedules. I had been exploring Athens by myself for years, out of personal interest. When I looked at the tour programs a couple of years ago, I realized that they only included the usual Athenian sights, the Acropolis Museum, the Acropolis, Syntagma, Plaka, and always sticking around ancient Athens. But the city is much more than that. Its very complex, like a theme park. In just one hour you can see so many different things; the scenery can change dramatically. We dont notice because we have grown up here. We dont see the city with fresh eyes. Moreover Athens is not one of those places that you fall in love with at first sight, like Paris or Rome. Its a place you can only start loving after you have discovered it. But once you understand Athens, it really is fascinating.

The response has been great. Canadians, Americans, Australians, people from all around the world have booked a place on one of the Alternative Athens tours before visiting. Most of them find out about the tours online (www.alternative-athens.com). I saw places that I would never have found by myself, noted one visitor. Now I love Athens even more. Most tourists arrive with low expectations. We arrived in Athens a few days ago and the exceptional sightseeing tour made us appreciate the city very much.

One of the best comments we have received was from a Croatian who regularly visited Athens for work, Sklavolia-Kyriaki notes. This Christmas he came on holiday with a couple of friends and they did the Alternative Athens City Walk. At the end of the tour he said: I had warned my friends not to expect much because Athens is an ugly city. But now I have changed my mind.

ekathimerini.com , Saturday June 28, 2014 (13:52)  
Ancient site of Philippi unveils candidature for UNESCO list
Greek selections at the 17th Thessaloniki doc fest
Thessaloniki doc fest returns with tribute to Austrian, Romanian filmmakers
Arcade Fire rocker rallies for Greece in new song
Extra US expat tax seminar for Americans living abroad
More than 400 US citizens have registered for the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Tax Seminar on March 10 for US citizens, including thousands of Greek Americans, who live in Greece. I...
Art collector Ion Vorres dies at the age of 91
Acclaimed art collector Ion Vorres died on Friday at the age of 91, leaving behind the chief oeuvre of his life, the Vorres Museum in Paiania, eastern Attica. A native of Messinia in the sou...
Inside Community
Inside Gastronomy
Inside Travel
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Greece taps public sector cash to help cover March needs
2. Talk of third Greek bailout gains ground in Europe
3. Greece poised for recession as uncertainty takes its toll
4. Ministry denies Varoufakis spoke to creditors to discuss Eurogroup
5. Prosecutors suggest conditional release for GDs Michaloliakos, Pappas
6. Suspected pedophile arrested in Athens
more news
Today
This Week
1. The Greek tax drama
2. Draghis QE moves to starting line as economic outlook brightens
3. Varoufakis to make six reform proposals at Monday's Eurogroup
4. Convicted Conspiracy of the Cells Fire member to face magistrate
5. Investor survey shows 38 pct chance of eurozone break-up in 12 months
6. Greece approved as recipient of EBRD funding through 2020
Today
This Week
1. Greece to make international protest over Turkey reserving Aegean air space
2. A fierce battle looms
3. SYRIZA feeling the pain
4. Spain said to lead push to hold Greece to terms as Podemos grows
5. The unlikely winners of Greece's surrender on euro
6. Tsipras reversal draws Greek sympathy as party rumblings rise
Advertiser Link
AMF PROJECT FINAL CONFERENCE-REGIONAL UNIT OF THESPROTIA
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.