CULTURE

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Athens residents seem to be showing a renewed interest in their city. This may be due to the economic crisis and the negative atmosphere it has generated in combination with hope, that innate characteristic in human nature that prompts us to concentrate on the good rather than the bad. That would explain why, in an attempt to alleviate the pessimism in their daily lives, Athenians are displaying a growing interest in the city’s hidden, unknown and less traveled sites. Seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty is often as simple as finding a place to enjoy a good ice cream, relaxing in a tucked-away public garden or eating at a quaint little taverna. «A secret a day keeps the gloom away» is the philosophy that prompted a group of young local professionals and friends who had detected the general shift in mood to come up with the nonprofit Athens Daily Secret website. News of the idea spread quickly by word of mouth, Facebook and e-mail: By simply providing an e-mail address you can be one of thousands of people who daily, at around 3 p.m., will find a «secret» about Athens waiting in their inbox, about a place, unknown to most, which is worth sharing with a friend. The cloak-and-dagger approach also adds flavor and fun to the banality of daily routine. And what a pleasant surprise when the first «secret» we received informed us about wonderful Ktistakis pastries, found right next to the old Kathimerini offices on Socratous Street, with its tasty little «loukoumades» (mini-doughnuts). How it all began As Nikos Kakavoulis explained, on behalf of the Athens Daily Secret team: «It all started when we realized the extent of the information overload about Athens from the various newsletters in circulation, free press, guides and magazines. I was overwhelmed. At the same time, I had difficulty distinguishing the marketing gimmicks from truly original ideas; the line separating the authentic from the fake is often difficult to make out. Meanwhile, the economic crisis was getting worse and a bad vibe was spreading everywhere.» He and his friends, however, noticed a change. «The economic crisis rallied many of us together, like a small revolution. We wanted to do our part and help our community get back on track. Our basic principle is to provide simple information that is to the point and easy to understand, without the receiver needing to do anything more then check his or her inbox and read a short message. It’s not meant to be a review or a promotion. It’s more like a tip you give a friend. We thought we would share some of the positive energy found in the places we frequented.» The response surpassed their wildest expectations. Presently the Athens Daily Secret mailing list numbers thousands of members and is growing fast. Until now, there have been about 50 secrets sent out, many of which have been provided by members. «Being a very diverse bunch of friends with a common love for Athens, we have many spots to choose from. However, we also send out secrets provided by our members, which we have often checked out ourselves.» It was reassuring to discover that there are numerous hidden gems spread throughout Athens. For instance did you know that the Presidential Palace garden is open to the public each Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.? If not, then perhaps you should log on to http://athensdailysecret.gr and sign up.