Sotiris, Volos

At 18, when Sotiris left Volos to study and work in Athens, he had no idea that in 12 years’ time he would retrace his steps, swearing never to return to the Greek capital. The reasons he left his hometown – chiefly the lack of professional prospects – were still valid, but he had learned from the years in Athens that «career and money aren’t everything.» When he made his decision, he had a bright future as a young journalist. «One thing led to another,» says Sotiris, now 32, about his first years in Athens. «I started out working for an advertising agency and later for various mass media. In five years, I’d had five jobs, from specialized magazines to radio. My day started at 7 a.m. and I got home at 11 p.m. That lasted five years. But the point came where I couldn’t take it any more.» Meeting his future wife played a crucial part in changing his life. «In the three years we were together in Athens, we both worked so much we hardly ever saw one another. Then one day we said we weren’t going to spend another winter like that. We thought we could have a better life elsewhere. Luckily I was from Volos and the decision was easier.» He had spent several years away from Volos, however, and readjusting wasn’t always easy. «At first, I brought the ghetto mentality we have in Athens back with me. But things settled down after a year.» In the two years since then, Sotiris has had various jobs and is still looking around, but he won’t consider returning to Athens. «Life in the capital is very tiring. Everything seemed like a procedure to me. I was suffocating; everywhere I went I came across reinforced concrete. The shortest trip took an hour and a half and it took me 40 minutes to find a space to park my car in Kypseli where I lived. «Now I realize that you don’t really live in Athens; it’s an appearance of life. In Volos, you know that in five minutes you can be lost in the midst of nature or having coffee by the sea. It a matter of choice. I prefer to be able to sip a tsipouro with my friends and have a real laugh to racing about like madman.»