I have been back to Athens on a four day trip to learn more about the culture and to work alongside a talented group of Digital Influencers all with an interest in travel and tourism. I am enjoying getting to know the city and it's people. It feels like a massive privilege to have been able to go back to it again so soon after my first trip where I experienced mostly this:-
On my second visit, it became more apparent to me that something exciting is happening to the city. There is a tangible feeling of renewed energy being emitted by what appears to be a young, hip, entrepreneurial uprising occurring post the crisis, all who are determined to showcase the city as one that has survived the battle field and is bursting out stronger and more creative than ever before. No longer a victim, but a survivor, with important lessons learnt.
It is no mistake that the word "eudaimonia" comes from the Greek philosophers - it means "human flourishing" and we found just this in Athens. A city that is slowly but surely being re-shaped post the debt crisis. A city that has become the epi-centre for fine Street Art - beautiful paintings emerging from the angry graffiti that can be found around every street corner.
A new "crisis culture" has emerged and is drawing tourists back in to the city. They have been forced to be creative and out of the ashes has emerged a new social intervention; alternative gastronomic, art and walking tours are emerging, run by a new breed of local. Many of whom have studied abroad and decided to come back, to be part of the new movement and they're proud of what they are doing. Understandably so.
There is a raw honesty in the air as we are shown around the city. Nobody is pretending that it has been easy and that there isn't a long way to go, but it feels beyond welcoming and warm and we were all drawn into feeling somehow that we were all in this together. That we could help develop a new type of tourism directly reaching the locals via the internet. Cutting out the middle men and speaking in a straight honest language that we can all understand.
We stayed in a hip new 5 star hotel in the centre of Athens, The Grecotel Pallas Athena, a boutique art hotel with eclectic artworks not only gracing the public areas and guestrooms, but each room is different and considered an individual piece of art. On the first floor was the restaurant where you could eat breakfast outside on the balcony. I have done a separate review post on the hotel here:- Pallas Athena Boutique Hotel
The first photo I took as we stood outside the hotel. I just LOVE the colour of the Jacaranda trees that line many of the streets - some had a carpet of petals strewn along the pavement:-
The main reason we were there was for a "Digital Influencers Day" at the Foundation Loft for the inaugural "Meeting of Minds" networking workshop. The theme was "What's The Story" and we were privileged to meet a number of the young entrepreneurs re-energising the city with their creative ideas.
We also spent the afternoon at the beach. Surprisingly only about 20 minutes away from Athens and glorious. Beautifully clear water and white sand.
I received a text from a friend saying "send me a selfie of you on the beach"..."here you go" I said, sending a picture of the wonderful hippo that resides in one of the Pallas Athena hotel rooms - we named him "Theodopammus":-
"You're not on the beach" came back the reply. So here is my next attempt - frankly not any better:-
That evening we had a tour around the Museum of Greek Gastronomy, opening it's doors in a couple of weeks. Again, another impressive initiative that will be of interest to new tourists. We even got to sample the local Greek Tsipouro and hear all about how it is made.
Interesting signage - not sure my children would agree!
I sadly missed the Street Art Tour and the visit to the museum and the Acropolis, but then again, I was only there a few months ago to do just that, so it wasn't all bad!
But we did take a stroll on the way to the Gastronomy museum via this splendid square:-
and just around the corner from the museum is a very cool bar you should check out if you're in the area called "Six Dogs"
I will write some separate posts on the hotel and add links to the group of bloggers that came with me - so that you can see what else we saw. They're photos will be much better than mine...but if you want the real deal check out the Discover Greece website.