Things you should do while in Athens – part I: people
1. Make Greek friends
It is true that Athens can offer you a lot of museums and historical places to see. It is true that it is warm and sunny so you can enjoy nice time out. It is true that it has marvelous beaches so you can be at the sea all day long. But what was the most important for me and it was definitely meeting Greek people. It is hard to find a place on the Earth which has seen more than Athens and you can see reflections of the city’s wisdom in faces of its inhabitants. When I visited museums I was happy to see ancient sculptures that up to time of my trip I had known only as photographs from textbooks. What was really surprising was that you could see the same beautiful faces not only in sculptures but also as living people. You can go to a club and meet a guy who looks like a monument of Plato or a saint from an orthodox church!
I went also to Athens’ hacker space. I was in Athens during Valentine’s Day so I wanted to spend it with people who love technology as much as I do. This turned to be a very good idea, my best day in Athens and ironically the best Valentine’s. I will never forget the evening with Greek people cooking and joking. I have just met them but it felt like I knew them forever and it was so hard to go back home. After that evening I was sure that I was going back to Athens and next time not as a tourist but for friends.
2. Drink with them
As a Polish person and a psychologist I cannot write a travel post without paying at least a little attention to the way people drink. And Greeks drink nicely. Drinking is usually a part of a social event. When you are at one you feel that drinking is only background to the core thing – relating to people. You don’t meet people stressing you to drink more (which is quite common in Poland). You don’t see people loosing their human traits after having eleven (that I have seen in UK). You can read about parties where people drink wine and have intelligent conversations in Plato’s dialogues and if you go to a Greek party you will discover that not much has changed since then.
Obviously I don’t want to generalize because there are probably alcohol addicted people in Greece and there are people who can drink in a civilized way in the North but when I travel to a foreign culture I always ask myself what can I learn from the people I meet and my overall conclusion is that if it comes to drinking alcohol we can learn something from Greeks.
3. Have fun bargaining
As a business psychologist and a negotiations expert I always observe how people bargain. Greek culture is typical Southern culture so people are used to bargaining a lot but what was a surprise for me was not the way they negotiate prices which doesn’t differ from other countries I visited in the South. It was the way they treat customers. They talk to you as you were a good, old friend. They care not only about selling something but also making your experience amazing.
To show you an example of this, let me tell you a story… The day before the Valentine’s Day I was sitting in a restaurant and having dinner alone. I went to a restaurant called Liondi which is one of the restaurants located aside the New Archeological Museum (Makrigianni). Although the whole alley felt a little like a tourist trap and the way people invited you in was almost brutal I was just too hungry to look for something else. And later I was surprised by great seafood and the lovely company of the restaurant’s owner who came to talk to me because he saw me alone. It is just impossible to be sad in Greece because you can find a nice company almost everywhere.