• by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
City Weekend

With Athens locals slowly trickling out of the city – as tourists continue to pour in – I spent most of Saturday in house cleaning mode. With the air conditioner working overtime, and my back already gone on vacation, I ventured out for a late afternoon drink to one of my favourite places in Athens – Moma Café.  On Adrianou Street, it’s a nice change from the run of the mill tavernas on the strip – I’ve mentioned it before I’m sure.

Sunday came with an invitation for sushi lunch. No need to ask me twice – I love tavernas, but I never decline an offer for sushi.  Sushi is not so common (and not so cheap) in Athens, but there are a few places to go.  We went to Koi, which is in the Syntagma neighbourhood. The menu is simple, the food is good, and there are even a few native English speakers on staff. The best part here was the price – good value for an otherwise pricey commodity.

One of our group of expats brought along a friend named Grigoris. Our sushi afternoon quickly turned into an exploration of the expat experience versus the ‘native’ Greek experience – what are the differences, what are the similarities? Someone made the point that, as expats, we have chosen to live here (in most cases), and so our mindset is immediately different from a local Greek who has emotional/familial ties to ‘home’ here.

While this may be the case, Grigoris had a different perspective. Grigoris was born and raised in Athens. Now in his late-30s, he juggles 2 jobs - as a realtor and as a production coordinator in the movie business. As he puts it, ‘…and still it’s not enough…’ Having lived in Greece his whole life, he nonetheless speaks perfect almost unaccented English (I even asked where he had lived abroad). He has had several opportunities to move abroad, especially to the UK and the US, but has chosen to stay here instead, and try his best to make a life in the place he loves most. He has had many moments of confusion, where he wasn’t sure if he should stay or leave, fight or flee.  So far, he chooses to be here.
Grigoris has strong views about what needs to change in Greece – and what needs to remain forever unchanged. He regaled us with everything that is absolutely backwards about the Greek film industry. Not to mention the real estate field. But he has chosen to live his life here and work for change.
So, between spicy tuna rolls and sashimi, we agreed that making a conscious choice about living here is key to one’s mindset and to one’s ability to navigate crisis and post-crisis life in this amazing city. Clearly, having a job helps too.
In case you choose sushi, here are just a few choices around Athens:
Koi Sushi
Nikis 15, Syntagma
Furin Kazan
Appollonos 2, Syntagma
Patriarchou Ioakeim 39, Kolonaki
Flisvos Marina, Palio Faliro

Iraklitou 21, Kolonaki

In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…