Sunday, 4 September 2016

Italy: The eternal beauty of Rome

The eternal beauty of Rome

The Tiber River, ancient, with all of its serene majesty, slowly flows amongst monuments of human grandeur. On one side the imposing St. Peter’s Cathedral stands high, in the middle of its large circular plaza aligned by columns and on the other side the Coliseum, which rises high, a solid and impressive structure covering with its shadow the ancient Roman Forum. Two symbols of different periods in history, but in the same amazing city. A city of a glorious past, and a colorful and tasty present, with heady aromas and unique beauty, that awaits you to enter its magical labyrinth. The “eternal city”, as Romans call Rome, does not belong only to them but to the whole world, and you can also make it a part of you, forever.

Roman Pantheon

The historic center of Rome, the Roma antica, will be, in reality, the core of your exploration, but first you will have to solve the issue of your accommodation.  In Rome, there are, actually, thousands of places to stay, with quality but not so cheap, near or even inside the historical center. The Via Nazionale, is a unique street, which can be a perfect base for your excursions, as it does not belong to the "hardcore" tourist zone, ideal for shopping with stores in all of its length, and has many accommodation offers at an affordable price. At one end of Via Nazionale you will find the Piazza della Repubblica and its metro station (Repubblica), where by paying a ticket of EUR 1.50 you will be able to take a ride anywhere in the historical zone, while the at the other end of the street, you will find yourself in the heart of the ancient Roman Empire, and in the Roman Forum. There, you will come upon the well-preserved Trajan's Market,  and, within walking distance of Piazza Venezia, the imposing,- and "sacred" for the Italians-, National Monument of the Homeland, known as "Vittoriano".

Fontana di Trevi and Vittoriano

Fontana di Trevi

Also, at a very close distance from the Via Nazionale, you can find the famous Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), which has recently been renovated, and its whitewashed marbles sparkle under the Roman sun. However, I would recommend you to visit it further late in the evening, when it is beautifully lit and full of couples in love, receiving into its watery embrace coins filled with dreams and wishes. Note that, nearby, lies a secret "temple" of the Italian gastronomy, "La proschiuteria", where in a small alley, you will be able to enjoy the excellent cheeses and sausages of not only of the Lazzio region but also from the whole of Italy, as the famous prosciutto of Parma or the salami of Milan, accompanied by an excellent Italian wine.

Vittoriano and Trajan's Column

However, in order to be able to really feel the majesty and the imposing beauty of this city, you will have to walk. A lot! You can reach all important focus points on foot, and each different alley is sure to reveal to you a gorgeous new secret. I suggest a nice walking tour, starting  from the National Monument, the "Vittoriano", where you can take some  beautiful photos of this splendid white, impressive monument dedicated to the unification of Italy, but paying attention to your behavior, since the security guards take pride in whistling even if you rest on the stairs!


Afterwards, you will head for a quick espresso (“café” in Italian, as the Italians never actually use the word “espresso”), to the Piazza Venezia, serving as a central hub for your explorations, as two main streets start here, the Via del Corso, which is the central shopping road and the longest street in the historical center, and will bring you to the famous Piazza di Spagna, and the ancient imperial road (dei fori imperiali), which will bring you to the Coliseum. Following the "imperial" road, you will essentially start a virtual tour of the Ancient Rome, the starting point of which is the Trajan's Column and the end is the Coliseum, a monument that even from afar seems to defy the human scale. When you reach the Coliseum, the waiting queue will be usually very long, but you can use the time available to make a whole tour around the monument, perhaps discovering along the way some corner of it, which has not yet been photographed (nearly impossible!). Note that next to the Coliseum, you will encounter the Gate of Constantine and exactly opposite the "Temple of Venus and Rome", a beautiful complex of monuments which unfortunately the reputation of the Colosseum has concealed.

Piazza di Spagna, Prada and espresso!

With your mind filled with scenes from the Gladiator movie, you can take the metro from the Coliseum station, and head directly to the beautiful park of Villa Borghese and the famous steps of Piazza di Spagna. The park is ideal for wonderful walks even by bicycle, while small, beautiful and outdoor cafes are scattered in the park, especially on the small lake. In Piazza di Spagna, amidst the cheerful crowd and couples resting in the famous steps and around the small fountain in the center, in the shape of a boat (the most famous meeting point in Rome), you will be able to indulge in a shopping marathon, as the options are many and for all budgets. Especially in Via dei Condotti, all the infamous Italian brands are gathered, together with other renowned brands, from Prada and Gucci to Cartier and Luis Vuitton.
Sant Eustachio Cafe

At the end of this street you will arrive in Via del Corso, previously mentioned, which is a more "affordable" shopping area, with many Italian brands and alternative shops. Near Del Corso Street, and walking in the labyrinthine of narrow alleys you will come upon the unique Piazza Navona, where you can enjoy the best Italian coffee and savor one of the most tasteful meals. The café "Sant Eustachio" is always crowded, because it uses a unique coffee blend in the whole world, as the sugar is already toasted within the blend! I would seriously recommend you to buy some coffee for your home from its shop.

Eating as an Italian!

Trattoria "La Cabana"
"Gelatto", itlaian splendour!
Further down you will find yourself in the imposing "Pantheon", a monument containing all the tombs of the Italian kings, and probably the only one with a circular hole in the central dome. Next to it, the "L'Antica Salumeria", with cured prosciutto hanging on the ceiling and fine "Parmesan Grana Padano" aged for 36 months, will certainly provide a tasty memory from your trip to Rome. But in order to be actually fully submerged in this delicious world of flavors, that the Italian cuisine offers, you should visit the small, -authentic Italian-, trattoria (Italian restaurant) "La Cabana", where you may taste the best handmade pasta of your life with wild mushrooms, while in nearby "Sapore di Mare", crates, full of the best fish that you may find in Rome, decorate its showcase. Alternatively, seek the elegance of one of the oldest "trattoria" of Rome (since 1870), the "La Matriciana", a common but fanatically loved by Italians trattoria, though with slightly more elevated prices, or head to the fast and non-conformist style pizzeria "La Monte Carlo Pizza", with beautiful Roman pizzas using very thin dough, and the famous "Dar Filettaro" with steamed cod fillets served on a piece of paper!

The Vatican'

Cathedral St. Peter and square

Finally, having regained your powers, you should cross the Bridge of Sant Angelo with the stunning views of the Tiber River and the Vatican, as well as visit the impressive Castle Sant Angelo, from which the bridge took its name. Being in the renowned Trastevere, you will have the opportunity to visit the magnificent Cathedral of St. Peter, and of course the Vatican Museum (Musei Vaticani) and admire one of the greatest works of mankind, the famous Sistine Chapel, a marvelous dome crafted by maestro Michelangelo, as well as many other masterpieces both from Rome and Ancient Greece. However, you should know that, because of the increased security measures, the queues may stretch for kilometers! Nonetheless, Vativan definitely worth a visit before you leave the eternal city of Rome, haunted by the beauty  of a unique, vibrant place, that respects its rich past and knows how to promote it, while at the same time enjoys the love and respect both from Romans and tourists alike.

(Published in KATHIMERINI ©, on December 12, 2015 - transl. & edited from Greek, original here)

Sant Angelo Castle and Bridge

La proschiuteria
La Matriciana

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Greece: Ios island, the Kingdom of eternal youth!

The time stops as beauty, energy and happiness collide in an explosion of laughter and joy in this magical island!

Chora of Ios at sunset (photo by Irene Mc. Photography)

The sun starts to cover in red the white graciousness of the Chora (main village of a Greek island), perched high up on the hill, as it sets deep in the blue, tender embrace of the Aegean sea around it. Gradually the bars of the Chora pump up the volume, and the music begins to invade with its notes of all the white alleys, the blood begins to warm up, the energy, the beauty and the youthfulness collide in an explosion of laughter and joy, as the time stops in the "Kingdom of eternal youth", in the seductive island of Ios.

Mylopotas beach
Every summer, thousands of tourists, mainly of a young age, arrive from all over the world to get lost in the vibrant cobbled alleys of the Chora and the famed bars of Ios.  They swarm in the island to live its legendary parties and swim in its cold waters. Ios island offers everything generously: magical beaches with golden sand, a beautiful, vibrant and dynamic Chora, accommodation of the best quality, and, without any doubt, promises unforgettable nights!

An island with an irresistible magnetism, with a history that is lost in ancient myth, as Homer, the legendary ancient Greek bard and writer, casts his shadow on this Cycladic island, as he rests, as it is believed, deep inside this beautiful land. It is an island with a distinct vitality and an unrestrained dynamism, that will captivate you the moment you feel its energy as you walk in the Chora or you enter the cold, clear waters of the bay of Mylopotas. The latter is the most organized beach of the island with an amazing beach resort of an exceptional quality, which has distinguished itself internationally, as people with enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for what they do, constitute its soul. 

Far Out Village, mylopotas beach
Far Out resort, consists of a camping site, a hotel and spa, and a beach club and it seems as though this is the place for which the famed band Blur have sung the lyrics "..follow their hearts down to Greece .."! Each and every summer, it becomes inundated by thousands of tourists, particularly from Australian, eager to live it all in the legendary parties organized by the beach club. There, apart from the frozen daiquiris by the beautiful pool, you will be able to indulge in numerous water sports, enjoying one of the cleanest beaches in the Cyclades islands.  The fact, however,  is that you have to book as early as possible as tourists thirsty for sun, sea and guaranteed fun, rush there each year! In addition, other quality options are the five and four stars hotels, such as "Ios Palace", "Dionysos" and "Liostasi" or the most economic choices of "Avanti" with beautiful vistas of the Chora and the famed "Francesco's".

Far Out Beach Club
Having ensured your stay, you must explore Homer´s island of to discover the beauty in all of its aspects, as there are many hidden treasures on this island which are well-kept secrets. If you  follow the road that begins from Chora up on the adjacent hill you will encounter two gorgeous sights, the Museum of Modern Art "Gaitis-Simosi" and the Open Theatre "Odysseus Elytis", both of which offer a spectacular view and worth the visit.  Moreover, there are other important monuments to visit, as is the impressive prehistoric settlement of Skarkos, in which you arrive through a beautiful trail, directly from Chora.  The ancient settlement looks like a stone snake wrapped around a hill and you can take a magical walk through its ancient history, as the alleys still seem to resonate with the long forgotten voices of its inhabitants.  If you can spare some time, you could also visit the alleged Homer's Tomb with breathtaking vistas at the sea beyond and then go for a swim at Agia Theodoti beach, close by. 

Kalamos beach
If you become tired of exploring and sightseeing, then you must visit the famous gold beaches and cool waters of Ios. Besides Mylopotas, being the largest sandy beach of the island and probably the biggest in Cyclades islands, the beach of Manganari is equally impressive, as is organized and in a beautiful bay.   Aghia Theodoti, close to Homer's Grave, is accessible by a rough road, but will reward you with its endless golden sands.  Do not forget to visit also the small and hidden Kolitsani beach, Koumbara beach with a great tavern by the sea, Kalamos and Valma, both being beautiful beaches with golden sand, and some hidden gems like Aylaki tou Papa (accessible by a rough path) and Pikri Ammos (only by boat).

With your mind haunted by the beauty of this land, you can now take the road that leads to the wonderful Chora of Ios, to wander through its narrow alleys, buy beautiful handmade jewelry in the «Theros» and enjoy an iced freddo in the charming little square next to the "Kafeneio", or even climb up to the temple of Panagia Gremniotisa overlooking the unique, vast, blue horizon far beyond. If you get hungry then let your nose lead you to the "Katogi", a small charming restaurant,  where Theodora, the always smiling owner, will offer you the best tapas of the island, made with an overwhelming Cycladic taste, and with the company of some of the best cocktails you will ever try, preparing you for the lively, vibrant, and passionate night of Ios island.  Bars like "Slammer", "69", "Orange" and "Scorpios Club" have long been the centre of the nightlife in Ios with a vast offer of cocktails and shots promising a crazy night out with countless happy faces to accompany you in this radiant Aegean paradise!

(more photos to come! stay tuned..)

(Published in KATHIMERINI ©, on June 27, 2015 - transl. & edited from Greek, original here)

Far Out Village

View at the sea (photo by Irene Mc. Photography
Treis ekklisies beach


Far Out Village bar

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Greece: A journey to the Highlands of Greece!

Beautiful small villages and proud mountains sleeping in the crystal breath of winter...

Pamvotida Lake
A lake is always beautiful. Any and every moment of the day that you let your eyes embrace its serene surface.  It can be a heavenly mirror that reflects the majesty of the sky or a magical and mysterious kingdom when the gray veils of the fog caress unhurriedly its surface.  “Pamvotida”, especially, the lake of Ioannina city in northern Greece, is a canvas of a particular beauty, in the heart of winter, as tall, white Mountains stand around majestically and the impressive castle walls of the city stand as guards.  This beautiful city and its unique nature are steadily becoming a pole of attraction during this period, as the visitors venture in the nearby natural landscapes and villages, one of which, “Zitsa”, is offered for an exceptional wine-tasting experience!  The capital of Epirus, Ioannina, is the best starting point to embark on this adventure and discover the unique highland nature of Epirus and its famous hospitality, its mesmerizing flavors and aromas, the soul of winter in all its glory. 
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The people of Epirus (which in reality means “Highlands” in greek), have been through many hardships in the course of history, and have learned to cope with the inhospitable nature and the cold winter nights, to cultivate the earth with their rough hands and to always welcome their fellowmen, with a warm and hearty handshake and a glass of “tsipouro” (strong alcoholic beverage).  It is the same warm way by which they are going to welcome you in every village, in every little tavern and offer you a “meze” (small tapas), because nature itself with all its adversities has showed to them the true value of companionship.  

Ioannina city, capital of Epirus

Ioannina will be your base for your explorations in the mountains and villages in the land.  The hotels in the city offer, in their majority, a high standard and some are known for their excellent quality and services as is the case of the most famous of all, the Gran Serai, where the orient glamour has transformed an old hotel into a luxurious complex.  Also known is the Epirus Palace with an equal taste for glamour  and the Du Lac complex, by the lake. On the other hand, the center of the city can offer some exquisite hotels, such as the Metropolis Hotel or you can stay at the “Frontzou Politeia”, a majestic complex, situated on the Frontzos hill, and overlooking the town, offering some spectacular views.  

In Ioannina you can do everything: from shopping to staying up all night in beautiful bars hidden in small alleys, you can explore the paved streets to admire the Castle and the lake, or walk at your leisure at the new pedestrian center or even take your bicycle and go for a tour around the lake in the new bicycle lane, as per the European standards.  It is indeed an impressive city, with many choices, where nature engulfs it all year round with unique beauty, and sometimes with a somewhat frozen embrace. Especially during the winter months, you can enjoy the rare phenomenon, when nature creates sculptures out of ice next to the lake with the help of strong frozen winds!  After strolling around the narrow alleys of the Castle and the magical lakeside, or in the heart of the old town, you can leave the beauty of Ioannina behind and start exploring the really mesmerizing nature around you, still sleeping in the crystal breath of the cold winter.

The village of Zitsa

As an alternative solution, for those of you  who want to live a lazy and laid back rhythm of a small village, then head to nearby Zitsa village, home to some of the best wines of the Epirus region and of the whole Greece.  There, you will find the charming Agnadi hotel with exquisite aesthetics and majestic views across the village.  Zitsa village, lies at a very close distance from Ioannina and is famous mainly for the production of wine, the most famed of which is the sparkling white wine of the local white grape variety, known as "Debina", which is internationally recognized.   Just half an hour from the airport of Ioannina, Zitsa can offer you not only the beauties of the countryside, but you can also have a chance to indulge in a tasting trip, visiting the wineries of the region, such as "Glinavos" or the "Zoinos Winery" and enjoying fine wine and "tsipouro" together with local delicacies.

You can make some interesting discoveries in the village itself, like the unique “bibliokipos” (Garden of books) belonging to Anna Ellis, from USA, and a permanent resident of Zitsa, who has  opened the first bookshop in the village and at the same time has offered a space for intellectual culture.  You can also visit Profet Elia's Monastery, situated on the hill of the same name, where Lord Byron himself has stayed for a few days during his visit to the region, and has praised the beauty of the place.  A walk to the local art gallery of Zitsa may also be an interesting experience, admiring the engraving work of some important  Greek artists.

The bridge of God

Following the river of Kalama, just outside the village you will come upon an impressive monument built solely by the forces of nature, widely known as "Theogefyro" (God's Bridge);  a naturally formed bridge, standing over you, imposing, twenty meters above the raging waters and was created as a result of the persistent river eating out the rock in its way.  Close by, you can find  the “Watermill of Achilles”, once an old mill, and now the base of inspiration for an impressive traditional building that functions as a coffeehouse and a restaurant in a place of a stunning and unique natural beauty. There, you can taste the well-known river trout and the infamous “proveio” (lamb meat), a mouth watering lamb that has been slowly baked in a traditional stone oven for twelve hours!  Epirus is definitely a place where you can discover, on your own, a thousand more magical places, in this wonderful, and at the same time wild land, that has tied up nature and its dwellers in a winter fairy tale.

(Published in KATHIMERINI ©, on May 11, 2013 (transl. & edited from greek, original here )

Tranquillity in the lake

Boat in the lake

Statues by the lake

Promenade by the lake

the spell of lake

Magic trees in the mist

Friday, 9 January 2015

Greece: Exarcheia, the vibrant, colorful downtown world of Athens!

Kallidromiou Street building

The downtown district of Athens, Eksarcheia, is a dynamic and vivid neigborhood of a thousand different faces!

"Two months have gone by since we have not seen each other, a whole century and nine seconds. The stars have lost their shine when you left". Poetry is written on the walls of Exarcheia, -a downtown district in Athens-, filling them like open notebooks.  Every city has the need of its Eharcheia, as a refuge for souls who seek, who search and want to be searched, or just flirt with the spirit of revolution.  Kreuzberg in Berlin or Lavapiés and Malasaña in Madrid demonstrate their unique character: a youthful spirit combined with an unyielding power and energy that stems from colorful, noisy and vivid neighborhoods.

Perhaps the most multicultural district of Athens and all Greece, Exarcheia is definitely open to all, despite the various tags that many have occasionally tried to stamp to it.  Its dynamism, its multicolored crowd of students, immigrants, conscious citizens, surpasses any prejudices and invites you, on a Friday night, to feel its pulse in cool small bars playing jazz or in small taverns in narrow alleys.  This lively district doesn't belong anywhere specifically and is constantly evolving; neither ideologically nor politically can it be defined, as it belongs to all who want to explore its narrow cobbled alleys and its beautiful small bars, cafes and taverns.

Here also, you can search for dusty old books in small, forgotten bookshops, retro vinyls in underground music-shops, taste sweet treats in "Sorolop" at Benaki street, climb up the Strefi Hill for a visit to the lively "Exostrephis" tavern  or just  walk the Kallidromiou Street, one of the most beautiful streets of Athens.  There, as well as in other famous streets of Exarcheia, like Tositsa, Benaki and Themistocleous you will be able to admire the chaotic beauty of the architecture of this downtown neighborhood.  From the so-called "Tower of Kallidromiou» an imposing abandoned mansion, and the "Blue combo building" a historical apartment building in the Exarcheia Square, to many other beautifully restored mansions, Exarcheia calls you on a historical tour in the heart of Athens in contrast with the modernist buildings full of graffiti. 


This legendary district is a vibrant and resonant incubator of ideas, as well as a traditional area of experimentation that leads the trends of the Greek capital.  And it does so with underground music scenes, such as the famous "An Club", alternative Greek-cuisine restaurants and taverns, and tiny cool bars that are constantly full of young people and positive energy.  The Benaki Street is now one of the most famous streets in the Athenian gastronomy map, as you can find excellent unconventional spots to eat and drink some good wine or "raki" (strong alcoholic beverage), and even post-modern restaurants that compete the more traditional taverns such as the historical "Rosalia" tavern in Valtetsiou Street, one of the oldest in Athens! 

Graffiti (photo by Katia Maglogianni)

 Exarcheia was the first place in Athens to integrate into the new environment of the economic crisis that hit hard Greece in 2010; many young people with an entrepreneurship spirit begun to experiment by opening original cafes, bars and small taverns with affordable prices and quality.

As a result, visiting crowds immediately rushed to embrace these efforts by filling up these new establishments, like the "Kokinos Lotos" bar, the "Saligaros" tavern and the "67" bar, and also other places made with a good mix of imagination and enterprising spirit.  All that never ending activity led to the famed "Botellon" effect (the Spanish term for drinking alcohol in public places, mostly squares) mostly in Eksarcheia Square and Valtetsiou Street,  though it looks like it is integrated within the general character of local entertainment as the bars around continue to be full of people. However, cleanliness is a big issue, especially every Friday and Saturday night, and it needs some extra care from the municipality services and some goodwill from the partygoers. 

Exarcheia district is definitely the beating heart of the youth of Athens.  It is a colorful, bustling neighborhood with no stereotypes, multicultural and open to everyone, from Erasmus students from all over Europe, from immigrants and tourists alike, up to the everyday Athenian buying his fresh fruits form the public market of Kalidromiou Street every Saturday morning (a definite must!), Exarcheia belongs to the whole world!

(Published in KATHIMERINI ©, on October 25, 2014 (transl. & edited from greek, original here)

Benaki Street (photo by Katia Maglogianni)

Old mansions
Athens scyline
Athens - Exarcheia between the hills

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Germany: A surreal, dark and sensual fairy-tale in Berlin!

BIRKE vol.II "the watchful tree" by "Forvitinn" Aris Chantzopoulos

For those lucky enough to be in Berlin during November and December, a unique fairy tale- exhibition is taking place in CELL63 Art Platform, in Neükolln.  In the heart of the cold winter, a world of mysterious sylvan beings is being brought to existence by the genuine imagination of a young Greek artist, Aris, known as “Forvitinn”.  It is as if the woods and their majestic spirit come alive to share with us their inner secrets, dark and mischievous, like the human soul.  At the end, it is nature that reflects our inner beings and only through nature can we sometimes conceive our deepest and darkest desires.

"Hybrids, half human-half birch tree figures, in their everyday habits, are placed in between the barks of a forest, spreading their branches trying to show us their presence..
Creatures of high sexual behaviour, emotional, curious, social, lonely, eccentric, aggressive similar to what birch trees are supposed to be behaving, comparing to other trees. A tree which has a kind of unique appearance, being easily spotted in a forest, has an urge to spread its seeds all over, and take over, sometimes even growing on behalf of other tree species, while it's bark could be considered "poisonous"in a visual language,due to it's very sharp black and white colour"

Being inspired by the behaviour of that tree, also called "The Watchful Tree" because of eye-like impressions on the bark, often seen inside the city of Berlin, Forvitinn has given a combination of this unison between Berlin, sexual freedom and eccentricity in a fictional environment where the trees are always observers of people’s actions..

Teaser of the exhibition

"Forvitinn" Aris Chantzopoulos

Born in 1982 in Greece, Forvitinn, is using a wide range of channels of communication and expression to create emotions.
By means of painting, music composing, sculpture, as well as video art, media art, performance and photography, he is conceiving a multi-dimensional image of his own world,his own fairy-tale.

As a painter, two elements mostly dominate his work: A romantic spirit, expressed persistently through his artistic research of virgin forests and aquatic landscapes of elf-like creatures, and the dynamism of a wild inhospitably realistic, but pure and minimalistic plasticity; an urban and technological human-made environment. 
Combining these two worlds together, made him create a very personal stroke, both visually and musically.

Video Art came as a way to combine music and image, having directed video clips and theatre plays in the past, while music within this process of visual composition is always present, and is both a source of inspiration and a means of creative expression.
He composed music and performed live for several theatre performances and dance theatre plays, as well while having already an album in his hands, by the title "shhhh...." he has presented his art in many venues both in Athens and Berlin, as well as other countries of Europe.

To mention a few of them:

Synch Festival, Athens. 
International Film Festival, Thessalonica.
Schaubühne, Berlin.
Curare Art Movement-Malmoe, Sweden.
XIV Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean, Skopje.

Musical pieces from the exhibition (music by Aris-Forvitinn)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Greece; TAF, a small temple to worship the best coffee in Athens!

Visting TAF in Athens, Eharcheia downtown district and finding out the secrets of the finest coffee in the city!

by Kon Hans

At a recent article in, a big praise was given to the coffee culture (among other things!) of the Greek capital: Athens has more cafes than Paris and Rome have, and even a greater worship towards the fresh aroma of the coffee and its strong flavor.  After being to TAF at Benaki Street, a small café and a coffee grinder at the same time, and meeting Christos Loukakis, an awarded barista, I could only agree to the above statement after drinking the third espresso!

Q. How long have you been a barista?

A. I have been a barista for about 14 years. It has been a conscientious choice; I have even abandoned my studies to follow my vocation, as I believed it to be back then.  Afterwards, I have realized that it was the right choice for me, and TAF has played a significant role in this.

Q. What is being a barista for you, what is your inspiration?

A. Coffee for me has always been a constant game of changes, of flavors, of aromas, of the constitution itself of the coffee, and its essence.  It is like chemistry; in fact it IS chemistry, a coffee-chemistry which I adore and which I always try to bring one step beyond.  My passion is the mixing of new flavors and varieties and bringing to life a coffee with a perfect body and aroma.  It is definitely an art for me. Here we have many varieties and each month we try to bring a new one.

Q. How TAF exactly works? From what I understand there is also a brand named TAF.

A. Exactly. TAF is at the same time a coffee shop and a place where even the most hardcore coffee connoisseur can find the good quality he is searching for.  I mean, we trade with over 30 farms from all over the world, from Latin America to Africa and India, though our main providers are from Brazil and Africa. We have a system of trade, named “direct trade”, where we try to build a direct relationship with the producers evading the middleman and thus keeping the prices low and awarding the producers for their work, seems only fair to me.  We have two main varieties, and you can check them out if you want (Of course I want!), the Rose Bud with notes of honey and the Estate Blend, more strong and with dark chocolate undertones.  After that, you name it, we have Ethiopian, Brazilian and Guatemala coffee varieties, all of the best quality. 

Q. Thank you, I will surely try!

A. You are more than welcome!

* TAF is on 6-7 Benaki Street, Athens, Eharcheia

(photos by Mina Selimou © )

The formidable coffee-grinder
TAF - inside

Christos on the making!
Filter magic!

Filter magic 2