Carioca Outpost: Athens and the Greek Islands
This week, our Carioca Outpost takes us to Greece. While this country may now be filled with more party-goers than heroes, the Aegean adventure has not lost its charm. Remnants of ancient civilizations and a rich and diverse history mingle with glittering modernity to create a truly all-encompassing travel experience. We caught up with our resident Greek insider, George Parisis (@gparisis), to get some tailormade recommendations for any visitors to Greece before we set off on our very own odyssey.
The Greek summer vibe – chilled-out with a hint of glamour – makes Frescobol Carioca the perfect partner for Greece’s summer season. “Frescobol is a cool, laidback brand and that’s what the Greek summer is all about, plus we get six months of beach weather a year,” George explained.
Although we were keen to start sailing between the pristine beaches of the Greek islands, George assured us that Athens was a must-visit destination for any visitor who wants to experience the best of Greece. “The centre is multicultural, vibrant, busy, noisy and full of history,” he gushed, convincing us it’s worth a stop-off before we hit Mykonos and Santorini. Urban Athens offers many stylish haunts that are guaranteed to offer you an unmatched slice of the Greek lifestyle and culture.
Although you won’t find any beaches to rival the islands or even our prized Copacabana, the city seamlessly blurs the lines between antiquity and modernity to an intoxicating perfection. Athens’ rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and buzzing nightlife are sure to keep a visiting Carioca more than entertained.
George assured us this restaurant is “an old time classic” and it certainly did not disappoint. A lauded gem to those in the know – many are first introduced to Ratka through a knowledgeable and local friend. Local delicacies, perfectly prepared, are served with an unrivalled level of Greek hospitality. The owner, Mme. Ratka herself, can often be found sidling between tables, ensuring her guests are having the best possible dining experience. It is clear from its sheer popularity and renowned reputation built on word-of-mouth alone, (Ratka doesn’t advertise but is somehow always full) that Ratka truly is the ultimate eatery in Athens.
Galaxy Restaurant & Bar at the Hilton Hotel
We fell in love with Galaxy bar and restaurant on the 12th floor of the Hilton Hotel (above). It is the place to see and be seen, giving you a swift initiation into Athens’ beguiling nightlife. As you walk in, you’re greeted by white interiors dramatised by the purple and blue lighting, creating a sultry and somewhat exclusive atmosphere. Kick off your night with some mingling at the bar to a soundtrack of lounge and deep house, or enjoy an intimate dinner with friends on the terrace against breath-taking views of Lycabettus hill and the Acropolis.
The Acropolis certainly tops the list of Athens’ cultural attractions – George counts it as a true “masterpiece” that is not to be missed by any visitor to Greece. However, we found that a detour from the well-trodden path of Athens’ historical treasures may be well worth it.
Head to the cool Metaxourgeio area downtown. This neighbourhood’s past reputation as an immigrant district makes it a cultural melting pot with the kind of dynamism and agitação that you might find in Rio, creating the perfect environment to immerse yourself in a little artistic pursuit. Whilst there are lots of galleries in this area, our favourite is Vamiali’s. Its four storeys of contemporary art, from both Greek and international artists, offer enough variety to entice any art enthusiast into taking home a souvenir.
If you’re really missing the beach and the cooling touch of the sea, Santorini and Mykonos are both only a short flight away – or five sun-filled hours by yacht…
The perfect blend of passion and hedonism with idyllic, serene surroundings. Get lost in the whitewashed labyrinth of the city, top up your tan on one of the beaches and enjoy a splash in the jade green waters of the Aegean sea, then party all night at one of the Island’s renowned clubs. We can’t get enough of Psarou Beach – it’s located further away from downtown Mykonos and less crowded meaning you’ve got enough space to enjoy a game of Frescobol, so make sure to pick up some bats. For after hours party ambience, head to the open air club, Cavo Paradiso, where you can dance the night away.
Whilst Mykonos is lust and desire, Santorini is all about romance. It’s hard not to fall in love when looking at the sun setting against the Island’s gorgeous white and blue skyline. Indulge in a pre-dinner tipple with wine tasting at Boutari Winery in Santorini. They expertly combine their wines with local cuisine and presentations on local history, creating a complete sensual experience. Then, catch the sunset with someone you love at the romantic and quaint Ambrosia restaurant in Oia – their grilled shrimp with mango and sweet wine sauce is perfect for sharing.
-Martha Ngatchu in conversation with George Parisis.