As some of you might know, I was in Athens for a conference to present our DiaLog app to the Mobile Monday Athens conference. You can click here to find out how it went.
Since the event happened during our family vacation, we decided to extend our vacation to Athens also. So I ended up in Athens with my family. This post is all about how the Greek people received us with warm hospitality. We want to go back there again and so should you!
We experienced this unique hospitality right from the moment we landed in Athens. We took the metro to our hotel since we always to live like the locals and not travel like tourists. This meant that we were able to get to the metro stop near the hotel but we did not have directions to get to the hotel from the stop (special thanks to Aurelija Sukeviciute, one of the conference organizers, for giving extremely precise directions to the metro stop!). I ended up asking for directions from the guy at the security booth at the station. He looked up the hotel on the internet and then invited me into the office to show me the google maps and explain the directions to the hotel! Not many public officials will do this for tourists.
After the conference was over, Vicki Kolovou and her team of organizers were going to a Greek tavern for a late dinner. They not only invited me to join them but also my wife and son too! Paul Uza and Aurelija (Two of the organizers) actually came back to the hotel with me, then walked to the tavern with all of us explaining the history and background of all the places that we encountered along the way. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the Athens area given by someone who lives here and is aware of the history!
A couple of days later, we went to visit the Panathenaic Stadium where the 1896 olympics was held. After our visit, we went to a near by park where my son wanted to play. We encountered Andreas Constantinou, one of the co-founders of the MoMoAth event, here with his family. We got to talk with him and his wife. When we were about to leave, they invited us to join them for dinner in the evening. We Indians are very familiar with this kind of hospitality. When we meet new people and if we like them, we tend to invite them to our family dinners almost immediately. We have not seen this in any of the western societies that we have lived in. We were really touched by their gesture.
There was this other time when we got lost and asked for directions from a lady running a store. We asked for directions to the metro station which was our landmark to the hotel. She gave us directions but she also wanted to make sure that we took the shortest path and not be tired by going to the metro station first before going to the hotel. This was something that we noticed in almost everyone we encountered. They did not just want to help us, but they REALLY wanted to be helpful by giving us the most efficient, easy ways to get to our destination.
We had heard that the Greek coffee is very different and it should be tried while in Greece. I enquired at the front desk of the hotel if they served Greek coffee. One of the ladies who serves breakfast was also there and she immediately told me – “I will make Greek Coffee for you along with your breakfast”. She came to our table, asked for how we wanted the coffee and made it for us even though it was NOT on the menu. She also refused to charge for the coffee since she wanted our stay to be memorable and nice!
These are the positive memories that I remember after two weeks out. There were many more that I do not remember. It is amazing that the Greeks are such amazing hosts. Coupled with their awesome history, I feel Greece is an awesome country to visit!