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Vassia

Guide Photo of Guide Vassia

There is a book I like a lot. Its final sentence reads: “It is never too late to have a happy childhood”.

I was in my early twenties when I read it and my childhood had been relatively happy. But I tend to take stuff written in books very seriously. Why had the author chosen to end a book about an improbable love story with this sentence?

It was around that time that I started to travel.

When you travel, time sort of expands. You are amazed at how many things can fit in a minimum of days. The simplest experience seems unique and majestic. Waking up in another place is different to waking up in your own bed. Even coffee tastes different.

Now think of your daily routine. When you’re always trying to beat the clock, when twenty-four hours are never enough to do everything you have to do, only to find at the end of the day that you did nothing exceptional and that the Rolling Stones’ “Time is on my side” was a lie.

A few years ago, I started my training as a theater educator for children. So I had to scrape the hardened “adult” mask off my face and remember what it is to play like a child.

When children play, you can tell they are entirely present and committed to the moment- both physically and mentally. I wonder how many of us can tell that about themselves and in which occasions.

When children play, they revel in the joy of discovering their surroundings. Everything is new and amazing in their eyes. Adults usually walk looking down at the ground, in the certainty that nothing new is to be discovered around them.

When children play, they don’t think much. They just do it. The rules are not there to control the game, but only to make it funnier. And if the game is not fun any more, they change the rules. And the game goes on and on. Because when children play, time ceases to exist.

Adults are not that comfortable with the thought that they cannot control everything, especially time.

Except for when we travel. That’s when we rediscover the child within us and its innate ability to always look at the world around us with brand-new, ecstatic eyes.

So I guess this is the story of how a catchy line from a bestselling American author, along with a continuing education program defined who I am today.

No, wait.

Who I like to be.

Photo of Founder Tina.

Tina

Founder

"In 2010, the Greek crisis hit and the country went into freefall. I was left without a job, a car or even medical insurance, and there was little perspective of finding a new job any time soon."

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Photo of Travel Designer Elissavet.

Elissavet

Travel Designer

"I remember when I was about 17, my friend asked me what my plans for life were. Sincerely, I had no clue. I had some scattered images in my head of how I imagine myself. Like photographs. The only thing in common, I remember, was that all these images were in some far lands, with unusual landscapes and distant cultures. Living abroad was something I use to fantasize a lot as a kid. It was a constant change and an excitement over new things that attracted me."

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Photo of Guide Andreas.

Andreas

Guide

“I grew up in a neighbourhood called Nea Smyrni. The first settlers here were refugees from Asia Minor. People in our neighbourhood are proud of where they come from; they respect history because many of their grandparents or great-grandparents were lost or had to emigrate following the end of the conflict between Greece and Turkey.”

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Photo of Guide Tania.

Tania

Guide

“I was about five, and I was taking part in a school celebration. Dressed in a traditional costume like all the other members of my “troupe”, I was waiting to recite the lines of the poem I had painstakingly learnt by heart. At last, my turn came. But when I stood behind the microphone, my mind went blank and my mouth went dry. Tears welled up in my eyes. Terrified, I glanced over at my classmates who, grouped behind the wings and dressed in their own slightly silly costumes, were waiting to act their part."

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Photo of Guide Niko a.k.a. Rude.

Niko a.k.a. Rude

Guide

"It must have been at the end of middle school when I discovered graffiti, although my fascination with drawing and the arts had been with me a lot longer. My new hobby began stealing ‘precious’ time I could have used for studying for school. I realised that action had to be taken..."

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Photo of Guide Zoé.

Zoé

Guide

For the most part, my adult life was spent drawing lines.  Working in architecture and urban planning meant that I spent most of time observing cities from above, ground plans and master plans, orthographic projections, bird’s eye views.

 

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Photo of Marketing Manager Hara.

Hara

Marketing Manager

"I took this selfie in the secondary school of a remote village in northeastern Ghana. One thing was obvious in every single trip. Africa reveals the best version of each one of us."

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Photo of Guide Laura.

Laura

Guide

I started performing on the streets in Rome and realized very early what the audience wants to see on the streets of a city. It is not the best juggling trick or acrobatic skill. What they really wanted to see was me smiling and looking  them into their eyes - sharing playfulness.

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Photo of Guide Elizabeth.

Elizabeth

Guide

The French poet Arthur Rimbaud once wrote that "Eternity is the sea mingled with the sun " and I guess there' s a little bit of truth of that in me.

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Photo of travel designer Penny.

Penny

travel designer

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

It all started during the period when the Greek crisis reached its zenith. A combination of many fruitless attempts in the Athenian job market as well as a huge loss in my family pushed me to search for a new start point; I was dreaming of my future in an island, so I took a job in one.

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Awards & Accolades

Testimonials

"The walking food tour was definitely my highlight while in Athens for a food lover like me. Andreas was very cultivated and eager to guide us on not only about the food but about the rich culture of Athens. He guided us to all the foods I desired to try in Athens! My stomach was truly overwhelmed and pleasantly satisfied after this tour and I’d recommend anyone travelling to Athens to give this tour a go because food and culture is such an important aspect of learning about Greece."

hashikadharm - Australia, TripAdvisor

"A perfect day. Alternative Athens is very fortunate to have such gifted guides!"

taiter – Orkney

"As an artist, Nikos was able to give us a lot of insight into both art we were looking at and the personalities behind the art. Along the way he provided much of the contemporary history that contextualized the life of Athenians the inspires the art that we saw. …Can't miss."

Eric K