our team

Zoé

Guide Photo of Guide Zoé

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.

I would stare at a chaos of lines and dots, these collapsed, two-dimensional realities, from a distance, trying to make sense of how a city worked, what made it different, how I could possibly contribute with a design proposal.

Most of these cities were places I had never been to, I would spend hours making up scenarios, trying to guess and second-guess how people would navigate, what they would see, what they would think, how they would feel.

For the most part, my adult life was also spent abroad. While working, I would always open up a map of Athens, the place where I was born and raised, as a kind of reference. It would take me a while before I got oriented, every time. The map of the place I have always called home felt foreign to me on paper. I slowly realised that my own, unconscious map of Athens, was not made out of lines and intertwining geometries. It was made of out smells, sounds, colours, memories and emotions all attached to the landscape. These were my navigation equipment, my compass.

It was about that time that I decided to leave the office behind, start travelling and try to capture the sense of each place I visited. In a sense, I was only after building more of those personal maps for myself. And as the journey went on, I somehow got involved in the making of these maps for others.

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 Vassia.

Vassia

Guide

"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."

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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 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

"Tour was awesome! Nice and intimate and Nikos was an awesome guide. So much knowledge about the city and street art and food!! Highly recommended :-)"

Colette

"Great tour! I booked it at the last minute and I’m so happy that happened. Tania was outstanding and I learned so much about Greek food and culture. All of the places visited were great and overall it was a fantastic experience. I highly recommend it."

Thehammer1 - USA, TripAdvisor

"This was great...we saw all kinds of things we never would have stumbled onto on our own. I highly recommend Alternative Athens!"

Julie Matlof K