Hi Lynn, can you tell us a few things about you? I moved from San Francisco, California to Athens, Greece seven years ago. I teach Kundalini Yoga and a system of personality called the Enneagram. I’ve also written two books combining Kundalini Yoga and the Enneagram. It was a big life reset when I moved to Athens, as I used to be a finance professional.
What do you like about living in Athens? I like so many things about Athens that I even compile a list once a year! I love the light in Athens, the warmth and generosity of the Greek people, the Mediterranean lifestyle with late nights and slow mornings, the coffee culture, the numerous Greek islands to explore, the street art in Athens. I could go on and on…
What is one of the best-kept secrets of Athens? TAF (The Art Foundation) is a great place to visit for a midday coffee or late night beverage. It’s down an alley in Monastiraki without great signage, so I also feel like I’m entering a secret door when I go in. Filopappou Hill is another well-kept secret. It’s right next to Acropolis with amazing views of the Parthenon, but most tourists don’t think to go into that area.
What are the most common misconceptions about Athens? I think a lot of people may believe that Athens is like Santorini with white buildings and blue domes surrounded by the sea. It’s not. It’s a surprisingly modern, bustling metropolis.
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Your favorite restaurant, bar, and work spot in Athens? You can work at Kinono, a two-minute walk from the metro station of Syggrou-Fix. Then, have an after-work drink at Meerkat Cocktail Safari and head to Materia Prima Wine Bar for dinner. They are all nice and an easy walk from each other.
Which is your favorite neighborhood in Athens, and why? I love Koukaki! It is a blend of an old, traditional Greek neighborhood and a quickly developing travelers’ hub. It is in the center of Athens with easy walking access to most of the ancient sites. It has a charming laiki (outdoor fruit & veg market), classic tavernas, lively bars and cafes — almost everything you would want in a neighborhood.
How would you define the Athenian cuisine? Fresh, clean and simple. There is a lot of lemon juice and olive oil for flavoring, and the fish and vegetables are fresh and local. The restaurant scene itself is surprisingly progressive with restaurants like Yi in the coastal suburb of Glyfada for raw, vegan food and Sushi Mou, whose chef has been voted one of the top 100 chefs in the world.
The perfect day trip from Athens?If you don’t mind driving, I will vote for Delphi. I love the mythology around the Oracle, the ancient ruins, the energy of the place and the charm of the village itself. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive each way, so it makes for a full day. If you want something closer to Athens, the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion is an excellent choice. You can get there in about an hour, and the drive along the coast is beautiful. Arrive for the gorgeous sunset and have a nice taverna meal on the way back.
What is your favorite yoga spot in Athens?My roof deck! From May to October, we do classes on my roof deck just under the Parthenon. I offer night yoga classes in the summer, and these classes are magical, especially with the group energy and the full moon. I teach all-levels Kundalini Yoga in English, so we get lots of travelers passing through. All are welcome.
How familiar are Athenians with yoga? I think Athenians are fairly familiar with yoga. One of the unexpected outcomes of the financial crisis is that people have become more open to trying different techniques to lower their stress and anxiety. Yoga is great for both of those goals, and as more people have tried it and experienced the benefits, the movement in Athens has grown.
What recommendations do you have for travelers who wish to combine their trip to Athens with yoga practice?Don’t be afraid to come to yoga studios in Athens! Most teachers speak at least some English, and I think you’ll find you are very welcome in Athens yoga studios.
What are some hot spots for yoga lovers in Athens?Swaha Yoga near Acropolis, Ayurveda and NYSY Studios near Syntagma and House of Yoga down in Glyfada are a few good ones! And if you are here in the summer, join us at Astir Beach in Vouliagmeni every Friday for Sunset Standup Paddle Board Yoga (yoga on a paddleboard in the sea). These classes are super fun!
What advice would you give to travelers who are heading to Athens? I would encourage travelers to Athens to slow down and make an effort to connect with the locals. Part of the beauty of travel is connecting with the people, and Greece is a friendly and social country.
What should travelers bring back home from Athens?Memories! It’s the best thing you can ever bring back. But if you are looking for something more tangible, maybe drop to in Ioanna Kourbela’s shop in Plaka. She’s my favorite Greek clothing designer.