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Vendor City Guide: Athens

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best. This week we head to Athens with street paper Shedia and vendor Michael

Our guide this week: Michael Samolis, 61, comes from Athens and sells Greek street paper Shedia. He became a vendor after being long-term unemployed. He says: “Being a vendor saved my life. I could not find another job, I was homeless and really desperate. If it wasn’t for Shedia I don’t know where I would be now.”

My favourite part
The Acropolis and surrounding area

Around the Acropolis we can see the museum of Acropolis and The Parthenon. These two sites are my favourites and make me feel proud about my country and its ancient history. I like living in Athens because I like the ancient history of the city. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and this makes it unique.

My favourite cafe
Gianniotiko

Gianniotiko, which is a small cafe in Omonoia Square is the best place to eat and drink for two reasons: it has the best coffee and the nicest souvlaki (skewers made with meat or vegetables and one of the most traditional dishes of Greece) in Athens and it is always open – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes it very special for people like me who work in the street and live in a shelter.

Best free sight
The National Garden

The National Garden is a park full of trees, flowers, a lake and some animals. You feel like being somewhere outside the city, you forget that you are still in such a noisy place like Athens.

To escape city life
Glyfada

I go to Glyfada, a southern suburb of the city. Glyfada is very close to the sea, you can swim if you want and I like to swim. It is also very touristic and it combines the sea with beautiful nature, not so big buildings and a lot of people walking, going to the sea or to the many bars and restaurants that you can find there.

Everyone should go to
Omonoia Square

I like very much to go to Omonoia Square, because there you can meet people from all over the world. It is a place that a lot of immigrants go to sit, to chat with each other and to spend their spare time. I enjoy being there so I can talk to them and learn things about so many places and countries. It’s an opportunity to communicate with people from other cultures. I have [refugee] friends who are scared to go out because they will be attacked. We have to explain to people all over Europe that they are people like us. We have to tell them why they risked their lives to come here. Three years ago I didn’t want them here. Now I spend 24 hours a day with them. When I meet them and hear their stories, now I understand.

Best time to visit
March to September

This is the best time of year here because the weather is wonderful. You can be all day out in the streets, go to so many places and do a lot of beautiful things.

Illustration: Taaryn Brench

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