Ali Ali is a charismatic filmmaker who has made Athens his (seaside) base for travels around the world. He is this week’s featured Out-of-Towner, offering us personalized views, insider experiences and know-how of Greek life.
Married to Salma
Where in the world am I from
Cairo-Egypt. A lot of people don’t know this, but Cairo is only an hour and a half away from here, quite literally on the other side, across the Med. We too have hot summers and mild winters. But when it comes to population and noise, both cities begin to seem very different. I think we came to Athens to escape the noise and crazy traffic of Cairo.
I came here because…
My parents first moved here in 1978, and I went to elementary school here (Campion), and high-school (ACS),while, just recently, my wife and I bought a house in Vouliagmeni. Ten months ago,we decided to make Athens our home, as it’s located at a perfect distance to most of the cities I work in (Prague, Beirut, Berlin, Cairo, Milan). I think we also moved here to live peacefully by the sea, a long time dream of ours (we are both year-round swimmers!)
I’ve fallen in love with…
Taking long runs along the coast. Choriatiki salada (Greek salad), and kalamarakia tiganita (fried calamari) dipped in fresh tzatziki. The crazy sounds of crickets in summer.
It makes me mad…
To see businesses and restaurants I liked closing down. It’s frustrating that Greece has been struggling to come out of a recession for 10 years now. I meet so many smart people, and amazing talents, a determined youth everywhere that it makes me think, why and how are they unable to take things in their own hands, and change their destiny?
I really wish for Greece to snap out of it, and go back to the pre-recession years, and get rid of this dark cloud of gloominess and pessimism called “crisis.” I honestly think it needs to start with what is probably the most important step; its psychological mindset.
The most Greek thing that fits into my hand?
What would you change about living here?
Not much really. I would love to see the liveliness of the pre-recession years come back to the southern suburbs. When all the beach bars and clubs were still open, the beaches were super busy and new spots were popping up almost every day.
MY FAVORITE PLACE TO:
This would have to be Metaxi Mas on Santorini (Exo Gonia). By far the best Greek food in the country nestled away in the cozy village of Pyrgos. This family- run taverna has a special place in my heart. In Athens, I like going to Aristos in Faliro, perhaps because it’s a great mix of both Egyptian and Greek food.
watch the sun set:
The drive from Lagonisi to Sounio is possibly the best place to watch the sunset, given you have a good playlist.
party all night:
I’m afraid that part of my life is long gone. I used to like going to Akrotiri by the old airport.
Limanakia in Vouliagmeni. My wife and I love to go there for an early dip, before it gets crowded. I love how you just jump in, have your swim, and not have to worry about sand between your toes.
Kolonaki, Kifissia, depending on the weather.
watch the world go by:
My balcony in Vouliagmeni.
In cafe En-Plo in Vouliagmeni (4 Poseidon’s Ave), by the sea.
connect with Greek culture:
We like driving to Naplfio, also stopping at Epidaurus theater along the way. The old capital is an ideal getaway, and a perfect distance from Athens. It’s nice to go there for the weekend. And try to stop by Kavos fish tavern on the way back -undeniably the best fish in all of mainland Greece.
Holmes Place in Glyfada (83 Gr. Lambraki St)
Hydra, away from the tourist craze of the Cyclades. I love walking its narrow streets, and eating great Nepalese food at Il Casta (182 Tompazi St)
feel like a local:
Sitting in one of those slowly fading traditional coffee shops and playing tavli with my wife.
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