Since founding the The Goddess of the Hunt, I find myself increasingly obsessed with other people’s ideas; not just how they came to fruition, but that moment where conception took place and an idea was born. I think back to the frustrations and desires I had before GOTH existed and how that void the market is what propelled me to bring the site to life. The story of Alternative Tours Athens (ATA) is no different. When we met the team in Athens this summer, it was instantly clear that ATA was more than a story, it would be a collaboration. In the same way that this site takes you to the homes, studios, stores & galleries of Greeks around the world, ATA’s custom-crafted Goddess of the Hunt Tour takes Athenian visitors and locals alike to the most unexpected and rousing parts of the city that Athens has to offer. We spoke to Maria Petinaki, one of the founding members, to see how this seemingly obvious, yet brilliant, idea came to life:
“Last September, I took a little trip to Berlin on my own. It was my first time there. I had my guidebooks with me, as well as some insights from friends. On my second day there, already a little bored of walking alone, I saw a poster for “Free Alternative Berlin Tours”, so I said, “Why not?”. And I saw exactly what I wanted to see from Berlin! Street art, art squats and hidden places. Although most Athenians wouldn’t agree with me, I said to myself, Athens is similar to Berlin in a lot of ways. Alternative city tours is a great idea and nobody has done it in Athens; it’s an opportunity!”
But, come on, we all come up with brilliant ideas while relaxed and open-minded on holiday, all which seem to vanish right alongside our to-do list at work that next Monday morning, right? In most cases, yes, but when your country is in a state of crisis and talented, educated people are without work, a raw sense of motivation that would not exist in a time of abundance overcomes us. In other words, when opportunity knocks, we sprint to answer the door. “So, what came next, Maria?”
“In one of those brainstorming sessions with my now partner, Vasiliki, where we debate about what else we could do with our lives (we are architects and our work is dying during the crisis) I brought this idea up, and she liked it a lot. One or two months after that, in November, we had gathered a great team of our most talented friends, all of whom were struggling with the crisis. Quickly thereafter, we began the long journey of researching the many tour ideas we had in mind, as well as creating the company, the image and the website.”
With the first tour taking place at the beginning of July 2012, ATA’s mission is to enhance the local community by promoting tourism via alternative, unexpected landmarks with an emphasis on real, modern city life. Instead of the standard Tour de Plaka kai Acropolis, ATA tours highlight unique architecture, gritty nightlife, street art, photography, creative workshops, literature & social movements. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. ATA’s vision extends beyond that, with grassroots initiatives that make the city better; from the creation of printed and electronic guides to cultural events and educational seminars. ATA seeks to ignite an amalgamation of the very people that shape the active stage of the city, getting scientists, local businesses, authors and everyone in between to unite. But, what really makes the ATA team and their approach so unique is their ability to experience the deep, albeit tormented, love that Athenians have for their city and their innate desire to share that pride with those around them. The team is comprised of architects, DJ’s, designers, dancers, photographers and eco-gurus who, in an effort to battle their own on/off relationship with Athens, dive deep into her charms and tricks to see her again with virgin eyes. Maria says,
“Most of our clients really manage to see Athens differently and are usually astonished by the energy this city has, which is not always visible if one only goes to the touristic places. In the same vein of ATA, the signature Goddess of the Hunt tour is a joyride of sights and experiences around Athens. True to the intrusive instinct of its identity, this tour is a swap of the usual and the typical, taking you where the action is, playing with paradoxes and extremes. Even the fact that the tour starts early in the morning flips the script and gives a unique chance to see the city in the office hour watershed. Laid out in the cement covered center of the Greek capital, the tour is a kickstart, day-long excursion uncovering some of the treasures that only the local inhabitants know. The varied points of reference piece together the shattered image of a city instantly iconic and vivid, but tempting and well hidden as well.
Point your arrow towards your preference and we’ll take you there. Enter small shops and meet the artsy tribes that gather here with easy moods and social consciousness. Buy a record from the indie music stores, try a second hand shop, have a Greek coffee in front of the peaceful setting that also rises as a playground for riots and unrest. The GOTH Tour serves as a juicy and modern diagonal passing from different fields and places. Street arts are represented by the large murals that are found along the way and specifically highlighted at Stigma lab – one of the few galleries of this sort – where a graffiti workshop is taking place for ATA members. Shopping? You can have that too. The stylish clothes on Solonos St. and the great handcrafted gifts in the shops around the merchant center are all a step away and ATA likes to walk! The hidden places in the arcades of the buildings downtown, the alleys with the scent of spices and the first-come-first-serve food spots that close after noon time, are only few of the surprises you will experience on the GOTH Tour.“
Whether you’re a local or a Greek American visiting Athens for the hundreth time, The Goddess of the Hunt Tour is ready to take you on a long and interesting walk through Athens every Wednesday morning in conjunction with the Alternative Tours of Athens. Follow ATA on Facebook and their website to keep up with their ever-expanding repetoire of tours both inside and out of Athens.
Tags: alternative athens, Alternative tours athens, ATA, ATAthens, athens sight seeing, creative workshops, graffiti tour, Greek tourism, gritty nightlife, Maria Petinaki, social movements, solonos street, Stigma Lab, Street Art, unique architecture