Friday, July 3, 2020

Paradise is hidden in the north suburbs

We spent the day in one of the most charming neighbourhoods of Athens, with our guide Rodanthi Senduka, Creative Director of Red Design Consultants and a lover of Kifissia.

Paradise is hidden in the north suburbs

We spent the day in one of the most charming neighbourhoods of Athens, with our guide Rodanthi Senduka, Creative Director of Red Design Consultants and a lover of Kifissia.

Kifissia is one of the most picturesque ‘hubs’ in the northern suburbs of Athens. It is full of greenery, with more parks than the whole city, houses with memorable architecture and a history from ancient times to today. Access to Kifissia is easy, either by car or by public transport. My favourite is the train: Kifissia is the northern terminal station of an overground line that takes you all the way to the port of Piraeus. The train passes through the centre of Athens. The town has easy access to the airport via the Attica Road and it is also close to the National Road, which allows for quick weekend escapes. I chose Athens as a place to live and work in 1990, when I returned to Greece with a dream to create a branding agency based in Athens. Not only because I am Greek, but also because the climate is pleasant with at least six months of sunshine every year, and because of its easy access to most of Europe’s metropolitan cities. Kifissia felt like a natural choice for both home and office, since it combines quite a few interesting features. The first and most important is the proximity to nature while living in a small city with character.

Varsos, at the centre of Kifissia, is one of the most classic and famous dairies of Athens
Varsos, at the centre of Kifissia, is one of the most classic and famous dairies of Athens

Our guide Rodanthi Senduka, Creative Director of Red Design Consultants and a lover of Kifissia
Our guide Rodanthi Senduka, Creative Director of Red Design Consultants and a lover of Kifissia

Walking around Kifissia
Walking around Kifissia

Red Design Consultants front door
Red Design Consultants front door

A stop at the local street florist
A stop at the local street florist

My day usually starts with a brisk walk through the streets and some of the parks, such as the Alsos Sigrou, or the Alsos of Kifissia next to the train station, which are both beautiful for different reasons. Through these walks I have learned to appreciate Kifissia even more, since I’ve discovered some of the prettiest natural spots. Neoclassical buildings in Strofyli Street, the small houses in the Alonia area, the different studios of artists like the one of Antonia Lekatsa, a ceramist and friend and the studio of Sundayman, a musician of electronica. A likely stop, depending on the time I have, is Varsos, one of the oldest traditional dairies and confectioners in Kifissia and in Athens, where even now, being run by the third generation of owners, nothing has changed in the quality on offer. Having developed a friendship with Constantinos Varsos and his father, we chat a little before I take my Greek coffee under the morning Attica sun, along with a cream or cheese pie. It is a small breakfast to start a busy day, while sitting outside watching the city life unfold. After breakfast, I may choose some flowers from the street florist or some fresh nuts and dried fruit from my new favourite shop Carpo, then quickly walk back home and get to the office where I meet with the Red team and set priorities for the day. Our office is located near the centre of Kifissia, a convenient 15-minute walk from my home. It is a well balanced work space with a garden, a sunroom that serves as a meeting room and a loft studio.

Kifissia’s meeting place
Kifissia’s meeting place

Varsos, one of the oldest traditional dairies and confectioners in Kifissia and in Athens
Varsos, one of the oldest traditional dairies and confectioners in Kifissia and in Athens

Day starts with Greek coffee
Day starts with Greek coffee

Fresh nuts & dried fruit at Carpo
Fresh nuts & dried fruit at Carpo

Carpo is made for foodies
Carpo is made for foodies

Carpo. Nuts, chocolate & coffee.
Carpo. Nuts, chocolate & coffee.

Usually, I enjoy having lunch at the office, since it is an opportunity to catch up with my sister and business partner Gina and the Red team on various issues, in a more informal way. When I have lunch outside the office, my favourite spot is Different Beast, a cool, easy going place with a well balanced menu and a relaxed atmosphere. On the other hand, a quite different option is Salumaio, an Italian classic, also suitable for business meetings. If time and distance allow it, Kifissia is an ideal place for business meetings (even though there are always those who prefer the centre of Athens), and having an excellent hotel infrastructure, it is also the neighbourhood we recommend for the accommodation of our business associates from abroad. The lush greenery, mild temperatures, as well as the great shops, cafes and restaurants make Kifissia an ideal destination for everyone. There is even a suggestion by the municipal authority to have tourist buses come to Kifissia from Syntagma; an idea that, if implemented, will also bring new visitors to the northern suburbs of Athens, who will undoubtedly enjoy with this lesser known part of the city.

Different Beast for lunch
Different Beast for lunch

Unique interior lighting at Riche
Unique interior lighting at Riche

Tigers at the museum
Tigers at the museum

BUBA’s excellent Thai food
BUBA’s excellent Thai food

Interior view of BUBA
Interior view of BUBA

Interior view of BUBA
Interior view of BUBA

So when I have visitors, my daily walk around the area is enriched by two additional stops that I love dearly: one is the Goulandris Natural History Museum, one of Kifissia’s “gems” which opened its doors to the public in 1965, with botanical, zoological, geological and paleontological exhibits, as well as a delightful cafe restaurant, and the other is the Kouvoutsakis Art Institute, with a very interesting permanent collection and a variety of events. A cocktail along with some delicious Thai food at BUBA, is an ideal way to end the day. BUBA is a unique place created by one of the most imaginative and active Athenian entrepreneurs Constantinos Zouganelis: it is warm, with an adventurous bohemian atmosphere and eclectic taste. It is the perfect place to unwind, relax and socialise after an intense full day. Also highly recommended is the bar Escoba, an old classic bar for all “ages”. Its Rock ’n’ Roll style, along with a friendly atmosphere, makes it a classic local spot.

YoYo eco bench in the garden of Red Design Consultants, painted by Greek-Mexican artist Christine Grek
YoYo eco bench in the garden of Red Design Consultants, painted by Greek-Mexican artist Christine Grek

YOYO CONCEPT & YOYO BENCH

YO! IS A YOUTHFUL GREETING. YoYo! An ancient Greek and Chinese game. In ancient Chinese YoYo means to be yourself. In essence, YoYo expresses the joy of life. Rodanthi is the designer of the Yoyo bench, a multi-awarded, well-travelled eco bench, exhibited at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation and the INNO Design in Hong Kong, among others. The YoYo bench is made from recycled wood pulp and has been awarded with 5 international and national awards and distinctions. Besides the bench, she has designed and developed an extension line of YoYo objects like wine stands and a jewellery line. More on reddesignconsultants.com

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