Vendor City Guide: Athens

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”

Shedia vendor Michael (Credit: Shedia)

My favourite area

Around the Acropolis we can see the museum of the Acropolis and 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 café

A small one in Omonoia square, named Gianniotiko. It is the best place to eat/drink for two reasons: it has the best coffee and the best souvlaki in Athens (souvlaki is one of the most traditional dishes of Greece) and it is always open, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is never closed and 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 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.

Photo by Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash

To escape city life

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

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.

Best time to visit

From March to September, because the weather is wonderful, you can be out in the streets all day, go to so many places and do a lot of beautiful things.

Originally published by The Big Issue (UK)

Read more coverage of #VendorWeek 2019 here.