Hidden Restaurant in Athens

I haven’t gone travelling to try KFC in 15 different countries; I’m doing this because I want to see the non touristy areas and experience the ‘real’ country, meet real people and not only see what the tourist board wants you to see…

Athens is a strange one: Porn EVERYWHERE you look, con artists constantly at work and touts trying to make as much money as possible (which to be fair is to be expected in capital cities)

So one night I decided to head in a general direction and just keep going. I was either going to see something cool or get lost, spending hours trying to find my way back…

I’d been walking for 2 miles and was starting to get hungry, only this wasn’t the tourist area anymore so there were no restaurants. I accepted my fate and continued to walk until I saw an A frame in front of me advertising in English that there was a restaurant nearby selling Greek food.

I tentatively walked through what looked like part of a shopping centre that had been closed down and around the corner was an empty restaurant. It didn’t look like it belonged there. It was very humble and unsurprisingly dead considering its location. I walked in to find the owner by himself watching TV. He shot up and smiled. I asked if he was still serving and he said in very broken English that he was. He had no menu so I simply said yes to the first dish he said he did, which was ‘traditional Greek meatballs and potatoes’.

Turns out ‘potatoes’ was chips. I was kind of hoping for mash potatoes but you can’t win them all. The food was good though! It took over half an hour to cook mind (he made it all from scratch) and he clearly made an effort, giving me extra side plates of random Greekness. The only negative being some guy who looked much better groomed than me asking for food using his hands as a gesture, and when I said no multiple times he reached for my plate anyway to take a meatball. I literally had to slap his hand like a naughty toddler to stop him from taking my food…

Ironically I couldn’t eat it all because I was still ill, but the fact that this guy didn’t look like he was struggling at all (he was dressed in jeans and a nice shirt, and had his hair slicked back), he was just trying to get something for free. You get nothing in this life for free mate, you can fuck the fuck off! If he seemed desperate and/or homeless it would have been a different story, but not for some geezer who probably had more money than me!

When I paid I thanked the guy and asked his name. “Valios.” was the reply, then he told me a story about it being a Christian name having something to do with one of the days of the week. I didn’t question this at all and blindly accepted it as fact. Finally I took a picture of Valios at his bar before heading off for the rest of my evening.

People like Valios is one of the reasons I travel. No common language, but an honest man trying to make a living just like the rest of us. We communicated through multiple broken languages and hand gestures, yet it was still fun. Much more fun than some droning conversations you can have in your own language. I hope I meet more people like him throughout the rest of my Europe trip.

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