Should you ever travel in Greece, there is one thing you definitely must do: taste the “frappé”. It is a mixture of instant water coffee and sugar shaken and served in long glasses accompanied by a straw. It is iced and a thick foam layer covers its top. Some people add milk in it and some others add a scoop of ice cream, dependent on one’s preferences. I have also tasted it with Bailey's and I got excited!
To cut a long story short, Frappé is a cultural issue in that country. Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young have written a very interesting book entitled “Frappé nation” where they analyze every aspect of the Frappé as a cultural item. They call it “The Modern Greek Elixir” and I totally agree with them. I have experienced the Frappé ritual several times as I visit Greece every summer. I have a lot of friends there who are fond of the Frappé and so am I. It is a long drink that helps Greeks to wake up in the morning, provides them with energy, thanks to caffeine, during the day at work, and relaxes them in the evening, at a café with fellows. Many of them, who travel abroad for a long stay, carry in their luggage the Frappé equipment because they can’t stand missing it.
According to the writers of the “Frappé nation”, Frappé should be considered as the Greek coffee instead of the small hot coffee that has come from eastern countries and is also known as Turkish. In my opinion, it is a reasonable point of view and Greeks should take it seriously into account. Moreover, I have read a thought expressed by a Greek film actor in that book that attracted my attention. He says that ancient Greeks would have been perfect Frappé drinkers had it arrived in their country earlier than it finally did. They had plenty of free time and lots of issues to discuss, so Frappé was ideal for their daily life as it reinforces brain activation and is a perfect drink within a brain storming company!
Frappé is a Greek trademark that reflects the easy going way of living of this country, a way that dates back Greek ancestry, as Constantinopoulos and Young mention appositely, where “the thirst for conversation began” among the “pioneers of the culture of dialogue”.
A nice cold beer, a dish of Greek delicacies, the Parthenon above, the Ancient Agora below, crowds strolling by, lazy dogs and cats sleeping under the sun waiting for a treat, maybe a frappe afterwards. Dioscuri, a traditional outdoor café on the street that leads to the Acropolis has them all, and at minimal cost.
Dioscuron 13 Street, Plaka, Athens tel: 210 3219607
Metro: Monastiraki Station
Decorated with a fully wooden interior and resembling the original Cotton Club, this wonderful and cosy bistro awaits you from early in the morning for coffee until late at night. It's food menu is also exquisite. Every night there’s live music.
3 Kolokotroni Street (shopping arcade) opposite the Old Parliament, next to Habitat; nearest metro station: Syntagma. tel: 210 331 4915
Who says Athenians only go out to see and be seen? This little cafe/bar is a place to find young media types dressed down, listening to The Jam, The Kinks & the Cure, and putting back a few too many Belgian beers. Journalists and web designers abound.
Karytsi 10, just off Stadiou, near Panepistimio or Syntagma metro. Opposite the Mousouri theatre
Old style taverna in the once run down but newly trendy area of Exarchia. Don't expect sophistication, this is simple traditional Greek food chosen by the time-honoured method of pointing at it behind the counter.
Do expect however, a complete cross section of Greek society - from business men in suits to students to society kids from nearby Kolonaki - wonderful food, and a sense of the "real" Athens. A word of warning though, make sure you visit the toilet before you go as they too are of an authentic Greek nature.
Expect to pay no more than 10 euro a head for salad, main course and a beer.
Nearest metro: Panepistimio
For many years the Cafeneion (cafe) was the exclusive preserve of men. Now that is no longer the case, Athens has become cafe society writ large. If you want to see and be seen – and down some of the finest cappuccinos outside Rome - Da Capo Cafe in the heart of classy Kolonaki Square is the place to head. Ydria, behind the Tower of the Winds in Plaka, offers fine coffees, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres under a canopy of mulberry trees and is one of my favourites.
Da Capo Cafe, Tsakalof 1, Kolonaki; Tel: 210 360 2497; Nearest metro: Syntagma; Open: 7am-12am Mon-Sat, 8.30am-12am Sun
Tired of those endless hours of sunbathing? If you are in the mood for reading and have run out of books look for something that suits your taste in the multi-storied Eleftheroudakis book store. English literature is on the mezzanine, most popular titles are displayed on the ground floor. And if you feel like leafing through glossy magazines without paying a cent you may do so in their wonderful sixth floor cafe over big cups of coffee and fresh croissants.
Panepistimiou street, Athens
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