I spent my final night in Athens (for the TBEX travel bloggers conference) completely and utterly in awe and not wanting to go home the next day. The evening began with a special street party for all TBEXers starting at the Monastiraki Metro Stop and walking up Pandrossou Street.
The street party was unbelievably alive and buzzing. Travel bloggers, travel industry folk and locals came together to sample free snacks, drink shots of Ouzo, listen to live music and partake in unique cultural experiences.
Stores in the Monastiraki area flaunted their wares to us travel lovers and writers – this was an incredible, first-hand cultural experience unlike any other. Locally-made products on offer included olive oil products and soaps, wooden kitchen equipment, food stuffs, locally-made scarves and other fascinating trinkets.
Side note: Yes they are pouring Ouzo out of a plastic bottle. And yes, that’s my face after Ouzo…good for cleansing the pipes as they say!
While walking in the area we also got to see some craft workshops by local artists. Take for instance this potter I came across who was creating a clay pot on the side of the street. The rawness and richness of the street party and the Greek culture was no doubt tangible on the evening. It made you just want to get your hands dirty and create something to be proud of!
We also stumbled upon some back alleys and hidden architectural gems whilst on foot.
After the street party we made our way away from the buzzing groups of people and to a tavern filled with Taiwanese and Brazilian tourists. This was a very entertaining experience indeed. Greek dancers in traditional outfits pulled our group of around ten bloggers up onto the stage. Each of us took turns dancing with one of the performers. We also danced in a circle holding hands in the Zorba dancing manner. This was done to lively music until the entire stage was packed with people and we couldn’t move anymore (except for shuffling our feet about!).
Next we sampled delicious local food as a starter. Greek salad (of course!), feta cheese, dolmades, corn, breads and tzatziki. Yum. Thereafter we were served a main dish and I selected the lamb chop which was absolutely delicious. At the same time dancers were entertaining us with their twists and turns and fascinating choreography.
Syrtaki dancing, is not really traditional per say, but it is very popular and has its origins in the 1964 film, Zorba the Greek. In fact, it was choreographed by Giorgos Provias for the movie specifically. Syrtaki is a combination of slow and fast dancing called hasapiko. Syrtaki has also become popularised and well-known as the ‘Dance of Zorba’, ‘Zorba’s Dance’ or merely, Zorba. Syrtaki is danced in a line or circle formation and usually people have their hands on the shoulders of the person next to them.
Some of the bloggers I met during the evening:
All in all, the final TBEX Athens evening was fantastic. The street party in Monastiraki combined with the delicious traditional Greek dinner and Syrtaki and Zorba dancing made for a very special ending to a fantastic, informative travel bloggers conference.