Interview with the journalist and travel editor of AEGEAN Airlines BLUΕ magazine, Mr. Fotis Vallatos:
“Attica’s light is as if you constantly have a film crew with the world’s best lighting technicians above your head”
1. Mr. Vallatos, you have travelled to over 60 countries around the world. However, you always return to your base, Attica. Which are the experiences that make you love this place?
My base, my home is in the Historical Centre of Athens, a neighbourhood that in the last few years has evolved into the main touristic hub of the city, still maintaining however its typical commercial activity to some degree (the streets with the button shops are still here, the street with the packaging items, the streets with the silver- and goldsmithing artisans, the street with the doorknob shops et al). This osmosis attaches a very interesting exoticism to the area, which makes us, its few remaining residents, look like tourists in our city (and this is a good thing).
2. These past few years, Athens and the entire Attica region have evolved into popular short break destinations. Which issues of Blue magazine can travellers turn to, in order to find more information about Attica? Which aspects of Attica does the magazine mainly focus on?
In every issue of Blue magazine there are always more than one articles about Athens and Attica in general. There is always a travel guide that I personally edit. It mainly focuses on Athens, specifically featuring restaurants (new arrivals), also including thematic guides (Attica Riviera) and guides for specific neighbourhoods (Pagrati, Historical Centre etc), seasoned with a multitude of cultural pieces about Attica. For example, the cover of the current issue features Daphnis Kokkinos, the new director of the Hellenic Dance Company, and the seventeen first-year students who were photographed at the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio; an interview of the legendary American photographer Robert Α. McCabe who photographed Greece in the ‘50s (many of his photos depict several locations around Attica); a guide on hiking routes one may follow downtown Athens; a piece on the Museum of Cycladic Art exhibition “Antiquarianism and Philhellenism: The Thanassis and Marina Martinos Collection”; a piece on the world-renowned Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili who performed at the Roman Agora in July 2020.
3. What is the first thing that the word “Attica” brings to mind?
Attica’s light. It is as if you constantly have a film crew with the world’s best lighting technicians above your head.
4. Starting from Athens International Airport, one may reach the Saronic islands in no time. What is your opinion on island hopping around Attica’s islands and which possibilities does Attica offer in this regard?
Athens is a unique hub for island hopping around stunning islands, such as Aegina, Agistri, Poros, Spetses and Hydra, all of which are ideal destinations for day-trips (or even multi-day holidays). This is why we in Blue magazine regularly issue guides on some of these islands, e.g. Hydra and Aegina (with respective covers) and will continue to do so.
5. Being a Greek-cuisine enthusiast, which traditional product of Attica would you like to be served during a flight?
Aegina pistachios, a world-class product; Savatiano wine from Mesogeia, once an unappreciated variety that has lately demonstrated its dynamics via the new-generation winemakers and their new practices (e.g. minimal, natural intervention); the lemons from Galatas with their crisp acidity that can take the flavour of certain dishes to a whole new level; the honey from Kythera, in my opinion one of the best in Greece, with a complex bouquet and fragrant flavour.
6. What is your opinion on the Region of Attica’s slogan “Attica – Greece in a Snapshot”?
Attica is an outline of the Greek landscape, thus the slogan is to the point.
7. What are the three things you would recommend a foreign visitor should do during their stay in Attica?
It depends on the season they will choose to come to Attica and the number of days available, but overall I think that an ideal triad would be to stroll around the Historical Centre of Athens, visit the remains of Greek classical antiquity and the Acropolis Museum and travel to Hydra. Also, few foreign visitors (and even Greeks) know that Attica is an exceptional destination for those who love mountains; a vast mountain expanse where pines and century-old olive trees co-exist with ancient stones: Parnitha Penteli, Hymettus, as well as the mountains of West Attica such as Cithaeron, Pateras and Geraneia, or the smaller mountains and hills of Attica such as the lesser known Mount Egaleo, Mount Paneio in Mesogeia or Attic Olympus hill north of Anavyssos.
Photo: Dionysis Kouris