Meet Your Trip Director: Alex Costas

Hometown: San Jose, California

Current City: Athens, Greece

Fun fact about you that no one else knows:

I’m good at singing really fast lyrics (and making the words understood).  But now everyone knows.

What sparked your interest in living overseas?

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Typical blue dome and Greek flag

My family is originally from Greece, and we vacationed here from California most summers, but it wasn’t until I came here as a university student studying abroad that I got to see Greece independently from my family and in the winter (which, back then I admit, I didn’t even know winter existed in Greece).  It was awesome and that’s when I caught the livin’ abroad bug.

 

What is the best souvenir purchase you have ever made?

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Travel sketch by Alex

Art from local artists, whether it’s a painting, a ceramic bowl, an art object, or anything created by people.  To me it’s an ultimate expression of humanity– art is a dialogue between the author and the viewer, and to have a piece of art made by a local artist extends this dialogue into the future because, although you’ve removed the art from its original place, it still contains the energy, ideas, and narrative of the person or peoples who’ve made it as well as your memories of where you were when you found it; displaying it in your home and talking about it with guests shares this experience and the beauty created by another person for other people.

What is your favorite spot/time of day for people watching and why?

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Greek cafés coming to life

My favorite time of day for people watching in Athens is late afternoon/early evening – the sun isn’t so strong and Athenians begin to re-emerge into the streets and cafes after the afternoon heat has subsided.  The lighting is great, the people are out, and I can sit in a cafe and sketch the people I see around me.

A good picnic or dinner at a nice restaurant?

With good company, it doesn’t matter, it’ll always be great!

What is your top tip to be a traveler, not a tourist?

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Travel sketch by Alex

Things go wrong; be flexible, accommodating, and adventurous.  Tourists have a set agenda and must tick off little boxes of the things they said they would do or see.  This is rigid, and rigid things snap or break more easily than flexible things.  Knowing what you want to do or see but accepting that things may go wrong and accommodating this change through flexibility will end in a better more memorable trip making for a true traveler, not a tourist.  

What is one piece of clothing you never travel without?  

My hats. Or extra socks. Both are really important!

What is the biggest lesson traveling has taught you?

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Changing of the guards in Syntagma Square

That travelling, if done well in good spirits and with an open mind, will always inevitably teach you more about yourself than about the places and people you’ve visited.

How do you take your coffee? (Or are you more of a tea person?)

Coffee, black, strong, unsweetened, preferably served with good company.

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Travel sketch by Alex

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