Lately people have been asking me what gifts they should bring back for their friends and relatives to show that they have been somewhere, and even for themselves. Athens is a shopper's paradise and looking for the perfect present can be as much fun as going to the Acropolis, and some people would say even more. But if you are the type who needs help making decisions then print out this page and take it with you. When it is time to shop you will be totally prepared and actually I imagine it would be fun going around Athens looking for these things as if you are on a scavanger hunt. For gifts to bring for friends, relatives or your favorite travel agent or taxi driver in Greece see below.
Angelos the Ouzo King of the Plaka has more varieties of ouzo than probably any shop in Athens. If you want to bring some ouzo home and you don't want to be limited by the meager selection at the airport then visit his shop at 120 Adrianou Street (or somewhere near there) just up the street from Byzantino Jewelry. He also sells all sorts of traditional items like herbs, olive oil, vingear, and a variety of Greek wines. Also he is quite proud of the different raki, tsikoudia, souma and other moonshine-type regional drinks which are really ouzo without the anise. So if you want to bring back something like ouzo for someone and you know they don't like licorice you can sample whatever Angelo has and hopefully not get so drunk that you can't decide and have to come back the next day and start over again. See Angelos the Ouzo King 's website
Kefalotiri from Naxos and other Cheeses. Available at the Geniko Emborio Eklekton Proionton Naxos in Psiri.(this is what I brought home last trip and it lasted for a year.) The store is down from Platia Iroon (Iroon Square) on Agia Theklas Street just off Kariaskakis street and the owner's name is Kostas, or it was. Kostas has gone away and nobody seems to know where. But no matter. Anyone there can sell you a wheel of cheese. Just ask for the freshest. There are also cheese shops in the agora where you can buy feta from every part of Greece, not to mention, mizithra, kefalotiri, kasseri, and lots of other local varieties. Try the cheese from Vatousa or Xidera in Lesvos, which you can also get at the Lesvos shop on Athinas street right next to the Hotel Attalos which sells all sorts of traditional foods from Lesvos.
Have fun finding this stuff. Some of the shops have promised to give a 15% discount to anyone who comes from my website so tell them you found them in my Athens Survival Guide or print this out and show them. Even the ones that don't even know they are on this page might give you a discount if you ask. Even if they don't, if enough people ask they will probably give me one next time I go in. (Last time
I went to the CD store I told them who I was and they let me pick out 10 CD's for free!) So if you like my Athens Guide you can show your appreciation by asking these shops for a discount. What a great deal!
Gifts to Bring TO Greece
So what if you have relatives, or have been working with a Greek travel agent for so long they have become like family and want to bring them something to show how much you appreciate them? What I do is find things they can't get in Greece. These are becoming increasingly rare because of the global marketplace that enables you to find just about anything in a place where peanut-butter and ketchup used to be as valuable as gold. T-shirts and local products from your town are good gifts. If you live in the Pacific-Northwest one of those packages of smoked salmon is a good choice though by the time you have flown 13 hours and presented it to them, and then it sits on their desk until quitting time it probably won't be any good for anyone except maybe the neigborhood cat. If you are working with Uli at Dolphin-Hellas she loves beer-she's German, so if you have a microbrewery in your town and you don't mind bringing a couple bottles that is a good gift. I live in a town where every other person is in a band or is a solo artist and has a CD and for awhile this is what I was brnging as gifts. Now my Greek friends are pretty hip to the North Carolina music scene and when local groups like Squirrel Nut Zippers and Ben Folds made the big time they brag that they'd heard of them years before. You can also bring local canned or packaged foods that may not be found outside of your area. In Raleigh-Durham airport they sell cans of boiled possum and road kill but this may be tongue in cheek and maybe the person you buy it for won't get it. If you don't mind spending a little money a bottle of Don Eduardo or Tres Generationes 100% Agave Anejo Tequila will be very appreciated since it is more like a fine Scotch than the tequila they may be familiar with which is pretty much Cuervo at every liquor store in Greece. Any other alcohol is easily available in Athens and even on the flight going over except real Southern Moonshine if you can find any. Chocolates and stuff like that it goes without saying are appreciated gifts.
Honestly? Go to Greece giftless, take a photo of yourself with your travel agent, taxi driver, relative or friend and when you get home send them a nice photo suitable for framing with a note of thanks. That will be appreciated more than anything. For family members in Greece just stop at a zacharoplasteion on your way to their home and buy some pastries or baklava and they will be just as happy as they would be with something you lugged all the way from another continent.