Our first full day in Greece - jet-lagged, hot, and exhausted - we opted for a private food tour in Athens. In addition to the aforementioned conditions, I should note that the only thing I like less than writing reviews (I made an account for this) is taking guided tours. Then, I met Yannis Ninos.
Yannis is a chef and food/culture enthusiast, and I'll start with the obvious. The tour itself was engaging on every level - he showed us the cultural centers, art, and markets of the city between stops on our caloric scavenger hunt. The food was perfect - everything from quiet, intimate coffee shops and fresh fruit to punch-you-in-the-palate cured meats and cheeses. You'll get the Greek classics and more - if you like to eat (a lot), you won't be disappointed in the variety or quality of the foods and establishments explored. I'd describe further, but a lot of the fun was being surprised along the way.
But, for us, Yannis made the tour. He took us through Athens in the way that someone welcomes you into their home. He was welcoming and curious, and genuinely interested in getting to know us, while also ensuring the tour aligned with our preferences. He wove in and out of conversation to point out interesting parts of the city, his favorite local graffiti, and other small points that we never would have picked up on. He is the type of person you want to get a coffee with (which luckily, we did), and his knowledge of and care for Athens and Greece will shine through regardless of the stops along the way. He is the sort of person that disarms you, makes you feel like a friend, and allows you to truly engage with and enjoy your surroundings. Honestly, he could have taken us to MacDonald's and Starbucks, and I still would have been thankful for the time we spent with him. Yannis will make your trip better.
We were sad to say goodbye, and maybe a little too aggressively got him to promise he'll take a trip of his own on the U.S. east coast and let us return the favor. We can only hope it works out.