Marissa Tejada Freelance Journalist and Writer answers in 10 questions.
1.What a girl like you is doing to Greece anyway? Tell us more about you!
I came to Athens, like many expat women, for love. I married a Greek I had met in the U.S. and we eventually moved to Athens together. Although that didn’t work out, I was building a life that I loved and six years later – I am still here! Greece is a very inspirational place for me especially for my work as a writer. After all, living here inspired me to write my first novel which was a big dream of mine. Also, I’ve got a great network and it feels like home in many ways. Greece has truly touched my life and it will always be special to me.
2. ''Chasing Athens''. How did you come up with that concept?
Chasing Athens is a romantic comedy/women’s fiction novel that is about the importance of place in one’s life. Athens, I believe, is a character in my book playing a big role in the drama that surrounds the main character, Ava, who is an American expat in Greece. It has been described as a bit of Under the Tuscan Sun meets Eat, Pray, Love meets Sex and the City. It’s about a woman finding herself abroad as copes with an unexpected break up as well as family issues. It’s a story that involves funny cultural moments and realizations that one makes when living out of their comfort zone. I also knew I wanted Athens in the title because Athens was very special in influencing and inspiring me to write my first novel . The story was in my heart and writing a novel to play that story out just came to me. I’m really proud that it has been getting great reviews and even made a few Amazon Best Seller Ranked lists. Another really neat outcome is that I have found lots of male fans – pretty neat for a romantic comedy writer. I think many of the themes are universal and the novel especially touches those who love travel and those who understand the trials and joys of living abroad.
3. Athens or New York? i know we cant compare them, but really now... in your heart, what city captures you the most?
I love both. Choosing to live in one city or the other really does offer you two different lives. Looking back, it was wonderful to grow up in New York. I think it is the best city in the world for what it offers. I’ve also lived in Florida, Washington State, San Francisco, London and other cities since then so I think home is where your heart is and what you want and value at that time in your life. I suppose Athens is my home now at this time in my life because of the obvious reason that it is my choice to stay here and I
love it! However, a part of my heart is always back in the States because of how I grew up, my friends and family and all those the USA things that will always be familiar to me. That’s just part of life being an expat.
4.You are a food writer, so, what restaurants you would suggest in a friend of yours that comes to Athens for the first time?
I’m a regular at Mana’s Kouzina-Kouzina in Plateia Agia Irini. Great dishes hailing from all over Greece, supporting Greek suppliers and a great atmosphere, prices and location. I’ll head down the street on Aiolou to Lukamades for some of their special creations to get my sweet fix. I love Varoulko for the gourmet side of Mediterranean cuisine. I also like Nice n Easy in Kolonaki. I was introduced the one in Mykonos while I was doing a restaurant review there and really liked the concept.
5.Your favorite Greek destination?
I really love the Greek islands. Each one has its own character and beauty. If I can point out a few I really find special I’d say Ithaca, Hydra and Serifos. Santorini is simply unique and so very special. There are so many more to go to. Greece is so blessed to have such amazing island destinations. I can say I am a total beach snob because I am used to the perfectness of Greece’s beaches.
6. Travel Bloggers Greece. Let us learn more about this!
Besides wearing journalist, writer and author hats also wear a travel blogging hat. I publish my own travel blog My Greece, My Travels which I started to supplement my professional travel writing experiences and as an outlet of insights as I traveled and got to know Greece. I got together with fellow Greece-based travel blogger, Elena Sergeeva of Passion for Greece, to create the first network of travel bloggers of its kind called Travel Bloggers Greece. We launched at the beginning of 2015 and we are a
growing group of enthusiastic group of bloggers who cover Greece as a destination whether through food, travel, culture. We share ideas, help promote authentic travel and work with destinations in Greece to blog about new experiences that our readers would love. We aim to educate the market and connect travel professionals in Greece with great travel bloggers who love writing about Greece.
7.The things you really dislike in this country, let's be honest now. If there was some things you would like to change...?
One big problem I had were the taxi drivers. They were always trying to cheat me, they were rude and well, I just had some terrible experiences. Since the TaxiBeat app came out, my life has improved tremendously. I love taking taxis in Athens!So with that “problem” solved how about tackling that bureaucracy? Maybe a bigger metro system
(although I love how it’s so clean)? Wouldn’t it be nice to have less traffic and to ride be able to ride bicycles safely around the city?
8.Do you think Greece is hostile to immigrants? Are we racists after all?
Let’s face it. Racism is everywhere around the world and in so many forms – from little towns to big cities. So, it is here too. I have to admit that I am terribly saddened that there is a controversially racist group in Greece. I think in time, like other countries have experienced, immigrants and people of color will simply be more accepted. It takes time, a few generations, perhaps. I have to say that at the same time I’ve met some very open minded Greeks. It all balances out.
9.''Financial crisis''. Are you optimist, do you see the light in the end of the tunnel?’
I believe in every crisis there is opportunity to be found. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. You are missing out on life if you see it any other way!
10.Your next goals will be.......?
Professionally speaking, I am working on my second novel which is a continuation of Chasing Athens in some form. I’m always working on all of my jobs from freelancing, travel and writing projects. When it comes to life – just enjoying it and seeing what adventures comes next!