My love for two cities The Sophisticato
Kathy Priovolos is a Greek American girl who left her fast-paced 9 to 5 job in the fashion industry of New York to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time blogger based in Athens. She is one half of The Sophisticato– where she and her blogger friend Rebecca share personal stories along with their favourite things when it comes to fashion, travelling, beauty, and much more.
Kathy tells us in her own words about growing up in New York and what made her pack her bags and head to Athens- as well as sharing a Lust List of favourite places in her two most loved cities in the world.
By Kathy Priovolos
I was born and raised in New York. My father is Greek, born in a small village about an hour southwest of Ioannina in the Epirus region of Greece. He left Greece at a very young age and immigrated to New York City due to the destruction of World War II in the villages of Northern Greece. This is where he eventually met my mother, an American woman born a mix of Irish and German descent-so I am a proverbial mut- and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why you may ask?
Well, there are so many reasons but we will start with the most important. I have been lucky enough to enjoy the best of both worlds- the one where my Greek culture lives and breathes, and the world where I am also an American. Living in the US provides a ton of opportunities for education and a career that really allows you to succeed in the real world. I can celebrate being a part of both places, both cities. New York is my home but Greece is in my blood and it is where my roots are from.
My parents both understood the importance of preserving our Greek heritage while living full time in New York. I came from a family of four girls and we all went to Greek school, attended Greek Orthodox church services and we participated in Greek related events in our communities. Fast-forward to the present-day and about a year ago I decided to make a huge life change for myself. I had worked for close to 20 years in the Retail and Fashion industry in NYC and I was on the verge of burnout. In NYC you are legitimately married to your career- friends, family, and personal life are last on the list at best.
When I was younger and climbing the corporate ladder I didn’t mind this as much but as I got a little older I kept thinking to myself that there has got to be a better way- there has to be something more to life than sleep, work, sleep, work, repeat. I longed for the ease of living in Greece, the slower-paced lifestyle and the Greek mentality of a less stressed version of living. I also made a decision that I no longer wanted to trade hours of my life for US dollars.
Although I loved my time in the fast-paced fashion industry and all that I had learned along the way, I had come to a point in my life where I wanted to hit the pause button and get back to me, get back to centre- to my happy place- Athens, Greece.
It was in September of 2015 that I launched The Sophisticato -my lifestyle blog- which was basically the brainchild of my desire to live life on my own terms, while making a modest living, doing what I actually enjoy- writing. I left NY in March of this year, moved almost halfway around the world and I couldn’t be happier. I love New York and I miss it every day but the good thing about New York is that it’s not going anywhere and it’s just a quick 11-hour flight whenever I can swing it.
The blog has opened up doors to many new and exciting opportunities and I look forward to what the future has in store. Things are not easy here in Athens but I truly believe if you have the will to succeed, a positive mindset, and you are open to change- you can make it just about anywhere and this girl from New York is ready for the challenge.
♥ NEW YORK CITY→
Brunch-I absolutely LOVE anywhere downtown NYC for brunch but my go-to has always been and always will be Sadelle’s on West Broadway in the heart of Soho. They make their own bagels on-site, which they are super famous for and the food is amazing. For boozy brunches, on a Sunday I head to Bagatelle-it’s an NYC brunch party mainstay.
Lunch- Avra Greek Estiatorio in Midtown is my favourite for a power lunch. Whether you are having a business meeting or just meeting with a work colleague or friend Avra has an amazing Greek-inspired menu with just the right amount of creative and modern flair. Outdoor seating in the spring and summer make it a great place to see and be seen.
Fine dining–Daniel on the Upper Eastside. This is one of the top fine dining restaurants in NYC and for good reason! While prices are steep and tables are hard to come by, if you feel like indulging for the evening this is the place to do it.
For a cocktail/wine- Bemelmans at The Carlyle Hotel Upper East Side. Think quintessential New York- Frank Sinatra tunes playing in the background, a grand piano and live jazz ensembles depending on the day of the week, all with white-glove, 5-star service. It’s my favourite spot to sip cocktails and meet interesting people.
Places to shop- Hands down The Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus NJ. This mall truly has it all-from huge chain department stores, to boutiques and your mainstays like Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch it is my go-to whenever I make a trip back to New York. The best part? No tax on clothing!
Boutiques/stores– Intermix, Club Monaco, Victoria’s Secret, and Nordstrom’s. I definitely miss my shopping go to’s from the States!
To grab a coffee- I love going for coffee in the Greek neighbourhoods in Astoria. My top two: Avenue Café and Grand Café. Both have tons of outdoor seating where you can enjoy a Frappe, a Freddo Cappuccino or a real Greek coffee if that is what you like. All owned by Greek-Americans these are the closest you can get to a Greek café while in the US.
People watching– Downtown Cipriani’s. Super cozy and super fabulous, Downtown Chips as it is known in NY is a mainstay for ppl watching on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Stroll in the park– Central Park in Manhattan, specifically the area surrounding The Loeb Boathouse Restaurant. I love watching everyone in the small rowboats on the lake and I love lunching at The Boathouse after walking around the park.
Fave museum– The Guggenheim Museum Upper East Side. This is one of NYC’s most revered institutions.
Close weekend getaway– The Hudson Valley- specifically Warwick NY. Located just an hour drive north of NYC, this is my hometown and I absolutely love going there as often as I can. In the fall you can go apple and pumpkin picking, go horseback riding, and dine at amazing restaurants. It’s got a small-town charm that is true all it’s own.
Fave thing to do in NYC– to go out as much as possible! Restaurants, clubs, wine bars- there is just always so much going on.
Never leave NYC without– listening to The Gypsy Kings play live at Beautique NYC- a posh restaurant with an interior designed with a nod to Coco Chanel’s super chic and classic style. You will never forget it!
♥ ATHENS →
Brunch– Rakkan in Kifissia serves up a Japanese style Sunday brunch that is superb. It’s different but worth a try.
Lunch– Tzitzikas-Mermigkas in Syntagma. This is a happening spot, always busy and you always know that you will get great food and affordable prices. It’s always packed and most of the time there is a wait so be prepared to wait.
Fine dining- Kuzina Restaurant in Thissio, at the foot of the Acropolis. Renowned chef Aris Tsanaklidis serves up heaven on earth at Kuzina. The menu is Greek with modern flair and such creative combinations that you don’t even know where to begin. The Rooftop Terrace is the place to dine with stunning views of The Acropolis at night.
Casual Dining- The Sowl also in Thissio, is a gorgeous space that is reminiscent of a Hacienda in Spain. The Sowl serves up updated Mexican in an open and airy space and their crafted cocktails are out of this world.
For a cocktail/wine- The Galaxy Bar at The Hilton Athens. With sweeping views of the city and a beautiful setting, I love having a summer cocktail outside on the roof deck.
Places to shop- The Mall at Marousi-I am partial to this mall because it is only 10 minutes away from my house so there is the convenience factor but The Mall is pretty large and it has a great variety of national and international chain stores as well as smaller boutiques.
Boutiques/stores- Glow Greece-this is one of my favourite boutiques. It is located in Karpathos, which is an island that is pretty far away from the mainland but I shop directly from the shop’s FB page and she sends me whatever I find. Here in Athens, my favourite store is Portretexclusive Boutique in the suburb of Xalandri.
To Grab a coffee– Da Capo in Kolonaki Square.
People watching- Da Capo in Kolonaki-this place is so centrally located it does double duty. Right off the main square/plateia of Kolonaki, Da Capo is a self-serve smallish café that is the place to be for coffee and to people watch all at the same time.
Stroll in the park– I haven’t made it here just yet but The Stavros Niarchos Park is definitely on my Lust List for Athens- it looks amazing and I need to get there sooner than later.
Fave museum- The Acropolis Museum – the Parthenon Gallery is my favourite exhibit.
Close weekend getaway- Loutraki as it’s only about a 35-minute drive from where I live in the northern suburbs of Athens and it’s got a sprawling Casino/Hotel Complex that I love and beaches galore. For a quick weekend getaway, it’s perfect.
Fave thing to do in Athens -is to go out, as you can see this is my most loved thing to do in both cities!
Never leave Athens without– going to the bouzoukia. For those of you who don’t know these are the live Greek music nightclubs that are headlined by various famous Greek singers. They open at midnight and close whenever the kefi dies down, which is usually not until 6-7am. For those of you who already know- I don’t have to explain the rest.