DIMITRIOS CHRONOPOULOS & EFI KATOPI

DIMITRIOS CHRONOPOULOS & EFI KATOPI

Mon, 12/23/2019 - 09:38

Greek ambassador on collecting art, riding the Athens metro and why Bulgarians and Greeks are so similar

Dimitrios Chronopoulos and Efi Katopi.jpg

If there is a single trick to open up people's hearts and minds for Greece and things Greek it is Portokalopita, the deliciously different Greek pastry which combines in almost neoclassical proportions shredded phyllo with orange and cinnamon syrup to keep it beautifully moist. Dimitrios Chronopoulos, the new Greek ambassador in Sofia, must have known this, and his wife, Efi, is ready with her excellent Portokalopita the moment we sit down for a sip of Greek coffee at the comely Greek Residence in Central Sofia. Expectedly, and understandably, we feel confident to get on first-name-terms within a few minutes.

Dimitrios: For a short time I was lawyer in Athens, but then I joined the diplomatic service, back in in 1984. Since then I have been enjoying a profession full of challenges and experiences.

Efi: I have worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an administrative staff member since 1993. In addition to the ministry's services in Athens, I have also served abroad, at Greek embassies, consulates and at the Permanent Representation of Greece to the EU.

Apart from diplomacy, how do you spend your time? Do you have any hobbies?

Dimitrios: Reading books on history. Gardening and mountain climbing are my hobbies. Collecting art, especially paintings, gives me particular pleasure. Strolling through the streets in the various neighbourhoods of Sofia and visiting open-air markets satisfies my curiosity and helps me learn the social behaviour of the average Bulgarian citizen. I know Bulgaria as a diplomat through numbers and politics, but I am interested to know the human soul of the country and the way of thinking and acting of my neighbours.

Efi: I love reading, traveling and learning foreign languages. I try to spend a lot of time with my family, cook their favourite food or play board games with my children.DIMITRIOS CHRONOPOULOS & EFI KATOPI

What expectations do you have from your posting in Bulgaria?

Dimitrios: I would like to learn everything about the country, make friends and contribute to further promoting cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria. Today Greece and Bulgaria are going through a mature phase of their relations, free of the historical burdens and stereotypes of the past. Only one problem exists in our bilateral relations and it is is how to further promote these relations in all fields, and strengthen the friendship between the two peoples.

Bulgaria is a beautiful country with an attractive landscape similar to that of Greece. Mountains, plains, seaside and the Danube invite me to explore them. The coast in the Black Sea will be my first destination next spring. I visited already the Rila Monastery. Bansko and Borovets will follow. I am very interested to visit also Vidin, Ruse, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Veliko Tarnovo and Kardzhali. However, my first next destination will be Plovdiv, European Capital of Culture 2019.

Efi: I try to get to know every country I serve in as much as I can. So in Bulgaria, too, I intend to travel all over, visit monuments and places that will help me to get to know the history and the culture, and also make new friends.

Imagine you had a Bulgarian friend visit you in Greece. What three things would you recommend them to do?

Dimitrios: First, I would ask them to feel at home and enjoy Greek hospitality and food. Second, in Athens I would recommend to visit the new Acropolis Museum, a masterpiece, and the new Basil & Elise Goulandris Museum of Modern Art. Third, I would suggest visiting sites in the mainland of Greece such as the monasteries at Meteora, Prespa Lake and the environments in the region of Western Macedonia and the unique beauty of Peloponnese in the south, the region of my family's origin.

Efi: In summer, I would encourage them to alternate their vacation between mountain and sea. Ideally, they should enjoy the sea and the tranquility of a small island with fresh seafood at the small fish taverns by the port, accompanied by ouzo , or "ouzaki" as we fondly call it. But they should also spend a few days in the mountains, like in one of the small villages in the Pindos mountain range. In winter, I would suggest visiting Delphi and spending a few days in cosmopolitan Arachova or in Metsovo, a beautiful mountain village in Epirus, enjoying local delicacies. Also, for younger (and not only) friends, the nightlife is intense. A variety of entertainment is available at night, like theatres, restaurants, nightclubs.

And what three things will you advise them to be careful about?

Dimitrios: I would suggest to avoid trying to behave as a local and act as a Bulgarian. They will soon understand how similar we are in our Balkan identity. I would also recommend them to try visiting destinations and tourist sites off the beaten track, avoiding overcrowded tourist destinations like the islands during summer time.

Efi: I agree with my husband. If I had to give visiting Bulgarians a more practical piece of advice, it would be in Athens travel by public transport, as distances are long and traffic is high. I would recommend taking the metro. Some of the central metro stations show excavations which were revealed during the construction of the subway that it's worth seeing. The Guardian has written in the past that "Athens metro is not just a subway, but a train going through a museum".

Issue 159-160 Greece

Commenting on www.vagabond.bg

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on www.vagabond.bg to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use www.vagabond.bg for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on www.vagabond.bg please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on www.vagabond.bg.

0 comments

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

KPMG-ITS-1.jpg
SVETOSLAV SPASOV: SUCCESSFUL TEAMS STAND BEHIND SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES
Bulgarian IT industry is the most rapidly developing sector of the local economy. What are the challenges that it faces? What is the climate in which it operates? What changes did it experience in the past 10 years?

Florence Robine
FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA FLORENCE ROBINE
Florence Robine, the French ambassador to Bulgaria, has spent about two years in the country as most of the time her schedule and activities have been impeded by the varying and changing Covid-19 restrictions.

Iliyana Tarnina DTC Commerzbank Sofia
ILIYANA TARNINA: BULGARIAN TEAMS DEVELOP THE BANKING OF TOMORROW
Increased digitalisation, customised approach, improved data security: banking, which has been a part of civilisation for centuries, is transforming before our own eyes. And a team in Bulgaria has a significant role to play in this change.

Miglena Temelkova
PROF MIGLENA TEMELKOVA, PHD: FUTURE IS INTERDISCIPLINARY
When we arrived at the University of Telecommunications and Posts (UTP) in Sofia, we were aware that we were up for an interesting meeting. For two years now Bulgaria's oldest professional university has been managed by a young and energetic professional.

ssarm_2.jpg
SSARM: LATEST GENERATION SYSTEM INTEGRATION
The role that high technologies, AI and their capabilities to make living, travel and business easier, more effective and safer, in our lives is expanding.

Reneta Tsonkova
RENETA TSONKOVA AND THE HEART OF DIAMONDS
You need an appointment to enter the elegantly splendid Renée De Clair, a boutique for diamond jewellery and a gemological laboratory on Sofia's Rakovski Boulevard – and this is just the first sign that you are up for an experience without parallel in Bulga

Milena Videnova, CEO of AXPO Bulgaria
AXPO BULGARIA: THE ENERGY TO LEAD AND SUCCEED
Energy: the more our civilisation evolves, the more it needs it to sustain itself. With human-induced climate change already happening, clever renewable power is the only solution to save our planet and ourselves.

architect martin terziev.jpg
ARCHITECT MARTIN TERZIEV: WHEN ARCHITECTURE IS A LIFE MISSION
Architecture is a part of the human experience that exists on the verge between utilitarian and art, the functional and the visually stunning, the mundane and the extraordinary.

martina feeney.jpg
INTRODUCING MARTINA FEENEY
Martina Feeney arrived in Bulgaria in October 2020, but owing to the Covid-19 pandemic has been unable to explore the country as much as she wants.

denitsa mengova.jpg
DENITSA MENGOVA: HIGH ENERGY
The energy that Denitsa Mengova emanates stuns as early as our first meeting and helps us understand why in just a couple of years the elegant 35-year-old became a recognisable face on the Bulgarian industrial scene.

Teodora Georgieva
TEODORA GEORGIEVA: POWERING THE FUTURE
The energy future in Southeastern Europe has been a hot topic for politicians, entrepreneurs and analysts for years now. What are the best solutions? How to achieve reasonably-priced diversification?

Rob Dixon.jpg
ROB DIXON
Dr Rob Dixon arrived in Bulgaria in August 2020. Prior to that he served as deputy director for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and as Deputy Head of Mission in Tel Aviv.