A bee and a shopkeeper

It’s day 3. The energy is high in the makeshift newsroom in our new home here in Thessaloniki. Students are hopping into cabs and buses to chase protests, interviews with locals and experts. Some of us are seeking access to refugee camps and a few are even stepping into hooded suits to brace hundreds of honey bees. Check out Alexa Laversa below.

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Forgetting to eat lunch after the bee shoot, I decided to walk to the closest place that had food and would take my card. With my wandering turns, I made it to a cafe called Nikos.

In this fast-paced pursuit for quotes and anecdotes, it’s easy to miss the stories of the locals we pass through the streets as we try to get the ‘bigger’ story. So to slow it down, here’s a different kind of story:

10 quirks about a shop-owner I had a chat with while eating my cheese bread balls.

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Meet Chiso Valantis.

  • Chiso means gold and Valantis means wallet in Greek.
  • He took over his father’s cafe in 2008. Struggling to compete with the surplus of cafes in the area, he states that he doesn’t have much gold in his wallet.
  • Valantis’s favorite food is spaghetti with ketchup, and he loves meat, all meat.
  • He has two degrees, one in Journalism and the other Cinema, and also has a masters in corporate social responsibility.
  • He waves to familiar faces on the street every two minutes during my chat with him, and he states that “yes, neighborhood exists here”.
  • He quit smoking and lost 50 lbs. (And gives great high-fives.)
  • Valantis is a minimalist.
  • He has a daughter named Elena who is 3 and a half years old.

To be continued. I’ll be back for the cheese balls and chatting with Valantis made me feel like part of the neighborhood.







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