How does a Jewish girl from Skokie end up in a penthouse in Athens?"
The Back Story
Who would have thought when I told my husband I wanted to buy a little pied-a-terre in his hometown, Athens, Greece, that I'd end up with the greatest accidental career of my life? Born and raised in Chicago, my love for travel was evident early on. Perhaps it was my arrival in the world, early one December morning, way quicker than my siblings had, in fact so quick we were still enroute to the hospital, and I still hold the title of youngest patient ever admitted to that north suburban hospital! (And thus, as a Sagittarius, characteristically smitten with wunderlust).
I traveled my home country extensively with my family as a child, and was fortunate to have parents who encouraged us to study a second language young. While my language of choice as a child was French, my culture of choice was Greek. My earliest jobs were always in Chicago's Greek diners, my university days filled with hours playing backgammon in the cafeteria with my Greek friends, and my Eurail passes always started and ended my European backpacking holidays in Greece.
Falling in Love
So no one was surprised when I met Basil, a romantic writer but practicing translator and linguist, born and bred in Athens, but transplanted to Chicago, fell in love, and married him. While our life in Chicago was full, rehabbing a warehouse we purchased to house ourselves, our son and our growing Greek translation agency, I longed to plant some roots for our family in Basil's hometown. A small studio overlooking Mount Lykavittos was to be our Athens crash pad, but thanks to what seemed then an unfortunate turn of events, our home in Athens ended up being the beautiful Athens First Luxury Duplex. Larger than we had planned, offering it as a short term furnished rental seemed the logical way to afford it.
Little did we realize that it would become so popular we'd be sleeping on friends' couches rather than in our own Athens home! Tired of being homeless in Athens, we purchased a second penthouse directly adjacent to the Athens First. In 2006 we completed the renovations of three additional short term furnished rentals. As I said early on, this is the greatest accidental business one could imagine, and I love sharing my adopted city with visitors. Our guests repeatedly thanked us for the little extras that often mean so much when planning what is often a once in a lifetime trip.
Soon I was planning entire itineraries to Greece beyond those staying in our rentals, and and my little accidental vacation rental business blossomed into an even more wonderful full service travel planning agency offering custom created trips and escorted journeys for those who wish to experience the Greece I fell in love with.
Real Greece today
Today I divide my time between Chicago and Greece. As an American ex-pat in Athens, traveling around Greece on and off throughout the year, I know the wonderful off the beaten path places that can make a vacation special, and I also know how to stay on the tourist path without feeling like you are being herded along with the crowds. As a trusted travel advisor specializing in Greece, I am often hosted by destinations around the country for 'insider' experiences, and while we're in a particular area we do site inspections at area hotels, guesthouses and villas. In general, we have first hand experience with the properties and places we recommend.
We weed out the "screamers" and leave you with a smile.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the trip inspiration section and then let us create an amazing journey to Greece for you.
RealGreece was originally founded as Greek Vacation Rentals in 2004 by Carole Heiman-Kezios and Basil Kezios after word of mouth spread the news of our luxury duplex penthouse apartment. Our bright, airy, open luxury Athens vacation rental apartments have been home to short term Embassy officials, journalists, conference attendees, honeymooners and families on holiday. We strive to provide our guests with deluxe accommodations that offer the extra room and value a traditional hotel stay cannot offer. Today RealGreece provides both customized trip planning services including top-notch luxury vacation rentals, boutique hotels, and charming guesthouse, along with both escorted and unescorted tailormade trips around Greece.