ATHENS, Greece - This summer Francis and Kiki Angelos of Parkersburg completed their 15th consecutive month-plus trip to Greece.
Their son George Angelos of Parkersburg was also in Greece and Bulgaria with a group of business owner-operators from Chick-fil-A's home office in Atlanta. For several years Chick-fil-A has sent teams to various countries to speak to the local business owners on how to grow a business and be successful.
George speaks fluent Greek and therefore was the team leader where he was on television and radio and at various business meetings during the week in Greece and Sofia, Bulgaria, said Francis Angelos.
Francis and Kiki Angelos and their son, George, at right, all of Parkersburg, pose with Spiros Bairaktaris, second from left, owner of the popular “Taverna Bairaktaris” in Athens, Greece.
George has a Master's Degree in Business and Communications from West Virginia University and worked on his Ph.D. in business at the University of Cincinnati.
This was George Angelos' third trip with groups from Chick-fil-A to speak and instruct business aspects in foreign countries.
After the week of business, George joined his parents, Francis and Kiki, to spend time together visiting friends and relatives in Greece.
Because he and Kiki travel to Greece almost yearly they have made many friends and it is like being in Parkersburg, running into people they know on the street, Francis said.
Athens is a city of 5.5 million people.
They have a house in Athens and a second home in a little village called Anogia, 10 kilometers from Sparta in southern Greece where they visit annually.
The Angeloses have three favorite restaurants in Athens that are well known by Greeks and tourists where they visit regularly. They know the owners and many of the longtime staff members.
This year, Spiros Bairaktaris, owner of an old and established restaurant called "Taverna Bairaktaris," which is at Monastiraki Square in the heart of Athens, asked the Angeloses to take a picture with him since they have gone there so long and for so many times.
The photograph was to add to the owner's collection of pictures of mostly celebrities, such as Aristotle Onassis, George Papandreou, Maria Callas, Melina Mecouri and many others.
The restaurant walls are covered with big pictures of the various people.
Most of the residents of Greece eat at 9 p.m. and later for dinner, said Francis. Bairakitaris and most restaurants are open from 9 a.m. till 4 a.m. or even later in the summer months, he said.
There is live Greek music during the afternoon and evening hours in the restaurants.
These restaurants offer most of the popular Greek dishes such as Pastichio, Mousaka, Stuffed Grape Leaves, Spanakopita, Cheese Pie, Shish-kabobs, Gyros dinners and many, many side orders.
A dessert, including Baklava, is usually served complimentary by the establishments.
Across from Bairaktaris is the Angelos family's second favorite place called Thanasis, which specializes in "Beef Kabobs" that are very popular in Greece. The restaurant is now a full-block long and like all restaurants has outdoor and indoor seating.
The restaurant owner used to work for Kiki's aunt in her barbershop as a very young boy, cutting hair for 50 cents a hair cut, Francis noted.
Another special but more sophisticated restaurant is also located in the heart of Athens in the Plaka area, around the Acropolis hill with small cobblestone streets and a historical area, Francis said. It is called Stamatopoulos Old Tavern, which also has live music and Greek dancing nightly.
Greek nightlife is much different than in most countries, Francis said. The Greek people have to work the next day but they make an evening out a long event, taking a siesta every afternoon, he said.
It does not rain often in Greece during May, June, July, August and September, so most people are sitting outside, Francis said. Just a small amount of people go indoors for the air conditioning because the climate is near perfect in the evenings, he said. "Plus there are not a lot of bugs flying around."
Most people love the Greek Islands, Francis noted. Mykonos, known as a party island, and Santorini, which is a more romantic type island known for its spectacular sunsets, are two of the popular islands, he said.
To get away from the tourists, the Angeloses like to go to a little Island called Hydra, where there are no cars in the main town and residents use donkeys as a taxi to get to their homes if they are located high on the mountain or a long walk away.
There is a financial crisis in Greece but it is hard to tell, Francis said. Greece is expecting 20 million tourists this summer and it is hard to find a hotel room in Athens, he said.