Yana Frigelis, founder of the popular lifestyle blog NoMad Luxuries, is a talented writer and an avid traveller. Her passion for discovering new places, meeting talented artisans, and sharing hidden gems is the inspiration behind an exciting new next chapter of her life.
Having recently moved to Athens, Yana launched The NoMad Edit, a beautiful online shop with carefully sourced treasures, recipes, and itineraries; along with travel resources that are perfect for anyone heading to the Mediterranean or for those currently craving an Aegean summer.
“NoMad Edit invites people to the Mediterranean; colourful markets, days leisurely spent seaside and sunset dinners alfresco. This is an online experience that lets you take a slice of the Mediterranean home with you,” says Yana.
Spending time travelling across Greece and other parts of Europe, Yana and her team discovered a range of uniquely curated and designed pieces, including glassware, woven baskets, jewellery, and art. IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently caught up with Yana, to chat about her incredible travel experiences, favourite Greek destinations, and her fresh and exciting new business venture.
Tell us about yourself. Where were you born and how did you end up making Athens home?
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago by my immigrant Serbian grandparents, making English a second language to me. Since my father is Greek, and my mother Serbian, I grew up as a third-culture child. Trying to navigate three different cultures and languages was confusing, to say the least. This “out-of-touch” feeling fostered an ongoing exploration of my own identity and more so, a hunger to see the world and learn about other cultures. To be curious and to be accepting. It took me many years, but I finally feel that I can belong anywhere. After studying international business and linguistics at university, I went on to work in the corporate world. With over 10+ years of work experience and in need of a creative outlet, I launched NoMad Luxuries, my personal blog. After years of planning and preparing, I relocated to Athens, Greece with my dog Palmer in September 2020, to launch the NoMad Edit, a lifestyle concept boutique with a Mediterranean ethos and to focus on the international real estate and hospitality market. The community I built with NoMad Luxuries continues to inspire and support me in this major life transition and I’m incredibly excited for this next chapter.
What part of Greece is your father from?
My father is from the Peloponnese- where I spent most of my childhood summers. He is from a small village, Arxaies Kleones, whose name translates to the Ancient Kingdom, where my father was born. A village of far more olive trees than the 800 residents.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The art of storytelling is perhaps my favorite part. It’s allowed me to connect with so many people around the world – people from all different backgrounds, cultures, languages, and I’ve built amazing relationships because of it.
What are some creative sources of inspiration for you?
My travels are imperative for me – the excitement of discovery fuels my creativity. I love connecting with people and hearing their stories. But truly, it could be anything – from hunting out hidden gems, unique aesthetics, a delicious meal with an intriguing conversation to my vintage interior magazines, a good playlist, and a piece of art that speaks to me. I’m highly observant by nature so my surroundings play a big role in my overall mood. I take the energy around me very seriously.
You have just launched The NoMad Edit. Tell us more.
The NoMad Edit is an online boutique, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s a lifestyle concept, explored through found treasures, travel journals, unique projects, and our own designs. We’ll have sporadic collections of globally collected pieces that will be shared as our team travels across the Mediterranean and beyond, allowing us to source uniquely curated and designed collections with creatives and artisans alike. Stories and experiences of our travels, recipes, itineraries, and the people we meet along the way will be shared through our journal.
I’m so very excited to bring The NoMad Edit to life. I wanted to create an online experience that let our community take home a slice of the Mediterranean lifestyle while inspiring them through our travel journals, photographs, and the stories they tell. The positive feedback so far has been overwhelming.
Our first collection is meant to transport you to Summers on the Aegean. Inspired by our Mediterranean roots and the simplistic and wholesome approach to life, food, and overall well-being. The NoMad Edit was always meant to be more than just an online shop, it was meant to be an online experience that draws you into the effortless world of the Mediterranean.
A few of your favourite holiday spots around Greece?
There is so much more to Greece than what meets the eye and sure, while we all associate Greece with Summers on the islands, and rightfully so, there are incredible hidden gems to discover. I spent two weeks exploring the trio of wild and untamed Serifos, quaint and charming Sifnos, and otherworldly and romantic Milos. It was the perfect opportunity to visit the Cyclades without the overcrowding of August tourists. While I love those lazy beach days, I especially love exploring parts of Greece most don’t hear about. In late Fall, I explored the Pelion region in Northern Greece. It was so charming and different from the Greece I had come to love. Last year, I went to explore the depths of Mani, swam in Limeni, ate gelato in Gytheio, and laid my head under the stars in the olive groves. For a much-needed reprieve from the Summer heat, I escaped to the mountains of Parnassos and spent a weekend hiking, warming up by the fire, and even catching the first rainfall in what I recall being months.
What neighbourhoods do you love exploring in Athens?
Psyrri for its carefree, urban vibe; Makrigianni for its proximity to the Acropolis and neighbourhood feel; Kolonaki for an old-world vibe of neoclassical buildings and delicious cafes and Pagrati for its hip and trendy shops. You can find me frequenting places like Philos, housed in a former, neoclassical mansion in Kolonaki. They happen to have one of the best brunches in Athens. Or Drupes and Drips, a spritzeria in hip Koukaki; this standing-room-only cafe-deli is the perfect stop for an aperitivo and a spritz. In the Summer, I occasionally sneak away to The Margi on the riviera where I spend the day between taking dips and working al fresco. Or I’ll catch a flick at Cine Thission. This open-air cinema has been screening films since 1935 and has views of the illuminated Acropolis. Quintessential Summer activity for Athenians.
Where do you shop for unique homewares in the Greek capital?
It’s a Sunday ritual for me to wake up bright and early and go for a walk through the Monastiraki Flea Market. Keep in mind, the prices are generally inflated but you can still walk away with some good deals. Be ready to haggle – it’s an expected dance in this part of the world! Lately, I’ve really been drawn to hand-made ceramics which we carry for The NoMad Edit.
You’ve mentioned you are a foodie. What are some of your favourite dishes/recipes?
I’ve found that the Mediterranean diet suits me; heavy in vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil, and when it comes to Greek cooking, simple is best. Some of my favorite dishes are what we call ‘ladera’ or ‘cooked in olive oil’, like briam – a mix of eggplant, zucchini, okra, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. A Greek ratatouille, if you will. Xoriatiki salata (Greek salad), Greek village salad, is on the menu at least once a week and usually accompanies a filet of baked sea bass. For comfort food, I love a hot bowl of Trahanas- a porridge-like meal commonly made to feed farmers, and typically cooked with a tomato-based sauce that can be served in a variety of ways. My personal favorite? With savory cheese.
Can you share some of the most memorable spots to eat in Greece?
I recently spent a weekend in Mani and watched the sunset over Limeni while sitting at the famous O Takis. Which, may I add, served some of the freshest, grilled sardines I’ve ever tasted. CocoMat Hotel on Serifos had seafood giouvetsi on their menu that was out of this world. For foreign cuisine, I frequent Veri Table for an intimate vibe and delicious French fair and Seychelles for locally sourced ingredients and elevated, traditional Greek dishes. It’s nearly impossible not to include Matsuhisa on the list for their delicious sushi and Asian cuisine. Part of the Nobu family, the hefty price point makes it a place for celebration and the location? The best in Athens.
What destinations do you recommend for A) an island getaway? B) a mountainous/village experience? C) wellbeing/ spiritual retreat? D) a foodie holiday? E) a city escape?
For an island getaway, I tend to gravitate towards under-the-radar islands. I happened to really love Sifnos last Summer – it checked all the boxes for me. I’m also a repeat fan of Antiparos – the boho and effortlessly cool sister to trendy Paros; for a village experience that just so happens to be in the mountains? Biasedly, I go back to our family village in the Peloponnese- it also happens to be in Greece’s wine country. For a well-being fix? I’m a big fan of Hamam Athens where I have a membership and frequent for a good steam. Otherwise, I’ll head to Lake Vouliagmeni for a year-round dip in its healing waters. I’ve also been itching to get back to Euphoria Retreat that’s nestled in the Taygetos mountains near-mystical Mystras. For a foodie holiday? You’ll eat well anywhere you go in Greece. Markets are my favorite way of experiencing a new city; people from all walks of life, local foods, and the exchange of money are quite telling of a culture. See a taverna on your road trip? Make a stop and check it out. Go for a walk through the central market of Athens and pop into one of the restaurants hidden in the back. Ask for the daily special not on the menu. For a city escape, I tend to visit the port city of Nafplio – the Venetian influence makes it one of the most romantic in Greece and by far, a personal favorite. If you don’t have that much time, simply head South to the Athens Riviera and you’ll feel like you’ve instantly escaped the chaos of the city.
A few of the places on your list for future getaways?
I’ve been dying to go to the Dodecanese, especially Patmos and Symi. My love for the Peloponnese is an ongoing adventure and I take every opportunity to explore the peninsula. Likewise, I’ve been wanting to harvest saffron in Kozani for quite some time now and will be heading back to our village for the annual olive harvest. I also have plans to visit Corfu soon to meet with suppliers and explore the Italian-esque vibe I’ve been craving.