A Quarantine Diary For All of Us

Photographer Nikos Kokkas turned lockdown into a daily project during which he reflected about life, laughed at himself – and the world, fantasised and rebelled in self-portraits soon to be exhibited in Athens.

We all went through it, and some of us still are. Those endless days, weeks, months, nanoseconds of lockdown. That sense of warped ‘reality’ that veered us between fluctuating states; relaxed and weirdly soothed by a sudden abundance of Me-Time; Zen-spiritual ‘We Are All Oneness’; post-Apocalyptical horror, seismic uncertainty, paralysing boredom; harshly loneliness. Some of us jumped into online courses or jogged out into the streets to keep our brains or bodies active, others took up fantasizing of New Life beginnings or slipped into Alcoholism. Others still got really creative and productive, forging forward with revived verve and nerve.

Starring in the latter category is photographer Nikos Kokkas. He was born in Germany, with a childhood interlude in Thessaloniki, before returning to Germany in his teens. Nikos bought his first SLR camera, a Minolta X-700 at the age of 16 and started exploring the endless aspects of light, in colour and B&W ever sinceHe travelled around Europe before making Greece his base in 1995. Yet even upon ‘settling here, he didn’t keep very still, as his work travelled him nationwide but also far and wide across the globe, freelancing for major Greek and foreign projects. In recent years, he’s discovered an interest on portraiture. Which takes us to his recent project that has made an impact on many.

During the three months of lockdown in Greece between March and May 2020, Nikos started a photographic Quarantine Diary. As his friend on Facebook, his daily images brought me – and thousands of others – a sense of surprise and amusement at his creativity, artistry and life-force (read = discipline), with an underlying sense of thought-provoking introspection. Here, I interview him about how the process began and evolved for him; a process that the public will soon be able to see in at his first solo exhibition presented at “Agathi” gallery  at the end of October 2020.

What was your first reaction to lockdown?

By the time I realised that a kind of quarantine would be happening indefinitely, I felt a huge wave of discomfort; but it didn’t last long. I started to think of it as a global matter, realising that many people had it a lot harder than me. And to be honest, I kind of liked it a little, being part of such a historical incident.

Insights Greece - A Quarantine Diary For All of Us
Isolation III – Dessert – Day 9

How / when did the idea of creating a ‘Quarantine Diary’ actually strike you?

I’d moved to my new home in Piraeus just a few months prior to this period and had managed to set up a small photo studio. So I thought, having almost nothing to do the whole day, why not start a story, starring the only person I had in my apartment? It started out as a communication game with the other people being in the same state, via social media. Actually, the first photograph of expressing the feeling of that day, was on March 16.

How did the project unravel?

Every single day I woke up at around 8 am. It was crucial to me to keep a routine, a schedule, a “normality”, to keep my mind and my body in shape. Until around 1 pm, after listening to the news, having communicated with friends, my parents, having read articles from around the world, a certain mood and certain thoughts were formed in my mind.

Was I feeling insecurity? Boredom? Was I angry about something? Was I missing something? Was I thinking of an unfulfilled “dream” (like being a tennis player for example)? Was I feeling lonely a bit more than other days?

I thought about how I could best express that mood in a picture. I immediately tapped into a sense of self-deprecation, which I think comes across quite obviously, and some theatricality by creating these pictures. I was thinking that I might touch a small chord of everyone who was in the same state as me. It turns out that Ι actually did.

Did this process bring out new qualities out in you for the first time, and if so, were you surprised?

I really don’t take things very seriously, not more than I should, I mean. I see life as a great playground where I don’t make the rules. I tried to be “all of us” with these characters that I “created”. The “Last Supper” photo, where 13 characters meet at the same table, was not a conversation with blasphemy, quite the opposite. I like to think that we were all invited to that table.

How important was this lockdown diary for you as an artistic expression?

As a commercial photographer, earning your living from photography, your goal is to impress potential clients. That’s inevitable. As an art, as an expressive photographer, I try to photograph scenes, feelings and images according to my thoughts and creative state at the moment I shoot. Photography is an art. Expressing thoughts and feelings through it is its purpose, it is the tool not to need to use words.

Are you working on any other projects you’d like to share with us?

At the moment I’m expecting the publication of two different books that I worked on, in the past 18 months.

What have your travels around Greece offered you most?

I like discovering people’s stories. I don’t look for the perfect photograph or the most beautiful scenery anymore. I like to be near people, capturing their everyday living, their wishes, joy and grief, their optimism, creativity and fun!  And I love to photograph food, kitchens, cooks, farmers, wineries…

Everything that has to do with a real, peaceful life.

Follow Nikos Kokkas on Instagram

Visit his website: nikoskokkas

48 Hours in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city is a place where history, culture, hospitality, and gastronomy meet. It’s a destination that caters to all and will definitely satisfy any taste.

Even though 48 hours is not enough to fully experience the beauty of Greece’s co-capital, the guide below highlights the best things you can do during a weekend getaway or a few days’ stay.



Kick-start your day by trying the most popular delicacy in Thessaloniki, the ‘bougatsa’ pastry, which consists of cream, cheese, or minced meat between the different phyllo layers. Thessaloniki has the best’ bougatsa’ I have ever tried. Make sure to visit Yannis at Mitropoleos Street to enjoy this slice of heaven. It’s a small, local pastry shop, always serving fresh bougatsa and other delicacies.

Then, head over to Aristotelous Square, the most central part of the city. Olympion, one of Thessaloniki’s cultural landmarks is also a must-visit.

After your morning coffee and bougatsa, it’s time to explore! Start with visiting Kapani and Modiano, traditional markets, where merchants used to arrive from the Mediterranean. The markets are still vibrant to this day, giving this part of the city the essence of a bygone era.

Louloudadika is another stop you have to make. It means ‘flower area’ in Greek and got its’ name from the florists that gathered here. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes and you will come across the old Ottoman baths called ‘Yahudi Hamami,’ and are now used to host cultural exhibitions.


Go to Aficionados restaurant in the Kalamaria suburb to get a taste of excellent cuisine; Mediterranean flavours with sophisticated twists, it’s set in a beautiful, renovated historic villa.


Walk down Nikis Street, one of the main strips, and have a coffee in one of the many cafes overlooking the sea. Café Nikis 35 is one of my favourites, as it’s a laid-back place where the locals go.

Later on, continue walking on Nikis Street, towards the famous White Tower, which was once used for the city’s fortification, and is now a museum.

Early Evening

If you are still up for some more strolling, continue walking at Nea Paralia until you reach ‘Ompreles,’ the beautiful piece of art made by Greek artist Georgios Zogolopoulos. At the golden hour, it looks mesmerising – don’t forget to take a photo!

Make sure to try one more delicacy that will excite your taste buds; ‘trigona.’ It’s a local specialty that consists of layers of phyllo filled with cream and folded into a triangle shape. Elenidis in Dimitriou Gounari street has the best trigona in Thessaloniki!

Late night

The word ‘night’ in Thessaloniki is well-connected to the area of Ladadika, where the nightlife pulse beats. Ladadika is full of tavernas that serve excellent food accompanied by live music and bars where you can continue afterwards, for drinks and cocktails.



Start your day by buying a ‘koulouri from a street vendor, the famous bread ring covered in sesame, and get ready for some exploring.

Wander around the most picturesque area of Thessaloniki, Ano Poli; approximately a 20-30 min walk from Aristotelous Square. Ano Poli is located on the highest point of the city, in Agios Dimitrios, and is a place that escaped the devastating 1917 fire. Get lost in the little alleys and travel back in time while taking in the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful views.

Nearby lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site Agios Nikolaos Orfanos Church and also, the Trigonion Tower.

If you are a culture aficionado, then pay a visit to the Teloglion Foundation of Art. Created in 1972, the Museum showcases works of significant Greek and European artists of the 19th and 20th centuries and a library that features a variety of books.

Alternatively, you can visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, where you can find artifacts, mosaics, and sculptures, or the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art.

When in Thessaloniki, it’s worth enjoying pleasant walks by the sea. Start from Pier A, also known as ‘Apothikes,’ where old warehouses serve as venues for the Thessaloniki Film Festival. There, you can also visit the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum and Museum of Photography. If you wish to take a quick break, go to Kitchen Bar, a café-restaurant overlooking the sea.


For some delicious fish bites, head to the suburb of Kalamaria for lunch. There are plenty of tavernas offering great food. Alternatively, go to Duck restaurant, a family-owned place that serves excellent food, has lovely décor and an open kitchen.


Head back to the city and go to Diatiriteo or Enohes for a Greek coffee or Frappe. They’re retro, amazingly cute, and I’m sure you are going to love their vibe.

Early Evening

You must have learned by now that food in Thessaloniki plays a crucial role, and you simply have to taste everything! One more thing you should try is ‘tsoureki’- the sweet yeast bread- and more specifically, ‘tsoureki’ from Terkenlis, one of the oldest and most popular places in the city. If you are into chocolate, then take the tsoureki that is filled with chocolate. There are plenty of other options for you to choose from.

Later on, and if you love fashion, head to Tsimiski, Mitropoleos, and Proxenou Koromila streets, the main shopping streets.

Late night

Being in Thessaloniki and not enjoying a night out is a shame. Valaoritou Street is vibrant, with plenty of bars offering creative cocktails and drinks.

The city of Thessaloniki is a lovely place with amazing people, delicious food, and rich history. Enjoy your time here!

Greek Fashion Brand Making a Lifestyle Statement

When it comes to cool and casual fashion brands in Greece it’s hard to go past PARA TODOS. The brainchild of Tassos Tsadaris, PARA TODOS debuted in 2017 and has been killing it ever since.

This unisex street fashion label takes a diverse and cool approach to design, never getting stuck in one place for too long. Between its easily accessible website and range of retail locations in Greece, the popular clothing brand is always within reach.

We recently spoke to Tassos about his stylish designs that make a lifestyle statement in fashion form.

Tell us a bit about your background and training in the fashion industry?

I studied fashion design in London from 2007 till 2011. After graduating I went back to Greece and started my first brand Saint’s Menswear in June of 2013 and have continued working in the fashion industry on my own projects.

When did you launch PARA TODOS and what is the concept behind it? Insights Greece - Greek Fashion Brand Making a Lifestyle Statement

I launched PARA TODOS Clothing Co. back in September 2017, and the concept is casual/street design with big attention to simplicity, understated elegance and an emphasis on eclectic use of materials and quality fabrics.

What inspires your creations?

Generally by historical Japanese styles.

How would you describe your brand?

Elegant, simple and easy to wear on every occasion.

Are the materials locally sourced and where are they made?

Yes, they are locally sourced in general, some are made in Turkey and some in Italy.

Insights Greece - Greek Fashion Brand Making a Lifestyle StatementWho are the pieces created for?

“PARA TODOS” means “for all” so we create for everyone! But unfortunately in Greece, we have a small target group because there aren’t many people who are willing to try new styles but we aren’t giving up and we continue following our dream. Generally, we work with artists, stylists and people from the fashion industry.

Tell us about your latest collection?

F/W21’ is once more Japanese inspired, oversized and unisex-with many layers.

What is your favourite item in your range at the moment? 

I have more than one, but I can’t show you right now, you will be able to see them when the F/W21’ collection will be launched.

What are the current projects you are working on and is there anything exciting coming up you would like to share?

Right now I am working on the PARA TODOS F/W21’ which in my opinion will be my best project so far! And after this, I will work on a re-branding project that you will see in spring.

Where is your brand stocked? 

In Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Larisa and online and we are still searching for retailers all over the world.

Do you ship internationally?

Of course!

Tell us your favourite holiday destination in Greece and why?

There are two places that I love in Greece the first one is Mykonos, where I have been going to with my grandparents every Easter and summer, so I have seen the island in many phases and I have so many memories in Mykonos, I really Insights Greece - Greek Fashion Brand Making a Lifestyle Statementlove the island. The second one is Mount Pelion, as it combines the mountains and the sea it is so beautiful, magical and natural.

How would you describe the Greek fashion scene in 2020?

Hmmm, in the most recent years I see a lot of steps forward from people within the industry that is making me really happy. I see more and more people that are getting out of their comfort zone and trying new styles and this is very promising.

How would you describe your own style?

Simple and plain. On my workdays, I am either wearing my black or white t-shirt, and footwear my black or white sneakers- usually vans! I like to change it up when I have an event, where I will always wear the shiniest and most colourful piece in my current collection.

Check out Para Todos here. 

Why Visiting Thessaloniki is a Must

I suggest you take a few days out of your trip to Greece and visit Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in the country that will most certainly impress you with its beauty and distinct identity!

By Maria Athanasopoulou

Also called the co-capital, this beautiful destination is bathed by the Thermaikos Bay. It has a long and interesting history, which is evident through its rich monuments.

Thessaloniki’s geographical position has made it a place many nationalities have called home and even though it has a multicultural soul, Thessaloniki has maintained a strong Greek identity. It’s known as the Greeks’ favourite city and considered to be a place of love, fun, and tasty food!

Insights Greece - Why Visiting Thessaloniki is a Must

Some well known spots include the White Tower (a landmark), the Arch of Galerius, the Castle Wall Remains, the Rotonda, the Roman Forum, many Byzantine churches, and other holy sites.

One of the most beautiful corners is Aristotelous Square, which is where locals and visitors enjoy taking a stroll. The city is embraced by the Gulf of Thermaikos and the harbor serves as the gateway to maritime transport- one of the most stunning corners in town.

It would be an unforgivable mistake not to mention the local cuisine. Greek and foreign visitors agree that Thessaloniki is the queen of Greek gastronomy- with magnificent local dishes and delicacies. The food options offered here are endless and perfect for all budgets. The town is flooded with good restaurants and all you need to do is walk around and discover eatery after eatery- you will be spoilt for choice! 

Insights Greece - Why Visiting Thessaloniki is a Must

Those with a sweet tooth won’t be disappointed by local desserts; especially the famous Bougatsa, which you will find in every bakery.  All this great variety of local cuisine has given Thessaloniki the title “Gourmand city of Greece,” which locals are proud to carry and share with every single visitor. 

Maria Athanasopoulou is the founder of the tourism marketing company Respond On-Demand, co-founder of the non-profit company Top Tourism, Chairwoman of the World Food Travel Association, Ambassador in Greece of Evintra and Ambassador in Greece and Cyprus of World Gourmet Society. She likes exploring new places and cultures and loves discovering unexplored tourism destinations. During her trips, she does her best to find out and present the most interesting aspects of the destination she has just visited. 

Why Greece’s Simple Koulouri is Such a Popular Snack

If you’ve ever been to any of Greece’s largest cities, surely you would have come across a Koulouri stand, selling a round-shaped bread, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

And if you’ve ever wondered what’s so good about it? It’s jam-packed with valuable carbohydrates and proteins, making it the country’s most popular breakfast on the run for both locals and visitors. As for the taste? When you take a bite, its crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside texture will undoubtedly leave you wanting more!

Although it can be found in most regions of Greece, the Koulouri is most loved by Thessalonikians and Athenians, and in both cities, you are guaranteed to find a Koulouri stand on every second street corner. It’s standard to watch locals running around town, biting on a Koulouri as they go about their daily activities, as it really is the ideal snack at any time of the day.

This super simple treat, which was traditionally made in a ring form has slowly evolved over the years and now comes in a variety of flavours including meat and cheese varieties, as well as multi-seed, tahini, and whole wheat options. Certain bakeries have gone even fancier, creating twisted and braided versions.

If it seems too simple for your liking, you can always cut the Koulouri in half and add cheese, or spread some of your favourite jam or honey over it.

Just make sure you head out early to grab your Koulouri, as it’s best enjoyed fresh and you’ll avoid disappointment, as they do sell out quickly!

All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)