Upupa Epops – Night and day you are the one ♬
Upupa Epops is the Latin name for the hoopoo bird, which is just slightly less funny than its common name. In Germany we know this bird from a very popular German folk-song called Vogelhochzeit: „Der Wiedehopf, der Wiedehopf, der schenkt der Braut ‘nen Blumentopf.“ I encountered the strange Upupa Epops in the form of a newly opened bar in Athens. Marfi Bali, one of the first bar ladies behind Athens’ bars is one of the owners and turned her dream into reality.
The bar is located southwest of the city center in the Petralona neighborhood, which makes for a pleasant stroll of roughly 20 minutes. During the day, the bar serves as a café offering small plates. My first visit was around the noon hour. There are stairs leading up through a brass gate and, upon entering, one steps into a different world – a small, dreamy, fairy tale-like world that is both romantic and unconventional. Chess pattern tiles, playful garden furniture, luxurious armchairs and large wooden tables invite guests to linger for a while. The courtyard is surrounded by three slightly ruinous villas. One of the buildings holds a living room of sorts with antique furniture, paintings and fresh flowers. In another building are the restrooms with beautiful tiles, giving them an oriental feel. The core part is the villa holding the bar. The selection of spirits is vast and well-assorted. The bar stools lining the heavy, dark bar have backrests that make them very comfortable. I liked the interior immediately, and the bar enchanted me with its bohemian touch. All of the decoration is perfectly arranged and not at all cluttered – all too often, this can turn out badly and become kitschy. The coffee I had was very good, and so I was already looking forward to my visit on the following evening.
My next excursion was on a Friday evening. I strolled along the foot of the Acropolis, which never seems to sleep and watches over everything – a magical sight I love very much. The street got busier: three young girls were blocking my way by standing around cluelessly and pointing in all directions while having a loud discussion. Apart from common swear words, my knowledge of the Greek language leaves much to be desired, but I understood “Upupa Epops“ quite well. And since I was already standing between them, I asked about it specifically. They were indeed looking for the bar, and were even more confused when I told them to just follow me. After a little discussion I was able to convince them that I knew how to get there. I delivered them straight to the bar, and they shot me a bewildered parting glance. The atmosphere was just as elegant as it had been during the day. The lighting emphasised the ambience, creating a magical sphere. I sat down right at the bar, where the bartender was already expecting me. I do love Greek hospitality. A warm welcome is always a great start to a successful evening.
Spot on to the drinks while relaxing like a true Athenian.
The bar is somewhat away from the touristy areas, and so the crowd consists mostly of locals and the menu is only available in Greek. My first cocktail choice was the top seller Liliko’i, a playful, fruity tiki drink, served decoratively in a hurricane glass with a generous garnish. The decoration corresponds to the name of the bar: after all, the hoopoo bird has abundant plumage. Another well-balanced drink followed. It was pure joy watching the bartender work, made easier by spots on the ceiling pointing right at the mixing station. The evening ended with a glass of rum, and I bestrode a Greek friend’s motorcycle the Greek way: without a helmet.