Themistocles Lambridis, a film director, adventure seeker, and founder of The Thing About Greece, discusses how Greece is so much more than a summer getaway.
Beyond feta, ouzo and blue waters, Themistocles Lambridis is on a mission to show the world another side of Greece - one that's just as beautiful as it is undiscovered.
Born in the United States, Themistocles was raised in Athens, Greece and has spent his entire professional life working in adventure tourism. He lived abroad for 12 years, including time in Austria and New Zealand.
"For 6 years I lived in New Zealand," says Themistocles, “on the southern island, where I got really into ski mountaineering, split boarding, and backcountry sports. I returned to Greece in 2013 to be closer to family and friends, and to pursue my professional dreams as a freelance filmmaker. I remember a couple of old friends brought me to the Greek mountains of Parnassus and Vasilitsa and all of a sudden there was this stunning landscape I was sure could never exist here," he explains.
From that moment on, Themis was hooked on documenting Greece's often-overlooked winter wonderland. In 2017, he filmed and produced The Thing About Greece - a documentary that follows his journey through the Greek mountains over two seasons, uncovering some of Greece's best-kept secrets.
Today, The Thing About Greece is a platform that brings people together to discover and explore the lesser-known side of Greece. Whether it's a week-long surf camp, a weekend of mountaineering and building igloos, or a day spent mushroom hunting and river trekking, Themistocles and his friends are always looking for new ways to show people the best that Greece has to offer, through sustainable adventures.
"It became a sort of personal campaign - first a documentary film, and now a platform - creating experiences for people to come with us and do these crazy things that we also enjoy doing. We wish to show everyone a different side of Greece, beyond feta, ouzo and blue waters.”
Viewing Greece as a summer-only getaway is a mentality that is slowly shifting, but there's still a long way to go. A small number of private but also government-funded projects have emerged over the last few years that serve that purpose. These are mostly documentary related projects that have come out on the internet and the television to educate both domestic and international tourists about Greece as a winter destination.
However, this is also a tricky line to cross. "The reason why Greece is such a winter gem at the moment is because it's not very well advertised. That balance is gonna shift, and we don't want to end up like other countries with crazy lines of people everywhere, overpopulating small villages when the villages are not equipped to handle that amount of people.
The key is to understand the dynamics of tourism and create a sustainable platform for it. A big part of creating a sustainable tourism practice is taking into account that it’s incredibly important to maintain the level of authenticity of these Greek villages. It would be great to see winter tourism develop but not to just explode.”
In the meantime, Themis and his friends have just started the process of opening an NGO, called The Thing About Greece. "Our core value has always been to get people connected with nature, so we really wanted to start doing that for people who don’t necessarily have the financial or the cultural background to do it themselves.
We started looking into working with kids from lower income backgrounds and kids with special needs. The plan is to take them climbing, take them to an epic hike, teach them how to ski and surf… anything that will show them that there is more to this world than the neighborhood they grew up in or the school they go to. Nothing would make us happier than to see the smiles on their faces.”