It took seven years for Terina Kalogeropoulos-Armenakis, a successful stockbroker and property investor, to compile the book A Greek Folk Journey, Travel, Culture & Gastronomy. But for a certain virus, the Australian launch of the book would have taken place this week.
“I have wanted to come to Australia since I was a child growing up in Ethiopia,” the much-travelled Ms Armenakis told Neos Kosmos. She is the honorary consul for Greece in Ethiopia since 1993 and has maintained strong links with her country of birth. She is also the past president of the Consular Corps in Greece.”I am really disappointed but I really look forward to coming to Australia at a later date,” she said.
The idea to write the book sprang out of her time as president of the Consular Corps in Greece (she was the first female to head the organisation) and part of her role required that she take foreign diplomats around Greece to familiarise themselves with the country.
“Apart from exchanging news on diplomatic work, the Consular Corps also helps foreign diplomats to get to know Greece better. I wanted the foreign diplomats to discover the Greece that I love,” she said.
“I am an economist and businesswoman by training and experience, not an academic, so writing such a book was a daring step that was outside my usual domain.”
Ms Armenakis is a qualified as an economist. She worked as a stock broker in New York specialising in the bond markets for the New York Institute of Finance. She then moved to the banking sector where for several years she worked with Banque Indosuez London and Citibank in Athens.
She has also been involved in the real estate sector from an early age, investing and managing a family-owned real estate portfolio in Greece, UK and recently Romania. In 2007, she founded Stahi Real Estate SA in Greece and specialised in up-market property projects.
In going ahead with the book, she knew that she was venturing into a world that was outside her working experience but that has not proven to be an obstacle.
For her work on the book Ms Armenakis was last year awarded the prestigious Carolos Mitsakis Award for her contribution to the promotion of Hellenic ethnographic culture.
She said the first edition of the book in English had sold out and a second edition is in the works.
The Greek Folklore Association provided invaluable help throughout the process and proof read the book before publication. Ms Armenakis said the proceeds from the sale of the book would go to the Greek Folklore Association and other charities.
“It was very much a labour of love,” she said of the book.
A Greek Folk Journey is a large undertaking with about 400 pages filled with local lore, customs, maps and images. She had to cut back from over a 1000 entries.
“The layout is condensed, colourful with lots of pictures and maps. You get a sense and the smell of Greece,” she said. “For the book I selected the best and most interesting cultural events on the calendar from all over the country.”
She said that through the book, the visitor to Greece would begin to understand something of Greece’s culture, its traditions and history.
“There are maps laid out so you get to know the geography of the country’s various regions, there is also a festival index,” said Ms Armenakis.
At the start of the process seven years ago, Ms Terminakis sent letters to 1,000 local councils requesting information for the book. She received just two replies. But she was not one to be put off. She hired helpers and persisted with the project.
“The research was conducted purely by my own resources, writing letters, sending hundreds of emails, we had a weak response. I did not give up, I pursued it by employing a young person to call daily and pursue in collecting data. Internet research was also a great help,” she said.
“Some photographs are mine, family and friends. Most are provided by the local cultural associations and we got the rights, which was quite a task by itself.”
She said she hoped that the readers would find enough to interest them to visit Greece at any time of the year.
“For the young generations I hope it enriches their cultural foundations and ‘grows their roots’,” she said.
♦ A Greek Folk Journey, Travel Culture & Gastronomy is published by Wakefield Press. ISBN 9781743056783. The publisher of the book in Australia is Wakefield Press at ; the book can also be obtained through the websites of the following: Book Depository; Booktopia; Amazon Australia; and Fishpond.
You can also visit the Greek Folk Journey website for more details on getting your copy.