In a recently shared story on The Pappas Post Instagram page, we invited our readers to submit their questions to a real-life former evzone, Lefteris Ioannou, one of our Athens-based friends and followers.
Lefteris served as an evzone from 2011 to 2012 after graduating from the American College of Greece and before leaving to study for his master’s degree in the United Kingdom.
He was born in Athens but grew up splitting time between Mykonos and the Greek capital. He spent most of his winters in the city but his summers were always on the island.
After finishing his studies in the U.K. he returned to his homeland and opened a Mykonos-based luxury travel agency called Tranquility Greece. Lefteris began the agency by personally offering fully customized travel experiences for visitors to discover what he calls “the authentic, true Greece.”
“Through the years it has evolved to a proper business,” Lefteris says. “We keep growing, as we’ve said since day one: Every year, a step forward.”
Lefteris has spent most of his time in Mykonos and the United States since 2015. He undertook his latest work project during the COVID-19 pandemic, opening a new concept shop by renovating his mother’s old store and taking ownership of the business.
The full exchange of questions from our readers and Lefteris’ answers follows below.
Q: How do you stay still?
Answer: Discipline, patience and part of a very painful and hard training that lasts 45 days.
Q: Are the shoes comfortable?
Answer: Definitely not. Each shoe weights three pounds. They’re quite heavy, but you get used to them in time.
Q: How do the shoes feel?
Answer: The shoe at first is really uncomfortable and very unstable walking on it. It also consists of 60 spikes which are very slippery but in time you get used to it.
Q: Summer or winter? Which is more difficult for you? Why?
Answer: Summer, by far. You can bear with cold in the winter but in summer you have to stand still in unbelievably high temperatures. You sweat all over from the inside but you have to stay absolutely still.
Q: Have you ever felt like letting one of your hecklers have it?
Answer: Never. It’s part of the training to not get distracted by anything or anyone while on duty. Nothing that happens around you can affect you!
Q: Is there a moment in life you distinguish?
Answer: When I marched with the whole squad on the 25th March. Evzones are the first squad to open the march in Athens center. It is the ultimate honor to get selected to march on that day. Thousands of people were applauding in Athens – hanging from balconies and singing our National Anthem. I remember we were all tearing up from pride but we couldn’t show. We were hitting our legs so hard down to the ground for such a long march but we didn’t care at all about the pain. We just kept going! I would do anything to re-live that day.
Q: Can you share with us what the evzone’s outfit represents?
Answer: Everything an evzone wears represents something. The red ‘Fario’ represents the blood of fallen Evzones. The hanging black threads next to the ‘fario’ and below the knees represent the black tears of mothers mourning the loss of their fallen sons. The white skirt is actually two-plies which consist of 200 tucks each. 400 years of Turkish occupancy. The tassel in front of the shoe was actually a weapon evzones were using while falling/dying. It was the last and ultimate hidden weapon. They would hide a knife in the tuck and kick high so to stick the knife in the enemy’s soldier jaw and kill them, hence the well-known odd high pacing!
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