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Athens Olympics get a taste of Switzerland

(Keystone Archive)

A restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis will serve as a meeting place for Swiss athletes and journalists during the Athens Summer Olympics.

The House of Switzerland was officially opened in the Greek capital at the end of July.

Funded by the Swiss Olympic Association, the Swiss foreign ministry and 40 sponsors, it will operate for the duration of the games.

The House of Switzerland is operating out of the Hermione restaurant, a local landmark.

It is specialising in Greek and Swiss cuisine, and is open to Swiss and non-Swiss alike, according to ambassador Pierre Monod.

“Here, you’ll be able to follow the games live on one of the many giant screens or just unwind with friends,” Monod said at the opening ceremony.

The House will serve primarily as a meeting place for Swiss athletes. With a number of places set aside for members of the Swiss Olympic team, it’s expected they will come here to celebrate their medal wins.

In addition, the venue will host a number of events ranging from media conferences to receptions for members of the government, sponsors and VIPs.

Wine and cheese

In the run-up to the games, a team of Swiss archaeologists presented the results of 40 years of excavations in the ancient town of Eretria.

The following day a gastronomic festival featured wines and cheeses of Switzerland and Greece, and a fashion show was due to take place on August 10.

According to an organiser, the biggest challenge so far has been importing sponsor-donated food and wines from Switzerland.

"The embassy needed a special permit from the Greek government," said Marie Cautandet.

Meeting place

The Swiss Olympic Association has provided public meeting places such as this one since the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Attracted by a menu featuring traditional Swiss dishes alongside Japanese specialities, locals queued up for hours for places in the Yama House of Switzerland restaurant.

Similar successes were recorded with the Quay Grand Swiss Restaurant during the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the Au bon appétit House of Switzerland at the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games.

swissinfo, Angelica Kourounis in Athens

Key facts

Olympic Games will be held in Athens from August 13 to 29.
Maison Suisse will be open only for the games.
Seven Swiss athletes have arrived in Greece, and settled in at the Olympic Village.

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