Thousands of Greeks live abroad, with big communities in countries like Australia, United States, Canada, Britain and Germany. However, there are smaller communities in other parts of the world.
Shanghai is a mega-city with a population of over 23 million, where around 300 Greeks have chosen to come either for work or for studies. An increasing number of Greek students come to China in search of new opportunities, since universities like Fudan or Tsinghua are among the top in world rankings and the economy has been continuously growing for the past twenty years.
Chinese people show great respect to Greece, not only because of its long history. In their mind nowadays, it is a famous honeymoon destination. Everybody knows “aiqin hai” (the Aegean Sea), even though some ignore the fact that it belongs to Greece and are surprised when informed so.
Both Mr Takis, manager of “Milos” (the oldest Greek restaurant with two branches in the city) and Makis, chief chef at “Yamas” (a warm traditional taverna that opened a couple of months ago), agree that Chinese customers’ favorite dish is “mousakas.”
When I argued that I expected locals would love “gemista,” since rice and vegetables are key parts of the Chinese cuisine, they pointed out that “mousakas” has been promoted internationally as a typical Greek food.
A few Greek products can be seen in local supermarkets, like Rea juice from Nafplio, Dodoni feta cheese and Zero candies from Pallas (Lavdas) company. Amphora, a chain of five smalls shops scattered in the city, brings traditional Greek products like olive oil, honey, wine and ouzo to both local and foreign customers.
Shanghai has a big expat community and compared to other cities in China it is much easier for foreigners to adapt and live here. The lifestyle is fast and gives someone the chance to meet very interesting people from different parts of the world. However, strong friendships or relationships are hard to achieve since a real connection between people usually requires time and most residents see Shanghai as a temporary stop in their life.
St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, built during 1932-1934, is a cultural relic located near Fuxing Park, in Luwan district. It was built as a memorial to Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia. Divine services used to be held in this historical building after being granted permission from the local authorities.
Unfortunately, the church is currently closed and a coffee house has taken over the outside part of its facilities. For those interested, Orthodox liturgy is offered every Sunday at 10 am, in the Russian Consulate of Shanghai (passport is necessary to be allowed entrance!).