Gianna by the Sea

In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus is said to have stolen fire from Hephaistos and Athena, giving it to humankind that they would be warm even when their days were frigid. It would seem that one Gianna Papadopoulou, with her brilliant smile, has managed to usurp that same warmth. Or perhaps it’s the warmth of her tantalizing free spirit, rivaling even that of Persephone herself, that permeates images of her magnificent travels and adventures. None of this should come as a surprise, as Gia has made a name for herself challenging the gods, with her feats of derring-do.

You won’t find this glorious goddess on Olympus, however, but rather in that glittering terrestrial city known as Dubai. Or on the slopes in the French Alps. Or wherever Gia’s next adventure takes her.

I’m impressed with your Instagram, where you document all of your adventures. It would make a nice coffee table book. Where have you been to lately?  

Australia, New Zealand and Russia. New Zealand is one of my favorite places, although it feels like you are at the end of the world.

I’ve always been interested in engaging in extreme sports, but I’m too much of a coward, I think. But you love it. Yes?  

Yes I do. I think I have an adrenaline addiction. I find extreme sports thrilling. When I am pushed off the edge of a plane or cliff, my heart is in my mouth and my stomach is in knots, but in that transient moment before the fall, I'm the most excited I have ever been in my life. There is no feeling quite like this.

Many people look at skydiving, and it terrifies them. You make it look exhilarating. How long have you been doing it? How did it feel the first time you did it?  

The first time I stood on the edge of the plane looking into nothing but open air and the distant earth, my body was in paralysis. A cold shiver ran down my spine, and I could barely hear the instructor behind me yelling instructions. All I could feel was my blood rushing, heart thumping and wind blowing on my face with merciless aggression. I knew there was no going back and all I could think about was what could go wrong. It's been four years now, and despite all the practice, it’s still a unique feeling of fear blended with excitement.

Being a world traveler, it’s safe to assume you’ve enjoyed a variety of cuisine, but I’m equally certain that there’s been that one thing you didn’t like. What was it?

There’s a rich culture with cuisine all over the world, however my personal favorite is oriental. The Thai and Japanese stand out in particular. If you've ever watched Jiro Ono or Mitsushiro Araki making sushi, they have created an entire institution around their national cuisine. There's an art and romance with everything on the Japanese menu, and few cultures in the world have this kind of delicacy and passion with food. I can't speak the same for every meal I've had. There are other experiences I would share, but I would prefer to preserve our appetites.

During your stay at Hotel Courchevel 1850, you and some friends went out into the snow wearing nothing more than bikinis and boots. How cold were you, running around in the snow half naked?

It was another big step out of my comfort zone. We were all so excited that we didn’t care much about the cold, until the moment we fell face down into the snow. Let's say it was extremely refreshing. (laughs)

They have wonderful slopes at Courchevel, but how seasoned a skier are you?

That was only my third year skiing. I still have lots to learn and didn’t reach the black slopes yet. Keeping it blue and red. Was not too difficult as I do water skiing, and when I was little did cross country skiing.

You’ve visited many exotic beaches, but have you ever been to Trunk Bay, in St. John? I was there during my college years, and loved its heart-shaped beach.

Not yet, however the Virgin Islands are definitely on my list.

From whence does your wanderlust come? Did you travel much with family as a child, or was it an instinctual desire to see the world?

It was a desire to see new places, experience different cultures, meet new people, taste the food and drink from all over the world, watch the most beautiful sunsets while visiting exotic beaches. Travel and adventure is the best thing our universe can offer.  

I know that you’re half Greek, and half Russian, but in which country were you born, and what was your childhood like?

I was born in Moscow and raised in Thessaloniki. All I remember from my childhood is studying piano, being surrounded by dogs, eating a lot of ice cream, being naughty in school. Very naughty!

Your sartorial choices are outstanding. What brands do you like?

Love Australian designers, with Sheike being my favorite. Whenever I go there, my suitcase is impossible to lift. Love small boutiques with unique designs. I also Design bikinis and dresses, I just don’t really advertise it, as I design just for myself. I don’t sell them. Have no time for that. But very proud to mention it when people ask me “where I got it from”!

I deduced that you’re a fan of Game of Thrones. Tell me what else you enjoy watching when you’re not scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro?  

Love GOT, Vikings, HIMYM, and all time favorite, Friends.

How do you find the time for cinema or television? I’m not sure I would do either if I travelled as much as you.

It’s true, my time is very limited and television is the last thing on my list, however I can find 1 hour per week for my favorite TV shows.

Many of your photographs look as if they’ve come straight out of Elle or Vogue. Tell me you have or have had, a career in modeling.

I don’t think I am exactly the model type of girl. When I was younger, I did couple of modeling jobs for extra money, but nothing worth mentioning.

Let’s have a little fantasy for a bit: If there were luxury hotels, beaches, and accommodations on another planet, would you be daring enough to go?  

I would already be there. Exploring the place with my luxury UFO and having an alien giving me foot massage!  (laughter)

You’re a photographer as well. Is it your business, or something you do in your spare time?

Just another one of my many hobbies!

Occasionally I ask people who I interview what they do when they’re not making art, but I find myself in a position to ask you the opposite: What do you do when you’re not off on another adventure?

I have so many hobbies, so I'm trying to balance it up. Spend quality time with family and my dogs, designing, researching, planning, posting or simply just chilling.

For more pictures than we can squeeze in here of Gia's adventures, follow her Instagram account.