Being summer in the northern hemisphere, quite a few people I know have been off adventuring around Europe. It’s not really out of the norm but for reason, slightly more than usual are spending time in Greece. Every other day someone is posting at photo or status update from the land of the gods – I’m looking at you ‘Annawithlove’.
This got me reflecting back on my time in Greece a few years ago and so I thought, on this sunny afternoon as I sit on the deck looking out over the beautiful city of Toronto, I would share with you some quick and dirty tips on visiting Greece. Spoiler alert, this isn’t anything groundbreaking here but just a few things that pop into my mind and might make someone else’s visit a little more special.
My very first stop in Greece was on the island of Santorini. While I stayed a couple nights, I rented a 4 wheeler on one of my days and drove it around the island. I kicked the morning off by climbing the many steps from the port (don’t ride the donkeys), I drove to some little villas, a few beaches, drank some wine and finished the day of enjoying the sunset from Oia. In all my travels it’s one of the most perfect days I have had. You can see my day in my Santorini video.
2. Have a Greek Salad
You have not had a Greek salad until you’ve had one in Greece. I’ve ordered them before back home. You got some lettuce and vegetables with broken up bits of feta. Nope, not in Greece. Mine came complete with huge chunks of vegetables (no lettuce) and a massive slab of feta cheese. We’re talking a block. Don’t forget the oil either. I could have cooked a whole other meal with the amount of oil in my salad but boy oh boy was it tasty as heck!
3. Sleep at the Athens Airport
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. This was the case on my visit to Greece. My ferry from Santorini got into Athens pretty late and I hadn’t booked a place to stay that night in the city so I didn’t feel comfortable roaming the streets at 1 am looking for a place. Then I saw the bus to the airport. It was 1 euro and a short ride. I remembered that you can access the airport and sleep on the floor without getting kicked out (I had no choice but to do this a few nights earlier on a long layover) so we hopped on, and set up camp in one of the terminals. If you find yourself stranded, just get to the airport!
4. Temple of Olympian Zeus
Most people make a point of visiting the Acropolis and Parthenon when they go to Athens. Yes, it’s stunning, but my personal favourite was the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Although quite a bit of it is destroyed, there is something so breathtaking about how the pillars just tower into the sky. I find it more impressive than the Parthenon in fact. It is surrounded by so much space which allows you to step back and really take it in.
5. Prepare for Passion
There are so many countries in the world that are dripping with passion and pride. Greece is without a doubt a leader of the pack. If you are making plans for summer 2014 and intend to spend part of your holidays in Greece, prepare for passion! From sports events, to history, to just plain everything, Greeks are proud. It’s exhilarating really.
Greece is a pretty great jump off point for visiting other countries in the Mediterranean and general region. Turkey and Italy are big ones but my personal suggestion would be Macedonia. I spent a few weeks in Ohrid, Macedonia and fell in love with it. You can fly from Athens or even take a bus from Thessaloniki and soon be surrounded by the beautiful people, music and food of the country. You could also make another country your first stop and finish your holiday in a villa on a relaxing Greek island. The options are endless.
If you do find yourself in Greece in the near future, simply make sure you absorb the beautiful culture and people that it has to offer. While at times it can be hectic and loud you can also find serenity and that opportunity to relax and reenergize. A vacation inside a vacation.
Hopefully these little tips help you out a bit. If you have some more that you would like to share in the comments below or if you end of visiting and want to tell me about it, that would be marvellous!
Until next time, I raise a glass of Ouzo!