Journey To Greece
This is another blog from the archives... this blog incidentally is the most read blog I've ever written according to the stats that blogger keeps... anyway I've been busy but I am working on two new entries... so I thought I would rerun this one since @jakester said previously that he was interested in visiting Greece soon...
Traveling offers beautiful new views of the world that can lead to a moment that changes your life or your outlook forever... No matter where in the world I am (especially if I'm not having a great day) I try to find beauty in something or someone and strive to try to make the moment as remarkable as possible.
The one place in the world where it is almost effortless to find beauty in the surroundings and people and create remarkable moments and memories is Greece... Greece casts a magic spell over me each and every time I've been there (over a dozen times) and each time I visit I leave with a new friend, insight and treasured memory... one of the earliest lessons traveling gave me is that by learning the way of others and understanding how they live and their customs and beliefs helps to make us more complete... and with this understanding of others we can come closer to understanding ourselves.
Although I've traveled to Greece many times I still have much to see and discover and I always have an insatiable desire to return... and that is what makes Greece so amazing to me.... I could not possibly write a complete guide to any place much less Greece in one installment so I'll offer a starting point and a few pointers and an overview for your future sojourns to the islands. If you have never been I recommend taking tours with small groups (which I hardly ever recommend) on your first and maybe second visit... Start with Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Epidaurus and Santorini... (I'm putting Santorini here because of all the islands in the world it's one of my absolute favorite.) Most travel can be done by car or train and of course boat to the islands (some have small airports but you miss some of the majesty and beauty if you don't arrive by water.
Spend a day and a night at Hotel Plaka... there are much nicer hotels but this one has awe inspiring views of the Acropolis especially at night. If you want something more elegant Astir Palace Vouliagmeni is a lovely resort just outside the city.
I would start early at the Acropolis; it's just breathtaking visiting the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the ancient theatre of Dionysus..I like to get out of the summer sun for a couple of hours so I go to museums... In Athens I like National Archeological Museum, Jewish Museum Of Greece, Benaki Museum and the Byzantine Museum... One of my favorite restaurants in Athens is O Damigos in Plaka and it's always one of the best meals of the trip. (not well known or fancy and mostly locals but the food is divine)
The next day head to Delphi northeast of Athens as it's one of the most beautiful places on earth with million dollar views looking down to the Gulf of Cornith. Take some time to visit the Monestary of Ossios Loukas.
This trip will give you a taste of classic ancient Greece then going to Santorini will give you the feel of islands; Santorini is in the southern part of the Aegean and is the southernmost island of the Cyclades. Make sure you visit Franco's Bar it's my favorite in the entire world.
A tried and true island hopping holiday is to get a ferry to Santorini (Thira) and then make your way back through the Cyclades. If you look at the map, generally the islands to the East, Naxos, Paros, Anti Paros, Mykonos Ios are the party Islands, and the Western Cyclades Milos, Sifnos, Serifos and Kythnos are much quieter but would give you a more authentic Greek Island experience... but if you are going to Mykonos, Santorini or Paros if you've been to Ibiza or Sitges things don't really get started until after 11:00 at night; just follow the tanned crowd from place to place... it's also a good way to meet people. I tend to head home before 2:00-3:00 when the drama level starts to rise with the amount of cocktails consumed. Oh and one more thing... If a Greek man rubs his cheek it means he likes you... but don't wave back at him it's an insult... go over and chat if you like him.... (no matter where you go a little research on customs and such is always helpful)
|Taverna in Paros|
I once spent the whole summer sailing from island to island and was not able to experience everything... but I did learn something important... wherever I go I visit the marina areas as you usually meet a different caliber or more interesting mix of locals and travelers than in the hotels or in town... besides the shops and restaurants and bars are usually a bit more down to earth and authentic.
If I were to give you any advice about where to visit in Greece I would have to say... over time and after many visits try to see everything...
The Ioanian Islands
The Argo-Saronic Islands
The Sporades and Evvoia
The Northeast Aegean Islands
... but like almost every other place else in the world if you are willing to go off the beaten path taken by most tourists you can find some of the more remarkable places with the most interesting people... (sometimes not... but it's always worth the gamble to me)... because some of these people and experiences changed my life or the way I look at it forever.
Edited by Kawika