By Spiros Christoforatos, Head of Client and Adviser Growth
With Greece’s widespread influence and the world becoming more accessible, an increasing number of people are drawn to its origins, captivating landscapes, ancient ruins, vibrant culture, and beautiful beaches. Having visited Greece multiple times in the past 15 years, I continue to be amazed by the breadth of activities it offers. If you haven’t considered visiting Greece as yet, make sure to add Greece to your bucket list and hopefully what I have to say and experienced below will encourage you to do so.
In Greece, ancient ruins dating back thousands of years can be found throughout the country. Even during preparations for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, numerous discoveries were made while constructing the new metro system. Today, many metro stations in and around Athens preserve these ruins behind glass, allowing everyone to admire them while commuting. Apart from renowned sites like The Acropolis and The Agora in Athens, there are other remarkable locations like Delphi, Ancient Olympia, and the Theatre of Epidaurus. Personally, I am captivated by the ancient city of Lindos on Rhodes’ eastern coast and the Medieval Old Town of Rhodes, constructed by the Knights of St John – both of these sites are very amazing. In fact, people that have seen the movie the Guns of Navarone, may not know that the movie was shot on Rhodes, specifically Lindos.
Kalamos Beach, Agios Apostolos
When thinking of Greece, the mind often goes to the Greek Islands. There are around 6,000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. While not all are inhabited, each one possesses its own charm. The well-known ones include Mykonos, famous for the rich and famous, Santorini with its stunning sunsets and volcanic setting, and Crete, the largest island with Minoan ruins and picturesque villages. Personally, I find myself repeatedly drawn to Kefalonia, located in the Ionian Sea. Despite being affected by a major earthquake in the 50’s, it gained popularity through the movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” in 2001. The island’s people, local cuisine, and sites are truly amazing. Though I may be biased as it’s my father’s birthplace. Kefalonia is a must-visit destination in Greece.
Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia
Having travelled across Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America, I can say that Greece boasts an abundance of pristine beaches, unmatched by any I’ve seen in my travels. Whether on the islands or mainland, the beaches are incredible, catering to all preferences, from secluded spots to vibrant beach parties beaches. While I’ve only experienced a fraction of them, my top three are Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia, known for its golden sand surrounded by lime mountains, creating mesmerizing blue waters.
Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos
Navagio Beach, or Shipwreck Beach, in Zakynthos comes in second- just amazing, and third is Agios Apostolos in Kalaymos, a sleepy seaside fishing village located about 50km north of Athens with amazing little taverna’s that specialise in local seafood.
For food enthusiasts, Greece offers a delightful culinary journey. While dishes like moussaka, lamb on the spit, and souvlaki are well-known to most, the legume dishes like Chickpea soup, Lentil Soup, and Greek White Bean soup are equally enticing. The vegetables, particularly the tomatoes, are unparalleled in flavour. Wild Greens boiled with olive oil and lemon, known as Horta, are a delightful treat. And of course, the seafood, including fresh BBQed sardine, mackerel, and whitebait, is a must-try. All this can be savoured with a carafe of ouzo or locally sourced light red wine. Greece will undoubtedly leave your taste buds dancing with joy.
If you have ever been invited to a Greek party – you would know the Greeks don’t mind a party and its festivals are a testament to the lively spirit of its people. My most amazing experience is when I travelled to Greece during Easter, a significant religious experience for all Greeks steeped in tradition and feasts. Another is during the summer months when the Epidaurus Festival is in full swing. This period showcases a wide range of performances in ancient theatres around the country from big act music events like Sting to ancient comedies, tragedies, or satire plays. The experience of seeing Sting at the Theatre of Epidaurus nestled below the Acropolis in Athens is nothing short of spectacular – a kind of new meets old – stunning!
Music and Dance
Following on from the vibrant festivals, Greek dance and music plays a significant role in Greek culture. Everywhere you go in Greece, you will encounter melodies of the bouzouki and the rhythm of the “syrtaki” made famous by Anthony Quinn in the movie Zorba the Greek coming from little obscure taverna’s to village town squares. And don’t be surprised if you also see spontaneous folk dancing in any of these settings – it’s all part of the authentic Greek experience.
As I mentioned earlier, every visit to Greece never ceases to amaze me and leaves me grateful for the experience. There is just so much to do. And whilst I may be a little bias due to my heritage, apart from Australia – Greece is a wonderful country – its people, climate, cuisine, attractions and generally the way of life is something very inspiring. I do encourage everyone to experience it once and make memories that would last a lifetime – Opa!
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