When I talk about Greece as a holiday destination I divide it into four categories: the old world, the new world, the beaches and the party islands. For me, the last of those is not what I’m into. I totally get why young people, full of energy and keen to enjoy some nightlife, are drawn to the islands, particularly Mykonos. However, that’s not for me, at least at this point in my life. Now to the beaches. Yep, you can find amazing stretches of sand in various parts of the world, from the Pacific Islands and Caribbean, to South America and other parts of the Mediterranean. However, in Greece you not only have a vast array of choices, but there’s an undeniable individuality and alure to them. I’ve been to loads of beaches all around the globe, but I just can’t get beyond the character and atmosphere of the ones in the Greek Islands. It’s more than the warm, clear waters or the peace and serenity. To tell you the truth, it’s hard to put words to it. You’ve really got to experience the beaches for yourself.
When it comes to the ‘old world’, what I mean is both the historic sites, and the traditional quirks and romance of the villages. Walking through an ancient fortress and gazing upon Roman ruins is a special experience, and in Greece, there’s a lot of them! Every town or island has remnants of the past, from auditoriums that once housed theatrical performances and crumbling towers where soldiers would have once stood guard, to beautifully maintained mansions that were the homes of admirals. In Greece, historians really are spoilt for choice. Then there’s that special charm of the traditional way of life that many of those in the smaller towns and villages live by. It’s fascinating to see and experience the simplicity of being a goat herder or farmer, growing your own produce, or the life of a fisherman. For me, being surrounded by these things and observing people going about their lives in such a manner has a relaxing effect. Suddenly I slow down a little and start to appreciate the simple things. It’s eye-opening and inspiring at the same time.
Now to the new world. This is the part of Greece most people have no idea about. Everyone knows the other three I’ve mentioned, but few look at somewhere like Athens as a place for modern luxuries or a thriving contemporary arts scene. The reality is, people in Greece have always been forward thinking and embraced other cultures, and to a certain extent, social change. Yes, religion plays a huge role for your average Greek, but there’s also an undercurrent of independence. This is particularly the case at the moment, as the youth look to make changes and rebuild the country after the recent economic decline. With this resurgence in energy comes a thriving nightlife and creative scene. Bars, galleries and nightclubs are opening up. Fashion designers, artists, musicians and other innovative types are finding a place to share their passions. All these things have combined to reinvigorate Athens and other parts of Greece.
So as you can see, Greece really is the complete package. I might be a little bit biased, but I like to think I can see beyond my cultural affinity and take a more holistic look at things. At the end of the day, you have to discover this for yourself. So….when are you planning your Greek Odyssey?