This week saw me take a lightning fast two day trip to the beautiful country that is Greece.
Greece is a country of 1,400 islands dotted with vineyards, olive trees, hills, mountains and gorgeous white sand beaches. It has a wonderful location, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Ionian Sea to the west and the island-filled Aegean Sea to the east.
Many of these Greek islands are seen as tourist paradises by many who seek relaxing, “away-from-it-all” holidays.
Where better to unwind? Just think of the names … Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, Kos, Limnos, Zakynthos.
These are regarded as perfect, romantic idylls by stressed-out city dwellers and sun-worshippers world-wide.
This image is not surprising. The beautiful weather and the warmth of the people make Greece one of the most welcoming countries in the world.
Friendly beach-side tavernas serve delicious Greek food, such as moussaka, souvlaki, stifado and feta cheese. After a glass or two of ouzo as an aperitif and plenty of retsina wine to accompany the meal – what better than a little bouzouki or mandolin music to relax and while away the warm evening?
Little white stone houses, Byzantine churches and archaeological remains, thousands of years old, make Greece a veritable, magical treasure-house. A place where the visitor can feast the eyes and satisfy the soul.
Is there any wonder that this birth-place of philosophy is one of the most popular and enduring holiday destinations on Earth?
Mainland Greece is a wonderful place, with a very extensive, attractive, indented coast-line, full of contrasts. In fact, for a smallish country, very close to England in size, Greece has a very long rugged coast-line. This is due to the many bays and peninsulas on the mainland, as well as to the hundreds of wonderful Greek islands.
On the north-east coast of the mainland is Halkidiki with its three fingers, or claws, stretching for about 30 miles into the blue Aegean sea. These are the peninsulas of Akti [or Mount Athos], Sithonia and Kassandra. This Land of Aristotle is a very popular tourist area, especially Kassandra, where Hanioti is a vibrant resort, with an excellent beach.
Kalithea and Fourka are also popular with families. The Peloponnese Peninsula, forming the southern part of the mainland, is almost an island, with only a narrow neck of land connecting it to the rest of the Greek mainland.
The historic, ancient city of Corinth is located on the narrowest part of the isthmus, connecting the Gulf of Corinth, to the north, with the Mirtoan and Aegean Seas of the east, via the four mile long Corinth Canal.
Here also, to the east of Corinth, is the great port of Piraeus, which serves Greece and its truly historic, world-famous, iconic capital … Athens or Athinai.
This is the city where democracy was born!!
Piraeus is a superb, huge harbour, with container ships, oil tankers and holiday cruise liners from all over the world. Hundreds of large ferries, serving Greece’s numerous islands, also dock here. Very few ports in Europe are busier than Piraeus.
It is quite a sight at night, with twinkling lights all around the extensive harbour.
The bustling city of Athens is only a few miles away from the port. Here is to be found one of the most famous historic monuments of human civilisation … the Parthenon!
It is located in the Acropolis, the ancient walled city which sits on a rocky hill overlooking central Athens. The imposing Parthenon has dominated this ancient site for over 2,000 years, since it was initiated by Perikles.
It is a must-see attraction for every tourist travelling to Athens or southern Greece.
Thousands visit it every day. It is perched on a hill, so it requires good walking ability to get there.
The Temple of Athena Nike; the Porch of the Caryatids; the Theatre of Herodes Atticus and the smaller Theatre of Dionysos are other famous historic monuments to be seen in or around the Acropolis. It is a fascinating area!
At the base of the hill, are Athens’ main shopping streets, Ermou and Athinas. They are full of interesting shops, with a taverna around every corner.
Athens, Halkidiki, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Santorini, Kefalonia, Kos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Thassos, Zante, Lesbos , Samos, Kalymnos, Symi, Lefkas, Limnos, Chios ……… the choice of wonderful holiday destinations in Greece is mind-boggling!
Beautiful sandy beaches, stunning scenery, warm weather, historic sites in abundance, atmospheric tavernas, wonderful food, friendly people …….. Greece has it all!! No wonder it is one of the world’s top countries for vacations!! Just a shame I couldn’t spend more time there, I will definately be back!