A Greek Get Away
Things are finally starting to look up this year; hopefully we will all be able to go travelling this summer and get some normality back in our lives. One of the few places I want to return to when possible is Greece, as not only does it have tasty food and amazing landscapes, but the Greek mythology also intrigues me.
Greece is located in South-eastern Europe and has thousands of beautiful little islands. It is well known for its relaxing beaches, ancient landmarks, interesting culture and let’s not forget, Mamma Mia of course. This destination should be on your bucket list and you can look into it more by completing the GG Treasure Hunts online Greece Wanderlust Treasure Hunt.
In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was the abode of the Gods and the site of the throne of Zeus. This mountain is a logical kingdom for a weather God as impressively, it is the tallest mountain in Greece and Zeus would be able to get a panoramic view of the world to observe all men. Mount Olympus is located in the Olympus range on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia and has been a national park since 1938. Every year thousands of visitor’s flock in to admire its rich flora and fauna, where they can climb its peaks, tour its slopes, rock climb and even ski in the winter. The snow-capped mountain usually takes 2 – 3 days to hike and it is non-technical. There are two main trails to reach the peaks: The Prionia Trail and The Gortsia Trail. Prionia is the most travelled and easiest route, where you will hike through the Enipeas Canyon along an enchanting trail that includes the ancient Agious Dionysius Monastery. Along the way there are 6 mountain huts where you can rest and get food. Olympus is an iconic part of the Greek skyline and when you climb to the peak, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea in the distance, how amazing!
One of the most iconic Cyclades islands to visit whilst in Greece would be Santorini. Renowned for its whitewashed buildings with blue doors and windows overlooking the Aegean Sea. The island was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th Century BC, which shaped its rugged landscape. Many individuals speculate that the lost city of Atlantis lies beneath Santorini, as the eruption caused the middle of the island to disappear into the sea, leaving a huge crater. The city’s real name was Akrotiri and you are able to view some of its remains at The Archaeological Site and you can also hike to the top of the dormant volcano.
If you love watching sunsets, head over to the clifftop town of Oia for an afternoon stroll. It’s the best place in Santorini to watch the sun disappear into the shimmering sea. I recommend booking a table at a restaurant that overlooks the town as there’s nothing better than enjoying Greek cuisine with an amazing view. No trip to Santorini is complete without a boat ride around the picturesque island. Many of the routes show you around the dramatic parts of the bay, the volcanic island, Akrotiri lighthouse and you’ll even have time to take a dip in the deep blue sea. The most popular restaurants with the best views are the Canaves in Oia and the Sphinx in Fira. The cobbled streets, cave like hotels and serene beaches are a dream and I wish I could be there right now!
The Monasteries of Meteora
Meteora is a rock formation in Greece, hosting a complex of six monasteries that were built on top of the rock in the 11th century, producing a geological phenomenon. Before the construction, hermit monks climbed the soaring stones and settled in the caves and hollows of the rocks. The Meteora Monasteries are a place of worship and were built high up so that they were closer to heaven and for protection against unwanted visitors. Approximately 60 monks and nuns still live there, and all six monasteries are functioning. The best way to explore Meteora is on foot, hiking from monastery to monastery immersing yourself in the scenery and fresh air. It is also a popular destination for rock climbers. There are around 140 steps cut into the rocks leading up to the entrance of the monastery’s and inside is rich with outstanding artwork dating all the way back to 1682. Most individuals who visit tend to stay overnight in hotels or campsites in the towns of Kalambaka or Kastraki. Interestingly, this historic landmark has featured in lots of films, including the James Bond film ‘For your eyes only’.
Another wonderful island in the Cyclades group is Mykonos, widely known for its party atmosphere in the summer. The immense dance clubs and beach bars attract world-renowned DJs and stay open well past dawn. Mykonos is also well known for its Mediterranean cuisine, fresh seafood and mezze dining culture. The best place to experience this is at Little Venice, a charming seafront tourist destination. Little Venice is famous for its 18th century fishing houses that have been transformed into restaurants and bars overhanging the sea and is a hotspot to grab a bite to eat whilst watching the sunset. The two most popular beaches in Mykonos are Agrari and Paradise beach, which are both nudist friendly. A short walk from Paradise beach along the golden sands is Super Paradise beach, where it is less crowded and popular with the LGBTQ community. There are no lounging fees for either beach but be sure to bring some change so you can slurp on a pinacolada whilst getting your tan on!
Iconic landmarks in Mykonos include the 16th century Kato Milli windmills, the famous white church of Panagia Paraportian and the 19m tall Armenistis Lighthouse. If you are interested in Greek mythology you can take a short ferry ride from Mykonos to Delos, the holy island of ancient Greece and the birthplace of the Gods Artemis and Apollo. Here you can visit its well-preserved ruins of temples, homes, theatres and monumental statues from over 2,000 years ago.
Not only is Athens the capital city of Greece and the birthplace of democracy, it’s also dominated by 5th century BC landmarks including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon Temple. In addition to this, it’s home to the Acropolis Museum, and The National Archaeological Museum, so if you’re a fan of history this is definitely a place to visit. Acropolis contains the remains of seven great architectural buildings and is the most popular tourist attraction in Athens and the entrance fees are cheap. The Parthenon is a former temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. It’s the largest and most lavish temple the Greek mainland has ever seen, with 46 columns holding it up. A superb hotel to stay in on your travels with stunning views is The Acropolis View Hotel.
Fascinatingly, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896. However, 1503 years before this, the Ancient Games were staged in Olympia from 776 BC through 393 AD. Greeks loved sports and the Ancient Games were a religious festival held in honour of Zeus.
Go to Foods in Greece
Whilst in Greece there are two national dishes that you have to try: Gyros and Moussaka. Gyros are my favourite Greek snack as they are delicious; consisting of vertically roasted meat (mainly pork or chicken), sliced and served on a pita wrap with salad toppings and Tzatziki sauce. They are the Mecca of Greek cuisine and a must have when you visit. The classic Moussaka is a dish made with eggplant, ground meat, cheese and meat sauce, topped with a thick bechamel sauce, then served with salad and crusty bread. Greeks consume more olive oil than any other nation and are renowned for the quality of their olives and olive oil.
The national drink of Greece is considered to be Ouzo. A dry anise-flavoured aperitif that’s widely consumed. Personally I am not a fan, but you should at least try it whilst in Greece to experience the full culture!