Greece

Greece; Islands of Serenity

   So, before I regale you with tales of my Aegean voyage, let me first say: going to Greece in April is cold! Even though this was a spring break trip, I have to say there was quite a chill in the air. Therefore, my advice to anyone planning their own Grecian vacation, plan for May or June or some point in time when you are actually able to swim in those beautiful blue waters without catching hypothermia. You've been warned.


  So we arrive on the island of Corfu, which if your looking for the most secluded place in Europe, this could be nominated. We were in a little hotel on the coast overlooking the beautiful seascape where we spent a few days relaxing (for lack of better options), and checking out a local town some thirty minutes away from our hotel. This was all there was to the first couple days of the trip, until it was finally time to catch out bus/ferry ride to Athens! 


  Athens was not what I expected, but I still came to love this massive city. When I thought "Greece", images of Gods, and heroes, and the towering columns of temples. I arrived half expecting to see Mt Olympus standing omnipotently off in the distance somewhere. Needless to say, my childhood dreams of Xena and Hercules were a tad bit crushed when I came upon a highly industrious high functioning city. Of course, the temples do exists (took a rememberable selfie at the temple of Zeus), but the few historic sites had been secluded by heavily trafficked streets and building of modernity. Though this in itself had a certain energy to it, and you could feel the business of everyday life. From the top of the city, where you could visit ruins of the once revered, you could get an all encompassing view of the city.  The only way to describe it would be to call it a sea of silver and white, as you were looking at building after building.


  My favorite part of Athens was the shopping! Near Syntagma Square (the main square of Athens) is a large outdoor market, with vendors selling bobbles and trinkets galore! I didn't buy very much, but rather just enjoyed listening to the sounds of vendors trying to promote their wares and buyers haggling for the best price. One tip on buying: Haggle like a fiend! Vendors automatically raise their prices of their wares because they know that travelers will often buy them! You can get something a third of the original price with a bit of haggling! Heres how you do it: Show extreme interest in something, but when you hear the prices look heartbroken. Say how much you have (How much your willing to pay, not what you actually have), and look pleadingly. The Vendor will lower the price a bit, but continue to look sad and start to walk away. After about three steps the vendor will yell "Wait!" and motion for you to give him the money you offered while looking pester that you, a foreigner, bested him at the game! Voila! You now know how to haggle in Greece!


Another thing you ABSOLUTLY MUST do while jun Athens is to visit The Poet Sandelmaker. This is a small shop off of Syntagma square that has been passed down generationally, and has been making handmade leather sandals for years! Not only are they handmade, they come in a variety of styles, are molded to your foot, and only cost $30! Many different celebrities including the Beatles and Babara Streisand come here specifically for their Grecian footwear! They are without a doubt my favorite shoes that I have ever owned!

  

Now while my favorite thing to do in Athens is to shop, my favorite thing to do in Greece as a whole is to EAT! Hands down the absolute tastiest and cheapest food in all of Europe (that I have explored). Your go to during the day will have to be a fabulously delicious Gyro, that will only cost you about €3, and don't forget a little baklava for dessert! For dinner you must try the Moussakas (Baked lamb and potatoes)! You can get it just about anywhere in Greece, and it's always scrumptious! If your closer to the ocean, also try the locally caught swordfish! Lastly, the wine! Grecian wine is quite different from its more western counterparts, in that it's inherently sweeter. You won't find many stout dry wines, but instead a lot of dessert and almost obnoxiously sweet table wines. This has to do with the climate and the fact that they do not grow the vines to stand up but rather to curl into spherical bundles on the ground! 

    

The last leg of my trip was a boat ride out to the most serene getaway in the Aegean, Santorini! When the boat first came upon the island, my mine immediatly thought "Minas Tirith", just from all the white wash applied to almost put every building in site! I spent the better part of three days gazing out over the blue domed structures at the tumulus sea, exploring every nook and cranny of both towns on the island (believe me there were many), and hiking out to the edge of the cliffs that plunged down into the watery depths. There were a plethora of quaint shops selling jewelry made of shells and lava rock from a local volcano, as well as a few small vendors. I also came across a small bookshop that housed an eccentric collection of every genre. Apparently incoming tourists would come and swap books out, while the staff were one or two people who volunteered to live in the book shop for a period of 6months to one year, taking a step back from civilization and accepting the quiet reverie of the island. My most favorite activity was finding the best perch in the city from which to watch the most gorgeous sunsets that I've ever witnessed, hues of oranges and yellow encroaching closer and closer until they began to dance with the blue hue of the water, giving birth to violent shades of purple until finally dying into an amber glow as the last light of the day left the face of the earth. 





Travelers List

What to pack? Swim suit and sunblock! 
Money? They use the Euro, take enough for a shopping spree in Athens, as well as for lots and lots of food! Plus for entrance fees to ruins, make sure you have a student ID for discounts. 
What to take on a day out? Camera and a map of the city (Important! I got lost for hours!) No bags, but have your wallet hidden in your waistband for shopping! 
Danger? Greek men can be a little handsy, so be firm in your convictions and say NO! Don't go off by yourself at night in Athens! 
When to Go? Summer! Around May would be perfect! Before May and you will freeze!  
Must See? The Poet Sandekmaker in Athens, The view of the sunset in Santorini. 







1 comments:

  1. We enjoyed the tour of Santorini... your'e living our dream!

    ReplyDelete

 

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