Discovering the Real Greece
I recently returned from an epic sixteen-day adventure capturing cinemagraphs with @levanterman and Marriott Hotels & Resorts in Greece. During the six destination adventure across Southern Greece, we swam in hidden waterfalls in Costa Navarino; relaxed on undisturbed beaches in Mykonos; found the best souvlaki in Athens; visited picturesque villages in Rhodes; got lost hiking in wild Crete and experienced an otherworldly sunset in Santorini.
I grew up with Greek myths as bedtime stories, so couldn’t wait to explore the real legacy of Greece’s legendary ancient civilization. But from our first welcome on Greek soil, it was impossible to ignore that the culture of the ancients is very much alive and a part of thriving, modern Greece.
Locals go about their daily lives beside imposing fortresses and historic medieval palaces in Rhodes’ Old Town. While in Athens, I felt the echoes of the past most strongly: the blend of old and new is clearly visible in this sprawling cosmopolitan city, built in the shadow of the iconic Parthenon.
The modern (by Greek standards!) ceremony of the Changing of the Evzone Guards was one of the trip’s highlights; a living, breathing reminder of Greece’s battle for independence.
Pride in their heritage and passion for their culture led to many good-natured debates with our hosts (usually over a glass of raki) about which area of Greece produces the best wine, the best cheese, the best olive oil… Lucky for us, we were treated to the “best in Greece” at every destination!
The traditional Cretan Feast conjured up memories of eating with friends and family back home, where everyone orders their favourite dish and shares food and stories around the table.
My new favourite is fava, a simple split pea puree dish from Santorini which is fantastic served with freshly-caught squid. The earthy flavours and wonderful fresh seafood is everything that I love about authentic Greek cuisine. That, and all the many independent kafeneios to try!
From delicious culinary experiences and awe-inspiring landscapes, to ancient monuments and streets with stories on every corner; my time exploring Greece ended much too soon. I could gaze at the hypnotic installation at Barbouni beach Restaurant in Costa Navarino for ever!
But it was the people that we met and their wholehearted welcome and enthusiasm that has ensured I’ll be back. It’s no surprise to learn that hospitality originated in Greece!
I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything that Greece has to offer. Until next time…