It’s no secret that I’m completely and utterly enamoured with the Greek Islands. I blame the Greeks, above everyone else, for my holiday obsession. And there are so many islands, you see, each with slightly different charms, so I have to keep going back again, every time a different place calls my name.
I am addicted to Greece.
Here’s what got me hooked:
1. Beautiful Beaches:
This one goes without saying, but I have to start here. There is no shortage of gently shelving, soft sand, sloping serenely into the sea on the Greek Islands.
On a trip to Elafonisi in southwest Crete, I discovered that Europe can rival any tropical destination for coral pink sand and crystal clear waters. If you go to Greece just for the beaches, you won’t be disappointed. But there is so much more to enjoy.
2. Home Cooked Greek Cuisine
I will eat whatever you put in front of me if it’s Greek. Fact.Moussaka is an obvious choice, but my absolute favourite is Lamb Kleftico. I love the slight variations you get with this dish, depending on which island you’re on and whose wise old mother the recipe came from.
I’ve had it on the bone, off the bone, wrapped in paper and served as a one pot wonder. I’ve even had it put down in front of me wrapped in foil and actually on fire. Flames and all. I’ve never not liked it.
And given that I cannot help but clear my plate everywhere I go in Greece, there’s simply nothing quite like a wee drop of Metaxa, Raki or Ouzo to help your dinner go down and warm (or burn, in the case of Raki) your insides.
3. Fascinating History
I was nine or ten the first time I learned anything about Ancient Greece. I remember being enthralled by these extraordinary stories as they were absorbed by my consciousness.
Visiting Greece later in life, I saw that you can’t go anywhere without being immersed in some of this wonderful history and mythology. From the ancient Palace of Knossos in Crete, to the Asklepion in Kos; the birthplace of Hippocrates and modern medicine.
And not forgetting the volcanic island of Santorini, rumoured to be the origins of the legendary Lost City of Atlantis.
All this without me even mentioning Athens and the Acropolis.
4. Family Values
I’ve watched three generations of a Greek family dancing together; I’ve seen children following their mother with toy brooms as she cleaned the rooms in the little apartments run by their family;
I’ve been told by a Greek tour guide in Crete how elderly parents and grandparents live with the younger generations of their families so they can be cared for, just as they cared for their own youngsters before they grew up. All in all, the Greeks have taught me a lot about the importance of family and looking after each other.
5. The People in General
The last time we visited Crete, the owner of our accommodation gave us a bottle of wine from his village because we were still (relative) newlyweds.
Unfortunately, it tasted kind of like I imagine petrol does (I really wanted to like it), but it was still a lovely gesture. When we left, we got hugs and kisses as though we were old friends. This year was much the same, as Costas told us how it makes him sad to see people go once he’s got to know them a little.
The Greek Islands are bursting with wonderful people, just waiting to welcome you.
What do you love about Greece? And which island should I visit next?