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Greece, Millennia of History And Beautiful Landscapes

December 9, 2014

greece

Greece is one of those countries you must visit before you die, the birthplace of democracy and home of the brave (ancient) Spartans. Remember “This is Spartaaaa!!!”, well Sparta was a city state in ancient Greece.

I must tell you that  our modern civilization has its roots in Greek philosophy, ancient Greek scholars and philosophers made possible the Roman empire, long story short, just go for it and you’ll never regret it. The trip, I mean.

Greece is a maritime country, having over 2000 islands (some of them are actually up for sale, because of the 2008 financial crisis and just 227 of them are  inhabited) and its landscape makes it perfect for water sports, cycling, hiking, walking, festivals and while you’re at it, you may learn a bit about ancient history plus you can take a crash course in food ecology.

Hint for food aficionados : Mediterranean diet, that’s what Greece is all about.

Greece is a country strategically located in the southern European Union, neighboring with Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia  and Turkey. Basically, Greece stands at the crossroads of three continents : Europe, Africa and Asia and it’s no wonder that the Greek empire was based on commerce, just like all the great empires in the history of the world.

Greece is divided into 9 main geographic regions : The Aegean Islands (Cyclades/Dodecanese included), Epirus, Thessaly, Crete, Thrace, Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese and finally the Ionian Islands.

Being basically the cradle of the Western civilization and the creator  of modern democracy, also the birthplace of political science, philosophy, mathematical/major scientific principles and literature, Greece oozes with culture and its ancient civilization had a major influence over the world’s history (present day included, hint : the Olympic Games!).

The best times for travelling in the Greek islands are July and August. Even if it’s a little bit crowded this time of year and hotel rooms may be tricky to find, you will find the nightlife awesome and the  beaches, well…just go see for yourself.

You will enjoy the night clubs pulsing of life from Mykonos and the splendid ruins of Meteora, Delphi or Metsovo.

greece mykonos

Greece has hundreds of miles of aquamarine coastline, being surrounded by the Aegean sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Ionian sea to the west.

Its main land relief consists of mountains (over 80%) with the highest peak being Mount Olympus (9570 ft).

The largest island is Crete, also the most populated, followed by Euboea, Lesbos and Rhodes. Being an insular country, Greece is best explored by island-hopping.

 Athens- The Capital of Greece                   

 If you’re ready to go, you should start with visiting Athens, the Greek capital, home of the magnificent Acropolis and the legendary Parthenon temple, which rise about the ancient city, dominating the modern metropolis that evolves continuously.

Athens is an excellent place for shopping while visiting ancient places, featuring classy restaurants, new hotels and a city center where cars were actually banished, making for the perfect spot for pedestrian promenade.

The city looks cosmopolite, being very sophisticated , with a rich cultural life and filled with ancient monuments, full of contradictions (new vs old) and friendly people. Athens is a seductive place, actually quite addicting, among the safest and in the same time lively European cities, that mixes grace and grunge with an urban soul.

greece athens night

The street life in Athens is vibrant, but the  Athenian life style is very relaxed, laid-off; the inhabitants take seemingly endless coffee breaks and long strolls on their streets filled with “history”. People are used  to dine out until late at night and they are  accustomed with the city’s abundant nightlife, unlike other Europeans (Germans, Austrians) that go to bed early.

While in Athens, you can take a walk around the Acropolis, take a tour through the Aegean sea, visit the ancient Delphi or make a two days trip to Santorini.

greece santorini

Acropolis can be regarded as THE place to visit while in Athens, being an iconic ancient site of the Western civilization. The Acropolis is crowned by the Parthenon and these beautiful sites stand sentinel over the modern Athens, being visible from any place within the city limits.

Other places to visit while in Athens are the Panathenaic Stadium,  Hadrian’s Arch, the ancient Agora, the National Archeological Museum, the museum of Cycladic art, Keramikos, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Areopagus Hill, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Parliament, the Planetarium or even taking a half day trip from Athens to see the Corinth. There are literally hundreds of places to visit in Athens only, I can hardly do them justice in this article.

greece delphi

 Explore other great places in Greece

  As I already told you, island hopping is the national “sport” while visiting Greece. The most important destinations are Mykonos, with beautiful sandy beaches and full of ancient archeological wonders, Santorini, featuring a deep blue sea and cinnamon sands, Crete with beautiful landscapes and awesome beaches,  Rhodes, Corfu, Kefallonia, Karphatos, Hydra, Patmos, Delos, Lefkada and the list is wide open. Just pick a place and go for it!

  Greek Cuisine

Greeks have a passion for food as a social experience, sharing their meals with their friends and family alike. It’s more than food, it’s all about the ambience, the attitude and most of all, about dining out in a casual/convivial atmosphere. The name of the game is Mediterranean Diet and fine wines.

Greeks love seafood and their cuisine uses lots of vegetables, herbs, olive oil, fish&various meats(poultry, pork, lamb) along with cheese, olives, eggplant, zucchini and yogurt (in tzatziki, a national dish).

Traditional Greek cheeses are Feta, Graviera, Kasseri, Manouri, and Kefalotry. Traditional foods include gyros, paximadi, moussaka,keftethes, pita, souvlaki and tyropita.

greece rhodes

Visa Requirements for Greece

 Greece is a member of the European Union and has ratified the Schengen Agreement, hence if you’re an EU citizen travelling in Greece all you’ll need is your ID, no passport required. If you’re not from the EU, you’ll probably need a Visa/passport and further info can be obtained from travel agencies/Hellenic Consulates/Embassies.

If you’re from the USA or one of the following countries:

Andorra
Argentina
Australia
Brazil
Brunei
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Croatia
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
Israel
Japan
Malaysia
Mexico
Monaco
New Zealand
Vatican
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Saint Marino
Singapore
South Korea
Uruguay
Venezuela

(and you have a valid passport), you don’t need a Visa for visiting Greece (you can stay in the country for up to three months).

greece planetarium

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