I have been to Greece several times, and each trip has only heightened my love for the country’s land, food, and people. My first time in Greece was on a family trip in high school. My memories are of giant slices of honey soaked homemade baklava, yogurt oozing gyros, the all-downhill hike at Samaria Gorge, the ruins of the bronze age Minoan site of Knossos, tough mountainous landscapes, even tougher natives, long deserted beaches, Scandinavian tourists discoing in Khania, and grocery stores selling cookies with hazelnut chocolate cream. Crete felt tough, beautiful, and unspoiled.
Greece was etched in my memory, and it had earned a permanent spot on my list of places to someday explore more.
Years passed, I got older, and someday finally came, when an opportunity to go back to Greece appeared unexpectedly. By that time, I was living in Turkey and had already traveled most of its coastline. With a week of vacation, I decided to pack just one very small backpack and set off from the port at Bodrum to island hop around the Cyclades, the most famous of all the Greek island chains. In a week, with absolutely no plan or idea what would be waiting, I followed the ferry schedules of the day, and went from Bodrum to Kos, and then to Amorgos, Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Delos, and finally to Chios on the way back to Izmir, in Turkey.
The Cyclades were beyond anything I had imagined, and it was a stunning discovery to find that each island had such a different character. We were impressed by the gravity-defying cliff monestary in Amorgos (as well as the secluded beach cove below), awed in a state of jaw-dropping shock by the beauty of Santorini, seduced by the ancient Kouros statues and giddy at learning to ride a Vespa in the wild of Naxos, and horrified by the kitschy overload of Mykonos main town (to the point of getting on the first boat out and sleeping upright in our seats on an overnight ferry – anything seemed better than staying more than an afternoon on Mykonos).
By the end of that week, with nothing more than a backpack and a sense of adventure, I had fallen even more for Greece. It retained its permanent ranking on the list of places that I someday wanted to explore more.
Years passed, I got older, and someday finally came again. By that time I was living in Paris, and I found myself desperate to make a summer exodus away from the hoards, heat, and pollution of the city. Searching online led me to a picture of a windmill for rent on an island I had never heard of.
A few weeks later, I was on a plane and ready to delve into the unknown, this time on an extended several month trip. During that time, I kept a travel journey, as an experiment. It is from this travel journal that I draw the series Greece Travel Diary. The writing is a little different than what normally appears here. It is more raw, more real, more gritty and authentic. Much like Greece itself.
To read the entire Greece Travel Diary Series, click here: