Like Ulysses bewitched by Circe, travellers will forget the passage of time as they take in Greece’s varied and subtle charms.
Whether you are exploring the peninsula in the footsteps of the heroes and philosophers of antiquity, sailing from island to island in search of festivities and idleness, hiking in the Cretan gorges or climbing to the monasteries of Meteora and Mount Athos, there are a thousand and one ways to discover this country, which deserve more than one trip. The Parthenon is a must-see, but you’ll have to leave bustling Athens to pass under the Lion’s Gate and pay homage to King Agamemnon of Mycenae, dream of being an actor at the theatre of Epidaurus and an athlete at Olympia, before consulting the oracles of the Pythia of Delphi, in a site magnificently set against the mountains.
History buffs won’t also want to miss the Cretan Palace of Knossos, where frescoes evoke memories of beautiful Minoan women and young acrobats leaping over bulls, fortunately less ferocious than the Minotaur locked in his mythical labyrinth. Today, it’s hard to imagine that this brilliant civilisation was swept away by the tsunami caused by the eruption of Santorini, one of the most destructive in human history, more than 3,600 years ago. Akrotiri is a veritable Greek Pompeii.
Emblematic of the Cyclades, the island-volcano offers the unforgettable experience of bathing in its crater, invaded by the sea, changing colour and reaching up to 34° near the volcanic islet of Palea Kameni. The dazzling freshness of the white houses adorned with bougainvillea is an invitation to wander down the shady lanes inhabited by cats, and dine on the pleasures of the Mediterranean diet.
Each island will be a pretext for a gustatory discovery, from the citron liqueur made according to ancestral recipes on Naxos, to the breads of Olympos moulded with love and respect by the women of Karpathos, who traditionally decorate each loaf according to family emblems and religious festivals. Away from the tourist trail, Greece can be appreciated by getting to know its people, listening to the cicadas and forgetting about time. Beware, you might just want to miss the boat…