My Ode to Greece begins here with its sapphire-blue waters, green-grassy hills with cyprus trees, olive groves and vineyards right along side ancient ruins and charming ports filled with boats and even octopus drying in the sun. My last visit to Greece was 40 years ago and I certainly don’t remember the beauty of this “cradle of Western civilization” that it is today. But to be fair, I was on Junior year abroad and on a budget that only allowed me to stay in youth hostels. So fast forward to a very different Greek holiday experience on a private chartered Yacht with 2 other couples and six in help…Anotonio, Konstantinos, Babis, Nikos, Eva, and George! We couldn’t have done it without you. Our amazing / changeable itinerary offered a little bit of everything in the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean Sea and not enough of some things. Hello Santorini, Goodbye Santorini was the beginning of our active journey with its world-famous sunsets which we saw, whitewashed buildings perched high on cliffs which we walked, and those spectacular panoramic vistas which we missed!
But not before a delicious lunch at Sunset by paraskevas and a refreshing swim off the boat in the cool water before sailing off to the hilly island of IOS for some cocktail ambiance. I adore Greek food and couldn’t get enough of those fresh salads of feta, tomato, and olives at every meal. YUM… the moussaka, souvlaki… so fresh that it didn’t feel heavy like it does in the States.
We were always on the move which I loved from anchoring in secluded coves with our water toys to docking at lesser known islands like Naxos, Paros, and Delos before arriving at the bustling paradise of Mykonos, a shopping mecca with winding, narrow streets adorned with geraniums and Bougainvillea known to the locals as Chora, which means “the town” in Greek. It was the perfect backdrop for Ali’s birthday extravaganza. And where better to celebrate than Nammos, the crazy party scene on Psarou beach where the beautiful people congregate to dance on tables and drink to oblivion. When in Greece….
And then there were 4.
Tracy and Glenn had to leave early but not before making incredible memories with Ali and David and Paul and I. It was the perfect storm complete with the perfect red wine splatter on our charter’s perfect white carpet. Always leaving our mark with no ruffled feathers. And true to form, the word that everyone uses to describe Greek culture is Philovenia which is about warmth and kindness to strangers. We certainly experienced all of this on the islands and truly felt the generosity of spirit that is surprising to some but utterly expected in Greek culture. Who takes full bottles of wine home after dinner?
Our last stop on our Greek Island hopping adventure complete with dramatic beach landscapes, rustic charming architecture with an international vibe was the rich history of Hydra combined with the close proximity of Athens. The port of Hydra was a small horseshoe and after walking around the perimeter, it felt like a labyrinth of steep steps and slender streets. The best part of this place was the fact there were no cars or even bicycles to get around but donkeys were aplenty waiting patiently to carry suitcases or even groceries up to the hotels. It was such a cute little island complete with somewhat sophisticated art galleries and shows. In fact, Kara Walker was having a show at the slaughterhouse/ Deste project space on a towering cliffside owned by billionaire art collector Dakis. I tried to go but they were closed for an afternoon siesta. Oh those Europeons! At dinner the night before on the waterfront, our server told us that Leonard Cohen used to eat there nightly when he was in town as he lived there on and off since the 1960’s. I’m thinking that this place would have inspired him to write Hallelujah. Fabulous friends in paradise combined with fantastic food and lusious libations in luxury accomadations makes me want to sing Hallelujah. Greece beckons me to return again with its laid-back, simple way of life and rich history. See ya next year.