The magnificent riches of Greece
From serene landscapes to picture postcard villages, Greece is an abundance of breathtaking and mesmerising sights. With a history richer than Bill Gates, this majestic country provides the ultimate setting to explore its religious and ancient past, as well as its culture.
My week-long trip travelling Greece began with a two-day tour, discovering Delphi and Meteora. Nestled into the Panassus mountain – at the heart of Greece’s mainland – Delphi is an archaeological site which dates back to around 1000 BC. As well as the Temple of Apollo, other ruins such as the Treasury of Athenians and the ancient theatre – which apparently sat around 5,000 people back in its heyday – add to the site’s antiquity. Ascending the steps, you can gaze down at thousands of years of history, set against a backdrop of the awe-inspiring Phocis valley.
Accommodation was also included in the tour at a small additional cost. So, that evening we stayed in a lovely hotel in Kalambaka: a quaint, yet popular tourist town close to Meteora – I could even see the rocks from our rooftop terrace! The following morning, we set off to explore Meteora (meaning ‘hanging rocks’ in Greek). Jutting out of the luscious trees were magnificent, dream-like rock-pillars made of natural sandstone, with ageless monasteries perched neatly on top with orange-tiled rooftops. Prior to the monasteries – built in the 14th century – a group of hermit monks inhabited Meteora, residing in the fissures of the rocks. The tour gave the opportunity to look inside two of the five wondrous monasteries: the ‘Holy Monastery of the Great Meteora’ and ‘St Barbara’, in which 16 nuns live. Our tour guide told us about an Australian lady who had once gone to visit the monastery, and never left – she was converted into a Greek Orthodox nun and now resides in the Holy Monastery!
Once back in Athens, I explored its encapsulating history by visiting sites such as the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus. The following day I set sail across the Aegean Sea to Santorini – an island south of Greece famous for its astounding whitewashed buildings, blue dome-topped roofs and mesmerising sunset. Villa Manos became my temporary home, a wonderful hotel located just outside the vibrant town of Thira. Mrs Poppy, the hotelier, provided the warmest of welcomes, and the most pleasant stay.
Day trips around the island were also available to book through the hotel – within the 12 hours I explored Santorini’s volcanic island, swam in the hot springs, ate calamari pasta in Thirassia and made it to Oia before sunset. Oia exceeded my expectations; each picture I snapped looked postcard pretty. The town’s pristine and pastel-coloured buildings were etched into the cliff-face; their walls decorated with radiant flowers. Although Oia isn’t the cheapest of places, you can still soak up the bliss and tranquility, whilst catching a glimpse of how the other half live.
By the end of my trip, I felt blown away by Greece. Its sheer beauty and richness truly captured my heart, and I can’t wait to go back again to uncover more of its magnificent treasures.