Go Greek! 3 Reasons to Uncover the Secrets of Hellas
Going Greek: Uncovering Historical Hellas
Greece. Never has a place been packed with so many contradictory connotations; romance, drama, love, hate, passion and anger. A country steeped in history and artistry, Greece attracts a myriad of travellers every year, seeking the perfect fiery sunset, standing on the stucco steps of a picturesque Santorini, the Aegean Sea at their feet as they snap a memory of blue domed roof tops and gothic churches. Idyllic, some would say and they wouldn’t be wrong, not even slightly. Hellas (the traditional name for Greece) acts as a four-way intersection to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, though it is not so much a nation state, but one big mash up of defined regions and cultural segments, including party island, Mykonos and the birthplace of modernity, Athens. Where should you begin then, when the very shadow of the Acropolis draws a gasp and quiver? The Greek Islands are heavy with wonders, ancient, natural and modern.
Modern historians trump their lands and unravel pasts, insisting they have a rich tradition of majesty, tribalism and nuanced cultural implications, peppered by war and heartbreak. It sounds familiar, like the story of every history, though the Peloponnese can lay claim to the legacy more than any other, as the most powerful and memorable nation states emerged from its striking terrains and balmy climates. Explore the homelands of Sparta, and learn about the militaristic agoge; explore the trade roots of legendary Corinth; learn from the failures of ambitious Argos; and enjoy Megalopolis, the home of the largest ancient outside theatre.
Crete, The Greek Islands
If you only have time to visit one island, Crete is the place to go. The birthplace of the Minoan civilisation, Crete is culturally textured and fascinated with artistic pursuits, sustaining their own Mantinade poetic forms and local music. As far as Greek Islands go, Crete is the biggest, boasting breathtaking natural scenery and fascinating neighbours. Cretans are passionate and proud of their heritage; they are extremely hard-working, sustaining an independent economy separate from Greece at large and a booming tourism racket, relying on agriculture to keep the wheels turning. But this fierce self-awareness shouldn’t be interpreted as cool disinterest; Cretans love people and the current tourism trade is inclusive of all needs, family configurations and tastes.
Macedonia has given birth to some of the greatest historical figures in the world today, including the determined and industrious Alexander the Great. To travel Greece and not pay homage to this highly influential figure would be a shame, considering the gorgeous diversity represented by modern Macedonia. From the time of the Phillip II, Macedonia has always been a hot-bed of political opinion and social change, swapping hands occasionally over the centuries; undeniably, each leadership style has made its mark. Though they seem to love a good argument, Macedonians also love to dance and celebrate – ask a local to teach you the chasapiko, while drowning a glass of Greek wine. Big history, big hearts and long laughs, the locals are always happy to help you out, even if they feed you first.
Caught in a web of tumultuous segues, Greece has survived several thousand years, remaining on the map as one of the most desirable and enviable destinations today. Don your Grecian sandals, slip on a bit of sunscreen and get lost in myth, magic and marvelous history – you’ll never want to come back.