Mention Greece to most people and an image of white houses built into mountain sides, impossibly blue skies and crystal clear, warm water lapping on sandy beaches come to mind. And they would be correct, because so much of Greece is made up of just that, scattered across 10,000 islands that have had tourists flocking there since the 70’s. We know, because we were part of this crowd,1972 to be exact, just finished university and lugging backpacks, Europe on $5 a Day clutched in hand. But there is so much more, as we discovered when we took a Voyages to Antiquity cruise and followed the Footsteps of St. Paul last fall with 27 travellers who wanted to see a much different Greece….and we were not disappointed.
As opposed to sleeping on beaches or hotel roofs, some 46 years later, we found ourselves on a first class tour beginning in the venerable Grande Britagne Hotel in the heart of Athens. With the services of a professional guide we were treated to an in depth history lesson beginning at the Acropolis and continuing in the Acropolis Museum. So much more to see when told what to look for! And this educational experience continued to Delphi and onto the ship and up the coast toward Macedonia. Each stop included one or more tours from which to choose, along with an our local guide/expert who pointed out what we needed to learn and stopped at the side of the road when she saw something we needed to see or touch or taste. So much more than a bus ride through new country!
Back aboard the ship, a tasty lunch was waiting. Or, if you wanted more local fare you could simply stay ashore and find a local taverna or restaurant and enjoy the real thing….from ouzo to fabulous meze, wine and local beer and gifts from the sea caught that morning….and finishing with honey dripping baklava. We had this meal for 13 euro each! And then back to the ship, docked along the main street, for afternoon lectures, tea and then dinner. Entertainment was offered each evening but by 10pm it was to bed because 8:30am departures can sneak up on you.
The sites were stunning, the weather perfect, the guides so knowledgable and the comforts of the ship absolutely perfect. But what remains is the memory of 46 years ago and how we found the Greek people probably the nicest, most considerate that we had ever encountered. And again we found this hospitality, the genuine smiles of welcome, the lifting of a hat and “have a nice day” to be the heart of this country. The people are still what makes Greece stand out in our memories and this past adventure cemented that. ευχαριστώ (efcharistó which translates to “thank you”)
Join Craig Travel's next journey with Joyce Poth: September 24, 2019 with Escort Joyce Poth