Greece past and present

 Epidavros - a mere 2400 years old, or so

Epidavros - a mere 2400 years old, or so

I had several memorable holidays in Greece as a child/teenager. It was (and still is) one of my father's favourite places. There was the Corfu holiday where we hired scooters (my brother and I on the back of the adults) and skidded off the road - twice - amazingly without injury. The hospitals at the time were full of tourists with the top layers of skin missing from falling off scooters wearing shorts and t-shirts on Greece's (then) notorious dirt roads. Of course we were all wearing shorts and t-shirts. 

On another Greek holiday we got to know Sarah, assisted by large quantities of shared G&Ts in a tiny rented room on Rhodes. Sarah was shortly afterwards to become dad's second wife - and my stepmother. Another year was the holiday where a Greek lad became enamoured of my rather beautiful French pen friend, and my father was paranoid she was going to get pregnant, leaving him to face her furious Gaelic parents. She didn't.

And Greece was the destination for the only holiday my brother and I took alone together. During the day he sunbathed methodically and read the Economist in our shared room, and I pottered off looking for beaches (on a scooter). Then we met up for dinner every night. We had a great time.

 Voidokilia Beach, where, according to Homer, Telemachus was welcomed by King Nestor when searching for his father, Odysseus.

Voidokilia Beach, where, according to Homer, Telemachus was welcomed by King Nestor when searching for his father, Odysseus.

Actually, I think that might have been the last time I went to Greece - some 30 years ago. I can't think why it took so long to come back. It is just the most amazing place. Greece has great weather, beautiful scenery, crystal clear blue sea, lots of beaches, picturesque churches everywhere, nice food, friendly people*. The accommodation is good (though more expensive than I remember), you can drink the water from the tap, enough people speak enough English to make communication easy, and there are a plethora of walks through olive groves, over stone-covered hills, along dramatic gorges, past picturesque churches and little mountain towns, and down to idyllic coves.

 Just some ancient church in Mystra (also below)

Just some ancient church in Mystra (also below)

More than anything, there is this AMAZING, turbulent, cultured, world-changing, war-embroiled, complicated history. Civilisation in Greece is just SO OLD. And the old stuff is everywhere. It's fabulous.

  Thanks to Geoff for all the photos on this page

Thanks to Geoff for all the photos on this page

* Yes, I know... Greece also has a contracting economy, a debt crisis and over 23% unemployment (compared with the European average of 8%). A dire economic situation has exacerbated by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. But selfishly, as a tourist, you don't see the sort of bad stuff happening on the inside. Just the fabulous bits on the outside.

 Nafplio harbour

Nafplio harbour