Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Memories from Greece

Although I was born in Canada and have lived in Ottawa most of my life, I lived in Greece when I was a toddler, for over one year. I don't remember much about living in Greece, but my family and I would spend our summer vacations in Greece, every two years, so it certainly feels like my second home. It's where my roots are. My parents were born in Greece, and my husband's parents, too.

Greece is a breathtakingly beautiful country, rich in history and culture. You really have to experience it yourself–to see the marvel that it is. I remember the first time I went to Santorini, I was amazed. I never believed an island so stunning actually existed. I thought all the postcards I had seen were fabricated, not real. But it is real, and it feels heavenly to be there.



Most hotels in Santorini are build off the side of a mountain. When you're in Santorini, you do a lot of walking up and down uneven steps, in the heat, but it's well worth it. There is nothing like waking up to a view of a stunning volcanic mountain, surrounded by a never-ending sea. I am always in my best shape ever when I'm in Greece, because of all the walking we do all day long.



At night, sitting on your balcony, you get a very clear view of the billions of stars in the sky... and if you look up, hundreds of tourists are snapping pictures of the view they're seeing for the first time. It really is an island like no other.



Other beautiful islands worth visiting when you're in Greece? Zakynthos and Kefalonia. Both islands are favourites of mine, along with the city my dad is from, Patras, and my mom's city, Tripoli.



Of course, you have to spend a few days exploring the wonders of Athens, and seeing the Parthenon up close and personal. It really is a sight to behold!



One of things I love most about Greece is the history and the culture. The Olympics, which originated in Greece, began as a 'festival' or sorts, and they were held every four years to honour the King of their Gods, Zeus. Just like the Olympics of today, athletes traveled from far and wide to compete in the games. I've walked on the grounds of Olympia, and it was truly an amazing experience, to see all the ancient ruins from so long ago, still making such a huge impact on the world today.

Of course, we are all familiar with the brilliant Aristotle - the Greek philosopher who was the student of Plato, and teacher to Alexander the Great. He wrote about physics, poetry, music, politics and government. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates - Plato's teacher - were the founders of what we now call Western Civilization. (Thanks, guys!)

Apparently, Socrates never really held a 'real' job - instead, he spent his days talking about philosophy with other people. Greeks today like doing the same thing - we love sitting in coffee shops, discussing various topics. And by discussing, I mean having heated arguments about things like politics and sports. What can I say? We are a passionate group of people - we love food, wine, the beauty of the world, and always getting our way, damn it!

Let's talk about food now. Greeks love to eat. We love our food. We celebrate every occassion with huge feasts. In fact, every night, we eat a dinner that can easily be compared to what other people eat on special occassions like Thanksgiving. Meat is our main food group. Pork souvlaki and lamb are enjoyed by everyone. Eating lamb at Easter is like, THE highlight of everyone's day. I love pulling off the tender meat as it's being slowly cooked on the spit outside... mmm... mmm!

In summary, here's a list of the things I love the most about Greece:

1. The food. The smell of souvlaki on almost every street corner. Eating souvlaki after a night out partying really hits the spot. (FYI: A night out in Greece usually starts at midnight and ends around 5 a.m.)

2. Did I mention the food? Eating spaghetti with fresh Greek cheese on top. Eating my grandmother's homemade food, like meatballs and pastitso and yemista - even eating pizza with zambon. And tzatziki and Greek salad. (FYI: Greek salad? Does NOT include lettuce!)

3. The drinks. And by drinks I mean frappe. Iced coffee, gliko me yala. (With milk and sugar!) I can have like, a dozen of these iced coffees every day when I'm in Greece. They are SO good and I've yet to have an iced coffee anywhere else on earth that tastes as good!

4. Ice cream from the periptero.





A periptero is basically a big outdoor convenient store. I remember I always used to buy Mickey Mouse comic books from the periptero when I was a little girl, and always, ice cream. As I got older, I traded my comic books for Silk Cut cigarettes, which were, of course, purchased at the periptero. Along with my ice cream, of course!

5. Orange Fanta. Not to be mistaken by the Fanta that is sold in the USA and Canada today. European Fanta is so much better - I'm dying for one right now!

6. The carefree lifestyle. Although almost everyone in Greece (okay, not everyone...) smokes, they live LONG, healthy lives. Why? Because they have mastered living the stress-free life. They will go home and take a nap whenever they can. Stores will close for siesta. They will sleep in. They take lots of vacations to pretty islands, and they have lots of sex. (I'm pretty sure they do, since even the commercials advertising ice cream show topless women emerging from the sea licking ice cream cones!) Greeks also eat well. Their diet is filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil and wine. And bread. Of course, the bread.

7. The dancing and the music. I'm not usually a huge fan of Greek music, unless I'm in Greece - then the bouziki bitch in me comes out, a little. (With some help from a little Ouzo first - Opa!)

8. The shopping. The shopping in Greece is amazing! Everyone is very well dressed in Greece. People take care of their appearances.

9. The Greek flag. I love seeing this beautiful blue and white flag flying when I'm in Greece. I happen to think it is one of the most beautiful flags in the world. My 4 year old knows the Greek national anthem by heart, which makes his grandparents very proud. And his mommy, too!



10. The people. Even though I have more than a dozen stories worth telling about rude taxi drivers in Greece, and about mean salespeople, I have to say, even those experiences make my vacations to Greece all the more funny! What good is a vacation if you don't have ridiculous stories to bring back home, right?

11. The closeness of the family unit. There is nothing more important than family, and I think that's such an awesome thing.

Sigh. Would you believe I'm totally craving a trip overseas right now? I wish I was on the beach on a beautiful Greek island, soaking up the rays and having a frappe!

37 comments:

Mercy said...

Ahhh, you've made me want to go there. I'd love to visit Greece, along with Italy and Spain. There is something about those countries that attracts me to them. Maybe one day.

blueviolet said...

I'm kinda like you were. I didn't really think it was real either. You have just made me want to go to Greece!

Jessica said...

Loooooove it. If I ever go, I'm calling you first.

CaraBee said...

Oh Loukia, now you have me jonesing for a vacation! With two feet of snow on the ground and another two feet predicted for tonight/tomorrow, those beaches look absolutely freaking amazing!

I've always wanted to visit Greece. I love the history and the relaxed approach to life. It seems like such an idyllic place to live.

Thanks for the tour! Fabulous post!

twinmomplusone said...

Ahhhh, Greece!
Going for my 6th time this summer :)
Despiete the rude taxi drivers, the crappy rental cars, the hard beds, the bathrooms :(, all of that is obliterated by the scenic beauty, the aromas, the embracing family and the beach!
Can't wait to have a real frappe and a tasty meal! Why is it the food tastes so much better there? Wait, its cause the ingredients are so fresh!!
And the shopping! Endless!!

We sepnt 3 days in Santorini a few years back: totally magical! We felt sorry for those tourists who com by boat and just spend a day. You HAVE to expereince a sunset or two on that island!

mep said...

Greece looks beautiful and magical. I would love to walk some uneven steps right about now . . . beats staring at the snow on this gray Midwestern day.

Thank for sharing your passion for your home away from home!

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

Wow-it is a beautiful place. I plan on visiting one day.

Thanks for the tour.

Danielle said...

Love it! What a great synopsis of all things Greek. I have always wanted to visit Greece. Looks so beautiful and I love seeing my friends' photos from when they travel.

All the stuff you touched on, especially the family and food stuff, totally hits notes that I've seen time and time again when spending time with my Greek friends' families.

Opa!

Anonymous said...

That was a great post about all the wonders of Greece. My dad is from Patra as well and I could really go for a souvlaki pita right about now. Great blog btw!

amotherworld said...

Why oh why did you have to write this??? I have tears in my eyes because I miss it so much...

T Rex Mom said...

We spent a little time in Greece about 5 years ago on a cruise. It was beautiful - especially the people - I was amazed by how gorgeous everyone was!

Santorini was amazing!

Shelley said...

I totally want to hope a boat to Greece now. What a beautiful place. I like that they have learned to live the stress free life. I think it could only improve a lot of people's dispositions if we all went home midday and took a nap. I love looking at pics of Santorini, they are among some of the most beautiful i have ever seen. Now, I'm off to google earth to look at more of the beaches. Great blog, thanks for taking us there.

CalgaryDaddy said...

Ahhhh Greece, looking at those pics I die! I want to go so bad. Did you know that when I was a kid ( like 4-5)I could speak greek almost fluently? (My mom's best friend was Greek and taught me.) I wish I still new it now!

Shane
www.calgarydaddy.com

Amy said...

Peter and I were in Santorini in 2001. That seems sooooo long ago! It really is as beautiful as you've described.

Arizona Mamma said...

First time here...from Blogtrotting. What a post! Have to get myself there one day.

Big City Dad said...

I went there with my daughter, who was 18 mohths old at the time, and my now Ex wife. Poor baby got sick on the plane over. We spent exactly 24 hours in Athens and jumped on a plane and came home. While the girls slept during the day I wandered the city for a while. Was spectacular. I really want to go back and see the whole thing.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I want to go! Amazing~ pictures and descriptions!

tattooedmomof3 said...

I have never been to Greece (or out of the country for that matter) but after reading your post, I would LOVE to go visit Greece. How beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

Elaine A. said...

All I could think about while reading this post is that movie, you know the one I'm gonna say... ;) oh and the fact that now I REALLY want to take a trip to Greece!!!!

Muthering Heights said...

Greece sounds so beautiful...I would love to visit someday!

Scary Mommy said...

I've wanted to go to Greece for a long time, but now? I HAVE TO. Like, this moment. How can a place really be that beautiful?!

Mayhem and Moxie said...

Such an utterly fantastic post! Greece is somewhere I've always wanted to go. For years, I would buy calendars with pictures of Greece. It really is one of the most beautiful places of earth!

Thanks for the inspiration!!

Sir Thomas AKA (Winters Reaper) said...

Your blog really rocks... I really didnt like canada until now...


now I love it.. wonderful mom...

Reluctant Housewife said...

I'm craving a trip overseas now, too. I've never been to Greece, but I'm dying to go. Love Greek food! And those pictures are beautiful!

Krystyn said...

I've never been..and now I feel like I have. You've totally made me want to go...sans kiddos, though. Is that bad?

And, how do you say GYRO? That's Greek, right?

Lady Mama said...

Wonderful post Loukia! Ahhh I want to go there so badly now! I love everything you've described - the place, the food, the culture. I've only ever been to Skiathos (was lovely) but it's definitely on my list of places to visit in the future. It's also a favourite destination with my family and friends still in the UK. Don't you sometimes want to go back and live there? It's SO beautiful! Especially right now in light of the sucky Canada climate...

Mompsy.com said...

Thank you for such a wonderful, first-hand account of Greece. It is definitely on the top of my "places to travel" list now.

BTW--I also gotta say thanks for the tips on how Greeks live long lives. I will no longer feel guilty for taking a nap or eating carbs! Ha!

Laurie said...

I have always wanted to go to Greece and now I really, really want to go. Like tomorrow maybe?!! Well, a girl can dream. Thanks for the great pics and story! Helps take my mind off the several weeks of winter left to cope with!

Smart A$$ Mom said...

ahhhhhhhhhhh.......I can't wait to get back. I suppose we will be back this summer again. I am hoping we can build there, crossing my fingers, start building this summer. But the frappes, the platia, the evenings out starting at 12, the food. Oh the food! Tony's Tia Dora first told him I was 'good for the family' when I knew to bathe the bread in the oil from the salad. And I am almost out of my olive oil and olives so we have to get back!!

Kat said...

Wonderful post! Love the pictures!

Carla said...

Thanks for a walk down memory lane! I love Greece. My husband and I met, got married, and conceived our first child there. I have been back in Canada for 3.5 years now but not a day goes by when I don't miss Greece. The lifestyle is fantastic. I've never been so carefree in my life. Don't even get me started about Santorini. That's where my hubby and I fell in love.

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

I love, love, love Greece! I visited there once with my mom, brother and best friend. It was one of the highlights of my life. And I agree with you -- Santorini is one of the most stunning places on the planet! We only took a day trip to Santorini, but next time I'm going to go and stay in one of those hotels you talked about!

Thanks for helping me relive one of my all-time favorite vacations ever!

Pres. Kathy said...

Ok - after reading this post all I could think about is going to Greece. I haven't been there since I got married and I miss EVERYTHING about it!!! My parents are going this summer, so I might just have to tag along with Niko! Thanks for this wonderful post!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I loved reading this. Can you believe that I've never been to Greece??

I read #5 to my husband. When we've been in Spain he HAS to have several orange Fantas a day - he agrees that the European version is superior to what we can find in U.S. stores.

CINDERELLA said...

i would love to go to greece. hopefully someday i'll make it back over to europe and visit more countries than just germany (although i do love me some good german food lol) :)

Sonora said...

I am way behind in my blog trotting. Greece is on my list of places I want to see before I die. It is good to know that it is really that beautiful in person. What a great post. Thanks for the tour!!!

Mama Kat said...

Ahhh, you captured it so well!! Thanks for your tidbits of advice while I was away. It SO helped!! Greece is beautiful. :)

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