Sunday, August 30, 2015

50 Shades Of Greece (A Travel Adventure)

I'm home after a four week vacation in Greece. We spent last summer in Greece and had such a great time, we had to go back. The tales of traveling to our destination (a ten hour airplane ride with 11 people including a three month old baby) is an adventure in itself, but I want to talk about the beauty of Greece—the history, the culture, and the food.

These are the reasons tourists flock to Greece every summer, and always come back—the lifestyle and beauty of this European country can't be beat, despite the economic uncertainly and questions of what's next for Greece and the European Union. For the record, I didn't notice a single thing out of sorts in Greece—no line-ups at the bank machines, and no shortage of food or hospitality by the local people.

Just one look at this country will take your breath away. There are sunsets and then there are the sunsets of Greece, which are mesmerizing no matter where you are.  The sea, the mountains, the culture—travel perfection, really.

As the days go by you'll easily fall into the Greek routine, which consists of eating dinner no earlier than ten p.m. (The first week we were there, we'd head out to eat at 7, only to realize most restaurants were still closed.) Not to worry—waiting to eat later at night is worth it, as the food is always delicious. If you're travelling with young children, you should definitely take advantage of siesta time, otherwise it'll be impossibly hard to keep the young ones awake and happy so late at night.

The Greek diet consists of fresh yogurt and Greek honey for breakfast, a frappe or freddo iced coffee, Greek salads (all the time!) fresh baked bread, gyro, vegetables, fresh fish and meat, potatoes, tiropita, and fruits you can pick off trees literally everywhere you are. It's fresh eating, all the time. It's healthy food, and it's all so damn delicious. (Not to mention the countless numbers of bakeries and ice cream shops on literally every street corner that'll tempt you daily.)

What can you expect when you're in Greece? The feeling of wonder, as you stand in a modern metropolitan city like Athens, surrounded by ancient ruins. The enchanting landscapes, rocky mountains, deep blue sea, and ancient ruins surrounding you will take your breath away.

Greece is also carefree and so sexy, and the perfect place to travel to as a couple. Make sure to put a few of the famous islands on your list—Santorini, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Zakinthos, and Lefkada will leave you wanting more, and the entire time you'll feel like it's still a dream and not reality because of your surroundings. The nightlife of Greece is also crazy—be prepared for many sleepless nights! I was lucky enough to get away for a couple of days with the hubs to Lefkada again, and the Ionian Blue hotel was pure heaven.

What's more perfect that a summer swimming in the Ionian and Aegean sea? Not much, if you ask me. Many of the golden sandy beaches (or rocky beaches, depending on where you are) have been voted "Blue Flag Beaches." (The "Blue Flag" is the most recognizable international symbol of beach quality in the world.) The beaches have to have excellent quality for bathing and must meet 32 other criteria, like safety, protection of the beach, and environmental awareness. Greece was ranked third in the world this year among 50 countries, after Portugal and France.

Not everything in Greece is perfect, though; the driving is still crazy and you have to get used to driving through tiny, narrow roads with lots of sharp turns, (you'll feel like an F1 driver in no time!) and drivers who drive carelessly,  not obeying any traffic laws, (stop signs are merely a suggestion, it seems) and the constant passing of cars on mountain roads, which is super scary. There are great highways in Greece, too, but to get to some of the islands and inner cities, be prepared for some crazy driving.

From Athens to the islands, you'll love all the coffeeshops, stores, museums and art galleries. When you're not swimming, you'll be sightseeing and eating.

There are so many places to stay when you're in Greece, and you'll find some gorgeous five-star resorts, too, so you can get the best of both worlds: the sea and infinity pools.

Greece is the perfect summer vacation destination because it offers something for everyone; for the history lover, for the party animal, and for the beach lover. It's great for families, for couples, for young people seeking adventure and fun, (hello, Mykonos!) and so much more.

Greece is the word—and if it's not on your travel bucket list already, I hope it is now!

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