Greece In August -12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

ikaria - pale blue water - people swimming - bright white limestone cliffs and sand

Greece is August is very hot and great for summer destinations!

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Greece In July -12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

hammock in a cafe bar in mykonos

Greece in July is hot, with long days and beautiful nights, that are better spend in..

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4 Top Coffee Spots In The Centre of Athens For Your Caffeine Dose

carpo Athens coffee - nuts and coffee

Because every good day in Athens starts with a dose of caffeine!

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20+ Amazing Things You Can Do In Chania

chania city lighthouse

Where do you start from, when there are so many options?

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Greece In June -12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

June in Greece landscapes view from above Peloponnese

Here is our June travel guide for Greece. These are the places you need to visit!

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May Travel In Greece -12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

May travel in Greece cobblestone street white walls and blue windows man on donkey

Here is our May travel guide for Greece. These are the places you need to visit!

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The Most Useful Greek Phrases You Need To Know Before Visiting Greece

Greek useful phrases before visiting Greece. Definitely Greece tours sign mountains.

Amaze everyone with your skills with minimal effort!

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April Travel In Greece -12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

April-Travel-Guide-Greece-Chios-Island

Here is our April guide for Greece. Do you want to know about the rocket war on Chios island?

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5 Olympian ‘Gods’ And Their Greek Island

olympian gods - temple of Poseidon at sunset

What island was Zeus linked to? Check your answers inside!

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March Travel in Greece – 12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

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One destination in Greece for each month of 2019. Here is March in Greece.

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February Travel In Greece – 12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

February Travel Greece - Epirus - Vikos Gorge exploring hiking Greek destinations mountains

One destination in Greece for each month of 2019. Here is February in Greece.

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Greeklish: An Open Letter To Our Guests

sunset port mykonos Greece - Definitely Greece trips - travel mykonos - greeklish

Are you familiar with Greeklish? You might want to become, it’s fun! […]

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January Travel In Greece – 12 Destinations For Each Month Of Greece

Athens in January - old yellow door and rusted balcony with pigeons on top

One destination in Greece for each month of 2019. We present January..

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Chios Island Guide: Travelling South (part 2)

windmills in chios island header

The south part of Chios island has medieval villages, castles and lots of mastiha […]

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Welcome To Central Greece – 10 Picture Gallery

monochrome door handle details on an iron black metal door in greece - welcome to central greece -

Central Greece is an area of the country that is often ignored. 

Torn between the pull of the cosmopolitan capital, a beating heart of towering cultural and religious significance, and the sweet siren call of the islands with their pristine waters and balmy temperatures, visitors are called to prioritize, and the little known villages of central Greece are left untouched. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad outcome. Village life continues unperturbed as children go to school and workers head to their fields, their shops and their offices. Olive trees persistent in their goal to dominate the landscape, spread their roots deep into the ground all the while offering all of us their precious cargo. As you wander around the ancient ruins of Delphi and let your eyes rest across the vast panorama laying before you, past and present seem entwined. 

Some of the changes, are more subtle, requiring a closer look from those that have seen the past unfold. Acres of land once full of seeds and fruit now lay unplowed and barren waiting for a new generation to care for them. While houses that led to the cheers of children, tables set to feed three generations and backyards full of animals, now carry the small and cautious footsteps of their few aging inhabitants. 

Doors are entrances into homes. They are also carriers of stories, and to read the tale you will need to step through them. 

What are you to discover then, if you step through to read the tale of our villages, our carriers of human stories, our past and hopefully our future. 

Enjoy this short tour around Central Greece… their stories await you. 

monochrome door handle details on an iron black metal door in greece - welcome to central greece -

Soft monochrome details on a door handle in an old villa house.

door of abandoned house with plants and chains circling around it - welcome to central greece

Nature winning the fight over this old rusty door in a village outside Amfissa.

store front of abandoned shop in greece - pastel colour - rust - welcome to central greece

Red faded letters that used to spell “pantopoleio” the shop that sells everything – or as it is commonly known “mini-market”.

Location, Amfissa.

inside of abandoned house with window framing view of surrounding valleys - welcome to central Greece

Once upon a time this house would have offered a great view, electric switch to the left still visible.

Location, Chrisso – Central Greece.

front windows and door with two terracota plants - sun shining through - welcome to central greece

Pure and warm evening sun bathing this house front with light. Someone inside is waking from their siesta and preparing for their evening Greek coffee.

slanted stone wall with delicate door looking out over a hill in osios loukas monastery area - welcome to central Greece

Half wall, half door support and half decoration for nature. Walk through for a refreshing homemade lemonade while you look out to the monastery of Osios Loukas.

cream old door with brass round handles and delicate carvings - welcome to central greece

You might knock, but no one will answer. But once, the elite of this area danced behind these heavy wooden doors opening into high ceilings and marble floors.

wooden windows with small red flowers framing the outside - welcome to central Greece

When the sun is high, these shutters stay tightly shut. But once they open it’s play time, us children are finally allowed to go out running and yelling. And if it’s summer we get treated to ice cream!

old wooden brown door - on steps leading up to a house - welcome to central Greece

When grandpa was with us, he used to re-plaster all of the walls and paint them white, it helped keep the houses cool and dry and made them all look nicer. Now someone else will need to learn how to do it.

narrow cobbled street and stone houses in arahova - small mountain village - welcome to central Greece

This is Arahova. A small, picturesque village up in the mountains. Follow the path to see the view of the snow capped mountains. Other alleys will take you straight to the tavern for some heart warming food.

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Around Greece For a Summer: Moments and People

ikaria island greece - hand painted white rock with flowers

It is a privilege and an honour to be able to tour people around Greece.

As far as jobs go, we here at Definitely Greece are a lucky bunch.

The experiences we get to create for our guests, realized after much time spent researching and identifying the best itineraries, make every long day worth it.

In the process, we get to interact with some amazing individuals from around the country, learn their stories, be inspired, join in on amazing festivals, eat some amazing food and create memories to be forever cherished.

Looking back at some of the past seasons, I want to record some of the special moments.

To start with, we’ve got Ikaria island.
Well, what is Ikaria and why is it so special?

custom made - ikaria beach photo - white pebbles and grey rocks

Festivals and Celebrations

Ikaria, is a strip of land in the Aegean Sea, with a history so old it gets lost between the real and the legendary. The island of Ikaria is pristine, pure and unspoiled with a beauty so natural that it touches your inner Eden.

The locals, warm and inviting, make you feel instantly at home without the commercial pressures of typical tourist destinations. This atmosphere allows you to discover the island at your own pace and in your own way but with local guidance merely a question away. Apart from Ikarias primal beauty, its most engaging social activities are its many festivals.

Should you find yourself at one of the many local festivals, thank the Olympian gods for your good fortune and get ready to enjoy a unique Greek experience.
That’s what we did and we had no idea what we were in for!

You will be drawn into the traditional dances by the local setting and the rhythm of the music. From dusk till dawn, young and old come together to eat, drink, sing and celebrate, but mostly to dance.

Not only will you dance the traditional Greek dances but you will waltz and tango with the locals, needing only their enthusiasm and practiced footwork, along with the music’s rhythm, to join the circle and look the practiced dancer.

Now, confident with your own footwork and unable to resist the joy of the party, you can try your hand – and foot – at some of the more challenging traditional dances.The mood this experience creates will linger in your heart as your mind replays, over and over, the now familiar music long after the day has gone.

group of people in a circle dancing in ikaria - famous festivals in greece

 

People – Loukoumades by Leila

Somewhere in between taking photos, flying my drone, drinking awarded wine and eating local delicacies, I came across this wonderful lady and entrepreneur, Leila.

Leila runs a canteen set near the mountain village of Christos-Raches in Ikaria that serves the trekkers and nature seekers who frequent the many hiking trails and natural settings of the area.

While her fare may be somewhat limited it is well known for a few of her special servings and the organic ingredients that she uses. One of her most famous treats is loukoumades.

To describe in my poor way, let’s say that they are…’honey balls’.

There are two recipes: one with mastic (A unique Greek product from the island of Chios made from the resin of the Mastic tree, known for its amazing health properties) and whole wheat flour while the other is made with ouzo, and potato (recipe from an old yiayia) and both topped with locally produced honey or chocolate.

Beyond these special delicacies, she offers various sandwiches made from local ingredients which also reinforce her reputation for natural and healthy food. If you’re in the area, stop by, say “Hi” to Leila and enjoy her unique servings, tell her that I am coming back soon with some friends!

what does greece mean - two women smiling sitting next to each other eating sweet desserts

Leila and Efi Kalogirou – Baldwin owner of Definitely Greece – sharing a plate of delicious loukoumades. They were gone fast! 

Agrotourism – The connection to the land

Traveling, experiencing new destinations, trying new food, that’s all amazing.

And so is being aware of your impact on the natural environment. To realize that you need to be in touch with nature, the land, the agricultural life.
There are a lot of places in Greece that follow the values of agrotourism. There is one place though that we keep coming back to, having experienced a connection to the land that surpassed our expectations.

It is true that Greeks are, in their stunning majority, a very hospitable people. Wherever you go in this country you will meet people who will go out of their way to make you feel at home, yet on Crete, this feeling is ever more prevalent.

Among the locals, you will indeed be spoiled. Cretans love their island with a passion and are always ready to share the best this blessed island has to offer to visitors.

There is a rough, yet wholesome, beauty in Crete, in the land and the people and it never fails to enchant in its simplicity and lack of pretense. Nikos Frantzeskakis is a characteristic embodiment of the Cretan ideals.

He doesn’t have a secret marketing technique for success. He is an authentic example of Greek hospitality, a worthy successor of his ancient forefathers.

crete cooking lessons - smiling man holding pie that has just come out of hand - cooking class - vamos village

Nikos Frantzeskakis owner of Vamos Fabrica village and ecotourism accommodation preparing a plate of delicious Cretan mezedes. 

Finding My Secluded Getaway Spot

In the foothills of Mount Olympus, I experienced Ktima Bellou, a family business exhibiting a shared vision and a passion to offer the best hospitality to all travelers.

Breakfast consisted of local delicacies using recipes which are made from local produce grown in the surrounding area, as well as on their own farm that spans more than 12 acres. They grow tomatoes and other vegetables as well as fruits, such as strawberries, that they use to produce delicious jams. More than this, they grow various spices, herbs and tea leaves.

The owner, Mr. Lazaros, is a most welcoming host and his love for nature and herbs is undeniable. His passion for sharing this natural setting that produces so many healthy consumables has led to other enjoyable activities such as Greek Pie making and Essential Oils Distillation.

Highly rated and repeatedly awarded, there is no doubt Ktima Bellou will continue to be the little getaway spot for visitors looking to escape the city

exterior photo of ktima bellou in crete greece with pool and sun loungers
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Artists And People That Have Shaped Greece

Greek Artists photo of a group of actors in a play - cheering on a guy a the top of the stage

I wish there was a way to transcend the difficulties in translation and transmit the very essence of the poetry and stories of Greece.

Such a magic means has yet to be discovered and poets like Odysseas Elytis are considered to be almost untranslatable, despite the significant efforts of a great many poets and translators.

Unfortunately, they all fall short compared to the power of the Greek words set out on paper ever so skillfully by this ever so amorous pilgrim of love.

You have a taste of tempest on your lips
And a dress red as blood…
Deep in the gold of summer
And the perfume of hyacinths—But where did you wander
Descending toward the shores, the pebbled bays?

artists and people that have shaped greece - photo of odysseas elytis - greek poet and writer

Image source: link 

Odysseas Elytis is considered Greece’s national poet alongside poets such as Homer and Seferis.

He was born Odysseas Alepoudelis on the island of Crete in 1911, but changed his name to avoid any association with his wealthy background. One of the words used to describe him in Greek is “leksoplastis” which means “the creator of words”.

His assumed name, Elytis, is indeed a composite of his own devise that stands for those things he treasured most: Ellas, the Greek word for Greece; elpida, the word for hope; eleftheria, the word for freedom; and Eleni, the name of a figure that, in Greek mythology, personifies beauty and sensuality.

Besides fusing words, Elytis has an amazing talent for melting notions and ideas together, creating poems that are stunningly simple and amazingly complex at the same time. In the excerpt above from his poem “Marina of the Rocks”, love and beauty and nature and passion are all fused in one.

This idea of combination is one of his attributes as a poet that set him apart. Throughout his work, modernist European poetics and Greek literary tradition are fused in a highly original lyrical voice.

When he was seventeen he discovered the French Surrealists and worked to incorporate aspects of this new school into the centuries-old Greek literary tradition. For Elytis, surrealism was the gust of wind that cleared away all literary prejudice and cleared the ground for poetic experimentation.

He was careful in selecting those notions that could be combined with Greek reality and mentality and his own sensitivity. He once said that “everything depends on imagination, that is, on the way a poet sees the same phenomenon as you do, yet differently from you.”

a brunch from an olive tree - full of green olives - article artists and people that shaped greece

Read more about Odysseas Elytis...

Elytis’ love for his country is evident in much more than his choice of pen name.

It is the driving force behind his writings, his inspiration and strength. In his acceptance speech he underlined that by saying:

“I would like to believe that with this year’s decision, the Swedish Academy wants to honor in me Greek poetry in its entirety. I would like to think it also wants to draw the attention of the world to a tradition that has gone on since the time of Homer, in the embrace of Western civilization.”

Throughout his life, Elytis never stopped traveling both in Greece and abroad. When in Paris, he was associated with a circle of artists including Picasso and Matisse; he shared with his friend and art patron, Teriade, a love for the art of folk painter Theofilos. In Greece, he loved exploring the islands of the sunny Aegean in the summer.

Elytis’ earlier poems are filled with images of sun, of light and purity, earning him the title of “sun-drinking poet.” His “Sovereign Sun” is an ode to optimism, a voice of hope in a ravaged country.

With the advent of WWII, Elytis was called up to fight on the Albanian front, where the Greek army managed to halt the Italian invasion.

Drawing from this experience he, like another Hemingway, wrote his “Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of Albania” in 1943. Elytis’ touching words are a cry of lament uttered by the young lieutenant and the whole Greek nation that suffered so much during the war; the tone is sorrowful, albeit proud.

Elytis’ most widely known masterpiece is the composition “To Aksion Esti” (Worthy It Is”).

The poet submerges deep within Greek history and Mythology to draw images and sounds and combine them with the Byzantine, and later Greek tradition, in a poetic cycle of alternating prose and verse patterned after the ancient Byzantine liturgy.

Centuries of Greek history are intricately woven in a tapestry of History that shows what is encompassed in the Greek Identity, the Greek Heart and Spirit:

“Worthy is the Light and the first, etched in stone, wish of man. The vigor of the animal that guides the sun. The plant that twittered and gave birth to Day

(Worthy is).

The Earth that plunges and then raises its neck, like a stone horse ridden by the open sea. A myriad of little blue voices and a huge white head of Poseidon”

“Aksion Esti” rose even more in popularity when it was set to music by Mikis Theodorakis in 1964 and received critical acclaim later in 1979, praised by the Nobel Academy as a masterpiece of 20th Century poetry.

Odysseas Elytis passed away in 1996 but his heritage lives on today, inspiring and influencing young poets and artists from all around the world.

Some of the difficulties present in written translation can be removed when following the spirit and music of the great musician Mikis Theodorakis.

The understanding of such complex concepts suddenly becomes simple and effortless, as his notes take you on a trip to every corner of Greece.

The land of the senses is unlocked for you then, as you travel with the sounds of an ethereal bouzouki into a land of white and blue.

artists and people that shaped greece - mikis theodorakis in black and white - eyes closed

Shared under Creative Commons licence: Wikipedia Commons 

The work of Mikis Theodorakis is impressively extensive, spanning thousands of pieces of work, from folk “laiko” Greek music, to symphonies, ballet scores and theatre scores.

What he is often most associated with, however, is the song of Zorbas, that features prominently in the movie “Zorba the Greek”, based on the book of the same name written by Nikos Kazatzakis.

Theodorakis was born in the island of Chios in 1925, and was raised at a time in Greece replete with political tumult and war. Fascinated by music from a young age, he began composing his first songs before having access to musical instruments. His primary influences were Greek folk music and Byzantine hymns having spent considerable time training in church choirs.

He wrote many songs and poems during that time and had his first concert only a few years later at age seventeen.

A strong aspect of his identity and defining feature throughout his life and music is his political activism and his involvement with the left leaning political parties in Greece.

Read more about Mikis Theodorakis:

Shortly after the German and Italian forces invaded Greece, Theodorakis joined the partisans in Athens and worked to defeat the Axis powers.

His involvement cost him dearly, when he was captured and tortured by the Gestapo before being exiled in the island of Ithaka. During his ordeal, Theodorakis contacted tuberculosis, severely injured his left eye and was buried alive twice but managed to survive.

Exiled once again in the island of Makronisos, for refusing conscription Theodorakis continued to work on his music and poetry and came in contact with other important figures of the Greek scene. Among those he would come in contact with at the time are Melina Merkouri, Giannis Ritsos and Iannis Xenakis.

After liberation from Nazi Germany, and during the Greek Civil War period (1946-1949), Theodorakis studied at the Athens Conservatoire from where he graduated in 1950.

A move to Paris, followed shortly after where he studied under Oliver Messiaen helped to launch his career and he received international recognition and offers to write music for foreign films.

Returning to Greece, to work on his composition, he worked to develop a unique style that incorporated the unique elements of Greek folk music and character into his work.

It was then that he composed some of his most famous scores like “Ill Met by Moonlight” and “Zorba the Greek”.

His political views and dissatisfaction with the post-war political situation in Greece, made him a target for the Regime of Colones during the period of junta. He faced another round of exile, torture and concentration camps and his work was banned across Greece.

He was forced into exile once again which not only did not deter his passion and commitment to music and speaking out politically but made him a figurehead of resistance and support increased especially among working and middle-class Greeks.

Upon his return from exile, Theodorakis was welcomed back as a hero and he continued his political work as an MP for the Communist Party.

His music retains the close ties developed during the period of upheaval and distress, that emphasizes the importance of music to unite and educate.

Maria Farantouri, a renowned Greek singer as well as political activist that has closely collaborated with Theodorakis throughout their career emphasizes this point with her words

“In the 1960s, music was very closely linked to politics and social struggles – it played a different role back then. We demonstrated against the political situation because we had neither freedom nor democracy.”

Scenes from the movie and the famous syrtaki dance. 

Another influential figure in the history of Greece is Nikos Kazatzakis.

“All my life, one of my greatest desires has been to travel-to see and touch unknown countries, to swim in unknown seas, to circle the globe, observing new lands, seas, people, and ideas with insatiable appetite, to see everything for the first time and for the last time, casting a slow, prolonged glance, then to close my eyes and feel the riches deposit themselves inside me calmly or stormily according to their pleasure, until time passes them at last through its fine sieve, straining the quintessence out of all the joys and sorrows.”

Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco

Traveler, philosopher, translator, novelist, poet; it is hard to paint the verbal portrait of Nikos Kazantzakis, a writer that shook the very foundations of Greek thought and was persecuted like no other.

Ever a radical and restless soul, Nikos was targeted by conservative literary and religious circles who failed miserably to restrain the critical acclaim and popularity of his works.

artists and people that shaped greece - nikos kazatzakis black and white sitting in a table with his books

Image source: link

When reading his novels, books and poems, it is virtually impossible to examine solely the text, disregarding the author.

With every line, hidden under each word is the spirit of Nikos Kazantzakis who has indeed poured his heart and soul into his writing.

This is namely what makes his way of writing so unique; his voice is pure and undistorted, the voice of a child asking the most important questions about life, love and spirit, that remain unanswered still.

artists and places that shaped greece - window looking out over the blue water

Read more about Nikos Kazatzakis:

Nikos loved to travel.

He considered traveling to be as important as teaching and always underlined the importance of having your eyes and mind open to new ideas and knowledge.

Throughout his travels the writer collected not only ideas for writing but was also exposed to an abundance of different views on life and the world. In France, he was introduced to the ideas of Bergson and later his restless spiritual skepticism found solace in the word of Nietzsche; in Russia, he came across the ideals of communism and atheism.

Yet when back in Greece, he traveled for a month to Mount Athos, an asylum of monastic life and experience, in search of peace and inspiration. This conflict of ideals, these never-ending existential and religious anxieties tormented him to the end of his days and these themes constantly reappear in his works.

No matter how much he traveled though his heart always longed for home. The writer and philosopher was born and raised in the proud island of Crete. His childhood memories of Cretan country life, the characteristic Cretan dialect and the simple, stubborn yet benevolent nature of the locals forever shaped his life’s views and way of writing, and, inevitably, found their way into his manuscripts.

In his most famous work Zorba the Greek Kazantzakis often describes scenes from everyday Cretan life, such as wine-making, in the liveliest colors. Crete is, for him, a reference point for the rest of the world; he praises its beauties without ever falling to the sin of elitist arrogance.

Kazantzakis considered his Odyssey his magnus opus.

The Odyssey of Kazantzakis is an epic poem of 33,333 lyrics and 24 rhapsodies that follows the pattern of Homer’s epic. The Cretan writer’s wish was to write an epic about the Modern Man in the face of Odysseus. The unfulfilled hero, who having returned to Ithaka, set a new goal, to achieve and conquer utter Freedom.

This Freedom was what Kazantzakis himself fought for in his whole life.

Despite the uproar his works caused, he never stopped writing nor changed his ideas to conform with literary and societal norms; he remained to the end true to his beliefs and free, like the proud hawks soaring in the sky above the mountain, Psiloritis, in Crete.

On his tombstone are these revealing words, a living testament to the essence of the man and his eternal belief in the ideal of Freedom:

“I hope nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”

crete - photo of rethimno harbour - dusk - boats and tavernas

Rethymno in Crete, Greece.

Greece is not only the destinations, the mountains, islands and beaches.

Greece is also the sentiment one carries with him on his way home, the sentiment you feel when you study Homer, Kavafes and Seferis, the vibrant colors and traditional figures in the paintings of Theofilos.

RelatedA Simple Guide To The Most Famous Greek Philosophers

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Should I Visit Chios? The Center Of The Island (part 1)

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Café Culture In Greece

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An A-to-Z Guide to Greece

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7 Greek Beaches You Definitely Need To Put On Your Bucket List

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Greece has over 6,000 islands which means there are thousands upon thousands of Greek beaches. Here are the ones we think are the best!

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