What Does Greece Mean to Us? A few things to remember.
One of my favourite things to ask people is what they love about their country.
Most people answer from the heart, and their answers cover things a passing visitor would not think of or even pay attention to.
Maybe what they think fondly of is the light during a summer afternoon, maybe the smell of their grandma’s cooking, a song that they learnt when they were children or a word that conveys a meaning they cannot replicate in any other language.
So if you had no knowledge of the country Greece, these are the things we would like you to know.
Okay, so maybe not the most surprising of things to know that Greece has a ton of islands. However, that little part shapes the food, the dances, the music, and even the way people traditionally did business.
The landscape of Greece is shaped by the over 6000 pieces of land that you can find scattered on its blue waters and they are quite something to behold.
All the islands are a work of art painted in a thousand shades of blue and green with touches of the brightest white and most vibrant red. If you could fly above every island of the Aegean or the Ionian you would without a doubt marvel at the changing hues of blue and white that spread before you from island to island.
A seemingly eternal kaleidoscope of mountainous rock, each breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity but precious in its uniqueness.
Why is it important?
The geographical formation of a country plays a huge role in the general feeling or atmosphere. While Greece is not an island, the fact that access to water is so easy from anywhere within the mainland has created a bond between sea and man that can be seen in the rhythm of life.
Long summer days and high temperatures create the perfect scenario for locals to spend an extended amount of time next to the water and children become from a very young age acquainted with swimming and in some places fishing and sailing.
Little island, off the bigger island. Balos nature reserve, in Crete.
A few places around the world can boast a history that is as rich as that you find in Greece.
But what is important for a passing visitor to remember is that if you look for it, you can almost feel the history as if it were embroidered into the fabric of this country. So many places to visit, so many sights to admire that bear the remnants of Ancient Greece.
History lovers should prepare for a unique journey in time tracing the footsteps of Ancient philosophers, great leaders, legendary warriors and people that became pillars of the Christian Faith.
Stories unfold beneath your feet as you trace the footsteps of some of history’s most famous characters. The mystical aura present in this land has yielded so many tales of history and undoubtedly hidden even more.
Why is it important?
Discussing the history of Greece in a paragraph is impossible. Even if it could be done, the array of facts and information spans thousands of years and would be hard to keep track of even for the most committed history lovers. In addition, it is not important to know all of Greek history to appreciate it. Actually, it is not even important to know any of it. Whether you are still planning your trip, considering a trip or have already arrived, there will be bountiful opportunities to explore places of historical significance.
All that is left to do when that moment comes, is to be open to the stories that are present.
The archaeological site of Delphi, with the view of thousands of olive trees below.
What is history if not the people that made it happen?
Throughout our journeys, you will be given the opportunity to get to meet and discourse with the people of Greece as was done in the ancient marketplaces. You will sit in the town squares and see the smiles on the sun-burnished faces, hear the hearty laugh indicative of a slower pace of life not fraught with many of the troubles found outside of Greece, and talk…talk to the Greek man who loves the land and the Greek woman who prepares a home like few others can.
You may enter as a visitor, but through your experiences with the people, you will feel as though you are a local. If you allow yourself to be cradled in this motherly embrace you will fully experience the images, aromas, tastes, and feelings of this wonderful place.
There is a secret hidden in the mind of the Greek. This secret allows an enjoyment of life that supersedes the problems of the modern world. So, forget everything you have heard. Open your mind and your heart and you will laugh and cry and love as only the Greeks can do.
Why is it important?
When we first began to built Definitely Greece, we thought: “if there is one thing we want others to take away when they come to visit, what would that be”? The answer as you might have guessed is the people. Human interactions that are authentic, relaxed, casual, informative and genuine in nature, are what we remember when we travel.
For that reason, we encourage and create opportunities for discussion and exploration. In recent years, Greeks remain a group of people that are misportrayed in news and media. We are certain, however, that if you take the time to travel in our land, and talk to our people you will see an aspect much different to what is seen on TV.
Founder and owner of Definitely Greece, Efi Kalogirou – Baldwin with Leila and her delicious loukoumades in Ikaria island.
But one thing you have probably never heard about is that Greece has more than 100 mountains. They spread over the mainland but they can also be found scattered on the islands of the Aegean and the Ionian Sea.
Hiking trails await eager visitors to be explored offering hidden beauties to beginners and advanced hikers alike.
These mountains hide old forests, mountain lakes, and snowy passes but many are accessible to the day hiker. So, if mountains are your preference, the little known higher altitudes of Greece will satisfy your alpine desires.
Why is it important?
The first reason why it is important to know about our mountains is that you might figure it out after you have arrived at which point you might not be able to change your plans or itinerary. The other reason is that Greece is often thought of as a summer destination, even though it has an equal amount to give to the winter traveller.
Ski centers, little tucked away villages with traditional stone houses and fireplaces, warm stews, and the experience of being in a Greek island covered in snow, are just a few of the things we don’t tend to associate with Greece. Maybe we can change that perception!
Winter scenes in Northern Greece.
There is a word that encompasses the meaning of hospitality from the Greek perspective. That word is philoxenia. It is probably the most important aspect of Greek culture and even the roots of the word are part of the story that shows how ingrained hospitality has become in our history and culture.
Philoxenia is made up of two parts.
Philo and Xenos.
“Philo” means to love, “xenos” means stranger.
That dichotomy of the two words might appear peculiar at first. After all, how do you include the word “stranger” in your definition of hospitality? Since antiquity, the concept of hospitality was considered a right and a duty that the host was called to fulfill. In Ancient Greece, accepting “strangers” or those that were not considered your “guest-friends” was believed to be an obligation inspired by Zeus. Gods or goddesses could unexpectedly join mortals on earth, to test their hospitality and check on whether or not they were fulfilling their rights as hosts.
In addition, due to the frequent movement of many Greeks due to trade routes, having access to room and board wherever you went meant everybody had a place to stay and was kept in the loop regarding news and social events.
Why is it important?
The relationship between “hospitality” and religion has continued and is evident in the teachings of Christianity. The most known example is in the story of the Final Judgment in the Bible, where Jesus exclaims, “For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.”
The people, anxiously replied that they never did such a thing. And Jesus said, that when you refuse to help my brothers and sisters it is as though you are refusing to help me.
That story is frequently seen in children’s books and encourages young and old alike to be open to sharing their good fortunes with those that have less. In times of economic crisis, it also means that by and large Greeks have managed to retain a sense of community and hospitality even when they themselves might have very little to give.