Oh Greece, you ancient civilization. Home to Socrates, Aphrodite , Zeus, Athena, and the Pantheon of Gods, Ancient Ruins, 6000 year old civilizations ( actually 270,000 year old civilization if you consider the first to reside in the southern Balkans in Macedonia), THE SPARTANS, Intellectual conversations, drop dead gorgeous islands and food, passion, The arts, Well pretty much everything we do and say today, in my opinion, comes from Greece.
I really love Greece a lot. The people are just some of the most passionate and amazingly intellectual people you’ll ever meet. They know how to throw down an amazing meal, of which their mothers always make the best of each dish, you can talk for hours on one Frappe drink and 2 packs of cigarettes, about everything in life, down to why a needle and thread was created, argue about it, and then accept each other’s arguments as part of the intellectual process. I LOVE GREECE
Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda [eˈlaða] ( listen)), officially the Hellenic Republic (Greek: Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía [eliniˈci ðimokraˈti.a]; Greek: Ελλάς, Ellás, from the ancient Greek name Hellas Ἑλλάς, and known since ancient times as Hellas(/ˈhɛləs/; is a country located in southeastern Europe. According to the 2011 census, Greece’s population is around 10.8 million. Athens is the nation’s capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki, which is commonly referred to as the co-capital.
Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast. Greece consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres (9,573 ft).
Greece has one of the longest histories of any country, and is considered the cradle of Western civilization, and as such, is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. Greece was first unified under Philip of Macedon in the fourth century BC. His son Alexander the Great rapidly conquered much of the ancient world, spreading Greek culture and science from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus River. Annexed by Rome in the second century BC, Greece became an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire. The first century AD saw the establishment of the Greek Orthodox Church, which shaped the modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World. Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following the war of independence. Greece’s rich historical legacy is reflected in large part by its 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world.
Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life and a very high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities (precursor to the European Union) and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. It is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, NATO,[a] OECD, OIF, OSCE and the WTO. Greece, which is one of the world’s largest shipping powers, middle powers and top tourist destinations, has the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor. Courtesy of Wikipedia
I first went to Greece far back in 2006 ( you will notice in my ancient pictures 🙂 that smoking was still allowed in many places, as it now illegal to smoke in closed areas) . I have 2 dear friends, Johann and Enrique, one of whom ( Johann) is a true Athenian , born and raised in Athens. I was invited to join them for the ending of Summer 2006 in Athens to which I quickly jumped at the opportunity to go. I have since been back a few times and really long for it.
I was living in Minneapolis at the time, so my flight was a quick 8 or so hour flight to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. When I arrived, I slipped into my old Samsung phone, a Greek Sim card given to me by his Johann’s mother. Immediately my phone began to ring. OMG what the hell? So I answered only to be met with a very heavy Greek Accent ” Errrrrikahhhhh, it’s toooooo hot in Athena, I booked you a flight to Mykonos, we are already on the island. When you arrive my mother will meet you with food she cooked for us ( more to come on that) We’ll see you in Mykonos Dahling…. ( It was Johann ) hahahaha.
So I landed in Athens International Airport ( ATH) gathered my bag and rechecked myself on Aegean airlines bound for Mykonos. In the arrivals gate, like true Greek style, were ashtrays everywhere. The minute you step off the plane everyone lights up. Oh Greece….
Having about 2.5 hours to kill, I walked around the newly refurbished airport and took in the sights of the small museum dedicated to the antiquities and history of Athens and Greece. Later I met Aunty Anna ( Johann’s Mother) who gave me some food to carry on the plane. Ok I guess this is the best time to explain……. Mothers….. Greek mothers are madly in love with their children. They do everything and anything for them. If you happen to be a boy, you are the royal ruler of your family, and your mother will make sure you know that . They spoil them rotten. Not in a bad way, in an amazing way. Greek mothers can cook the house down, and they are in constant competition to be the best mother among their children friends. This includes: Having the most tidiest and cleanest house in complete order, making and cooking the absolute best food because they are the #1 cooks , and offering their children lots and lots of love and attention. This is no joke it’s a serious matter . OMG how in the world would I ever be able to marry a Greek man, I can’t cook for beans, but I do know how to order masterfully. 🙂 So even though, Johann and Enrique are on the island of Mykonos, because I’m going, Aunty Anna decided to cook up a special dish for them and us, just incase we go hungry. Amazing right.
I wondered around the Airport after visiting the museum and meeting Aunty Anna. It is a very nice and modern Airport, and I can only Imagine what the airport must look like now , some 10 years later.
A quick 35 minute flight over the beautiful Atlantic and Aegean seas, I landed in Mykonos. OMG I’m here !!!!!
A little bit about Mykonos….
Mykonos: is an island in the Aegean Sea, and it belongs to a group of islands called Cyclades. It was a port city with very few inhabitants and had seen its share of pirates, wars, and conquering. It’s first inhabitants date back to 3000 BC. The onslaught of Pirates caused the people of Mykonos to develop a series of mazes. So much so, that when you wonder down and through its main city, you will notice constant dead ends, this was to confuse the pirates. It wasn’t made popular until Jackie O started to frequent here with Billionaire husband Aristotle Onasis. Now one can find Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier , Dolce and Gabbana and many other stars vacationing on this beautiful island.
With homes decorated in white washed paint and blue roofs emulating the ocean and contrasting such, Mykonos is a very charming island. The main town ( Chora) is filled with lots of life. There are so many amazing restaurants, disco techs, homes for rent, beautiful architecture, and first class shopping. The nightlife is unbelievable as well, and I will be getting to that shortly of course 🙂 . Besides the main town, there are many smaller towns and beach areas around the island. You can see the zipping colors of a motor scooter carrying its passengers to a beach nearby or far away. You can also catch a few line of buses which drop you off at certain beaches miles away.
In Greek mythology, the Mykonos was named after its first ruler, Mykons, the son or grandson of the god Apollo and a local hero. The island is also said to have been the location of a great battle between Zeus and Titans and where Hercules killed the invincible giants having lured them from the protection of Mount Olympus. It is even said that the large rocks all over the island are the petrified testicles (or, in bowdlerized versions of the myth, the entire corpses) of the giants; this portion of the myth is the source of the slang term “stones” attested in most major European languages.
It is also said that the constant sun and sexual energy one finds in Mykonos ( and trust me there is a lot of that going on ) is due to its close proximity to the island of Delos , which is home to the Sun God Apollo with its neighboring island belonging to the Moon Goddess Artemus .
There are many beaches that are drop dead gorgeous in Mykonos. I frequented Elia the most as it was someplace that my friends enjoyed going to. Some of the more amazing and popular beaches which also hold massive parties in the evenings are Paradise and Super Paradise Beaches. There are also luxury hotels located all around the island that hosts amazing parties, or very quiet and serene experiences. Just to gaze out into the Aegean Sea at sun up or sunset is such a romantic experience …
I arrived some 35 minutes later and was met by Johann. He said we must go and meet some of his newly acquired friends ( he’s really good at that) so we journeyed down to the closest body of water and met a very striking woman from Lebanon. Her skin was cocoa from spending half the summer there, and her hair was Jet Black … We decided to drop my bags off and allow me to freshen up . I was staying with my dear friend Mihalis ( Michael ) who was also Kelly by night and the most famous drag performer on the island. He has been going to the island from Thessalonike for years. He rented a flat with another “Michael” from Germany and I was able to crash on the couch. It was heaven. Downstairs was a family who owns the property with the matriarch all dressed in the traditional widowers clothing of Greece…. BLACK… She was very interesting and funny as she plucked her whiskers and screamed every time she gave herself an insulin shot. You’ll find a lot of widowers in their golden years , sitting on a little stool infant of their beautifully white washed home staring and judging all those passerby’s , some scantily dressed, others doing the walk of shame at 8 am coming home from some rocked out night, they loved to stare up at me as I towered over everyone doing my run way walks on the tricky cobbled stone streets. They are a hoot.
I got ready and was picked up by Johann and Enrique who have been using Mihalis’ car and headed up to Hotel Belvedere and Nobu Restaurant. It was such a lovely evening already. The air was warm, the winds were calm, and the hotel was stunning. After a few cocktails, I was ready for bed. I’ve been traveling for hours on end, and it was time to play catch up.
I was awaken the next morning by Michael who was on his way to his Day job in Ornos, a nearby beach town . He worked at a beautiful seaside restaurant. The boys rang me up and told me to get ready for the beach. OK!!!!! I gathered my things and headed out to the main bus depot to meet them. There were people everywhere. All young and beautiful, waiting to catch their buses and rent their mopeds to head to some distant beach on the island. The boys picked me up and we headed to Elia beach on the north west side of the island. We stopped to pick up some pastries filled with savory delights and continued our journey ( about 35 minutes ) to the beach. We parked our car and headed for the one of the hundreds of beach bungalows with thatched umbrellas and beds. Johann had already made friends with one of the masseuse there , Dimitrius, who had scored us a few umbrellas , at a cost of course. I never did find out how much it was to rent the umbrellas and beds, but I’m sure it cost a small fortune. The beach is gorgeous. Crystal clear water, no waves in sight, very serene with soft white sand and beautiful cliffs surrounding the bay.
The beach was just starting to fill up. And we’ve already made 2 new friends. Iorgos ( George) and Christos ( Christopher ) They would become our new friends until we leave. God Greece is just amazing. Things are so easily accessible on the beaches of Mykonos. There are people selling Cold Frappe, iced coffee, hot pastries, champagne, wine, african jewlery by african people, illegal copies of cd’s , and whatever you want.
The beach was separated or rather sectioned off : To the far left: Families and straight people, In the middle ( where we were) a mix of everything, and to the far right, The fabulous gays. I was in heaven. Every walk of life in full synergy….. Word to the wise or rather a lovely note for the ladies: In Greece , or Mykonos, you can go in the full buff….. Although I didn’t take advantage of being fully nude, I did enjoy going topless and swimming in the ocean topless its very liberating. If you have inhibitions, please stay far away from the rocks on the right side, as there is a lot of questionable activities going on up there with lots of sound effects by both women and men. Catch my drift? To me I loved it…. No , I didn’t partake of course, but it just felt so wonderful to be in a place where people can feel free to be themselves and to enjoy each other 🙂 …. Really lovely ….
Later that first day, while I was swimming and enjoying the water, as I came out, I was met by Dimitrus who told me to come to his tent. I said no ( I didn’t want to spend money on a massage) He said, no you come …… Ok gorgeous , here I come , now how much is this going to set me back. Reminder: I’m topless…. OMG embarrassing ( the american mind is ruining my trip ) I relaxed and chucked it all up to being in Europe and Greece respectively. His massage was amazing, that I fell asleep, he turned me around, and started to massage my front, and without sounding like some sex novel, he kissed me… OMG He just kissed me. WTH? and Just like that, some girl with huge boobs barged in demanding that it is her turn for a massage. I was all red with embarrassment, this had never happened to me before. He said sorry I need to see her and I left. Johann said to me ” What the hell took so long? I only paid for half hour you were there for over an hour” What? Well, I told him what happened like I’m tell you, and he said ” Oh OK!!!!! We have Dinner” what? ” He is going to meet us for dinner, no questions asked” And just like that he met us for dinner, all dressed in white, and smelling divine….. That is all I’m going to say.
My time in Mykonos was just amazing. I got on their schedule which was no schedule. However, my days pretty much looked like this: 10/11 am wake up….. Head to a beach with lunch in tow, or dine there at some fabulous beach side restaurant. Sleep until 5 pm, Leave, meet friends, have sunset dinner or skip early dinner, go to sleep, wake up either at 10 pm if we still have dinner to eat, or at midnight… Get ready, walk through the town with the Italians clapping and whistling as you walk by, do some shopping at Chopar or some other fabulous designer store that I could not afford but the boys could ( the stores don’t close till 2am ) then head out to dinner or a club. Party and dance till 4 am or 6 am, head to a greek bar at 4 am till 6 am, try to find our way home without tripping , sleep, get up at 10 / 11 again, and do it all over again….. It was just spectacular.
One day we decided to break away from our traditional day and make a day trip to the island of Delos. Enrique and I booked a ferry to the island and a subsequent tour in English. When we got there we were met by the most entertaining tour guide I ever met. I remember her like it was yesterday. She introduced herself, sat down, lit a cigarette and said in her very heavy greek accent while she puffs out smoke like a dragon from her mouth ” pffffffff, Now, I’m going to tell you!!!!!! The story of Delos” I was in love hahahahahahah….
Delos: Was and is a very important cultural and historical place. It was the center of the ancient Mediterranean world around 6000 years ago. The island is considered in Greek Mythology to be the Birthplace of the Sun God Apollo and his sister, the Moon Goddess Artemis. Because of its sacred grounds, no-one was ever allowed to be born or to die on the island. It was a very clever decision to make as it kept the island sacred and in doing so, protected from being conquered and preserved its neutrality in commerce, since no one could then claim ownership through inheritance. Births and deaths were to take place on the smaller island that is next to it simply called ” Little Delos” How clever. In order to live on the island, one must show their wealth at the docks and then and only then, would they be permitted to live on the island. Three nationalities lived there side by side. The ancient Egyptians one of whom was another famous Cleopatra ( older than the more famous one 🙂 ) The People from Asia Minor, and the Greeks. It was were the first currency exchange took place, which then created a unified currency called : THE DRAKMA. People’s address weren’t numbered, but you could tell who lived there by the head busts in front of the house indicating its inhabitants. Many things were created on the island. The first DRAMA was created, as well as Tragedy, and other earthly rituals to bring upon the seasons as can be seen through their antique statues depicting such things as impregnating the earth with a giant phallic symbol to bring about a good harvest. This of course was all being told to us by our guide, and although a lot of it is true, the latter is left to speculation, especially because Enrique who is a native Spanish speaker told me that the Spanish group is being told something completely different. We laughed about it and just enjoyed our sunny day.
My 10 days in Mykonos was so lovely and I was so sad to leave. We took Fast Ferry ( 2.5 hours) back to Athens. We made stops at many different Cyclades islands and it was cool to see them. Once we arrived in Athens, we were met by Aunty Anna who took us to her house. She lived just outside Athens Proper in a gorgeous marble mansion. Here is where I got to see first hand how amazing she can cook, how perfectly in order her house is, and where I would take a very relaxing nap in her garden by the pond with the beautiful trees gently blowing above me. It was lovely.
After a very long nap we gathered our things and made our way to the boys apartment in Athens. They live in an area called Pagrati. When you look at a map of Athens you will notice that the Acropolis is located in the center of the city and everything else feathers out in all directions. Pagrati is located about a good 40 minute walk ( slow walk ) to the Acropolis. It is a really cool neighborhood with lots of shops, coffee cafe’s playing awesome house music, and a very beautiful park.
The next morning, as the boys slept the day away, I couldn’t wait to get out of the house. So I left a little note, grabbed my map, and headed out the door to explore Athens. Right down the street from the apartment is Pagrati Park and next to it a bit further down, is the first Olympic Stadium, Panatheniac Stadium which hosted the first modern day olympics in 1896.
A few meters down after this amazing stadium is the Temple of Olympian Zeus , who is the King of all Olympian Gods. It was built in the 6th Centry BC and is very close to the center of the city and next to the Acropolis.
After a few minutes walk you’ll be entering the heart of the city. And at the bottom is Plaka, an ancient part of the city that led up to the Acropolis and the temple of Parthenon. I stopped and to a break after all that walking and refreshed myself and my stamina with some powerful cold Frappe coffee… Ready to hit it, I decided to start up by the Acropolis first to see the Parthenon then make my way down the windy roads of Plaka .
At the top of the Acropolis is Athena Parthenos ( The virgin Athena ) or what is now simply called The Parthenon and at that time, was still under reparative construction. Hopefully you all know about the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena of which the city is named after. During the Turkish wars with Greece, a large part of it was destroyed due to the Turks leaving gun powder in the temple which subsequently blew up . Also many of its reliefs had been stolen just leaving it stripped bare. It is still a sight to behold especially knowing that it is around 2500 years old. You can just imagine what it must have been like in its full glory with the statue of Athena in its center core.
There are smaller temples like the one right below the Parthenon dedicated to Athena Nike and the beautiful open style Theater Dionysus.
As you exit the Acropolis and make your way back down to the city center ground level so to speak, you are walking through the ancient historical neighborhood of Plaka. Plaka is still inhabited today with merchants and many of its ruins have been turned into beautiful hotels and hostels offering beautiful views of the city . Plaka leads down to an area called Monastiraki which is the main shopping point in Athens. There is also ancient mall there where people would do and create trade. I spent a lot of time here throughout my many trips. It is teaming with life , absolutely the best souvlaki you’ll ever had, and fantastic shopping.
Athens is just lined with beautiful ruins and it is the one country I’ve been to outside of Rome that I feel as if I can feel the footsteps of the ancients walking the same path I’m taking . It is fantastic. There are a number of museums worth visiting as well with the National Archeological being the most extensive in antiques and history.
Nightlife in Athens is no joke… Just like in Mykonos, you can expect to party to the wee hours of the morning. With all the sad-faced summer breakers returning to the city, dreaming of their sun drenched vacation, their new seasonal love they met, and the promises that work is right around the corner, many Athenians were out to party in full force….
In the Glyfada district of Athens which is located by the water and beach resorts and private beach clubs are a line up of Buzukia establishments. Buzukia is an amazing experience . You pay to get in with your group and listen to the stars of Greece sing songs. You purchase crates of flowers and throw them at the person singing if they are any good. The more flowers on the ground the more honored and amazing the performer is. It is really funny, because if you’re not careful you could bash someone on the side of their head with a carnation flower while they are singing. We had a fabulous time, drinking, singing, and listening to the amazing super start talents of Greece. Think , Mariah Carey, madonna, Michael Jackson, all singing in front of you weekly. That is what happens there. The best stars come out to certain buzukia and sing its like a cheaper concert ..
A nice day trip for you to take would be to Delphi. One day on one of my trips, we took a journey to Delphi. Delphi as you may already know , was an ancient temple grounds where the famous Oracle of Delphi resided. Many a king had journeyed to visit the Oracle who would for tell many a success in battle . It was a 2.5 hour trip and the journey there was so beautiful . Once at Delphi, you can feel the energy there. It is serene and beautiful. Now primarily ruins, it is still a very spiritual place.
My time in Greece had always proven to be wonderful and special. I’ve met and made so many new friends , to which I still keep in contact with to this very day. Besides its amazing history coupled with fantastic ruins, it is the people of Greece that make it so special. Greece is such an easy country to visit, and it is very affordable. They use the Euro as their currency as they are part of the Union. One can make friends quite easily there, as the people are always open and welcoming and you’ll find yourself in no time, becoming a part of someone’s extended family. The food is amazing, although now I wonder what I’ll eat as a vegetarian. They eat seasonally, so you know that your food and veggies are always fresh and in season. They are very passionate people and very expressive with their hands. You definitely can understand what someone is saying just by their hands, but don’t take their voice too seriously, they are not angry they are just expressing themselves and probably telling their friend how much they love them.
I recommend everyone to visit Greece and the islands at least once. It is such a welcoming place.