Becoming part of the myth in Greece

Bird's eye view of Athens from Lykavittos Hill. Photo by Emma Rose Kraus.

by Emma Rose Kraus
Journalism Intern

There is not quite any country so universally recognized for its influences in the sciences, politics, culture and arts as Greece. This reputation is not unearned and the nation continues to be a place where any traveler will find exactly what they are looking for. 

From the city of Athens with her ruins at the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus to the Greek Orthodox Metéoran Monasteries atop steep, otherworldly mountains - a site called one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the mainland will no doubt astound, amaze and inform even the most well-versed of travelers.

Ruins of the Temple of Poseidon at the Acropolis of Athens. Photo by Emma Rose Kraus.

Two quaint coastal towns always seem to hold the attention when stating on either side of the Canal of Corinth. The first, Nafplio, is a seafaring town in the Peloponnese and was once the capital of the First Hellenic Republic.

The climate is usually very mild so it is the ultimate destination for the family or a day trip for both recent and ancient history buffs alike and to also eat some of Greece's finest gelato. Any visitor would enjoy seeing the Venetian and Neoclassical building styles kept close to their original states under the shadow of Palamidi Castle. 

Nafplio is a quiet yet historic location filled with many eras of architectural history and design. Photo credit Jamie Lee Ellsbury. 

The other is the beachside port city of Volos in Thessaly which has both sandy and rocky beaches and sunny days. Order some refreshing boiled octopus in vinegar and olive oil on the beach or walk along the port - only a few streets down from many of the town's affordable hotels.

For a snack, you will find Καφεα Μινέρβα (pronounced Café Minerva), the oldest café in the city, where a pastry unique to the town and only sold in Volos called Φούρνου (pronouced foúrnou) may be purchased with a shot of Greek coffee. If you are more interested in a frozen dessert, the café also makes their own ice cream.

Another staple of Greece are the islands, especially those of the Aegean Sea, with their stark white houses with blue roofs and often mountainous landscapes. One of the most famous of these is Thira, more commonly known by the name Santorini.

The island is recognized not only for its romantic atmosphere - the island is a number one site for destination weddings - but also its active shield volcano. It gave the island many of its special features due to eruptions taking place over the past two millennia, one of which once wiped out much of ancient civilization on the island. 

As a result, Santorini has been offered as one possible location for the mythical island of Atlantis spoken of by the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

While there are high-end parts of Santorini, it is inexpensive to find a nice hotel inland in the capital city of Fira where prices are similar to Athens. This is where the dance clubs and central bus station are located. You can travel anywhere on the main island in under forty minutes, making Fira the most practical place to stay.

Thira is known for its wine, sunsets at Oia and colorful volcanic beaches. Travelers can enjoy shopping at Kamari's black beach and trekking to the ruins of Ancient Thera atop the Messavouno Mountain. Other sights are the Red Beach near the ancient site of Akrotiri and taking a boat tour of the Nea Kameni volcanic island and her neighbor Palea Kameni where warm springs are located.

View of Palea Kameni from Nea Kameni. Photo by Emma Rose Kraus.

A ferry back to Athens ends your journey through Greece, one unique for having seen most of the different landscapes and many different ways of Greek life.

Greece is a fantastic country with a rich history that has been well documented and preserved. Known as the cradle of all Western Civilization, this is a trip that everyone should take at least once. It is the ultimate destination for anyone looking for something more than just a pretty place.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly - 7/25/2017 @ 8:54 a.m. CDT