Great cities, fabulous islands, much more in Greece ... Jaunt.ca Deal of the Day
A world-renowned city with some of the most wondrous sites on earth, plus great food and atmosphere. Some of the best-known islands in the world. Rugged mountains where you can ski in winter or cool off by a lake in summer.
I had a chance to chat the other day with Ms. Olga Kefalogianni, the tourism minister of Greece. She's justifiably proud of her country's tourism offerings, and is extremely bullish on the tourism future for Greece.
"We want to make Athens and all of Greece a destination again," she said. "Athens has so many neighbourhoods that are appealling; with young artists and galleries."
Kefalogianni talked about the open air cinemas held in areas like Psirri, where folks can relax with a beer or two and watch a film.
"The best theatre in the world is probably the one below the Parthenon, because you can watch the movie but also look up at night and see one of the amazing buildings in the world."
The movie Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy was filmed in Greece and a premiere is supposed to be held in Athens on Tuesday.
Psirri is a fun area but I also enjoyed the cafes and cooler air in the Kifisia area when I was at the Olympic Games in 2004. And you can't beat the Plaka for atmosphere, just in the shadow of the Parthenon.
"Greece has been evolving," said Kefalogianni. "Despite some of the economic problems we've been adding all kinds of attractions. We've also been doing our developments in sustainable ways, and we offer beautiful nature in some very unspoiled places."
Kefalogianni said she'd like to attract more Canadians to Greece.
"We're very safe and people are so friendly. There's a lot of potential in the Canadian market."
The Greek islands, of course, are perhaps the main attraction for so many of us; beautiful, blue waters, whitewashed buildings with cascades of brilliant bougainvillea, fresh seafood. The best known probably are Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu and Crete, where Kefalogianni hails from. But there are thousands of them in all, about 300 of them inhabited.
Kefalogianni suggested I someday try the village of Loutro (see photo) on the south shore of Crete.
"You can only get out or in by sea," she said. "It's very secluded and the village is right on the water."
She also noted there's a new, luxurious Aman resort in Greece, located on the Peleponnese peninsula near the popular island of Spetses. I've never been to Spetses but I did take a short trip to Hydra, which is quite close by, after the 2004 Games. It's a dry, rocky island but with fabulous water for swimming and beautiful villages offering coffee just steps from the sea and fresh, wonderfully tasty calamari. There are no cars on Hydra except for government vehicles, so donkeys are everywhere.
I was on the island of Paros many years ago and just loved it. It's not far from Myknonos but is much quieter, with those whitewashed homes with blue doors and churches with blue-domed roofs so typical of the Cyclades islands. The main village of Paros was great, with its winding alleys and colourful flowers, but there's also a wonderfully entertaining town of Naousa and a hilltop village called Lefkes that are worth checking out.
I found a lovely beach not far from my waterfront when I was there. Two young women of about 17, quite beautiful, were sitting near me when they suddenly decided to strip naked and rub each other with suntanning oil. Somehow this remains a pleasant thought in my memory banks....
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