A Summer in Greece

 

I still have lots of shoots to share with you – weddings and portrait shoots from 2018. I haven’t even begun to share shoots from Canada with you yet! But it’s a cool autumn day here in Chilliwack today and so I thought something warming might be in order. It’s about time I shared photographs with you from our summer in Greece last year and tell you a little bit about that!

Having spent a good number of years living on an island in the Mediterranean, I’d never had any longing to go to Greece before. That was until I started my degree. In the first couple of years of my humanities degree, I learned a lot about ancient Greek history. Suddenly I was smitten with a country that had never featured on my radar before.

So, when Stu and I were invited to spend a week with friends on the island of Andros, in the Cyclades archipelago just off the Greek mainland, we jumped at the chance. And, as part of our trip, we decided to include a few days in Athens too.

I was a little bit wary of visiting Greece in August. Having grown up on Malta, my memories of that time of year were always hot and with a lot of humidity. Probably why I tend to lean towards cooler climates or seasons when planning my trips! I needn’t have worried though. One thing people neglect to mention when speaking about Greece is the beautiful breeze you can expect, especially on the islands.

We spent the first part of our trip in a small villa overlooking the Aegean in the harbour town of Gavrio. It was the loveliest place, with a ginormous terrace that we could sit out on all day, overlooking the sparkling blue of the water as the breeze gently blew across us. I spent most of my days sitting in the shade with a multitude of books to read – my idea of paradise. From our back terrace, we could walk down a lane to a small beach, if we wanted. Perfect for the odd swim! And each night was spent walking down into the harbour town to find somewhere new to eat. I ate an abundance of souvlaki and loukoumades while we were there, not to mention the tzatziki! Honestly, I’m wondering where Greek food has been all my life. It’s so beautiful.

I couldn’t help but compare Andros to Malta, both being islands in the Mediterranean. Both islands are about the same size, with Andros being slightly larger at 380 square kilometres versus Malta’s 316. They both have a long and interesting history. And they both lie in the Mediterranean. And that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Because Andros has a population of just 9200, in contrast to Malta’s population of more than 493,000! And that’s exactly how I would describe Andros – as a much quieter, cleaner and prettier Malta.

We were on the island for my birthday, which we celebrated by going out to a beautiful restaurant in the neighbouring bay of Batsi. Our only other exploration was out to the capital town of Andros. It’s one of those typically Greek towns you might recognise from photographs – white buildings and blue doors and roofs that reflect the blue of the water.

The last few days of our stay were spent in Athens and there couldn’t have been more of a contrast from the islands. The city was hot and bustling. There was no breeze and walking the city was hard work, especially in the afternoon August heat. I hadn’t expected Athens to be so hilly!

But what a city. I fell in love with the atmosphere. The bitter orange trees that lined the streets. The architecture and glints of history wherever you went. And, of course, the imposing sight of the Acropolis perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the city.

The walks up the steep hills were both my least favourite thing and what I loved most about the city. Getting up there was hard work. But, oh my, it was really worth the effort once you were up there. We particularly loved Filopappou Hill, which we conquered on our first day. The views were breathtaking. I could have spent all evening sitting up there and looking out over Athens.

Of course, the walk up to the Parthenon has to be done. I don’t think you can go all the way to Athens and then not do it! It’s a shame to see it all covered in scaffolding, but the work has been going on for some years and will likely take a few more yet. But to see the size of the building, the scale of it, and the level of work it takes to renovate it is incredible.

A particular highlight of Athens, for me, was on our final evening. We went over to Lycabettus Hill where we took the funicular to get to the top and then stood and waited to witness the glorious sunset (along with a lot of other people!) as the bell at the top gets rung and the lights of the city come on below. Lycabettus is the highest point in the city and it is quite the view!

For me that was the perfect end to our first Greek visit. It’s certainly a place I want to visit again, if only to see more and learn a little more about the history.

What about you? Have you visited Greece? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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