I grew up in post WWII Australia in a suburb that my father called “Little Europe” surrounded by “continental” shops and with friends at school with family names like Debrofski and Stephanos, and Manis. It helped me move away from our typical English culture to a richer wider one with different attitudes to family, to food, to work. From lamb and turnips to pastrami and yoghurt and olives and salami.
Only later did I realise what all this meant, at the time it was just normal for a school kid, but I do remember the first time my friend’s father hugged him openly in public, something that never happened in my family. It was something about this warm climate, island filled coastline, beach laden Australia that attracted all those exotic Mediterranean immigrants here.
Well right now Australia is entering its winter and there is no better time to repay the honour and travel to Greece for the holidays, to soak up their sun and beaches, their food and music. With the Australian dollar strong and the Greek economy still improving, the exchange rate ensures excellent value for money.
The best times are right now, between May to September when the weather is hot and dry. A population as large as all of Australia visited Greece last year, 24 million tourists, double the population of all of Greece. This is not surprising since Greece is the genesis of western civilisation and its history illustrates much of what has dominated
European culture ever since. Greece was one of the founding members of the United Nations. While the English and Austrian’s point to Greece as their first choice of destination, surprisingly it is also the first choice of Chinese for example.
Ancient Greece was the period immediately before the Romans that the original Olympic Games took place, the dawn of mathematics, political systems, educational systems, art, science, architecture (the word architecture even has the word arch in it).
Greece is also the first choice of the modern wave of religious tourism. Travel with a Cause recently held the very successful Footsteps of St Paul cruise, which traced the steps of the apostle through the Greek Islands. In Patmos is another crucial religious site, the Cave of the Apocalypse, where St John heard the voice of God dictating the text of the book of Revelation.
Greece has more UNESCO world heritage sites than almost any other country, 18 in total, like Meteora and its amazing monasteries perched on inaccessible rocky pillars.
While history and archaeology are the usual attractions, and cannot be under estimated, with sites like Attica, Marathon and Sparta with their clear influence on modern culture and even language, there is every excuse to just visit Greece for leisure and pleasure.
Greece has more than 140,000 beds in almost 500 5-star hotels, and accommodation for 800,000 visitors in total, and is ranked among the top 10 places in the world for overnight stays and conferences.
Beaches and beach resorts are everywhere, Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, marinas and thermal springs, mineral spas, some dating back to the time of Aristotle. Museums and galleries make it easy for anyone to experience the depth and extent of Greek history and influence without the exertion of long treks if that is preferred. Bars, and nightclubs and restaurants galore, food like you’ve never seen.
With the cold approaching much of Australia as we enter winter, time to think about continuing the sun and surf where it all began.
In ancient times Greece was known as Hellas, but modern Greece became independent of the Ottaman Empire in the 1830’s and is today a highly developed country divided into 9 regions: Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, Crete, Thrace, Central Greece, Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands and the Aegean Islands, all with distinct reasons for visiting.
This month's Greek Holiday Products: https://www.twac.com.au/holidays-on-sale