It seems that choosing a suitable image for this photography series is getting increasingly difficult with each destination. The choice of a picture to represent Greece has been the toughest so far. Eventually this image from Mount Athos seemed most appropriate, the religious peninsula which is home to hundreds of Byzantine monks and a place where women aren’t even allowed to visit.
This view from a small monastic cell is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, it just has it all. A lovely, secluded, half-moon bay, backed by a terraced vineyard, small isolated villas dotting the landscape complete with a spectacular mountain backdrop. It is a view that never becomes tiresome and a location that I could honestly happily settle down and enjoy lunch with a glass of the locally produced wine every day for the rest of my time. The Greek Orthodox church might have something to say about that though!
Greece certainly qualifies as a favourite destination. There is the fantastic almost alien landscapes of mystical Meteora, the monastic city in the clouds and numerous much loved islands. The Greek islands are destinations in their own right, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes or Crete are extremely popular with travellers for a variety of reasons from culture to beaches.
There are sprawling, huge cites such as Athens or Thessaloniki which may not be popular with every visitor but there is plenty of interest, ancient ruins and modern galleries amidst the bars or taverns offering a mix of lively nightlife and traditional cuisine.
Greece is one of the cradles of civilisation, home to the ancient Greeks, owners of one of the largest ever empires. It has a fascinating history and a rich culture which gave us philosophers like Pythagoras and epic poets and storytellers like Homer. There are numerous sites of interest scattered around the country. The accessibility of these ruins is just part of the appeal, they are often close to cities and some are even within the city limits including the Acropolis in Athens.
Those that enjoy unspoilt beaches can choose from both the mainland and the islands but it is the traditional Greece which appeals most. Small mountain communities like Makranitsa in the Pelion or fishing villages such as Ouranapolis, the gateway to Mount Athos are spread throughout the country. As well as taverns and restaurants offering traditional meals the pace of life usually appears slower. It sometimes appears as if the visitor has stepped back in time, goats and even pigs can be found roaming freely through the streets and stall holders still use mules to return their goods home when trading ceases.
There are many reasons that Greece is a favourite destination, one which never ceases to appeal or provide new surprises. This image may not seem as iconic as the Acropolis and Pantheon may be but it represents all that is attractive about the country.