Fresh from the ultimate “Christmas Land”…

From Greece with love…  The choice to spend my winter break there was completely random, however the trip was far more rewarding then I’ve expected. Here 14 reasons why you should consider Greece as your next Christmas break destination;

dscf9538

Anafiotika Streets on first day of the year, Athens.

1- The weather is perfect; I personally like my christmas fresh with a bit of rain. Greece is
not as cold as the rest of Europe, it could possibly snow a little but it won’t be freezing, not to mention that the sun always defies the forecast. Which makes it ideal whether you’d like to wander around the city streets on your feet or to rent a car to roam other cities and villages…

20161229_085019

A bit of snow around Epidavros, the road suddenly turned white. I continued driving as the snow got thicker despite the avalanches, the closure of the historical sites..It was a rewarding journey as the sun still rises within a couple of hours.

2- The Greeks will capture your heart; warm and cheerful beyond belief. I am usually abroad on Christmas, but Greece is one place where the Christmas spirit prevails in every sense of the word. Families  and friends gather at home, in the streets, churches, cafes and restaurants. They noisily fill the air with  laughter  creating a contagiously delightful mood.The tip I can give you is to learn a few words in greek and sprinkle them around. You’ll get a lot of laughter, fist bumps and random friends in return…

dscf8052

Adrianou street, Athens

Here are a few expressions : “Kali Khronia” Happy year, “Kala Khristo Yenna” Merry Christmas, “Efkharisto” Thank you, “Indaxi” fine, “Kalimera” Goodmorning, “Kalispera” good evening, “Kalinikhta” good night, “Yassas” hi, “Stin Ya Sou” or “Yamas” Cheers, “Yasso” Hello or goodbye…You could always ask and people will be more than happy to teach you.

img_20161229_195123_237

Metaksia & Yanni, 5th generation distiller, gave us a free Karoni’s tour and tasting. It was after a few discussions regarding the relationship between coptic and greek languages…

3- Morning cheerfulness; During the 12 days of Christmas, Kids would go out after the liturgy with their parents or in groups signing christmas carols while playing a triangle or drum. Their audience in cities are normally shop owners and people sitting in cafes or restaurants, elsewhere they would knock on house doors. They are given in return money or sweets. It’s a lovely sound to wake up to, and a good company to your morning walk.

4- Boats are often used in Christmas decorations as St. Nicholas is considered the protector of ships at sea. I was given a boat shaped medal as a Christmas gift at the only gas station that was operating in the area on Christmas day.

dscf8927

Near Nea Kios fishing port, Argos

5- Church bells are inviting, they ring in hymns all day in both Christmas and New year. The best part is that people actually go to church, you’ll find all ages and families. That adds a blend of spirituality.

dscf8189

Light a candle and pray for Love and Peace…

6- Stray animals are chubby, relaxed and might as well befriend you.  In Mycenae, at the acropolis entrance, I met a stray puppy who gave me an extra long hug and followed me like a shadow. Loulou as I named him, is super sweet and protective even from his mommy (Koukou). They made my morning, despite the rain and wind, they did their best to entertain me…

7- Awesome Street decoration allover Greece from Athens to the smallest village in Argos. Christmas trees in different forms and colors, danglers, lights, tree decorations and above all as mentioned in point # 4: Boats.

8- Christmas cookies, namely Kourambides and Melomakarona are offered everywhere; shops, hotels, wineries…etc.  You’ll get it these delicious treats for free…

img_20161225_172233_041

At Adam’s hotel reception

dscf9517

Lighing Athens sky

9- Fireworks randomly firing everywhere on new year’s eve mixing with church bells. People are out in their balconies or on the streets watching the lights and greeting their neighbours…

10- Bouzouki and Rebetika traditional music will keep you warm in the coldest times. You’ll find strong voices singing in clubs all night starting 11pm. You need to book but if you don’t want to, you can just have a drink at the bar while listening o the enchanting tunes.

 

20161223_232303

Perivoli Tou Ouraou

11- Get to know the Hellenic heritage: Though earthquakes have done great damage to the archaeological sites what was found has been well preserved. Whether scattered remains of an old house in the middle of the subway ventilation  network(Check Vassilias Amalias street off of Athen’s Syntagma square in the direction of Hadrian’s wall), or an acropolis in Mycenae. The museums are also well organised, thematic and tell the story.

dscf8971

Acropolis in Mycenae

12- If you are a nature lover, there are bays, lakes, seas, mountains, valleys and wild animals. In winter you can ski in the north, there are many resorts in the main land.

dscf8879

View from Tyrins Acropolis

13- Greek Cuisine rocks, like the rest of the mediterranean, it has a vegetarian blend as the greek land offer a variety of different products all heavy on olive oil. Try a variety of fresh fish which is possibly an expensive choice specially if you live on the other side of the mediterranean and pay much less, tarama that differs from a place to the other, tazatziki, dolmades, keftedes, souvlaki, kebab, gyros, moussaka, saganaki, fried feta with honey, not to mention a whole world of sweets like halva, baklava, lokomades and portokalopita. People were so generous to always serve us a free dessert after each meal. Try also shopping at an old fashion grocery store for cheese and cold cuts, get some mega size creamy yoghurt packs and don’t forget to stop by a bakery to explore all sorts of bread, pastry, light sandwiches, biscuits, cakes among other local sweets.

14- Welcome to the land of Wine & Ouzo. There is a greek variety of grapes as well in more then six regions. In Nemea alone there is a wine route occupied by more than 40 registered wine makes in addition to the local farmers produce that is being sold at the Nemean Wine Makers Association. You can also find an Ouzo distillery, the less known brands are sometimes tastier. The distillers make Tsipouro, Mastiha and other fruity liquors for your delight…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s