If you’re anything like me, than you typically avoid the crowds when travelling overseas. You tend to favour remote, understated towns or villages and prefer the company of locals. The older I’ve become, the more particular I am about the kind of sensory experiences I want to have. I’ve noticed how changed my travelling preferences are now to what they were even a few years ago.
Whenever I return to Greece, there’s always a new corner of the country that I seek out. Not one for planning, I tend to work out my itinerary as I go. What surprises me about this approach is how much it has worked in my favour over the years. When you surrender a little to trust and allow yourself the flexibility of being open to possibilities, things often have a funny way of working out.
There is an effortless flow that I experience travelling through Greece, the current of possibility that influences my decisions when I’m there never fails me. The outcome seems to reinforce the underlying magic that I feel is ingrained in its ancient land. It’s the pulse that reverberates through the character of the people. It’s the effort that is made from complete strangers that do their best to ensure you have the most comfortable stay in their part of the country.
My most memorable stays and experiences have been unaided by guidebooks or the internet. Conversations shared with locals have led me to explore parts of the country that no guidebook could ever reveal. In Ikaria my taxi driver Yianni invited me to his humble abode. A sanctuary in the mountains. He and his beautiful wife showed me the essence of slow living. Growing their veggies, distilling their own grappa, baking bread and making sweets. In their own unhurried fashion (no-one in Ikaria is in a rush) they prepared a feast. I will never forget Yianni’s warmth and heartfelt generosity to a complete stranger.
In Paros, two elderly friends were kind enough to open the doors of the local church after their curiosity at us foreigners came to reveal I shared the same name as their patron saint. They let us take in the gorgeous quiet space and I savoured that moment knowing how lucky I was to have been privy to their offer. Boarding the wrong bus in Lemnos took us all the way to the last stop. The driver – as perplexed as us about being the only ones left on the bus, realised our mistake and instead of leaving us to make our own way, arranged for a friend in the neighbouring village to take us all the way to our scheduled destination…
The unexpected warmth received from a stranger, a gesture of help, support or appreciation comes to reflect the beauty of our humanity. These experiences and countless others have made the depth of my travels through the Mediterranean all the more enriching. They reveal the heartbeat of the country, the essence of what can be revealed when you make the effort to scratch beneath the surface and take the time to really get to know a place. In return you are gifted with memories that leave their imprint on you for life…
Happy travels…Paula x