My Greek adventure started by accident when I visited Athens to attend an international conference which just happened to be in Greece that year. Unlike what most Greeks think, not everybody dreams of visiting Greece and although I have been to 69 other countries, experiencing a Greek summer and the best olives in the world was certainly not on my bucket list.
I arrived in Athens on a dull cloudy October day which I now know are rare, but having just arrived from South America everything seemed normal and still today as I explore Athens I can’t help but see similarities to certain South American cities. I remember my confusion caused by a long flight and the fact my brain just wanted to speak Spanish to everybody although my conscious self knew it was wrong.
My Greek experience continued a few months later when, finally, according to Greeks “my life would finally be complete as I got to experience a Greek summer and visited islands that attract tourist from around the world every year”: The famous Cyclades Islands.
Since that trip to the islands I have seen a lot more of Greece but by no means would I say enough to call myself an expert or even that I know the country well, but enough to now know what is so special about this country. What I have seen on the mainland of Greece, where there isn’t one Greek cliche or white building in site has amazed me much more that the famous Cyclades islands.
I have visited, The Coliseum (Italy) Machu Picchu (Peru) Petra (Jordan) Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Teotihuacan (Mexico) because they are world famous, but when I first got to see Meteora I was truly amazed not only by the architecture and the creations themselves, but also by the fact that Meteora isn’t world famous and a must visit destination not only for anybody visiting Greece but anybody visiting Europe.
I have been lucky enough to visit Eastern Macedonia and Trace in winter and experience frozen waterfalls in the Balkans, massive caves, roman cities where legendary battles happened, Muslim teaching schools and thousands of flamingos flying over my head.
Although I have a lot more of Greece to see and experience, my favorite place so far is a small little village 25 kms outside of Kalamata, called Chrani. Nestled on the shores of the gulf of Kalamata, Chrani is a secret gem, with a panoramic view of the mountains of Mani to give you amazing sunrises in the summer and snow-capped mountains in the winter. The water is warm and looks like more of a lake on perfect hot summer days, perfect for me to SUP along the beach to Caribbean style beach bar which is aptly named as that’s exactly where you feel you are on a Caribbean island.
The village itself is small, nothing to look at and doesn’t even have a village square for people to gather in the evenings so the meeting point in the summer for locals and tourist alike has become a local bar with atmospheric garden which just kind of sums up an attitude of the villages which is cool and understated.
Further down the shores of the Gulf of Kalamata is the small fishing village of Koroni complete with a Venetian castle to explore, which from the top looking down the long beach at sunset reminds me of similar colonial Portuguese building I have explored in Brazil and couldn’t feel any more different or further away from the famous sunset of Santorini thousands of people fight to see every year, as this sunset you can experience alone and marvel at its beauty and tranquility for a fraction of the price.
Nestled on the shores of the gulf of Kalamata, Chrani is a secret gem
Locals have described the views around the area as equivalent to Lake Como in north Italy, but without the expense, or like a little Tuscany with a mixture of Venetian and Greek architecture surrounded by olive trees. For me, it feels like I am on a scouting mission for settings for the next Game Of Thrones season, with unique unspoiled beaches and the last remains of lost civilizations in the shape of castle and city ruins; marvels from another world which lie only 2.5 hours from the hustle and bustle of modern-day Athens.