I am now back in the swing of things - back home and in the clinic after a fantastic holiday in Greece. I landed in Sydney over a week ago. Jet lag was the absolute pits! But still worth it all, including the Greek horse fly bites, which left five swollen wounds the size of small coffee plates on my legs. Not what I wanted to show off along with my new cossie as I dove into the Mediterranean sea.
I did not plan this holiday; I was moving into my new home two weeks later with Paul. But it seemed Greece was calling, and I just had to go. Check out my previous blog, "How I Ended Up In Greece."
I shared much of my experience on Social Media - reels, stories, and photos. Thank you for following me, and thank you for your comments. I loved sharing my holiday with you, hoping at every turn and every new sight that you could experience it too.
Apart from time in mainland Greece, I also visited the Saronic Islands, which include Aegina, Moni, Hydra, and Spetses, and the island of Kythera, which belongs to the Ionian Islands.
I started my holiday with three days in Athens. Usually, just a stopover before going to the islands, but Athens called me to stay. I met some fantastic people, traveled back in time to Antiquity, and immersed myself in ancient mythology and ancient herbal medicine while lingering amongst the plants and ancient ruins. Olive, bitter orange, bay laurel, carob, prickly pear, fig, mulberry, pine, oak, cypress, honeysuckle, dandelion, rosemary, basil, rose geranium, wild sage & thyme, and mountain tea (Sideritis plant genus) became my friends. I was bewitched!
I stayed at the Lekka Hotel & Spa for my first three days in Athens; the views of the Acropolis, the accommodation, and walking distance to Plaka, Acropolis, Monastiraki square, Athenian National Gardens, and Syntagma are why I chose it.
A delicious breakfast was served at Lekka Hotel - cucumber, fetta, tomato, olives, olive oil, spinach pie, seasonal fruit, and other yummy greek fare, plus that view! Lunch was a tiny morsel of something such as a koulouri, a giant, round biscuit with a hole in the middle covered in sesame seeds. You can buy these everywhere, from street vendors and bakeries. Think New York style Pretzel, but a Greek version. By the way, koulouri was a nickname given to my grandpa. He had a face shaped like a round Greek biscuit. It stuck, and it has been our surname ever since - Koullouros. Sometimes lunch was a smoothie or juice from Happy Blender. I ate dinner at Ergon House - twice because I loved it so much. I also loved the store and may stay in their hotel next time!
I did a lot in Athens; apart from lingering and strolling, and sipping on Freddo Espressos (my new favourite drink next to tea of course), my heart was pulled in all directions. First, I visited the sites: Ancient Agora (one of my favourite sites next to the Parthenon) and the Acropolis and their museums, the Athenian National Gardens - where I did a plant walk and forest bathing with Maria, The Greek Herbalist, and the spectacular Panathenaic Stadium, the home of the first modern Olympic games held in 1896 in Athens. Sweet little churches, galleries, cafes, museums, the flea market, and book stores were all on my agenda. I also visited Naxos Apothecary (the home of a Greek beauty brand called Korres), a multi-story apothecary of any herbalist's dreams; though missing a little heart & soul (I couldn't sense the founder's energy anywhere), but still worth a visit.
My next stop was Kythera Island. I flew there from Athens and stayed just two nights. I wanted to visit the place where Juliette de Bairacli Levy (1912-2009), a well-known and well-loved herbalist, traveler, and writer, lived. And it also happened to be where my uncle Peter, the host of My Greek Odyssey, was collecting me with his boat Mia Zoi. Please note: if you want to learn about each island's unique gifts, use this as your ultimate resource and watch the show. Season five is playing now!
On Kythera Island, I stayed at The Romantica Apartments (not the hotel) located at Agia Pelagia. They are newer and have sweeping ocean views, just a hop, skip and jump for a swim. The name is daggy, but they are great! I needed to be close to Platia Amnos, the beach where I was to board Mia Zoi. There is much to do on Kythera Island, and sadly, I had no time to do the famous hiking trails with Frank from Pyrgos House. That's for next time. On the first day, I explored Agia Pelagia and ate at a local taverna - they're all great, and I stayed awake to celebrate Panagia Myrtidiotissa's Name Day on the beach. Greek music, Greek food, and locals from around the villages met to participate in the festivities. I could not have planned it better. I also picked (and ate quickly) the most delicious ripe white figs growing off a colossal fig tree just over the fence. Oops! They were screaming to be picked and eaten. Circe, by Madeline Miller, the audible book, played in my ears as I explored the beach and I imagined the Greek gods & goddesses visiting me on the shores, vying for my attention.
On the second day, I caught a taxi to Platia Amnos (you need to hire a car on Kythera Island unless you befriend a taxi driver when you land), as nothing is within walking distance. Platia Amnos means "black sand." Each island and its beaches offer different landscapes - some arid, some lush & green, some pebbly with stones that cut through feet, and some with soft white sand. Platia Amnos was full of breathtaking views of the Mediterranean sea. My first swim of the holiday was right here.
On board Mia Zoi were my two aunts, two uncles, my cousin, and three of their friends. We celebrated our get-together with a dinner at the only tavern open on Platia Amnos beach as it was the end of the season (my favourite time to travel to Greece - low number of tourists and temperatures were an average of 28C). We ate, danced, and met all the locals (I think a total of 50).
The next day, after a swim, we drove to Potamos, where a must-visit weekly Sunday market is held. We tried much of the local food & delicacies from each stall, which included medicinal honey, mastic gum, nuts, and macerated herbs in syrup. We ate lunch in the centre - grilled fish, seafood, Greek salad, horta, goat chops, and local bread, washed down with local wine.
Next, stop the Ionian islands and mainland coastal stop-offs.
Part Two is coming soon, where I will share my Ionian island experiences, a final stay in Athens, what I ate (a Mediterranean Diet) and my holiday learnings (this part is still percolating deeply) - what I discovered when I went "Looking for Akademeia."
Thanks for reading! Anthia :))))))