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The choice is automatic, says Paul Hellander:
when it comes to a European holiday, Greece is
the word. And it’s easy to see why…
’ll admit it. I am a self-confessed the approach by sea from Italy – a journey
long-term Greece junkie. I don’t I have done countless times – is an
know why Greece has exercised unforgettable one. Fast, modern ferries
such an irresistible attraction for slide across the Adriatic to the ports of
me over the years, but it has – year Corfu and Igoumenitsa in Greece, and
after year after year. I keep going back to the fi rst sight of the country – usually
this ancient yet modern land and never the northerly Diapontia islands – is
tire. I loved the place so much I went momentous. You can almost smell the
and learned the language. Now that’s land; you can practically sense the
dedication and commitment. Of course it rhythm and pace of a country that is both
would be clichéd to say that Greece is the European yet subtly Asian. There is an
most fascinating country in the world if unmatched excitement about arriving
it weren’t quite so possibly true. in Greece. Occident meets Orient in a
My own love affair goes back 35 years. melange of colour, passion and heat.
In those days I would drive to Greece via Arriving in Greece is still for me today a
the Balkans. Entering the country after moving moment.
the socialist drab of Yugoslavia was like Then there’s the choice. Island or
entering a world of tangible light. My mainland? Why not both? Greece is
fi rst impressions were of a panorama above all else Classical. The spirit of place
Captivating character. Everywhere you of blue, gold and green – representing you feel when standing above the ruins
look, Greece will draw you in and make the Aegean Sea, the sandstone coloured of the Oracle of Ancient Delphi is a
you smile, be it in the twinkle of wise rocky hills and the endless vistas of olive powerful one. Olympia, Mycenae,
eyes, the intrigue of the streets, the groves. That image is as true today as it Athens – names redolent of an
tranquillity of the water, the inviting was for me many moons ago. inspired and glorious past – are
aroma of a local eatery or the poise of These days I usually fl y into Greece traveller magnets and I never tire
its many historical edifi ces. from the other side of the world, though of succumbing to the pull. While
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