What do you think first when you hear “Greece”? I’m pretty sure, your mind starts to show you images from books with statues of Zeus or Nike or ancient perfectly created Parthenon with it basement and columns so greatly implemented in Greek land that even strongest earthquakes could not move it from where it is. There is no easy way to sustain the charming attractions of Greece, whether we are talking about people, traditions, amazing landscapes or, of course, food. But what can wide your understanding of Greece is a diverse body of cultural aspects that may be opened by a curious traveler, especially, for one oriented on cheap traveling.
Starting from Heraklion, Crete.
It’s the small city, in the name of legendary Greek hero, is located on the north of famous island, and the most interesting moment about it is how many ancient places here and what a big part of culture pie from Crete you can bite putting yourself in history and archeology so easy and naturally no matter how really interested you are in times and places so far from now. First of all, Knossos Palace, which is located in Knossos, the oldest city in Europe, for 40 minutes by bus from the city center – about 5 kilometers to the southeast. And, as far as you will be moving from the center to the Palace, you will be noticing more and more rural landscapes among the hills and little mountains with sheep grazing over there till you will get to the final destination. It’s worthy to say, the view here is so exciting and picturesque, the wind is so fresh, that instantly you start to imagine the same place but a little bit earlier – in times of king Minos. The Palace itself can blow your mind with the greatness of ancient architecture, all elements of life in those days and how they are keeping nowadays. And what a comfort for animals here: they are strolling down all over the area not seeing people and feeling extremely at home. The pair of gorgeous peacocks confused me with having a date right in front of my camera. If you won’t be full enough with Knossos, set yourself in local Archeological Museum, it’s a huge modern building right in the center of Heraklion, and the location of the museum is telling what is a prior for Cretan people: time, science and history. That’s why the inside of the Museum has incredibly thoughtful content, which is spread all over halls in a system that is very easy to perceive and study. Your expenses here will be about 20 euro – for museums entrance and commute.
But the main attraction for everyone would be the Sea of Crete, absolutely amazing, so beautiful color and with its own character, you will be glad to discover right here, right now. And it’s absolutely free.
The Sea of the Crete
Coming to Athens.
Moving from Crete to big land is a great pleasure as itself to observe the beauty of the island becoming further and the Greek capital becoming closer. The best way to describe Athens is the easiest: imagine that you cook your own Greek salad. The consistent parts of the salad are expressed in a great diversity of city elements mixed in one bowl: ancient architecture of Acropolis, endless rows of market places that, it seems, surround it everywhere you can drop your eye, a huge amount of restaurants with absolutely delicious local food and nearby street cafes with falafel and unforgettable ice cream, street graffiti spreading all over the city. The last part is gripping because you can see parts of street culture even in Anafiotika – the small block of people in the northeast of Acropolis hill whom ancestors came to Athens from Anafi island in times of King Othon as workers for his palace. Nowadays this small nation is protected by UNESCO, and their interesting history is worthy of another article. So, the part of hill inhabited by Anafi is a really peculiar place to discover not only because of amazing graffiti drawings but because of opportunity to see people who are the part o the big museum under the sky and ongoing history. There are no borders or limits to go to Anafiotika like it’s an ordinary part of the city. In addition to graffiti topic, just because every other famous Athens sightseeing has already described, I’d like to say I’ve never seen before such a rich amount of people’s thoughts, desires, and feelings expressed in colors on the walls so artistically and with deep and strong feeling of reality that you see creativeness and character of Greek nation from another perspective.
Graffiti covers in Anafiotika
It’s an absolutely true fact that the nature of Greece is magical, you can see it from the high view because you have an access to nearest mountains to Athens. One of the oldest mountains in Athens is Hymettus, the place from a lot of legends, it’s considered as the guardian of the city from the east from ancient times. And now it’s a perfect destination for hiking. Another reason is the Kaesariani Monastery located in the Hymettus from 13 of the century, and nowadays it’s just a museum. The way to Hymettus is going by bus right from the Ellinic Parliament for about half an hour, then about twenty minutes by foot and then staying in Hymettus as long as you wish. One more great news – there is a botanical walk across Monastery with local tortoise I met and the signatures for all kind of plants for you can feel yourself a young student learning nature right where it is. And, for sure, special paths for climbing the mountain is here. A little bit higher from Monastery you can find the lovely chapel which location may really touch your soul: alone, right in the mountain, among the trees and straight to the city laying lower. The chapel is full of icons from different times, so it takes some time to explore them and to observe changes and constants in religious art. In summary, you will spend about 4 euro for transportation and 2 euro for entrance in Monastery Kaesariani museum.
The Hymettus Mountain
I can’t stop wondering how rich and unusual Greek culture appeared to me. Ancient and noble from the one side, modern and talking about freedom from the other side, with a lot of sites to discover and find something that evolves your mind and warm your soul.