the wonders of nature and architecture
Text: Apple 101
Photos: Apple West
Plato once said:
There are two places that one has to go in his lifetime –
one is Greece and the other is India,
exploring the contrast between heaven and hell
it makes one’s life a fulfillment.
From October 11-20 this year,
the travel-loving TV personality Owen Yap
travelled to Greece with 25 of our guest travellers
to experience the unique charms of blues and whites.
Attractions not to be missed in Greece…..
It is highly recommended that one must explore the city of Meteora. There are two stunning monasteries and some famous architectures built on the cliffs. They stand majestically at the peak of a huge granite hill. This place will allow you to learn about the stories of the hermits and monks from the dark ages. Soak in the most beautiful views of Meteora, the UNESCO World Heritage Site before you proceed to other areas.
While many people are familiar with Greek mythology, to those who are interested in Hollywood movies and anime, this place reminds them of many familiar scenarios.
Delphi, one of the world-famous archeological sites, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Over here you will find the Temple of Apollo which was built upon the oracle and the Delphi museum. Within the museum, there are numerous heritage and cultural relics. There are 15 exhibition rooms arranged in chronological order from the 15th century BC to the 4th century BC.
◆ Mykonos at leisure
Mykonos with its picturesque bay is ever so enchanting irrespective of whether it’s the iconic windmills or the Little Venice by the shores. There are many restaurants and bars which have balconies extending out to the sea. These are some great places to relax in the evening and to enjoy a vibrant nightlife.
Even if you wander aimlessly and leisurely, you will be mesmerised by the bright white-washed houses which stood in contrast to the vast blue skies and the sparkling deep blue seas. This is the charms of Mykonos.
Santorini is accessible by a 3-hours ride in a high-speed ferry from Mykonos.
Santorini is rich in tourism attractions. Let us hop on to a private ferry from Athinios port to the volcanic islands of Santorini. One of the islands in the archipelago, Nea Kameni, is also worth a visit. The last volcanic eruption was in 1950. As soon as you step foot on the lava rocks from the past eruptions, head over to the highest point on for a magnificent viewpoint or to Palea Kameni island to enjoy the green sulphur hotsprings. Besides that, it is also worthwhile to hike from the cliffs of Firostefani to Santorini’s capital city of Fira. As you walk along the quiet road, you will be mesmerised by the enchanting and magnificent sceneries. Other travel options include a cable car ride from Fira to the old port to soak in the beauty of the island from a different point of view. You can also experience a fun ride on a donkey and walk 500 steps up the mountain.
It is important to note that the land of Santorini comprised of volcanic rocks which might contain certain minerals essential to its quality wine. The vineyards of Santorini may be some of the oldest in the world. It will be a pleasure to enjoy an evening of fine dining with volcanic wine.
◆ Oia’s sunset
If you are one who likes watching the sunset, you will keep an eye for this no matter where you are. To a sunset lover, even though it is the same sun that we are seeing, the mood of the sunset will be not be the same in a different environment.
Therefore, if you have arrived at the world-famous Oia village, watching the sunset is a must. Bask in the lights of the setting sun amidst the romantic ambience and feast your eyes on the unique architectures of Santorini in their classic white-washed walls and blue capped domes. It is a picturesque scene against the blue skies and clear waters.
Jet lag:Greece is 5 hours behind Malaysia
Language: Official language is Greek but English is widely spoken
Weather: Typical Mediterranean with strong sunshine, ¾ of its land is mountainous. Temperature – very little fluctuation throughout the year and usually colder in early morning and late evening, especially during windy days. Afternoons are hot. Winter temperature hovers around 6-12 o C and summer is 28-31 o C. Greece has longer summer.
Best time to visit: April to October
Not recommended travel time: November to February due to poor weather. As it is considered winter, the islands will be closed.
◆ The most charming Mediterranean culture
When travelling to Greece, it has to be in summer. It is only under the great sunshine of Greece that you can truly experience the charms of the Mediterranean.
If you choose to visit in other seasons to avoid the sun, you will miss the beauty of the sunshine and your pictures may not look good without colours of the sun. If it is winter or rainy seasons, your photos may look foggy and definitely, there won’t be fun at all. Just be well prepared for the sun. Do not be afraid of the sun, let the sun shower its love on you.
The restaurants and cafes of Greece are sea facing establishments. So whichever one that you choose to enter, you will be able to laze the whole afternoon away. While the Europeans and Americans usually take their coffee hot, it is not the case for Greeks – they have iced coffee everywhere. As the warm sea breeze brushes against one’s face, sipping a glass of iced coffee certainly allows one to be immersed in the soothing, relaxed and pleasant Mediterranean style.
◆ The slow paced travels
In Greece, even if there is nothing much to do, it is simply very relaxing to just sit and gazed at the sea. It is safe for ladies to walk at night, some shops do open till midnight or 7am the next day.
The locals have a laid back attitude towards life. While we usually take 1 hour to lunch, they spend 2 to 3 hours at lunch. If we stay more than an hour in a restaurant, our people will start swiping their mobile phones. In Greece, it is so easy and natural to enjoy this time of leisure. They will take their time to eat slowly, have a conversation with friends and leave the mobile phone aside.
I do envy such kind of life but the fact is I could not do it. Perhaps, due to my inability do it that makes me admire it more. It is good to occassionaly break away from one’s norm and take a look at other people’s way of life when I travel.
Recommended cuisines of Greece
Although lobsters are caught in the northern waters of Greece, these succulent and huge seafood tastes better in the Mediterranean cooking style.
◆ Greek Yoghurt Tzatziki
I strongly recommend this yoghurt. Mixed with garlic and cucumber it presents a unique taste – sourish and crunchy. Whether it is eaten on its own or with bread, it is delicious. Must try!
◆ Greek skewer Souvlaki
It is skewered meat paired with bread, tomato, onion, garlic yoghurt, potato fries, etc., this food carries a bit of Turkish flavour.
◆ Greek Mussels
Possibly due to the richness of the seawater, the Greek seafood is quite fatty and tasty. Out of all these, I like the Greek mussels the most. In Mediterranean cuisines, the chefs do not use much seasonings especially for seafood. Seafood is usually cooked in white wine with a sprinkling of coriander that retains the original fresh taste of the food.
◆ Braised mutton with pea soup
Do not worry if mutton is not your favourite. Their mutton do not have that strong smell. It is fresh and succulent instead. Served with a bowl of simple pea soup, it tastes superb. Surprisingly, the ingredients and method of preparing the pea soup are so simple. It is one of the staple soups of the locals, especially during winter it is everyone’s favourite.
◆ Local brews
There are various local brews available like “Donkey” beers. The Yellow Donkey is a must-try. In addition, the Santorini vineyards have an unusual character.
Instead of the usual vines growing on wooden arbour, the vines grow on ground and rolled into a stack due to the strong winds here. The grapes are particularly sweet, rendering a unique flavour for the wine. Many people come here to buy their red wines and it is worth a try.