Dr. Nasreen Tibrewala
Breach Candy, Parsee General & Masina Hospital,
Email : email@example.com
Greece – Much More Than The Acropolis
Greece-land of the Iliad and Odyssey, Homer and Hippocretes, Archimedes and Helen of Troy!
We stayed at the Pella Inn in Athens, best described as adequate! What it lacked I niceties was amply compensated by the outstanding location, nestled between the the busling Plaka and the rocking night like of Psiri, and the stunning looks of its proprietor Costa. Right in front in all its glory –the Acropolis! The seat of government, learning , arts and culture of a civilization which dominated the world for centuries. By day it is impressive but by night, floodlit and luminous it hangs suspended over the city ethereal and eternal. A steep trk and you are amongst the ruins,where you may be lucky enough to catch a theatre performance. Close up it is a trifle disappointing. There are hardly any whole structures but the gigantic proportions and superb symmetry of the still standing pillars stun the mind. The archaeological museum has exhibits which remind us of the intellect and artistry of an era long past. The Plaka is a tourist trap of shops with statue replicas and gold jewellery. Quaint cafes with loud blaring music nestle in the shadow of the Acropolis. Athens is a bustling like any other large European city, only more dusty and noisy than most. Fake designer goods are available at every corner. Statuesque women with bright lips and nails, the sparle of their jewels rivalled only by the sparle in their eyes are everywhere. And the men-oh the men , with olive skins and smoldering liquid eyes-an epic can be written exclusively on them alone !
No trip to mainland Greece is complete without seeing Delphi and Meteora. Many organised tours are available but can easily be done independently by bus, train or taxi. Delphi has vast ruins with amphitheatres, homes, statues, pottery and pathways. It is tiring and hot to trek through but worth a short visit.
Then onward to Kalambaka, the base town to see Meteora. Kalambaka has numerous hotels reasonably priced, and charming cafes where a happy, inebriated group of locals initiated us into some vigorous Greek dance moves. Meteora-immortalized by the James Bond film” For Your Eyes Only. “If one has only one day in a lifetime to see Greece-it should be spent in Meteora! It is undescribable and awe inspiring. Monasteries reach into the sky clinging precariously to tall cylindrical rock projections. What human hands and what marvellous engineering feat achieved this thing of beauty, is a question yet to find an answer. Four to five monasteries can visited in a day, and though vehicles go part of the way, it is still a fair hike. Steep steps lead into the hushed interiors of a place of worship, where jewelled colours glow in the deep dim recesses of pulpits and ceilings. The faint scent of incense burnt over centuries, the echoes of a hymn, the whisper of a passing monks cloak in these tiny but perfect chambers, bring you one step closer to God! Meteora is beyond beautiful—it is unreal!!!!
After the historical wonders of Athens and Delphi, it is time to feast on the fruits of the Aegean – the Islands. there are so many to choose from and each one different. After much debate and advise from the locals we decided upon Santorini. The islands can be visited by air, hovercraft or ferry. The ferries are large and comfortable and gives one an opportunity to truly appreciate the emerald and aquamarine waters of the Aegean ,dotted with islands of dark green.
The island of Santorini, now one of the most popular destinations on the tourist map, is a product of volaco eruption eons ago. The whole town is on the slope of the volcano, with the culder (crater ) being the centre. You can take a boat tripright into the heart of the volcano and in fact swim in the sulphurous waters. The potential danger of actually being IN and active volacano, adds spice to this particular outing. As for Santorini – white and more white. Church spires reaching into the sky, whitewashed dwellings with azure plunge pools offering bed and board , at prices guaranteed to make wallets happy. In the blinding sunlight, Santorini appears sparkling and pristine ,but come dusk, one of the most wonderful sights in the world is revealed. The entire hillside is dotted with the glow of a thousand fairy lights shimmering and waving in the breeze in direct contrast to the pitch black of the culdera below, while far in the distance on high seas, are visible the lights of massive ships. The island is best explored on four wheeled bikes called quads which need neither a licence or talent to drive. Small waterfront cafes and old tea houses dot narrow winding raods. The food in Greece is amazing. Fish and meat is equally favoured. Taramasalata, made with fish roe and potatoes, a delicate pink in colour, bursts upon the tongue in an explosion of flavours. Dolmas-vine leaves wrapped around rice or meat, drenched in olive oil and Tzatziki(delicately spiced creamy yoghurt with eggplant or cucumber), tickes your tastebuds. Fish, especially shellfish is on most menus. Feta-a goat cheese, fat juicy grapes and olives of all colours are washed down by wine . The national drink is ouzo-an aniseed flavoured drink ,deceptively mid on the palate but packs a whoppng punch. Amazingly, even on weekdays, the Greeks are seen relaxing over ouzo, fine food and thick coffee in which a spoon can stand, with the eternal cigarette between their lips, as if there is no tomorrow!!Relaxation seems to be the key to a happy people of a beautiful land ,which needs to be visited at least once in a lifetime. Let us all toast this philosophy – as they say in Greece—”Yiamas”!!!!!!