This summer, I had the privilege of visiting the country Greece for the third time! I am very fortunate to be able to stay at the house my grandparents own. Since I have family who are Greek immigrants, I was able to spend two weeks in Greece and decided I should share the beauty of my family’s country with you all.
The first place my family and I stayed was in a city called Tolo (toe-low). Tolo is a beach town located on the peninsula of the Peloponnese region. It is a beautiful spot full of restaurants, shops, and lots of boats. Tolo also happens to be where my Pappou (grandfather) grew up. Every day we spent there we were eating my Yiayia’s (grandma) freshly grown fruits and vegetables, walking 1 minute to the beach, participating in the siesta, and going to delicious restaurants for dinner. This town is not very well known, so the community is very tight-knit. If you know one person there, you’ll leave knowing 30 others. Although Tolo isn’t well known, it is still very geared towards inviting tourists. If you want a small little beach getaway in a place with beautiful beaches and delicious food, I highly recommend visiting Tolo.
Next, we took two little day trips to a neighboring town of Tolo called Nafplio (nah-flee-oh). Nafplio is a historical coastal town filled with monuments and architecture that dates back to the Venetian and Ottoman rule of Greece. It is a town full of exquisite restaurants, cultural souvenirs, and lots of antiquity. Some beautiful sights I recommend visiting are the castle of Palamidi; a fortress that sits atop a mountain that was built and occupied by Venetians during their rule, and Bourtzi; a water castle/prison which is located in the harbor of Nafplio.
My personal favorite thing about visiting Nafplio is visiting the Komboloi stores. Komboloi (also known as worry beads) are beads tied onto a string that can be used for a number of things, including stress relief, recreation, or decoration. Despite the phrase in which ‘Komboloi’ was taken from meaning, “in every knot I say a prayer,” the beads have no religious purpose whatsoever. The beads can be made from many different materials, can come in any color, or any length! If you enjoy ancient architecture, you’ll love Nafplio.
On one of the days, my family and I decided to book a cruise to visit two nearby islands close to Tolo. The islands names are Hydra (ee-thra) and Spetses (speh-tses). First, we visited Hydra, an island where all motorized vehicles are prohibited. The town utilizes this in its favor, using horses, donkeys, and mules as both a mode of transportation and a selling point for tourists. Hydra is a long crescent-shaped town, filled to the brim with restaurants, houses, and markets. This town happens to be home to various donated mansions of old Greek ship captains. The town also has a few beautiful cathedrals and monasteries that are gorgeous to look at, religious or not. I really enjoyed visiting Hydra, since it is unlike any other place in Greece that I have been to before. After Hydra, we went to Spetses. Spetses was a lot like Nafplio. The island had a few beaches, lots of souvenir shops, and a surprising amount of horse-drawn carriages. Some notable history about the island is that a female Greek naval commander, Bouboulina, grew up in Spetses.
Our last stop was Athens, the capital and most popular city in Greece. Although I didn’t visit the Acropolis this year, I have during a previous trip. During my one-day stay in Athens, I visited a restaurant near the Acropolis, so I had a view of the Parthenon from my table. Later in the evening, my family and I walked through Syntagma Square and got some last-minute gifts. We ended our last night with a tasty dinner and an even tastier dessert. I wish I could’ve had some more time in Athens to visit some sights, like the Panathenaic stadium or the Temple of Hephaestus.
All in all, I had a wonderful time and feel very grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Greece once again! I hope that this convinced some of you to want to visit Hellas in the future to experience the beauty yourselves.