Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

WTM Holiday Snaps – An ancient Greek modern tale

We’re going to have fun in 2021, and high up on the list is Greece’s bicentenary..

And a good day to talk about it though, in truth, every day is a good one to wax lyrical about Hellas.

As the Greeks today set up their committee for the year which marks 200 years since the end of the Greek War of Independence which saw the rebirth of the nation.

It turns out that I’m a Philhellene, which is a lover of Greece.

Which all of us know from our schooldays comes from the Greek word philos meaning love.

Corfu corker

I love Corfu obviously as the island where I honeymooned and made Herself the Happiest Woman Alive.

A Greek God: On Kythera

While I caught up with friends from the Attica region where this old relic had an odyssey of my own before eventually getting to the Parthenon.

Kythera idyll

And bagging an Attica island of my own in Kythera.

The good news is that there are plenty to go around, 6,000 (count them!)

Greece has been held up this year as an example to the rest of us about how to deal with Covid and hence were kept off the UK exempt list.

While other countries fell like dominoes.

Thessaloniki in the distance

And so many tourists discovered the joys of Greece for the first time after switching holidays at the last minute.

Thessaloniki OK

And to the mainland as well as the islands with Greece’s Second City, Thessaloniki, served by Ryanair, EasyJet and Jet2.

As a son of a second city myself, Glasgow, I know why citizens of Second Cities work harder and live harder.

And Thessaloniki is known for its friendliness, music festival scene and as the culinary capital of Greece.

Parthenon for the course

Greek cities and prefectures all will celebrate the Bicentenary next year though some like Thessaloniki arrived late to the party.

In their case 1912 as the Ottomans held onto them longer and that’s a recommendation in itself.

Greek uplift

And the world will be there to celebrate with them.

Though maybe at a more social distance than when an international group of us got stuck in an Athens restaurant lift for half an hour.

The philos was all around us.

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Moanday Morning – Travel snobs

Standing on top of the ancient world, the Acropolis, I reflected that somewhere, somehow, someone will be turning up their nose.

A relative of mine walked the Via Delarosa and said they felt no passion.

While a former Travel colleague thought the Trevi Fountain a wet blanket and the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the decline.

An old relic… and the Acropolis. Visit https://athensattica.com

And Big Ben just a clock… it is, in fact, the bell not the clock, but we won’t quibble. See http://www.visitlondon.com.

I’ve yet to walk the Via Delarosa. I have an idea that it will be moving but have an open mind. https://info.goisrael.com/en/the-via-dolorosa.

I love the Trevi Fountain https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/04/see-rome-on-e50/. Also see http://www.romeinformation.it.

And Big Ben and London. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/23/carole-king-youre-beautiful/.

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

And to share it.

Although in today’s world too many people are only too willing to thrust their own negative judgments on you.

Whether you want to hear them or not.

You need to have something to say and you feel you have more kudos if it involves giving someone or something a kicking.

Lean of me. Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

It is a growing Travel snobbery that I feel has crept in from the world of food snobbery.

Travel snobbery gives you ownership of a destination or an out-of-the-way natural beauty spot.

You know the type… ‘oh, I went there before the tourists swarmed all over it.’

Clock this: And listen to the Big Ben bell. Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

And ‘shouldn’t tourists with selfie sticks be banned?’

Or ‘oh, I hate people who just want to tick destinations off their bucket list, they’re not proper Travellers.’

Now let’s deal with some of those complaints individually:

Not everyone’s cup of tea

The Louvre which houses the Mona Lisa. Photo by Timea Kadar on Pexels.com

I get it. If you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it and it doesn’t mean you don’t have a soul.

But is it just attention-grabbing to suggest the Trevi Fountain is well meh?

Really, you won’t be diminished if you just say that you can understand how other people are enchanted by it.

But that you just don’t get that same feeling.

Some philosophical thinking about New York? Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

I mean I was underwhelmed when I first set eyes on the Mona Lisa.

I’ve been thinking, when I’ve been drinking, is it because there is so much pressure to be impressed?

You can go one of two ways.

Either be bowled over by it because subconsciously you feel you should.

Or rally against it because you don’t want anyone to tell you what to think.

Are we really taking control of our own thought processes?

OMG… I’m turning into Carrie Bradshaw.

Those selfish selfies

Peak enjoyment: Get me up the Jungfraujoch

A favourite post-holiday grumble is that you can’t get anywhere near the site because of selfie-stick holders.

And let’s call it like it is, or point the finger at the naysayers to call it as they see it…

They’re usually Asians.

Now one of the stranger things I’ve seen on my travels is a group of Chinese visitors at the Tiso shop on top of the Jungfraujoch railway https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

I was told by my Swiss guests that they were buying their watches and taking selfie pics there so that they could show them off to their friends and family back home.

Closer to the sun: And the Tiso watches in Jungfraujoch

Which was worth shelling out the extra cash.

Now I’ve been lucky enough to be given a number of selfie sticks on my travels.

But they’re all sitting broken in a drawer now, more plastic!

Nor do I really know how to use them. I’ve backtracked and stopped using them.

And there’s a great by-product you get to talk to real live people when you ask them to take your pic.

Buck it list?

Closer to God: The Vatican. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We all of us have limited time on this planet.

And we all want to see the world’s great landmarks.

At the same time.

In the same place… the Sistine Chapel.

Yes, people shouldn’t take photos with flash. But what to do… confiscate phones?

It’s all a bit of fun until someone gets blocked. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It does detract from your enjoyment when the stewards whistle snd holler when yet another person flashes (the camera on their mobile).

It’s overtourism, and while it’s unrealistic that we can cut the numbers visiting the chapel, and I wouldn’t want to…

We can let in fewer people at any given time, reduce the time you’re there and create more slots.

Simples.

MEET YOU ON THE ACROPOLIS