I first fell in love with Greek Islands while on holiday with Mr A, before kids. I have happy memories of hanging on to him as we took a moped to a tiny restaurant overlooking the sea, where I ate a Greek salad I still dream of today, especially when I hear Dirty Vegas, which was playing at the time. The sunrises and sunsets too, are forever etched on my mind, those colours are incredible.
We swam through the Canal d’Amour together at Sidari, Corfu, which is said to mean you will stay in love forever. Shortly after we got engaged, then we got married and we’ve had two kids since, so it’s done a great job so far. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to return a decade later to Corfu with our kids. It worked out beautifully, and our kids fell for Greek Island life too.
I wrote this list and then immediately realised I needed to look back at the photos, I can feel the sun washing back over me, taste the salty feta cheese and olives and see the winding white streets of a Greek island village. Greek Islands are all very different, and each island has its character. So far I’ve visited Corfu and Rhodes, but it was always my intention to visit more, as my Mum rightly points out here, in 2004.
There is a huge array of accommodation to choose from, from luxury holidays in Greece to cheaper apart hotels or package deals. We’ve tried lots of different options and all have been great, as the kids get older we’d love to try out our own Greek luxury villa rentals, perhaps pretend we are the Durrells in My Family and Other Animals. You get a lot for your money and if you shop around can find some excellent deals.
I love the sleepy, slow pace of life.
I love the food. It always makes me laugh that waiters apologise there isn’t more for vegetarians, when I would happily live on olives, hummus and babbaganoush with Greek salad for a fortnight. It simply isn’t true either, Greek vegetable dishes are incredible and always put anything we do with vegetables in the UK to shame.
Eating by the sea. I spotted this table in Rhodes, it blows my mind that it’s so cheap and easy to dine like this all over Greek islands, it’s an everyday occurrence, not an expensive, book in advance luxury. We’d parked our kayaks up nearby and stopped for drinks and snacks.
The beaches. There are so many gorgeous little coves to discover, next time I would like to have our own boat for a day. This is Lindos, in Rhodes. After visiting the ruins, we watched a wedding at the tiny little church out of shot, swam in the sea and lazed on the beach.
Beautiful Villages. White against blue has a magical effect on my soul. I love wandering into little villages and feeling life slow right down.
History. It’s awe inspiring to see the things you studied at school brought to life and to marvel at ancient temples and ruins. We loved visiting the Acropolis, in Athens, and on Lindos. It’s incredible to contemplate life for the ancient Greeks from a hilltop, among giant columns that remain amazingly intact.
Lazy shopping. Greece is always a shopping winner for all the family. I love collecting handicrafts, I’ve bought beautiful tapestry cushions and dishes. Mr A loves collecting busts of Greek gods and kings, we have Alexander the Great (of course) and Bacchus on our mantlepiece, next time I’ve said we’re adding a goddess. The kids find the souvenirs fascinating too, especially the pom pom slippers.
And the colours. There is something so magical about the contrasts of white houses and blue seas, but also green mountains and wild flowers.
Reading Captain Corelli makes me want to head to Kefalonia, I’ve always wondered about Crete, birthplace of Zeus, and it is impossible not to feel drawn to Santorini via images on instagram. But more recently, I’ve heard amazing things about Sifnos, an island of the western Cyclades. Sifnos has 235 whitewashed churches and monasteries scattered all over the island and offers amazing hiking and a pottery heritage dating back to 3000BC – you can even take lessons on the island, which would be a dream come true for me. It’s also famous for it’s chick pea soup, what more could a vegetarian wish for? Verina Hotels, who I have collaborated with today, are a complex of luxury hotels and villas located in Sifnos.
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