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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Curious Adventures in Greece

Some travellers dream of turquoise waters blending into a deeper shade of blue. Some others, though, seek instead a secluded, shabby mountain shack nestled in remote mountains. One would think it’s hard to combine such ideas of holiday, but some unique places like Greece have it all.

Regardless of all the rural, rugged sceneries all around this country, Greece holidays in previous decades have mainly meant 40-something affluent travellers on package tours. However, there are countless unexplored areas to whet the appetite of intrepid travellers: we have listed some of them.

Idiosyncratic Ikaria Night owls and those with a taste for quirky experiences should seek out Nas, a tiny resort on the island of Ikaria, nestled within strange sculpted rock formations that enclose a pebble beach.  Seek out the village of Raches, where nocturnal locals lie in until late morning, take a nap in the afternoon and then stay awake through the entire night.

Vatera: Ouzo and Hot Springs Vatera is around 50 kilometres from the busy capital of Mytilini on the island of Lesbos. As such, it's off the radar of most travellers on a whirlwind package tour. The beaches there have little foot traffic, calm water and powder soft sand, making it perfect for a family outing. Couples should also get to a nearby ouzo distillery in Plomari, then go to the hot springs in Poliknitos: combining the pleasures of both is the perfect way to revive tired bodies.

Zig Zag Through Zagorohoria When people think of Greece, they don't think of brown bears and wolves roaming through a mountainous national park. That's probably why not many travellers know about this peaceful part of the country. What a shame, as the region of Zagorohoria boasts 45 pretty villages dotted through the Pindus mountain range. One day's hike can get visitors to the UNESCO protected Vikos Gorge, and the expansive alpine vista that is the pay-off for a strenuous hike.

The Hippy Haven of Gavdos The waylaid traveller can do worse than mistakenly land on Gavdos – the most southerly island of Europe in the Mediterranean. It has a Robinson Crusoe vibe about it, with not a noisy bar in sight and instead the sound of silence. There is coarse rock formation, silken sand, blue skies and not much else really. The area of Sarakiniko caters well to hungry castaways with fresh seafood cooked over coals, while Agios Ioannis has a nudist colony of hippies who give new meaning to the term 'happy campers'. Tents can also be hired at a reasonable price.

For many, Greece means a predictable package holiday on the beach. Not so for adventurous types: with plenty of off-the-grid options and individual experiences, this country is full of surprises.



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