It is impossible to think about Greece without conjuring images of ruined temples, exquisite antiquities, sun-drenched beaches and a clear blue sea. Memories of more ancient times are found around every corner, mixing the cultures of the many invaders and travellers who have been in this land with the strong customs of the Greeks themselves.
Greece has suffered greatly because of the world's recent economic downturn and it is now one of the poorest countries in Europe. Outside the resorts the recent government's austerity policies have created large-scale poverty and it is difficult to ignore this fact. However, over thirteen million visitors travel each year to Greece and its accompanying islands, and for good reason. The Greece to be found inside or out of the tourist hotspots remains steeped in local traditions and friendly hospitality.
The culture of this country is rich and varied. Wherever you go there is a tangible sense of the mythology so often associated with Greece. In every town and village there is evidence of this, with ancient temples atop craggy hills, collapsing monasteries dating back to the Byzantine period and dominating forts constructed by the Venetians.
Visitors often take in the antiquities and architecture of Athens. Crowning the Acropolis is the Parthenon temple, and a journey westward will take you to the immense Temple of Zeus at Ancient Olympia in Katakolo. There are plenty of guided tours available to places like Meteora, where visitors can traverse huge pinnacles of rock to reach the complex of Greek Orthodox monasteries perched on them, and then stroll through the famous hanging gardens. For a different experience there are plenty of hidden gems to explore, like Peloponnesus, which has quaint seaside towns, relaxing sandy beaches and authentic local cuisine.
Everywhere in Greece there are welcoming locals and traditional cooking. Under the ever reliable sun, beautiful fresh ingredients grow that are used to produce some of the world's best dishes. This can all be washed down with local favourites such as Ouzo and Retsina.
A holiday to Greece is one you will never forget. It is alive with the mysticism of its past and offers some of the most astounding sights of any country in the world.