Greece is the Word!
We are delighted to announce the latest addition to our tempting menu of destinations …. Greece! We have been fans for a long time, then Alexander Oliver joined the ECT Travel team bringing with him a degree in ancient – mostly Greek – history and even better, a lifelong connection to the country. It was the inside knowledge we were waiting for. We will publish the programmes soon, but in the meantime, we asked Alex to share some details to whet your appetites – beginning with that family history.
My grandmother was born in Athens in 1929. She lived under Nazi occupation during World War II and had some pretty fantastic stories about moving guns for the resistance. When the German occupation forces withdrew from Greece in October 1944, she found work in the NAAFI and it was there that she met my grandfather, Robert, a British soldier stationed there. The story is that she fell over and he was there to help her up! Anyway, despite language differences, they fell in love and married in Greece. They settled in England after the war.
I grew up listening to her stories and we went to Greece on holiday pretty much every year. We would stay with family members in the Athenian suburbs and some remote villages and Dad took us on day trips to archaeological sites too. That gave me a real insight into the country. I’ve loved it ever since.
We are starting our Greek programme in Corfu in April 2024.
Corfu is unique in Greece - never conquered by the Ottomans, it was Venetian for a long time and then became a British playground for many years so there is a colonial sense about it. There’s still a cricket field in the centre of Corfu town and the expat community have established estates with really wonderful gardens. There are lots of thriving garden societies too which you won't find anywhere else in Greece.
We’ve designed our holiday to provide an insight into the real Corfu and its culture, history, flora and fauna. We’re linking up with lots of local people, including the Durrell Foundation and an expert herbalist, who will take you to the most interesting sites off the main tourist trail.
Then in May we’re off to Crete.
We’ll start in Chania, which is probably the most beautiful town in Crete, and make our way slowly across the island to Heraklion. We’ll see botanical gardens, including The Botanical Gardens of Crete which was founded out of the ruins of a large wildfire, and areas filled with wildflowers which are wonderful in springtime. Many of these places surround archaeological sites so you get this wonderful mix of history and the natural world – there are flowers growing out of crumbling, ancient masonry. We’ll also go to the breathtaking Samaria Gorge and to Knossos, which is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on the island and has been called Europe's oldest city. We will be there during Greek Easter which is a spectacle to behold!
Also in the pipeline for 2024 is a holiday to The Peloponnese.
I know this area well and it’s still pretty undiscovered. Located just to the west of the Peninsula of Attica (where Athens is), it is held on to the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth land bridge and has some of the most fantastic scenery you’ll come across in the whole of Greece. Everywhere you look there are mountains crashing into the wine-dark sea. And the food and wine are wonderful!
We will publish details of these holidays soon – why not sign up to our Glorious Greece page and be the first to hear when the programmes open?