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Alex Pearl is a freelance copywriter and is the author of ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds.’which has been written for the teen market and his royalty goes directly to Centrepoint, the registered charity for homeless young people.

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Glorious Greece

Glorious Greece - feature photo

Way back in the mists of time when I barely had a single grey hair on my head, I made my one and only trip to Greece. It’s a country I’ve often thought of going back to but for some strange reason haven’t. It’s popular for last minute holidays so I hope to return one day soon.

While most travellers set off for one of the numerous Greek islands, the mainland is well worth considering, and is where this particular holiday of mine started. More specifically, we set off for Athens, a vast sprawling city which, from the steep hill that accommodates the Acropolis, presents itself as an enormous carpet of overcrowded dwellings, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Being penniless students, my cousin and another friend with whom I made the journey found ourselves staying in the centre of town in a humble bed without breakfast establishment with the unpretentious name ‘John’s Place.’ This was, in fact, the place belonging to John, a rather gruff but likeable old man who clearly decided whether he had vacancies by looking you up and down. Fortunately, he liked the look of us, but in retrospect, it may have been my cousin’s friend, a young and not unattractive young lady who John took a shine to.

I remember the three of us searching for a restaurant in town on our arrival and being beckoned by one restaurateur. “Come see my kitchen,” he insisted. So we traipsed into the said kitchen where he very proudly made exaggerated gestures towards his fairly unimpressive ovens that looked as if they’d seen better days. But his natural charm and enthusiasm got the better of us. And here we parked ourselves and sampled that great Greek staple, Greek Salad with feta cheese. Other than this, my memory of Athens is a little sketchy.

From Athens we travelled south to the quite stunningly beautiful hilly landscape of the Peloponnese, stopping over at the ancient city of Sparta, famed for its fearsome warriors and its rivalry with Athens. The ancient city was raised by Visigoths in 396 AD, but much of the remains can be viewed today. The modern town was built in 1834 and occupies part of the ancient site near the Eurotas River.

From Sparta we made the long trek involving several trains including a very narrow gauge railway to the area known as the Meteora. This region is home to one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. There are six of them in total, each perching precariously on the very top of an enormous sandstone pillar, of which there are many. The landscape is something out of a surreal Dali composition. Studies suggest that these remarkable pinnacles were formed 60 million years ago during the Tertiary period. And several of the monasteries can only be accessed by a rather long and sturdy rope. Needless to say, we didn’t try it. The whole region is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Come here and take a look for yourself. It really has to be seen to be believed.