I’ve been traveling to the Greek Islands for over a decade.  Wow time flies, can’t believe its been ten years.  Ten truly amazing years.

“Travel is more than seeing the sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” — Miriam Beard

 

There is a term in Greek called filoxenia (pronounced fee-lohk-sen-YAH).  It roughly translates into “hospitality.”  It is a kindness to strangers, a generosity of spirit that words cannot fully describe.  It is the reason I return to Greece year after year.

Of course there is much of mainland Greece to enjoy and see, but the Islands have quickly drawn me in.

Each chain of Greek islands (and the individual islands within those chains) has a distinct feel.  Some islands are heavily touristed, such as Santorini (in the Cyclades chain); rightfully so, as it is one of the most beautiful and picturesque places I’ve ever seen.  Others, such as Chios (in the Aegean chain), are serene, a place to truly get away from it all and unwind.

For now, my heart belongs to Crete.  The largest and most populous of the Greek Islands, it offers a little bit of something for everyone.  Crete is rugged and mountainous, with dramatic gorges, and an expansive coastline.  Crete is also know for its agriculture and is home to some of Greece’s best olive oil.  I’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to the Greek Islands; there is so much more to see…

 

But of course you want to know about the food.  Greek food is simple.  Given the simplicity of the cuisine, it demands the freshest ingredients. Take a morning stroll near the water on any Greek island and you will invariably see fishermen bringing back the day’s catch on their tiny, colorful fishing boats that line the local harbor.  The taverna owners, many of whom are also fishermen and come from fishing families, take great pride in their fish and are always eager to invite you into the kitchen to see what’s fresh.

These are a few meals that I’ve enjoyed along the way — some of the best grilled fish I’ve ever tasted, including plenty of sardines, grilled octopus, squid, sepia, sea urchin, snails, favas, horta (wild greens)….along with plenty of local Greek wine.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a view like this to accompany your meal…

And, no shortage of breathtaking beaches upon which to spend a lazy afternoon…

And the lovely people we met along the way…

Lots of mountain goats and sheep roaming around…

Time to relax, bask in the sun, and unwind…

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