Greece is my favourite place in all of Europe and that’s why it makes me sad to see it suffering in face of current economic difficulties and groaning under the burden of previous poor financial management. For me the very best way to see the country and the islands is to hop on a ferry and drift between them setting down now and then to enjoy the history, the people, the food, the ouzo and especially the Mythos!
The iconic symbol of the country is the blue and white flag of the country that was introduced on 13th January 1822 and is called ‘Galanolefci’, which means simply and rather obviously ‘blue and white’. Originally it was blue with a white diagonal cross which was symbolic of the Christian faith but the cross has now been moved to the upper left corner to make way for the horizontal stripes. Being a seafaring nation, the blue of the flag represents the colour of the sea. White is the colour of freedom, which is something that is very important to the Greeks after years of enslavement under foreign domination. The nine stripes of the flag each symbolise a syllable in the Greek motto of freedom: E-LEY-THE-RI-A-I-THA-NA-TOS, which translates literally into ‘Freedom or Death’.
There are approximately one thousand four hundred Greek Islands many of which are too small to support life or communities but there two hundred and twenty seven where people live and work and I would like to visit as many as possible. This would seem to be an impossible task to accomplish however because so far I have only managed twenty-four:
Alónnisos, Amorgos, Anti-Paros, Crete, Corfu, Delos, Folegandros, Ios, Kefalonia, Kimolos, Koufonisia, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Santorini, Serifos, Sifnos, Skiathos, Skópelos, Symi, Thassos and Tinos.
Later this year I will add another four to that list: Kos, Kalimnos, Nissiros and Tilos and this will be important because it will mean that there will be less than two hundred to go!