#7 – Greece


At the ancient site of Delphi, where the Greeks once consulted the Oracle about the future, there’s a small round sculpture. It’s known as the omphalos—the cosmic belly button. The Greeks believed that Delphi was the very center of the world—the place where everything came into being. Indeed, many aspects of Western culture came into being in Greece—drama, art, philosophy and science.

It’s a heady feeling to walk on stones that may have been trodden upon by Plato, Homer or Agamemnon. But at many places in Greece, where ancient ruins are surrounded by the noise and smells of traffic, or where pristine island beaches are packed by topless sunbathers, it’s apparent that the influence works the other way as well: Greece, it sometimes seems, has been overtaken by the modern world it spawned.

The trick for travelers in Greece is to find the golden mean—in this case, the balance between environment and history, between crowds and quiet, between ancient and modern. With a bit of planning (and maybe a query to the Oracle), you can find beautiful settings that can soothe your soul, and centuries of art and history to invigorate your mind. It’s very likely you’ll be as charmed by the Greek people as you are by their landscape.