MTV's Big Fat Greek Weekender (AKA 12 Reasons To Visit Central Greece)
We ventured out to mainland Greece to see if there was more to tourist life than a 3am tattoo session in Kavos (spoiler alert: there is)...
MTV ventured out to mainland Greece to see if there was more to Greek life than a 3am tattoo session outside a club in Kavos, moussaka and smashing plates. (**Spoiler alert**: there is.)
We headed to the Municipality of Delphi in Central Greece to celebrate Carnival the start of Lent with the locals. It’s a whole weekend of activities showing the real Greek deal, providing an opportunity for tourists to experience traditional Greece. Here's what we learnt:
1. Food is GOOD
The first place we stopped in at in Itea served this little savoury gourmet number for a starter. Don't ask what it is (it's like feta cooked inside filo pastry), just WATCH the honey drip from it. I'm hungry.
2. Delphi is old
Delphi is an ancient city that is super old. Before Christ style stuff. There's a museum there if you fancy a bit of history, or alternately you can climb a mountain and explore the ruins for yourself. Here's an old stadium (like Stratford Olympic Park but really f'ing old).
3. Olives are GOOD
Do not mention Italian olives here. The olives are wonderful and people talk about them ALOT. If someone offers you an olive, eat five.
4. The Greeks take lent very seriously
You know how we do Pancake Day? Toss aside your lemon and sugar: sh*t just got real. In Greece, they kick off Carnival with the festival of the dead, rolling Pancake Day in with Halloween - but this isn't like dressing up as a sexy cat.
5. VERY seriously...
In the town of Amfissa, we dressed up as goats, and a parade (of hundreds of us goats) takes place. It's not your average trick or treat, and is quite genuinely frightening. It culminates in monsters fighting on stage in the centre of town (like, fake monsters, obv), after we all descend to the stage from the church at the top of the hill. It is insanely good, and brilliantly insane (in a good way).
6. Desserts are GOOD
A patisserie in the town of Itea stays open until late at night, and serves unbelievably good desserts. I had this chocolate mousse thing and cried with joy as I downed it. About time Tesco upped it's late night game.
7. It is knee-deep in history
The town of Galaxidi is not only bloody beautiful (have a walk off the beaten track and look at the old houses - it's so #InstaReady), but it was built as a result of the blossoming shipping industry in the early 1800s. There's a museum if you're game for a quick education.
Also, TOP TIP: when you're here, ask around for a lady called Roula. Her house is a treasure trove and she's BRILLIANT. I'll say no more (but here’s an item from her collection).
8. No one town is the same
The municipality is made up of several different towns. Polydrosos takes you up into the hills, and is totally unlike the Greece you think of. Far from the sea and 500m high, you can ski when it's been snowing, stop in at the cute Argyriou family winery and soak up beautiful "country escape" vibes in the local area.
9. The people are (the kindest and most welcoming) FEEDERS
Wherever you go, people want you to eat, unravelling the past six months of your Kim K squats challenge and Khloe K diet plan. The portions are not small (we shared an ENTIRE sea bream between two of us), but GOD IT'S SO GOOD.
10. "Clean Monday" is not what you think it is
You know when you're mum asks AGAIN if you could "just tidy your room a bit" and it's the most annoying ask in the world (I mean, if you want it done that badly, you could just do it yourself)? Well this isn't that.
Clean Monday is the final day of Carnival celebrations where you walk through Galaxidi and you throw coloured flour at people. Hilariously, you're not cleaning anything at all, but, rather, making an entire town really dirty. The locals go hard for this (house owners cover their homes in preparation), and it's a super fun celebration before they all give up meat until Easter. So throw flour, eat a burger, and wait until Easter so you can eat again.
11. Women here can cook anywhere
We loved watching the women of Itea cook traditional festival food on the street. This isn't like trendy food truck vibes with kitted out kitchens on wheels, this is women fighting over rolling the pastry for their Spanakopita (spinach pastry / pie) on a table on the street. This is given away for free, so don't eat the night before and fill your boots. Watch her go:
12. In short, Carnival weekend in Central Greece is the bomb
Spanning different towns and different activities, this long weekend is legit for a short break. It's culturally completely different, and the locals go bonkers for it. Bookend the weekend with an overnight stay in Athens Sofitel hotel, and sleep it off before heading back to work.
As the people are so welcoming, pop it in your diary for next year?
P.S. GREEK SALAD | FETA | BREAD | GREEK COFFEE (don't have it too sweet) | MEATS (all of them) | STUFFED OLIVE LEAVES | GREEK YOGHURT (on ANYthing)
MTV Travelled to: We flew in to Athens International airport with Aegean Airlines*, which flies out from multiple UK airports (flights from £121). We stayed at the Nafsika Palace for the majority of our stay, but dropped by the Sofitel in Athens on the way home (for a rooftop swim!). Book a car for your journey (you'll need to drive from the airport to area and to get to different towns) or look into a transfer to the municipality via bus. The municipality celebrates multiple festivals throughout the year, including the beginning of Lent, Easter and the Virgin Mary's birthday in August. For more info on a trip to Greece, check out Discover Greece @DiscoverGRcom and #discovergreece.
*AEGEAN (www.aegeanair.com) is a Star Alliance member and winner of Europe’s Best Regional Airline for the last 6 years. It offers three flights a day between London and Athens and on to over 30 domestic destinations.
Written by: David Cummins