Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard, Norway

“Towards the very top of the Northern Hemisphere and about as human as the High Arctic gets, this is as far north as one can venture without being a scientist and the furthest north man has managed to settle permanent communities inhabited year-round…People can live the Arctic here. They can experience it, understand it. Yes of course it’s out of the way, and no it’s not a location for the dilettante traveller, but it’s (relatively) straightforward to get here… and, with a bit of savvy planning, not as expensive as you might think.”

Mystras, Greece

Mystras, Greece

“In a country where antiquity is king, the fascinating tumbledown complex of churches and monasteries of the fortified UNESCO-listed mountain retreat of Mystras, last foothold anywhere for the once-mighty Byzantium Empire, feels like something of an upstart; it is only, at most, 800 years old.”

Sparta, Greece

Sparta, Greece

“Conscious of the past, efforts were made at the time to rebuild the town so as to reflect its ancient pre-eminence, but the town planners fell someway short. In their defence, they did not have a lot to play with; it’s obvious Ancient Sparta was more focused on building legendary armies as opposed to cities. Plus, it’s hard for a structure to outlive antiquity if it was never constructed in the first place.”

Olympia, Greece

Olympia, Greece

“If the present-day archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, the former celebrated sanctuary of Greek supreme god Zeus and the birthplace of the Olympic Games, doesn’t win gold for being Greece’s most redolent ancient site then it would at the very least be assured of a podium finish.”

Peloponnese, Greece

Peloponnese, Greece

”The Greek Peloponnese Peninsula heavy-hitting history trilogy: Ancient Olympia, the once-great sanctuary to Zeus and birthplace of the Olympic Games; Sparta, the ancient city-state famous for its military prowess; and the UNESCO-listed lofty heights of Mystras, the last bastion of power for the once-mighty Byzantium Empire.”

Zákynthos, Greece

Zákynthos, Greece

“A now-iconic image… the MV Panagiotis… blown off course during adverse weather in October 1980… sitting pretty here ever since in the middle of a secluded white-sand beach and surrounded by towering white limestone cliffs… it is beyond dazzling, easily one of the most picture-perfect scenes I’ve ever pointed a (zoom) lens at.”

Tínos, Greece

Tínos, Greece

“There is more to the Cycladic island of Tínos than the all-encompassing holiness associated with its venerated Church of Virgin Mary/Panagia Evangelistria and its miracle-working icon. But the hulking form of Greece’s major Marian shrine is the only reason I paid the island a visit from nearby Mýkonos meaning that overtly-religious Tínos may just be as adept at drawing tourists as it is pilgrims.”

Delos, Greece

Delos, Greece

“… one of the holiest sanctuaries in Greek mythology, the island is the mythical birthplace of the gods Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. Today, the fascinating archaeological site on the island, one of the most important collections of ancient Greek ruins on earth, preserves the remains of a sanctuary to Apollo and Artemis and the once-magnificent city, a bustling commercial centre, that developed around it.”

Mýkonos, Greece

Mýkonos, Greece

“It’s not the exclusive celeb and jet set hangout it used to be in the 50s and 60s, when such A-listers as Jackie O, Maria Callas, Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor all vacationed here, but fabulous gay-friendly Mýkonos is still the Cyclades glamour capital, not to mention its hedonistic party central.”

Páros, Greece

Páros, Greece

“Páros… was all the more charming for what it wasn’t – it wasn’t busy, it wasn’t expensive, and it wasn’t as ostentatious as elsewhere. But it was still sufficiently Cyclades-esque swank and downright seductive, almost coquettishly so. And pretty. Oh-so pretty. Two islands in and one was quickly discovering that ‘oh-so pretty’ is par of the course on these Cyclades isles.”

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