THE TELEGRAPH: GREECE IS THE FIRST COUNTRY TO VISIT AFTER CORONAVIRUS
Smith has visited some of Greece’s most popular islands, among them Skiathos, Corfu, Kefallonia, Lefkada, Skopelos, Mykonos and Tinos, and below are his ingredients for a perfect Greek island holiday:
There is something about arriving by ferry at a picturesque Greek port that has an immediately relaxing effect. Adding a boat ride to your journey also means you’ll almost certainly end up on an island with fewer tourists.
Α traditional Greek village: car-free, with a couple of chapels, a cafe where grizzled men gossip and play backgammon, and a clutch of whitewashed houses – some dilapidated, some beautifully preserved. The whistle of the shepherd should still be heard on the hillside. Stray cats should outnumber people.
When it comes to sightseeing, don’t expect fancy museums – it’s all about monasteries. Every Greek island is positively packed with them, so there’s plenty of scope for an ecclesiastical crawl – what more innocent, life-affirming activity could there be? Most will comprise suntrap courtyards, a dusky chapel filled with glittering icons and intricate altar linen, and chirping birds in cages.
The taverna is integral to every Greek holiday. But to pass muster it must fulfil certain criteria. It should be family-run – ideally fronted by some fearsome, unapologetic proprietress and her henpecked husband. Menus should feature most, if not all, of the following: tzatziki, dolmades, fried zucchini, souvlaki, kleftiko, stifado, Greek salad, calamari, and cheese pie. Oregano should flavour everything. Hot food should be served lukewarm. The quality should be middling. House wine should be worryingly cheap, served by the litre, and taste off-putting at first sip, before improving dramatically with every mouthful.
A Greek island is nothing without its beaches, and the best examples are picturesque, backed by rocky green hills, and quiet, with just a taverna or two flogging fresh fish and cold beers. What more do you need?