image: Visit Greece (Flickr CC)

Those who know me – and few do, what with me being a surly, reclusive type – know that I am not exactly what is known as a “nature boy”. While I like a bit of sun, a walk in the woods and a dip in the sea, I like to know that I can return at will to a soft bed, a comfy couch and a decent wifi connection.

This past week I’ve been sleeping on windswept beaches, hiking through dusty canyons and gawking at colorful fish beneath the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. It’s made for a nice change and my soon to be 40-year-old carcass has performed admirably.

It hasn’t always been easy, however.

The last time I went camping was at least 8 years ago on a beach in Portugal and that only lasted for two days thanks to the GNR mounted police. This time I lasted 5 nights before springing for a studio for myself and my companions. In my defense, Greece has been experiencing a heatwave and the isolated beach on the island of Karpathos, where we were staying, is about the windiest place in the universe. No tent could withstand such a battering and no human could sleep in such a tempest.

That said, I recommend a trip to Karpathos or another Greek island. The financial crisis and subsequent brutal austerity measures inflicted on the Greek people by the government at the behest of the “Troika” (IMF, ECB, EU) mean times are extremely tough for Greece and they could use the trade.

The advantages of a nature holiday on a Greek island:

  • Gathering fresh herbs like oregano and thyme on mountain hikes and then cooking with them
  • Swimming in the clear, calm, salty sea
  • Getting away from politics, current events, advertising and other annoying trappings of urban civilization (though all these things can still sneak in, so be on guard)
  • Spending time with loved ones beneath a blazing sun during the day and a bazillion stars at night
  • Eating fresh, local food

Things to be careful about:

  • The sun – it will burn you as soon as look at you so pack the SPF 50
  • Rocks – on Karpathos and many other Greek islands the beaches are made of stones and not sand. Some pebbles are nice but big rocks are difficult to walk on with bare feet whether you’re on land or wading so bring special hiking sandals.
  • Wildlife – We had no problem, but there are some big, nasty spiders about, plus the odd mouse, wild (or domestic) goat could potentially pose a problem in some situations
  • Roads – some are paved, some aren’t. I had flashbacks of tumbling down a 50-meter Utah mountainside in a Ford van some 15 years ago. Drive and walk carefully!
  • Water – it’s hot and very dry so make sure you carry lots of the stuff