The Essence of Greece

I was asked today by the highly intellectual and charming Serge Dive who runs the Pure Life Travel fair what tour or package or part of our activity was the one that offered our clients the  purest essence of Greece. I thought for a minute and then said “We don’t offer any at all. Greece can’t  be packaged – as soon as you package it into a tour it is no longer the essence of Greece. Greece just happens to you, and our job is to put clients into the right place with the right people around them, so it can happen to them as well.”

It was Serge’s turn to think for a minute, then he smiled and said “You are the best salesman I have ever met”

“No,”  I answered, (although who am I to argue with Serge Dive, and of course I may well be…)  “I am just telling you the truth. Package the sunset into a  sunset cruise around the crater of Santorini, and it becomes a cliche. But when you stay in a villa, you will find that  your local taverna owner’s son is the fisherman, and if you want, he will take you out one night to watch him pull up his nets. A small boy on the shore will show you how to collect sea urchins and open them up to scoop out the delicious orange roe,  your cleaning lady’s mother might invite you over to read your future in your coffee cup. You might stumble upon a moutain chapel fragrant with incense and a chanting priest  quietly celebrating the chapel’s  patron saint, watched by 3 goats and an old man.  Sit with an ouzo in the village plateia and listen to local men furiously clicking their worry beads as they discuss whether the Euro is existentially connected to Greeks’ identity. We can’t  price or package that, but if you are open and eager for life,  Greece will happen to you.”

“Make that your new strapline,” said Serge. And we will.

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