You drive slowly down an overgrown bumpy gravel track, carefully negotiating the low-hanging branches that creep out over the track. Suddenly you realize the track has disappeared into the dense foliage. You pull over to the side of the narrow space and park.
Climbing out of the car you spy what might be only a goat track leading into the grove of trees. You follow the narrow footpath and find yourself surrounded by the sweet scent of orange trees laden with ripened fruit. Then, without warning, you emerge from the trees to find an ancient tomb before you.
The air is heavy with silence and the ancient site seems untouched by the passage of time. It almost feels like you’re in a different world, or a different time… yet a busy highway is mere minutes away.
That, for me, is part of the magic of Greece. Wherever you travel it feels like ancient Greece is mere steps away. It’s almost as if it exists in a parallel world and that you can step from the modern world across to the ancient one simply by tapping your red shoes three times, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
It can happen as you walk through a fairly modern town and suddenly find yourself facing an unexpected ancient site. It can happen as you step off an escalator in an underground station to find yourself facing ancient relics. And it can happen as you walk through the centre of Athens and find yourself drifting into the ancient agora almost without realizing it.
For me, it’s more than simply stepping from a modern sidewalk to an ancient walkway – the entire feel of the place seems different. And sure, maybe that is only my imagination… but why not, if it imbues Greece with a particular kind of magic and ambiance for me?