5 Ways to Let Your Inner Zorba Out in Greece

Zorbas and Greece

Nikos Kazantzakis' fictional character, Zorba is one of modern literature's most famous characters. He was a man who really knew how to live life to the max. That's probably why Zorba the Greek is still one of the most popular backpacker's novels.

Here are 5 ways to let your inner Zorba out when you're traveling in Greece:

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Aquis Zorba Village, Crete. Photo by Benoit Dupont (flickr)Zorbas Taverna in Plaka, Greece. Photo by miriam.mollerus (flickr)View From Senor Zorba, Greece. Photo by steve.wilde (flickr)Nikos Kazantzakis inside the Venetian Loggia - Heraklion, Crete. Photo by Jorge11 (flickr)Anthony Quinn portrayed Zorba (the Greek). Photo by psigrist (flickr)
Aquis Zorba Village, Crete. Photo by Benoit Dupont (flickr)
Aquis Zorba Village, Crete. Photo by Benoit Dupont (flickr)
Zorbas Taverna in Plaka, Greece. Photo by miriam.mollerus (flickr)
Zorbas Taverna in Plaka, Greece. Photo by miriam.mollerus (flickr)
View From Senor Zorba, Greece. Photo by steve.wilde (flickr)
View From Senor Zorba, Greece. Photo by steve.wilde (flickr)
Nikos Kazantzakis inside the Venetian Loggia - Heraklion, Crete. Photo by Jorge11 (flickr)
Nikos Kazantzakis inside the Venetian Loggia - Heraklion, Crete. Photo by Jorge11 (flickr)
Anthony Quinn portrayed Zorba (the Greek). Photo by psigrist (flickr)
Anthony Quinn portrayed Zorba (the Greek). Photo by psigrist (flickr)
Sandals of Sisyphus, Delphi, Greece. Photo by greekgeek (flickr)
Sandals of Sisyphus, Delphi, Greece. Photo by greekgeek (flickr)

Shop of the world's most famous sandal maker

When you're in Athens, call in at the shop of the world's most famous sandal maker, Stavros Melissinos. While he has made sandals for everyone from Jackie Onnasis to the Beatles, it is not his expertise as a cobbler that has made him famous. Melissinos is a cobbler-poet, whose works are on the curriculum in many large universities. It could be argued that even that is not what makes him famous.

What makes Stavros Melissinos famous is that, in spite of his brilliance and fame, he chooses to remain what he is: a sandal maker. He is, in the eyes of many of his friends and admirers, the embodiment of Zorba the Greek. In fact, Anthony Quinn, the man who played Zorba in the film, has also purchased sandals from Melissinos.

The Psiri District

Psiri District, Athens. Photo from Google Image
Psiri District, Athens. Photo from Google Image

Stavros Melissinos' workshop just happens to be in the Psiri district. It's easy to see how Zorba would enjoy hanging out in this fascinating neighborhood, which seems to be two places at once. During the day, it is very working class and aside from a few modest cafes and tavernas, you would be hard-pressed to find anything to eat here. At night, however, the streets come alive and it is the hotbed for Greek nightlife. The formerly empty streets are filled with tables and chairs and even the parking lots are magically transformed into restaurants. Music and laughter fills the air and it doesn't take much imagination to see Zorba jumping up on a table and dancing and clapping.

Athens Central Market, Greece. Photo by Trans World Productions (flickr)
Athens Central Market, Greece. Photo by Trans World Productions (flickr)

Athens Central Market

If you want to see life being lived to the fullest, Zorba-style, on a day-to-day basis, then check out the Athens Central Market. You can't live if you don't eat and the Greeks know how to enjoy good food. This is the place where everyone in Athens buys their fresh groceries. You may be staying at a hotel or a guesthouse and not be able to buy food for cooking here, but there's nothing stopping you from sampling some olives until you find one you can't live without and buying a kilo to munch on as you absorb the lively atmosphere of the market.

Piraeus, Greece. Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis (flickr)
Piraeus, Greece. Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis (flickr)

The port city of Piraeus

Zorba the Greek is set in the port city of Piraeus. Now the largest passenger port in Europe, its main attraction is that it is the gateway to the magnificent Greek islands. In spite of the relentless rise of tourism over the past fifty years, Mykonos, the main island, remains as alluring and magical as it has ever been. Just the glistening whitewashed buildings and the narrow cobbled lanes in the villages give the island an air of sensuous magic. While it's difficult to single out just one main attraction here, Alefkandra is simply not to be missed. Nor are the windmills. Forget everything about everything as you breathe in the fresh sea air and bask in the brilliant blue of the sky and sea and take in the sweeping view from the cliff-side. You'll feel like shouting for joy - as Zorba would.

The Acropolis

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, nobody who goes to Greece should miss a visit to the Acropolis. It is not the most spectacular ruins in the world, nor is it the largest, but there it stands, to this day a symbol of all that is great about Greece and, in a larger sense, about humanity. Here is a quote from Nikos Kazantzakis for you to chew on while you're there: "Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels."

 

Where to Let Your Inner Zorba Out

show route and directions
A markerAthens Central Market -
Athens, Greece
[get directions]

B markerPiraeus, Greece -
Piraeus, Greece
[get directions]

C markerAcropolis, Greece -
Acropolis, Theorias, Athens 10558, Greece
[get directions]

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Comments 5 comments

Sylvia 5 years ago

I love Greece! This just makes me want to go back. :)


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 5 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Hi Sylvia!

I love Greece, too! I'm glad this encourages you to go back. I hope you share with us your wonderful trip!


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 5 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Hi Sylvia!

I love Greece, too! I'm glad this encourages you to go back. I hope you share with us your wonderful trip!


Jeannie 5 years ago

I love leather sandals..and everything about Greece. You post just makes me more excited with my upcoming trip to Greece!


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 5 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Hi Jeannie,

I also love leather sandals and obviously everything about Greece, too. I am sure you will have a marvelous time - safe trip!

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