Every summer hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians descend on the border with Greece, determined to get as soon as possible to their favourite beach and taverna on Chalkidiki Peninsula and Thassos Island. The proximity of Greece creates the false notion that they know it well, particularly if they are able to order a glass of ouzo and a plate of grilled kalamari in broken Greek.
Athens is a place that simultaneously feels very old and very new. It is a place of ancient monuments and of drab, unremarkable post-1940s streets with white houses and greying apartment buildings, with bustling street traffic and elderly people slowly strolling along. There are tourist traps and tavernas that seem unchanged since the 1960s, intelligent graffiti and classical monuments which laid the foundation of Western art, among the pestering pigeons and of the pageantry of the Evzones national guard.
Isolation and security were both in short supply in 6th century continental Greece. Avars and Slavs were ravaging lands and cities, sometimes retreating and sometimes settling, and for the local population there were only two options: fortify or flee. The people who founded what is now Monemvasia did both. They left their homes and found a new one on a rocky islet just off the eastern shores of the Peloponnese. Then they fortified it.
For the Bulgarians, going on a summer holiday in Greece has for long stopped being exotic. Everyone does it: the lovers of luxurious experiences, the adventure enthusiasts, the families preferring a quiet vacation, the camping aficionados, the water sports fans. Each of them has his or her reason to choose Greece, and all of these reasons are valid.