People: Ilias Vrettos, World Voyager

P3_grey “Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything”.* Music and travel that world voyagers can really make them count. Our morning coffee in the South of Athens signalled the very beginning of this article, giving value to the intangible nature of travel co-creation; the updated version of the “People” section [New “People” and the floor is yours: click here for another “take-off”] welcomes World Voyagers on “your world sophisticated travel map”. The interview with Ilias Vrettos [ & Facebook, Instagram, YouTube] had begun long before we started scheduling it.

Everything happens for a reason and this interview really deserves our biggest smiles. During the calls, throughout our discussions, these are the smiles and the painstaking effort that I really appreciated about Ilias – the successful singer as a world voyager, who recovered from his recent accident. Smiles at life! Memories from Kymi, Mauritious, Sydney, Mykonos, Thailand, Santorini, Kuşadası, Ioannina Lake, Vikos Gorge, Toronto, Montréal, Valia Calda, New York, Brussels and Melbourne are adding more miles to a rich portfolio of travel experiences.

We keep talking about the 4Ps (Priceless Places and People Perspectives), thinking of the next destination… Ilias is now calling out to us “Fonakse Me”, always looking up in Limassol, Serres, Thassos, Kos, Vonitsa, Chalkida, looking ahead in Corfu, Patras, Larissa, and planning our reunion pinpointing new “destinations” on the global map!

tvv: Born or become hospitable? | Γεννιέσαι ή γίνεσαι φιλόξενος;

I.V.: The concept of Hospitality is directly linked to Greece and its people going as far back to the Ancient Greek world. I would say that being raised as a genuine Greek, there is no doubt that the principles and values gained in life are shaped from the very first moments of our infancy. It is undoubtedly the family that plays the greatest role in our upbringing, which in turn forms our character and brings meaning to the path of our existence. Hospitality for the Greeks is an innate characteristic which is deeply embedded in our roots. It is a way of life allowing for a connection between humanity which in turn positively transforms human relationships; you can capitalise on it, further enhance and cultivate it to another level. “Hospitality” can be defined in numerous ways and has a different meaning for each and every one of us.

tvv: The most hospitable encounter experienced. | Ό,τι πιο φιλόξενο έζησα.

I.V.: Amongst the unique hospitality experiences to date, my recent visit to the northwest of Greece in the prefecture of Grevena is the first to come to mind. My colleagues and I decided to visit the area, which is famous for its mountainous traditional beauties. We visited Grevena in order to film the video clip for my new song “Fonakse Me” (Call out to me).

When we first came into contact with the people of Grevena and informed them about the project, we were pleasantly surprised by their immediate heartfelt response which touched us greatly. Amidst fir trees, the Pindos Palace Hotel staff members went beyond our expectations in accommodating me, my associates and my crew for three whole days, providing outstanding service and care. The 4×4 Grevena Club equipped us with specially manned off-road vehicles, thanks to which we were able to reach virgin parts of the area which have never been captured on film. Strangers opened their homes to us, offering special edible delights, supplying us with various useful items for our filming needs – things that we would not have been able to find otherwise.

I will never forget the distinctive feeling of the tenderness that a mother portrayed as she welcomed us into her household, letting us film her newborn baby. At the end of the filmmaking, we all sat together and celebrated by eating a cake, which was so generously and lovingly prepared for all of us. It was remarkable how the powerful facial expressions conveyed feelings of love as the pieces were served and the surrounding smiles captivated everyone in the room. These treasurable moments will be cherished and remembered forever… and of course played a huge role in the outstanding results of our work.

tvv: An outline of Greek voyager’s current identity. | Η ταυτότητα του σύγχρονου Έλληνα ταξιδευτή.

I.V.: The Greek traveller is demanding and I believe very difficult to impress as well. We are not only fortunate but very blessed to have the joy of living in one of the most beautiful “properties” of the planet. Witnessing the country’s unsurpassed natural beauty from the childhood years, we are provided with a plethora of experiences. Wherever we go or whatever we see, we tend to compare to our own country. Greece is linked to the arts, philosophy and sciences, dating back to the Ancient years. Nowadays however, we are also heavily influenced by the economic crisis that affects our homeland. In fact, some foreigners often have the impression that the average Greek is suffering and “hungry” with the implications of the crisis. It gives me great satisfaction to take part in these discussions and prove the opposite of those who have such an impression.

tvv: The performance of Greece on the world travel map. | Η πορεία της Ελλάδας στον παγκόσμιο ταξιδιωτικό χάρτη.

I.V.: In speaking about the world map, I would rate Greece as one of the top travel destinations. I am convinced that with the natural and unique beauties that defines the country it could exclusively rely on tourism. Having travelled all over Greece both for work and pleasure, I have personally encountered unexplored destinations that would appeal to tourists. Entrepreneurs and hoteliers who have unlimited business opportunities are reluctant to invest as they are disappointed with the current economic and tax system. This economic phenomenon has indeed played a significant impact in the tourism industry especially with the competition from neighbouring countries and in relation to where we could have been and where we really stand. Nevertheless, thanks to the intelligence gained through my personal relationship with various tourism specialists in the industry, I envision a country with exciting growth opportunities that will increase impressively over the next decade.

tvv: Priceless travelling. | Η Ανεκτίμητη πλευρά του ταξιδεύειν.

I.V.: Travelling to me is just as essential as breathing is. By visiting new locations and coming into contact with new people, the biggest impact is broadening your mind’s and soul’s horizons (which is perhaps even more important), and ultimately feel free.

My favorite destinations… Mykonos, I visit every year and reserve a room at the captivating Myconian Collection Hotels where I am offered an ultimate experience with service of the highest standards on the island of the winds. … Aidipsos for the award winning Thermae Sylla Spa Wellness Hotel, famous for its healing spa treatments and mineral springs. …Santorini at the Volcano View Hotel which is built on the caldera cliffs where one can relish the magical view of the volcano … and naturally my homeland Evia known for its mesmerising natural beauty at every level, inspiring visitors who will have the opportunity to savour the tranquility of its beauties.

tvv: The “where” and “why” of travel directions to my Places. | Στους δικούς μου Προορισμούς, ένα «πού» και το «γιατί» που με οδήγησε εκεί.

I.V.: Since we are continuously talking about Greece, let’s discuss a trip beyond the borders, which I was truly enchanted by and so wholeheartedly recommend. About two years ago, at the end of a very long and very exhausting summer tour, I strongly felt the need to travel somewhere far and exotic to unwind. There were numerous destinations to select from and I finally ended up selecting Mauritius. As soon as I stepped foot on the island and set my eyes on the breathtaking view, I realised that this magical place surpassed every expectation … a stunning island protected by coral reefs surrounding the coastline, countless beaches, stretching out as far as the eye can see, with translucent waters where the tropical fish can be seen through a diving mask as if they are positioned in an aquarium. What really attracts attention, apart from the beautiful sea sides, is the surrounding area which entails a paradise of tropical forests, waterfalls, lakes, jungles, volcanos, wildlife and an infinite number of villages, which you visit and honestly believe that time has come to a stop. I could say Mauritius is a combination of Bali together with Maldives. Bali lacks the beautiful beaches, whereas Maldives lacks terrain areas. Mauritius combines the best of both destinations with an incredible selection of contemporary and luxurious hotel resorts, which will give you the dream – like impression that you have finally found paradise.

tvv: People who stood out as co-travellers. | Συνταξιδευτές που ξεχώρισα.

I.V.: When hearing the word “co-traveller”, the first thing that comes to mind is the image of the people devoted to my music and songs, my biggest supporters – my fans! Being an artist who has travelled to many destinations and who has appeared in almost every single Greek live entertainment night club, it is only natural for me to think of my fans. Specifically in 2016, I made over 250 appearances within the region and abroad. My beloved fellow travellers are every single one of my fans who continuously embrace me with love and support and take pride in creating remarkably unique moments following me in my appearances in concerts and throughout my musical journey.

tvv: Perspectives on my motivation. | Προοπτικές που με κινητοποιούν.

I.V.: At this point, I would like to specifically mention and express my admiration to the Greek Diaspora. It must be noted with pride that the Greek community, which for several years are situated far from their homeland, preserve their identity, by sacredly keeping the traditions and values alive. The Greek heritage is preserved and passed on to their children, so that the roots will not be lost through the generations. Every time I travel to America and Australia for my tours, I am deeply moved by the hospitality that is expressed through the love and generosity I receive from the Greek people.

It is amazing how people who are unknown to me at first and who literally live on the other side of the world, open their hearts and their homes to me and make me feel as their own. They make me feel as if we have known each other for years, as if I have never left my home in Greece. This somewhat describes the welcoming energy absorbed by a Greek artist during these tours … something that cannot be defined in words and I thank God for graciously granting me these opportunities.

tvv: Milestones along my way.  | Σταθμοί στη μέχρι σήμερα πορεία μου.

I.V.: Athens, September 2, Zodiac Virgo with Horoscope Libra… and this is how I spent my childhood years in Palaio Faliro, where I became acquainted with music from a very young age. When I was 10 years old, I insisted and practically demanded that my parents enroll me in the National Conservatory of Athens to attend classical guitar lessons, music theory and solfeggio. From the age of 7, I was involved in both swimming and water polo teams, where I attended at the Youth Championship level, winning numerous national medals.

I graduated from high school, passed the Panhellenic examinations and successfully completed my studies at the Department of Marketing and Communication of the Athens University of Economics and Business. In 2004, my mother submitted an application for my participation in the music competition “Eurostar” aired on the Greek National television without my knowledge! I not only participated but ending up passing into the final stage, after acquiring the highest score according to the judges. Through the “Eurostar” competition, I had the opportunity to meet people who encouraged me to take my first steps towards my career in the music industry. I began my professional journey by singing at major nightclubs in Athens and throughout all of Greece and collaborated with famous personalities and well-known names in the Greek music scene. It was in January 2009 where I released my first record album.

From that point on, with slow and steady steps together with the passionate driving force emitted through the love of the world, which year after year continues to grow rapidly, I have successfully released three more complete recordings and am currently in the process of preparing the next one. Music is unquestionably my life and singing is my passion and my way of escape.

tvv: Little dreams for trips to come. | Μικρά όνειρα για τα ταξίδια που έρχονται.

I.V.: My dream for the future is to be healthy and to have the world by my side in my never-ending musical journey that has no beginning, middle and end, and knows no borders! I sing to travel, I travel to sing. I sing to live, I travel to live…

*”Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything” (Source: Plato)
**Credits to Faye Skenteris for the co-creation in the English translation and proofreading of the original article

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