People often ask me, are you Greek? I have been asked this for many years now and still get asked today!

I’m Irish so my answer naturally is “No, I’m not Greek” but then they ask me “So where does your love and passion for Greece come from?” I believe that it started in my youth when one of the routes I took walking to grade school was along Danforth Avenue, the heart of Toronto’s Greek Town. There I would find myself stopping in front of travel agencies, restaurants and Greekshops displaying wonderful pictures from various regions of Greece depicting beautiful beaches, private coves, quaint picturesque villages, and photos of Greek people celebrating life with family and friends.

These images became imbedded in my psyche. In fact, the more I was exposed to these images and restaurants, the more my interest grew until it reached the point where travel to Greece became a must do. Later as a young man, I started working for a major airline in Toronto and soon my first travel to Greece occurred!

In 1996 when I went with a friend who had already traveled to Athens and the Cyclades (pronounced Kyklades in Greek as it does not have a soft “c” sound) islands of Ios and
Santorini. It was the start of something magical as I met many people and made lots of friends, most of which I still have today. Today my friends are owners of some of the best places to visit and stay in Ios and Santorini. They are also genuine partners and fully appreciate the need to show those on our tours what Greece is all about.

Over time, as my networks grew, our tours expanded to include more of the other islands of the Cyclades, Crete, the Ionian islands, Dodecanese Islands, the Peloponnese, Mainland and Northern Greece. Our tours, in the past and now, include stays at wonderful hotels and seeing the beautiful sites in all these locations. We have added opportunities to visit the wineries in these areas which are now represented by my other company, Riverdale Wines. People love to visit wineries and meet the winemakers, so we import select Greek wines and bring our Greek winemakers to Toronto to make this experience available to those who have been on our tours and those who wish to join us for A Perfect Tour overseas.

Now with over 20 years of travelling throughout Greece, I do indeed feel like at least an honorary Greek. In fact, I was very flattered this last year when a good friend and colleague said to me, “Jerry, there is a reason Greek people enjoy being around you. It’s because you have philotimo”(also spelled filotimo).

When told this, I did not know the meaning but have since found out the word comes from the Greek root words “filos,” meaning friend, and “timi,” meaning honor. A philotimos person is one who conceives and enacts eagerly those things good.
So I am truly flattered and honoured to be told I had this. I am truly honoured and to all of my Greek friends:

“Ευχαριστώ πολύ (efharisto poli) or thank you very much!