Our Tour of Greece Begins….
After departing the eternal city, we headed to Greece to begin a week and a half long exploration of the country, and its islands. It was to just be the five of us for the first few days in Athens and Santorini, before we were set to meet up with a larger group for a sailing tour of the Cyclades.
What We Did
Day 39 (8/31/16): When we arrived in Athens, we were all exhausted. We had a great view of the Acropolis from our apartment and decided that may be good enough. We ventured out as far as a well-rated restaurant not too far from our apartment and feasted on lamb meatballs, pork belly, and fish. Adam, Rikki, and I did a Hop On, Hop Off tour to get a general picture of what the rest of the city was like, before heading home and curling up in bed.
Day 40 (9/1/16): We woke up in the morning and headed for the port. We boarded an enormous ferry and headed for the infamous island of Santorini. We found our hotel, went out and grabbed some drinks, and laid by the pool for the rest of the day. This was our day of rest.
Day 41 (9/2/16): Today, we decided was the perfect day to rent quads. The island is not too big, so the quads made it very easy for us to get around. We started out by going to the Red Beach, a famous swimming spot. Afterwards, we stopped at Santorini wines and completed a 36 wine tasting with a kick-ass view of the Adriatic. From there we ventured into Oia to watch the sunset before ending the day.
Day 42 (9/3/16): We checked out of the hotel, but stayed on the grounds and hung out by the pull until it was time to meet our Sail In Greece group in Fira. Once we arrived in the town of Fira, we met our sailing guide, who informed us we would not be staying on the boat that night, as the water was too rough for sailing. Therefore, we would be staying at a campground just outside town and doing a pub crawl that evening. We met up for a beer with the other tour participants, moved into our “cabins”, and went into town to get dinner and drinks. Katie and Justin stayed out for most of the crawl, while Rikki, Adam and I headed back to sleep.
What We Learned
- Take time to chill and do nothing. When travelling, especially long term, it is important to have days where you are not running around trying to see everything. Take the time to properly rest or you will definitely get burnt out.
- Rent quads on the islands. I almost had more fun riding around on those quads and seeing the island from the road then I did at our stops. Hearing the wind rush past as you glide over rocky hills and through tiny towns, almost all with unbeatable views of the water. It was amazing. However, make sure you ask your lodging owners or do some research on typical rates, as some of the rental places can be kind of shady. It also helps if you go to a couple of them so you can pit them against each other in terms of price. I preferred the quads to the scooters because even though you couldn’t weave through traffic as easily, they had a larger luggage storage box for keeping your stuff in and were more comfortable for two people all day.
- The water in Santorini is unbelievably clear and beautiful, but the sand can be less enjoyable. At the Red Beach, we started out camped on the sand like everyone else. However, we quickly discovered the island can be rather windy. Our towels, bags, faces, and bodies were quickly covered in the reddish sand of the beach. Also, the sand is wo fine that when the wind would pelt it into you it stung. We eventually ended up moving to the rocky sides of the beach away from the sand. While it was less comfortable on your back, it was way better than the continuous prickling feeling from being pummeled by the sand. We spent most of the time in the water, and if you go, I would advise you to do the same. But bring goggles, as we found ourselves wishing we could more easily look down into the depths of the clear water.
- The sunset in Oia is a must-do and it is truly spectacular. That being said, it’s beauty makes it a target for crowds pretty much every evening. Get there early and try to push past the crowds to find a good spot towards the end of the city. And then be prepared to wait after it ends while the masses disperse to their various hotels, restaurants, and tour buses.
- In Justin’s excitement from being at the beach, he promptly ran out into the water. Unfortunately, he did not remember his phone was still in his pocket. That water logging resulted in several days of carrying it around in rice and resuscitation attempts before finally throwing in the towel and recognizing it as a lost cause. RIP Justin’s I-Phone. You will be missed.
- On the way back from Oia, I ride behind Rikki on the quad in the dark. The lack of lighting and civilization on parts of the drive home led to unbelievable views of the stars. I have never seen the Big Dipper so brightly or so close. It was amazing. I also thought it was funny that I rode the bulk of the way back with my hands covering Rikki’s ears so that her hood wouldn’t blow off in the wind of the ride and make her cold. The whole thing probably looked pretty ridiculous.