Travel TBT: Greece

I traveled to Greece during the summer of 2010 with my two older brothers, Sean & Anthony, and one of my best friends, Liz, after having been on a family vacation in Croatia. Since traveling within Europe is so easy, we decided to break off from the old folks and hop on down to our Mediterranean neighbor. Whether it was the rich history, beautiful islands, unbelievable nightlife, amazing company, or just a combination of everything…this trip will go down in history as one of the best of my life. If you go anywhere in Europe, (other than Croatia obviously) GO TO GREECE. I’m going to attempt to put it all into words, but you just have to to see it for yourself.

 

Santorini 

We flew into Santorini after a quick layover in Athens, and were literally speechless from the moment we arrived. This place is like lights out amazing. Game over, send everyone home because the Greeks already won life, amazing. Just WOW. We stayed in Oia, which is where you absolutely need to stay if you ever go to Santorini. It’s a decent drive from the airport so we rented a car and drove to our perfect, amazing, wonderful, insanely surreal little hotel…(I’m going to run out of adjectives to describe this island)

Alexander’s Boutique Hotel of Oia – This hotel isn’t anything crazy or exceptional in terms of amenities, and the rooms can be considered to be a bit outdated (keep in mind I was there seven years ago), but none of that matters even in the slightest because this place is RIDICULOUS. It’s built into the side of the mountain/volcano and overlooks all of Oia and the vast, deep blue Aegean Sea beyond it. Think of the little white houses with blue doors…that is exactly what this hotel is. We stayed in a cave house with a private balcony and were served breakfast on that very same balcony every morning. I kid you not those breakfasts were some of the highlights of our entire trip. Imagine waking up every morning to the most surreal view of the water with a fully set breakfast consisting of Greek yogurt with honey, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, chocolate croissants, and Greek coffee. That is what I call paradise. The service was impeccable and the cost of the hotel was incredibly reasonable considering what we got for the price. Please book your stay here and send me pictures of your breakfasts.

Catamaran Trip – We booked a catamaran tour on one of the four days we had in Santorini and it was one of the best days of the trip. It wasn’t cheap, but it was definitely worth it as the trip lasted about eight hours and included all the food and drinks we wanted. There were about 10 other people onboard with us and everyone was pretty much either celebrating their honeymoons or anniversaries…anddd I was with my brothers. But we honestly had a fantastic time and weren’t too upset about having to constantly explain that “no he’s not my husband, he’s my brother.” The catamaran took us all around the island and would stop occasionally for swimming and snorkeling. One of the “highlights” of the tour was supposed to be the hot springs we stopped at. The water was luke warm at best and everyone just slopped mud all over their bodies. If anything it was entertaining.

Food – Since it’s been seven years since I went to Greece, I don’t remember any of the restaurants we ate at. However, I do remember how unbelievable the food was. You can’t go wrong with any restaurant in Oia…just be prepared to let all your inhibitions go because you won’t be able to stop eating. I think I ate a minimum of one gyro per day (sometimes two). They put french fries INSIDE the pita and it takes you straight to the Holy Gates. God Bless you and your food, Greece!

Sunset in Oia – Oia is famous for its beautiful sunsets, and trust me they do not disappoint. After dinner one night make sure to make your way to the top of the village (you won’t be able to miss it, there will be HUNDREDS of people gathered around) to witness the beauty for yourself.

Black Sand Beach – Since our hotel was high up on the cliff, we weren’t able to access the water very easily. Because of this we didn’t spend much time down there, but we did take one day to drive down to one of the black sand beaches. There are several to choose from and are great for laying out and relaxing.

 

Mykonos 

We specifically came to Mykonos to party…and party we did! This island is straight nuts. Plain and simple. It makes Vegas look like a joke (let’s keep it real though, all of Europe’s nightlife does). Looking back, I have no idea how I was able to hang with the rest of the psychos on the island because I was completely sober the entire time. All I need is good music and a dance floor and I can hang with the best of ’em!

Hotel Madalena – After taking a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos, we checked into Hotel Madalena for just one night. We had a short amount of time in Greece and wanted to squeak Mykonos into our itinerary, so when planning our trip we knew that sleep would not be on the agenda for the 24 hours we were there. Almost immediately after arriving, my brothers rented scooters and of course got into an accident. Anthony literally had to be rushed to the hospital (all while I was at the hotel with my friend freaking out) and had to have his face stitched up. He looked like he had gotten into a fight and lost like a chump. Shoutout to universal healthcare though because he didn’t have to pay a dime. (This was also during the Greek bank crisis)

Cavo Paradiso – My brother wasn’t going to let a busted face get in the way of a good time, so he rallied and we went out to Cavo Paradiso, an outdoor club that is home to some of the best DJ’s in the world. We had the time of our lives and danced until the sun came up (9am to be exact).

 

Athens

After not having slept at all the night before, we flew to Athens for the last leg of our trip. My brothers had friends in Athens so they took off with them as soon as we landed, but my friend and I were too exhausted to exist so we made our way to the hotel to crash. I don’t remember the name of the hotel, but I would not recommend it as it ended up being closer to the sketchy part of the city than we had expected. We were hardly ever in the hotel so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I’d recommend doing better research than we did.

Bouzoukia – I missed out on this due to prioritizing my sleep, but my brothers went out to one of these clubs and from what I can tell by the pictures had an amazing time. I’ve heard from several people that these are a must.

Sightseeing – I’m a huge history nerd and was absolutely stoked for this part of our trip. Ancient Greece is literally where it all began and I made sure to drag my hungover brothers to every last spot. We had one day in Athens and hauled ass to see everything. (You really only need one day in Athens to be completely honest) Here are the spots we were able to see:

-Theatre of Dionysos

-The Odeon of Herodes Atticus

-The Acropolis

-The Parthenon

-The Erechtheion

-New Acropolis Museum

-Hadrian’s Arch

-The Temple of Olympian Zeus

-Panathenaic Stadium…the ORIGINAL Olympic Stadium

***Having been a track athlete, this was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Bucket list!

 

…like I said, we hauled ass.

 

I’ve caught myself smiling several times while writing this post because I have incredibly fond memories of both this trip and Greece in general. If you’re looking to plan one of the best summers of your life, make sure Greece is on your list. Whether you’re looking to relax in a romantic setting or dance until your feet fall off, this beautiful country has something for everyone.

xo, Ashley