Ten Days in Greece: Love, Food, and Beaches
Day One, Friday, 2 September
I leave Italy (my favorite country in Europe) with a heavy heart, but am excited to see my boyfriend after not seeing him since late May. We have a romantic airport greeting (kissing, hugging, examining each other’s face with intensity), and then head over to Tourist Information to figure out how to get to our hostel (Athens Student and Travelers Inn, Kydathineon 16) and get the ferry schedules (which are different every day). We take the metro (about 40 minutes) and dump out bags in our room, and immediately head out to Byzantio (Kydathenaion 18) where we eat way too much-Greek salad, olives, spinach cheese pie, stuffed tomatoes, and fried zucchini with garlic paste. Revived, we walk to the Acropolis, where we take photos and drift around in the dry heat.
We head back to the Plaka District, where we are staying, which is full of pedestrian-only streets with little shops and cafÃ©s. We get our ferry tickets for the following day to Santorini on the high speed ferry (41 euro for each). We purchase a bottle of sweet wine (which we later drink in Santorini), and Trevor finds some souvenirs. We head to Bretto’s (Kydathineon 41) to sample some of the famous sweet wine. Old men talk loudly with young men in Greek, and colorful bottles lit up line the walls. Hungry again, we head to Eden Vegetarian Restaurant (Lyssiou 12) where we drink more wine and eat dinner. After dinner, although it is nearly midnight, the stores are still open, and we stop in some of them. We get another glass of sweet red wine at Bretto’s, and then collapse into bed.
Day Two, Saturday, 3 September
We wake early, determined to make the most of our time in Athens. We go to Agora Ethnic Jewelry (Adrianou 82), full of quality, hand-crafted jewelry, and a loquacious and friendly jeweler, where I purchase a coral and turquoise necklace. We eat another amazing meal at Byzantio, and catch the 1530 ferry to Ios, which arrives over an hour late. When we get to Ios, the Far Out Hotel has lost our reservation, the rude and unapologetic receptionist informs us. We head out for dinner in Ios Town, then spend the rest of the night wandering the streets. At cheesy Disco 69, we drink cheap drinks and dance to American rap and pop music. Finally, we discover Astra Bar and drink fun cocktails like the Green Destiny (6 euros, crushed kiwi, vodka, fresh apple juice and cucumber slices), and listen to some good trance while making friends with some Irish guys staying in the Far Out Bungalows. We somehow end up back at our room.
Day Three, Sunday, 4 September
We head to the Far Out Pool Club, and laze around the pool in the sun, listening a DJ play house and trance. At the beach across the street, we hire chairs for a euro each, and attempt to swim in the water – but it’s too cold. We take the quick bus ride to Ios Town (1 euro), and grab dinner at Old Byron’s. At various bars, we drink two euro drinks, before heading back to Astra Bar, where we repeat last night: drink, dance, laugh.
Day Four, Monday, 5 September
We drag ourselves out of bed, determined to make the most of Ios. We spend the morning sunbathing and swimming at the Far Out Pool. At 1615, we catch a ferry to Santorini, which is forty minutes late. We hang out with a South African couple who delight us with descriptions of South African landscape. In Santorini, staff from San Giorgio Villa’s (right in the center of Fira, 120 euros for three nights) is waiting for us. We’re charmed by our cute room, and go out to dinner at Palae, a rooftop restaurant, followed by sangria at the Jazz Bar. The streets are lively until midnight, or later.
Day Five, Tuesday, 6 September
Instead of renting the riskier scooter, we rent an ATV (20 euros) for the day and drive all over Santorini, getting lost, but reaching our ultimate destinations of the Red Beach and Perissa. To get to the red sand beach, we are forced to climb through a rocky passage, and it is quite crowded (probably because it is the only red sand beach on the island). We leave after a while and head to Perissa, with lovely black sand, which is fairly empty and quiet. The sand is hot, and we are forced to shell out 6 euro for two chairs and an umbrella. The water is brilliant, although we leave our sandals right at the shore or we would have burned our feet simply walking from the shore to our chairs. Back in Fira, we drink a bottle of sweet red wine before dinner. We eat more traditional Greek food at Dionysos and Trevor gets a glass of ouzo. I take a sip, but it is too intense for me. I stick with wine.
Day Six, Wednesday, 7 September
We wake up, drained and dehydrated, probably from all of the wine the night before. We buy ferry tickets for Mykonos (27 euro each), and also tickets for the excursion to the Volcano (Kameni) and the hot springs (15 euro each). We grab cheese pies, traditional Greek pastries filled with cheese, and walk down the 300 steps to the Old Port. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there wasn’t donkey dung all over the steps, and several donkeys seemed angry, frightening us. When we get to Kameni Island, we are bored by the volcano – it is just a bunch of black rocks. I was kind of hoping for a mountain with some red lava spurting up. We take photos of the rather uninspiring scenery. The hot springs are next. We jump off our boat and swim to the hot springs – which aren’t actually that hot, but merely warm. The orange dirt from the sulfur stains my turquoise bikini. We both struggle swimming back to the boat, laughing and scrambling to keep up with the others, and when we get into the Old Port, take the cable car to the top of Fira town (3,50 euro per person). We board the next bus to Perivola, another black sand beach. After we’ve been in the sun long enough, we hop on the next bus towards Fira, but get off at Santo Wines, a local winery. We shared 6 tastings and a cheese, olive, and bread platter (6,50 euro), and get pleasantly tipsy as we watch the beautiful sunset. After realizing there are no buses for nearly another hour, we grab a taxi back to Fira (8 euro), and get dinner with lousy service along the caldera. Feeling like we had enough to drink earlier, we head to bed.
Day Seven, Thursday, 8 September
Get crepes for breakfast, and then head to the port for our 11:10 ferry to Mykonos. Of course the ferry is late, but we get to our room at Paradise Beach and Camping (1 full bed, 1 single bed, 60 euro per night). We immediately change into our swimsuits and lunch on the beach from the fantastic and affordable on-site restaurant. We swim for awhile, and listen to the music from the ocean and our towel. With many others, we dance in the ocean until we’re tired, then head to the bar, where people are dancing around the floor and on top of the bar right next to the DJ. Free shots were offered, and drinks made with fresh fruit were 7-8 euro.
After getting drunk before 7 p.m., we headed to Mykonos Town to get dinner. Mykonos Town is comprised of streets that are quite confusing – the town was designed as confusing so pirates would get lost. We eat at Niko’s Tavern, and see a pelican standing right by our table. The shops were all open as we headed back to catch the midnight bus to Paradise Beach.
Day Eight, Friday, 9 September
Trevor is determined to get the free breakfast, so we drag ourselves out of bed at 10 a.m. We go snorkeling (25 euro, one hour) from nearby Tropicana Beach (the next beach over) where Trevor, my marine biologist boyfriend, points out the names of the different fish, and even an octopus. I concentrate on not getting eaten by sharks I don’t see.
We lunch at the restaurant and spend the rest of the day at the beach, sunning and swimming. When happy hour starts at 5 p.m., we gather our free shots and dance in our bathing suits on top of platforms until our limbs ache. We force ourselves to take a nap so we can have enough energy for the closing party of Cavo Paridiso. We nap until 2:30 a.m., as clubs in Greece open late. We walk to nearby Cavo Paridiso, pay the 15 cover charge (including one free drink) and prepare to be wowed. The music is okay, the drinks expensive, but the view amazing. We leave after seven a.m., and arrive back at our room just in time for breakfast – hold the caffeine.
Day Nine, Saturday, 10 September
We spend the day on the beach, eating and drinking and napping. We catch the bus to Mykonos Town around 6 p.m. to get ferry tickets to Athens for the next day. All of the ferries are booked, except for the one at 1 a.m., and we inquire at six different travel agents, ask about flights, and finally get tickets to Rafina (17 euro each), an hour’s bus ride from Athens. We eat dinner at Pelican Restaurant and play with some of the many stray cats of Greece. We wait for the 9:30 p.m. bus back to Paradise Beach which never arrives, but befriend a group of friendly Ozzies. They are going to the White Party as well, and we give them the skinny on Mykonos. When we get back to our room, we nap until 1 a.m., and then go to the party merely steps from our room. The music is cheesy, but we dance anyway in our white shirts (the only white we brought with us) around others wearing white – someone has fashioned a white sheet into a toga, and someone else pinned a bunch of white towels together to make his outfit. We drink on the beach, dance on the platforms, and lounge on all-white beds on the beach.
Day Ten, Sunday, 11 September
We drag ourselves out of bed in time for the free breakfast, and are glad for caffeine. We pack, check out, and leave our luggage in the reception area while we head to the beach. We tan and drink Paradise Island Cocktails and Long Island Iced Teas on the beach (staff deliver drinks right to your towel!), and eat lunch. We take the Paradise Beach shuttle to the port, and get on the extremely crowded ferry to Rafina that takes an extra hour and a half and makes me crankier than I’ve ever been. From Rafina, we grab the bus to Athens, which deposits us in the middle of nowhere. We brilliantly hail a cab, which costs us .30 cents more than the metro would’ve cost us – and takes us a lot less time. We shower and head to Byzantio for our final Greek dinner. I savor my last Greek baklava.
Day Eleven, Monday, 12 September
We wake up early to do last minute souvenir shopping. We wander around the streets, ignoring the aggressive wait staff trying to drag us into their restaurants. I grab a cheese pie for the plane, and we hop on the metro to the airport. We both feel sad leaving, but know we’ll be back. Greece is just like that: once you get it in you, you can’t help but want to go back.