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Published: August 12th 2007
It was time to escape London once more, and on the cards this time was a 15 day journey in the Greek Islands. Stacy for about the last 10 years has always wanted to go to Santorini - this trip took us there, along with another 3 islands.
The trip started smoothly. A midday flight out of Heathrow meant there was no mega 3am rush out the door - this holiday was going to be relaxing. After a delayed flight we arrived in Athens, were collected by the driver, and taken to our hotel for that night. We were asked by the hotel attendant if we had our vouchers. “Vouchers?” we replied. “Yes, the driver should have given them to you.” “No, the driver didn’t give us any vouchers”. She checked us in nonetheless and all was good. In the morning we would be on the ferry to Paros Island and living it up in no time.
Our driver arrived on time, and took us to the port. It was a chaotic buzz of people, cars, trucks, and abuse. Stacy went to the booth to collect the tickets whilst Erin guarded the bags. Stacy
was told that the tickets had already been issued to our company and that the driver should have given us our tickets (“our vouchers”)…Bugger! So we had no tickets, and the ferry left in 20 minutes. We had to think fast. So Stacy ran to the ferry company’s Head Office, which was up the road, to beg for new tickets to be issued. But it was all to no avail. However there was another option - sneak on! So, we grabbed our bags and made a b-line for the door whilst the ticket dude was preoccupied with the hive of passengers trying to board. But we were caught! And even Stacy couldn’t talk us out of this one. So there we were, day 2, and so close to the Greek Islands, yet so far. We decided under no circumstance were we going to get stuck in Athens suffering the 46 degree heat - no way! If there was one thing we weren’t prepared for, it was the heat. Greece was in the middle of a heat wave that was inflicting a scorching 46 degrees!
We were getting on the ferry. So, Stacy made another rush to the ticket booth to
buy new tickets, only to be told that the ferry was full - except 1st class. So, it was 1st class to the Island of Paros with 5 minutes to spare! Erin read her book, whilst Stacy slept on the floor of the 1st class lounge - so classy. Paros:
Whilst being popular amongst tourists, Paros is by no means a busy island. It is vast and rather desert-like. The small towns of Parikia and Naoussa are the only real hubs. We stayed just outside of Naoussa in the Chroma Hotel. Naoussa was a great little fishing village / marina. The first night we dined in a little restaurant by the water. It was a Greek salad to get us into the vibe of Greek cuisine. Partner this with a chilled light red wine, a dipping sun, and our first night on the islands had set the scene for what was to be another sensational 13 days.
As most of the islands are quite large, it was necessary to hire wheels so you could explore to find the isolated beaches, the perfect view or the best beachside restaurant. The 1000cc beast (with a/c) was our
vehicle of choice - at 30 euro/day we couldn’t go past it.
Staying out of the 46 degree heat was the name of the game whilst we were on Paros. We spent the days going from beach to beach, swimming, spending limited time in the heat, and dining in beautiful restaurants. The most memorable was our night at the clifftop restaurant where we sat enjoying a few drinks, eating great food, whilst waiting to catch a glimpse of the amazing sunset. We also met a great couple from the States (Tara and Cliff) who we dined with the following night at the Magaya Beach Bar.
Paros was a beautiful island, but paled in comparison to what was to come. Mykonos:
There are two words to describe this island: Fun & Expensive! We stayed in the Olia Hotel, right on the water in front of the international cruise liner port. Once we settled into our hotel we took off to get wheels. We picked up a brand new double seater 50cc scooter (much to Erin’s dismay - though she did kind of enjoy it once she got used to being on a bike). We went in
to the Port of Mykonos to take in the atmosphere of a town that was just buzzing. The shops were ritzy, the bars were flashy and the drinks were bloody expensive (10 euro beers!).
The next day we took a long journey across the island to a beach called Super Paradise. The roads were rough and very windy, and there was only one way in and out of this place, which was right at the bottom of the cliffs - but it was worth the effort. This isolated beach is the place where the action happens. There is a bar on the beach (with a pool and dance floor that cranks out the music), beautiful white sand, perfectly clear warm waters, and many people dressed in their birthday suits. Erin took a swim down the beach to take it all in…
Stacy had his 30th celebrations whilst we were at Mykonos - and celebrate we did. The clubs didn’t open till midnight, so a late night/early morning was on the cards. We ended up going to a huge nightclub and partied till 5.30am, even though we had a ferry to catch the next day to Santorini. Needless to
say the trip on the ferry brought with it a little sea sickness. Santorini:
We arrived a little hungover, but the site of the island from the boat was staggering enough to have us off the floor to peer up at the cliffs that rose instantly from the waters edge. This island was absolutely breathtaking.
We stayed in the Nikolas Hotel, just out of the main town of Fira. Again, once we were settled it was off to find wheels. This time we found a 50cc quad bike. Erin was stoked that it had four wheels - that was until Stacy proved that it could in fact ride along on two!
It ended up being Stacy’s nightmare as its top speed was only 40km/h, and it was so piss weak that Erin at one point had to get off it so we could continue!!!
We spent our first night celebrating Stacy’s 30th birthday at a beautiful poolside restaurant perched on the cliffs edge. We shared the restaurant with only one other couple, who happened to be Australian. In time we realized that this wasn’t surprising as every second person on Santorini seemed to be
The next day we journeyed on our four-wheeler to Perissa and Perivolos. This beach had black volcanic sand, and it sat right at the base of a cliff. We stayed about an hour and then took off to Kamari where we stayed for a swim and some lunch. Stacy ventured to the end of the beach to climb the cliffs and jump from its heights just like a 10 year old kid (remembering now he had just turned 30). We were also witness to a dog that decided to chase a ball that was being blown 1km out to sea!! A girl with flippers then decided that the dogs life was in her hands. So it was into the water Baywatch style for her. 1 hour later they reappeared as the girl swam on her back, with the dog on her chest. The dog had been saved!
That night we headed to Oia (at 40km/h) to watch the world renowned sunset from the clifftops. We grabbed some wine and settled in with a million other tourists to watch the sun do its thing. It is easy to see why this spectacle is so widely recognized as
the most picturesque sunset in the world.
The following day we took a boat cruise around the caldera, trecked around the volcano (a lava island called Nea Kameni), and swam in the hot springs at Palea Kameni. Whilst in the hot springs Erin rubbed the therapeutic mud all over her whilst stating, “do you know how much you would normally have to pay at a beautician for therapy like this?!” One thing we were sure about is that at a beautician, they clean the mud off you properly so it doesn’t ruin all your white clothes…….We also had a fantastic seafood lunch right on the waters edge whilst feeding the fish our bread.
The last day at Santorini was spent chasing Stacy around the Island as he ventured to capture that ‘perfect Santorini photo’. Naxos:
Naxos is a beautiful Island. It’s chilled out, more family oriented, cheap and heaps of fun. We stayed in a beautiful hotel called the Naxos Royal. It was 100m from the beach, had a huge pool and a great bar.
On Naxos there were no laws about a 50cc bike being the maximum you could hire - so
this time we got a 300cc quad bike, and treated it like we had stolen it! We blasted through sand dunes, did doughnuts till we were dizzy on dirt roads and that was just Erin!!!
Day 1 we took a massive road trip around Naxos (which was about 150km of full-on windy roads). We stopped in a little village called Appalonas where Stacy climbed Kouros Applolonas (a giant statute), and we bought ourselves a nice marble carving. The rest of the trip was a great adventure, which included getting very lost.
That night there was a big fat greek wedding at our hotel, so we abandoned our room for the beach bar and proceeded to order 6 cocktails in the last 5 minutes of happy hour (well worth it).
Diving was on the agenda for our last day in the islands. We just did an introductory dive, however we saw starfish, held sea urchins and cucumbers, dodged inking octopus, and swam through schools of fish.
The Cyclades is an amazing destination that will definitely be on our list of favourites.
Santorini was the most spectacular; Mykonos was the hostess with the mostess; Naxos was the most
chilled; and Paros was the bloody hottest place in the world (the heat wave may have had an impact on our opinions on Paros). Athens
To get home we had to go via Athens. Touring this hectic city was not the best way to end a chilled out island hopping adventure, however we made the most of the 40 degree weather and hauled our asses across Athens to see the Acropolis, the Theatre of Dionysos, Odeum of Herodes, Hadrians Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Greece was amazing. We would recommend the Greek Islands as a place to relax (or party), swim, get a tan (or get burnt), and enjoy fine cuisine.
So for now it is back to the grind (and parties) of London until our next adventure.
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