We had the most amazing two week trip out to Greece. We’d been planning it since back in November and it was well worth the wait. Three islands, one capital city and 14 days of gorgeous weather, friendly people = our new favorite vacation destination.
Our trip started with an early morning flight from Berlin to Athens and then a 7 hour layover while we waited for our flight to Santorini. It was a long first day of uncomfortable semi-naps on airport benches and chairs, but when we arrived at our hotel (Pelagos) in Santorini that evening the stress of the day quickly began to disappear. The hotel was located in the famous town of Oia, but outside the central city area, meaning we had a lot of space, a big pool, beach access and killer views of the stars at night. Plus it was only a 5 minute drive or 40 minute walk to the famous Oia views. When we arrived Antonis (the super friendly and helpful son of the Pelagos’ owners) greeted us with a drink and then helped us hitch a ride with his parents up to main area so we could check it out and grab some dinner. We decided to walk home that evening, which turned out to be a little scary (for me) given that it’s a pretty steep downhill climb and streetlights are few and far between. but the view of the stars and Dave’s calm rationality helped alleviate my fears and we made it home where we promptly crashed.
Our first day in Santorini was relaxation all the way. We spent the morning lounging on at Paradise Beach- just a 5 minute walk from the hotel- which we literally had all to ourselves. The afternoon we spent lounging by the pool. In the evening we walked up into Oia to check out the views during the day and ended up having some frappes (the Greek term for iced coffee) on a gorgeous terrace overlooking the caldera. From there we joined the masses to take in the famous sunset and then sat down for dinner at a Greek Tavern with another stunning view. This time we opted to pay for a cab ride home.
We decided to rent an ATV for our next two days in Santorini. We were able to explore much more the island- trekking both days down to the south side to spend time at the Red Beach and White Beach. We drove out the lighthouse on the southern tip of Santorini for some magnificent views. We also stopped in the chic city of Fira to check out all the shops and the masses of cruise ship visitors. Our dinning highlight was Metaxi Mas– a delicious restaurant with extremely generous staff. Over the course of our meal we had a bottle of Raki (similar to Ouzo), a bottle of sweet wine, olives, cheese, bread and a brownie sundae all for free! This was to top off our delicious meal of beef, fried feta in honey and fava bean puree. Needless to say we were more than satisfied. We also made a trip out to the Santorini Brewing Company where we sampled some of their beers and picked up some bottles of pale ale and ipa (beers we miss greatly out in Germany!).
On Saturday we turned in our ATV keys and spent our last full day in Santorini exploring a bit more of Oia and hiking down to the waterfront. We traversed a long a “no trespassing” path Antonis at Pelagos recommended and were rewarded with a spot to ourselves. We were able to swim out to a small island with a church- which was cool in itself and gave Dave and opportunity for a little “cliff jumping”. The water was perfect and gave us a unique view of Oia.
The hike back up to the city was less pleasant than the hike down, but we opted not to pay for donkeys. We fueled up on frozen Greek yogurt and water before make a stop at Sigalas Winery. We took advantage of their tasting menu and indulged in some more fava bean puree (similar to hummus) before heading back to Pelagos and relaxing by the pool for the remainder of the afternoon.
Evening brought the start of the exciting Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations when at midnight everyone gathered to light candles, sing and light of LOTS of dynamite and fireworks. Following the midnight celebration restaurants reopen and families gather to enjoy the traditional Easter soup, Mayiritsa. Which is made out of sheep intestines. We didn’t partake, but people in the Greek Orthodox faith get very revved up when it comes to Easter traditions. It was a late night in Oia, but well worth it to witness the festivities.
We woke up early on Sunday, enjoyed a last delicious breakfast at Pelagos and headed to the ferry. We had originally planned to head right to Milos, but Easter threw a wrench in our plans and we ended up having to make an unplanned stop on the island of Sifnos due to the ferry schedules. We lucked out though and love Sifnos. We stayed in a great hotel called Margado and spent the hot afternoon reading, sleeping and swimming.
We continued our lazy afternoon with crosswords, beers and excellent views from our room’s deck. As evening rolled around we took showers and headed into town where we explored the port city of Kamares and enjoyed the calm waters at the local beach. We were the first guests for dinner at highly recommended restaurant Absinthe (the Greeks dine late), but our waiter was super friendly and gave us the star treatment. We had a long relaxing meal, sharing a couple bottles of wine and the sunset. We then enjoyed some ice cream cones on the beach and watched the local church’s Easter festivities- which included a parade, lots of bells and the giving out of bread to passersby. We finished our lazy day by turning early for a good nights sleep.
On Monday we had a relaxing morning in Sifnos before hopping a ferry to Milos. When we arrived in Milos we were rent with our rental car and promptly drove over to our hotel Nefeli Sunset Suites in Pollonia. It was perfect. Beachfront, quiet and beautiful. Our room had a huge deck overlooking the ocean with a small table and chairs and two loungers. We had a great lunch on our deck, hung out at the small beach in front of Nefeli and then watched the sunset. Post sunset we headed into Pollonia’s center (about a 5 minute walk or so) and enjoyed an amazing freshly caught seafood dinner. A couple of the local stray cats came over as soon as they smelled our fish, but we were able to subdue them and have a great romantic dinner out on the sidewalk.
The next day we set out to see the amazing beaches of Milos and we weren’t disappointed. Everything we’d read was true- Milos has the most beautiful, clear water I’ve ever seen. We spent all day exploring three different beaches around the island, plus a lunch break in the picturesque capital city of Plaka.
Wednesday brought our most anticipated activity of the vacation- a day long sailing cruise around the “natura” side of Milos. The western side of the island is under federal protection as a nature preserve and there are many beautiful spots not accessible by roads or only reached by water. Our boat cruise allowed us to visit some of those spots including Kleftiko- which was my most anticipated destination. We left port at 10:00 and were a little worried about the weather, which had been rainy that morning, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. There were about 20 passengers and 5 crew members aboard and we had the best time sailing around the island and hearing about it from our lovely, colorful guide Christof. We docked in Kleftiko and were able to snorkel through caves, take a small boat trip out to some more remote caves and spend the afternoon basking in the beauty of the island. Lunch was cooked on board and was amazing- so many delicious Greek specialties and some cold Greek brewskis as well. We sailed back around the island stopping once more for another quick swim before we pulled into port at about 6:30. From there we joined a British couple we met aboard for a few drinks before heading home again.
Thursday and Friday brought two more days of exploring Milos and taking advantage of her beautiful beaches. We particularly loved Agia Kiriaki and getting to spend more time at Sarakinko. Sarakinko really feels like you’re in outerspace; from it’s volcanic rock formations to it’s white clay walls. There is also a shipwrek off the northeast side of the area and we got to swim out and explore it a little with our snorkles. We also spent time at the Christian catacombs and finding the discovery site of the Venus de Milo. We read that there is a petition you can sign asking the French to return her to her home on Milos, but we didn’t see it. Additionally we enjoyed another amazing fresh seafood dinner of lobster and octopus at another local Pollonia restaurant. A couple of perfect days.
Saturday was our last day in Milos and we had all day as our ferry didn’t leave for Athens until 7:30pm. We took our car over to the nature side of Milos and drove down a pretty bumpy dirt road to check out the site of an old iron mine at Cape Vani. The road ended up being so bad we ditched the car with about a mile left of the drive and walked in. It was a really interesting site and like most of the other places we went in Milos- completely void of other people. After Vani we had one last lay out on a beautiful Milos beach before we stopped in Adamas for a little souviner shopping and an early dinner.
We were pretty bummed about leaving Milos because we hadn’t heard the best things about Athens and we had two days in the city before our flight back to Berlin. However, Athens turned out to be amazing! We stayed about a 20 minute walk from the Acropolis and the central tourist hub. Our day started of with our favorite Greek tradition- ice coffee/espresso…seriously Germany, get on board with the iced beverages! We spent Sunday morning at the Acropolis Museum (which was fantastic) and then the afternoon walking all around the city before heading back to the hotel for drinks on the rooftop patio and some tasty souvlaki and Greek salad from a little place around the corner.
Monday we got up early to avoid the crowds at the Acropolis and got a pleasant surprise when Dave’s EU student ID granted him free entry- another 12 Euros in our pocket! At 10 we left to meet up with a free walking tour, which was lead by a great Greek guide named George. It took us to a lot of places we’d seen the previous day, but gave us so much more information about the history of the city and some insights on his current thoughts about the state of Greece. Plus some fun Olympic knowledge:) We were really glad we opted to take the tour. After we dropped by the Greek Agora before it closed at 3:00 and then decided to rest our feet. For lunch we dined on souvlaki with a twist and enjoyed some of our final Fixes and Mythos. We then headed back to the hotel for a nap before making our way back to the Acropolis to catch it in the evening light. Then one final dinner out and then home to pack and hit the hay.
We had the absolute best time in Greece. We had perfect weather, amazing accommodations beautiful beaches and ruins at our fingertips and welcoming hosts. It will be hard to top this vacation. We’re back in Berlin now and getting back into the swing of post-vacation life. I’m sure we’ll be back to exciting things before long, but for now we’re content to take it easy for the next few weeks:)