The Land Of the Gods: Morir Soñando Visits Greece
First let me put you on to how we even got to Greece. One of the best things of social media is following accounts that inform you about great deals and one of them is @Suzzstravels on IG. She posted a Emirates deal and when I checked it out I saw round trip flights to Greece for $392! I couldn't let that go so I jumped to it along with 8 of my friends. We opted out to go for Spring March 2018 and we couldn't wait for the day to come. It was the perfect time to take a break from work and NYC's endless winter.
Throughout our research for this trip we realized how big Greece is! Greece has over 200 inhabited Islands, each with something special. Most popular ones are Santorini and Mykonos.The other shocker is that these islands are not small and each have a lot of stuff to do! We were going for 8 days and apparently that was not enough time. Opting to relax and enjoy ourselves we chose to focus the trip on the city center Athens and the island Santorini.
Unlike New York and other popular cities that have year round tourism, Greece has a set tourist season that stretch from beginning of April until October. We went at the end of “off-season” but during Spring Break for a lot of abroad student so the crowd was perfect for us.
We split out time first 4 days in Santorini and last 4 in Athens. We flew into Athens and took connecting flights to Santorini which is 45 minutes away by air. This called for a long day of flying but totally worth it to start the trip seaside.
As for accommodations in Santorini we stood in Summertime Villa Hotel and in Athens we booked 2 apartments in the city center both through Booking.com.
After much air travel we began our Greek adventure in Santorini. We arrived late at night, refreshed ourselves, and headed out to see what would be open. First stop was Slouvakis for some Gyros. We the second time we came back for more of that the lamb gryro is the way to go. Slouvakis is open late and great for a quick but fulfilling bite. The place was filled with people who were out drinking or about to start their night. The locals were friendly and directed us which way to go. We found Two Brothers Bar just a short walk away. Two Brothers became our local bar. The service made us feel welcomed, DJ was *insert heart emojis* and the music was really good! The crowd was a mix of locals and visitors but everyone was dancing and having a great time. It was so good we came back 2 more nights after!
Despite the unexpected late party night we started our first full day in Santorini bright and early. We had breakfast at Pelican Kippos and headed to the seaside of town to see the stacked houses. Unfortunately off season also meant cooler weather so it was a chilly cloudy night where the weather was in control of our view. In order to get a feel for local living we headed to the highest point of Santorini, a town called Pygros. We took the local bus for just under two euro. It was a great ride with scenic views of country life in Santorini. After strolling around and taking countless pictures we headed Santo Winery for a tasting of the famous Santorini Wine. We had tasting the options of 8, 12, and 16 tastings in which they choose which wines you get and it comes paired with snacks. Santo Winery was really hospitable and welcoming, even got us our cabs back into town. One of our best dinners was that night at a local restaurant Mepaki Meraki recommended by one of the Santo Winery employees. We ordered a bunch of great appetizers to taste local cuisine. Fried cheese, spicy cheese sauce, hummus, fried tomatoes, Greek salad, and so much more.
As our adventures continue the next day we rented ATVs so we can get around the island easier. For 18 euros we rented four wheelers for a full day. We started our ride to Red Donkey Brewery to have some great local beer. We had a free tastings and bought some to take back with us. We visited Ancient Thira, an antique city on top of a mountain ridge. Now this took effort. The ride is scary both up and down the winding hills. In addition, it is a very high altitude location. Not for those afraid of heights. It also takes a lot physically so we opted out going to the very top. We rode as far a we could. Then we headed to Kalamari Beach to see the Red Sand beach. All great locations for pictures! Just don't try to get too close to the water. I unfortunately almost was swept away for my adventurous ways. Right by the Red beach we had a Seaside dinner at Taverna Glaros. A little restaurant viewing the ocean where someone's grandmother serves you in an extended dining room from her home.
Our last day in Santorini we went out to the town Oia. Although off season and many shops were closed the view made it worthwhile. The white homes against the blue sky were breathtaking. We found a cute coffee shop and had lunch and drinks before heading to our flight to Athens.
Santorini is a very romantic place. It is a city in the body of an island. I enjoyed my time in Santorini especially due to the people visiting at the same time we were but let me tell you a little bit of how I fell in love in Athens...
If there was a series of how the Greek Gods were to live in modern life... Athens would still be the location. Athens still has the old school antique vibe yet it has been mixed with a modern coolness. Grecians make you feel the essence of Europe.
We arrived late in the evening but the city was alive. We went out for a walk by our apartment to be surprised how close we were to it all. So many cool shops, restaurants with outdoor heated seating, street vendors, the metro, and bars. Next morning was Greek Independence Day from the Turkish and also Orthodox Annunciation Day so all the locals were on Holiday. We walked the people filled streets towards the Acropolis Museum which was free due to the Holiday. We visited the National Gardens, a local church, the charming neighborhood of Plaka, and we got to see the ceremony of the changing of the Guards. It was the perfect and budget friendly way to spend the day getting a taste of Athens when everyone was out having a great time.
One thing I noticed when going away is that as a New Yorker we are spoiled with great food options. We can have any cuisine we want so when we go away it is easy to bore our pallets eating the same type of food. This was our dilemma on this day. Although very yummy we were a little over the Greek cuisine and wanted something different. We found a nice Mexican Restaurant, Coyoacan, to shock our pallets back into life. Next day we decided to do the ruins that were closed the day before due to the Holiday. We visited the Acropolis, which was breathtaking, and it was great to mingle with other travelers who shared their knowledge about the ruins. After, we had arranged a private bus to take the group on a 5 hour trip to Cape Sounion to visit the Temple of Poseidon. Greece is full of these temples and I was really glad we got to see them up close. It makes you wonder how something so magnificent and huge was built in a time of very little constructional aide. All that man power!
Our last full day in Greece we all split up and took our time to embrace what we had learned from our trip. I opted to go for some light shopping, got a tattoo, visited an art location with a garden style bar, and then ended my day at Brettos, the 2nd oldest bar in Europe. We all had noodles from an Asian fast food place and drank our last bottle of Johnny Black back at our apartment. From this trip I loved that we had many nights where we would end up just back at our apartment to talk and share so many great stories. It was the dynamic of our group that made this trip even more special.
I would definitely love to return back to Greece. I think I probably will love it more in better weather. I like the coolness Greece had. I am not sure if it is all on my travel team but Greece was a lot of fun. A lot of laughter and carefree moments. I like the ability to look up and see old world while standing in Modern Day. It was a well rounded adventure that allowed you to embodied the Greek God or Goddess you wish to have been.
til' our next adventure...