I have been dreaming of visiting the Greek Islands since I was a teenager. I wanted to go when I first finished high school but of course I didn’t have any money as I didn’t have a job and there was no way mum or dad were paying for me to go gallivanting around the Greek Islands. Then I held out hope that in Uni I would go and I would find my husband, who would sail me around the islands forever and all I would do for the rest of my life was lounge on a yacht and eat cheese and bread whilst sipping cocktails never getting fat. I guess I still have that dream….Maybe on my next visit to the Greek islands I will find that husband of mine but for now here are my adventures
This island is super close to Turkey and was KK and mines first port of call as we were unable to get from Turkey (Kusadasi) to Mykonos in one easy move or even in one day. Now navigating the Greek ferry system is a nightmare the online websites suggested by all the travel books are crap! You need to book these things through a travel agent and the ones in Turkey refuse to deal with anything other than getting you out of Turkey. Even though I am sure they could book tickets for us or even just give us some information on leaving times from Samos to other islands. This really got my goat but wasn’t a big deal as it meant that KK and I got to enjoy this little slice of heaven for approximately 24 hours. A fun nerdy fact about Samos is that the mathematician Pythagoras was born there if anyone remembers learning about that during high school, it has to do with triangles and stuff. Samos was where I discovered the Greeks are crazy about cats and donkeys and love to put them on post cards, it is also one of the cheaper islands that I visited even if I was only there for the night. It was also a magical place as I could get coffee, real coffee after not seeing any the entire time I was in Turkey.
The first ferry that KK and I took between Turkey and Samos was nothing more than a rickety old boat thing and I was a little worried this was going to be what all ferries were like and I had heard horror stories of people sleeping on decks outside and how horrible the whole ordeal could be, plus I don’t have the best sea legs . I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case and our ferry to Mykonos was large and luxurious and there was no need for me to leave the comfort of the air conditioned cabin. I was also astounded at the proficiency in the loading and unloading of people from the ferry in record time, The Greeks have it down pat even if you do feel like cattle being sent off to slaughter when your standing at the ‘doors’ waiting for the ferry to dock. The ‘doors’ go down and you are greeted with endless blue skies and a million people trying to get you to stay at their hotel.
Samos for me was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders with leaving Turkey. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Turkey I was just always alert and a bit on edge wondering what was going on so my first Greek sunset sipping wine whilst delighting in olives, dip and cheese was magical and a moment I will remember for ever.
KK and I made our way to Mykonos to meet F-dog which I was very excited about as I was starved for news from home at this point in time and was just a wee bit excited to see my friend. It was a great reunion which involved much wine and then much more wine and chatting into the wee hours. We ventured into Mykonos town that evening and it was hectic and crazy with all the tight winding paved streets curving in onto each other and the starkness of the white against the black evening and the lights of the bars, restaurants and shops that don’t seem to close (other than in the middle of the day, when you actually want to shop). It’s a crazy place full of tourists and promoters trying to get you to go to paradise beach clubs. It was with this town centre that I fell in love. It was all that I imagined the Greek islands to be and I wanted to get lost in them forever. Ours days in Mykonos were spent wandering through town and lounging on beaches waiting for the sun to set so we could take some photographs, this seemed to be the theme on most of the islands.
I had expected to party pretty hard on Mykonos and don’t get me wrong I did drink hard and go out but not like I imagined. It was to my great excitement that Erick Morillo and Steve Aoki were playing 2 of the nights I was there but KK and F-dog were not the clubbing type and I wasn’t going to make them pay the £30 to see them. Though I wish I had stepped out on my own and gone as I love a good dance and this was what my adventure was all about stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the things I love when I want to. I guess I have not shed that part of me yet of going with the crowd when it is easier than going it alone. Next time I will know; do my own thing that’s why your on this adventure.
We did however one night venture to Paradise. We were told that Paradise was just a walk around the beach “about 20 minutes”. We were not told of the part that requires you to scale the side of a cliff in the dark a cliff mine you covered in prickle bushes. Along the way we may have interrupted a drug deal this wasn’t a complete shambles as the dealer kindly showed us the path off the mountain. Paradise is a great place to come if you are feeling down on your self as within minutes you are being harassed by boys ( I emphasize the use of the word boys) also you can dance on tables and generally pretend your 20 years old again. I had a fantastic time been if it wasn’t quiet KK’s and F-Dogs cup of tea. There was dancing and it seemed like a pre-requisite for all the boys to wander around without there shirts on and be very tanned and good looking both things I am completely fine with.
I will hopefully be returning to Mykonos as I really only saw a small part of it when I think there must be much more to it. Next time I am getting a quad bike!
From Mykonos we ventured to Ios with a brief stop over in Naxos. Where we were introduced to the Naxian Salad quiet possible one of my favorite dishes in Greece only surpassed by the brilliance that is the €2.20 Gyros. The Naxian salad is similar to a Greek salad but instead of feta it uses some delicious soft crumbley type cheese that is creamy in texture with a slightly sour taste, AMAZING!
In Ios we stayed at Princess Sissy, not named after the actual princess herself but rather the movie. It was in the perfect location of half way up the hill to the town and down the hill towards the beach. The hill was a bitch but all of the Greek islands are hill based and you just have to get the hell over it. It also provided some of the best sunsets from its roof top balcony that I saw whilst in Greece. Again our days were spent lounging, reading and wandering the town. We took a trip to far out beach and lounged and drank there for an afternoon. We ventured out in town one night. Again not normally my cup of tea the kinds of clubs they have but I say embrace the tackiness and your inner 19 year old (or just embrace a 19 year old) and have a good time. Dance be stupid and don’t worry if the music is bad, this is the Greek islands its meant to be tacky and full of Australians and Italians you just have to go with it and forget that you think your cool. Alternatively drink enough so you do forget your cool.
Ios had its own charm that was different to Mykonos the hills seemed more baron and the town was different as instead of being on the water front it was up in the mountain. Though still all blue and white I feel in love with his beauty as well and again would return.
A difficulty with traveling with 3 girls is that it can be hard to meet people. As instead of staying in dorms we stayed in triple rooms. Ot to mention we can be quiet a daunting trio as we are not know for being quiet, subtle or really having lady like conversations. triple rooms are also cheaper and allowed what was fondly referred to as the bag explosion to occur. F-dog was defiantly the winner of being ale to spread the entire contents of her bag from one side of the room to the other within 5 minutes of arriving. She also has a mad skill of being able to dry her hair and use her phone at the same time. If I tried this I would end up looking like a deranged poodle. If memory serves me correctly we not stayed in Ios 2 nights but honestly I have absolutely no idea anyone of how long I have stayed places or how long I have been away. My poor brain has turned to liquid from all the sun and table wine.
Next stop Santorini! The jewel in the Greek islands crown. We stayed out in Perrissa Beach which is where most of the cheaper hostels are (well really any hostels there are not many dorm rooms in Thira). Our humble abode for 3 nights was Katrina and Johns hostel. It’s a well put together place but not a lot of opportunity to interact with people. I am not sure if this was our fault or the place. Perrissa has a long, black sand beach which is lined with many restaurants and you would think a night life, however this is seriously lacking. If you are in the area I recommend eating at Tranquilo which has massive fresh salads and have a drink at the wonderfully 80’s inspired pub Dorians, where the cocktails list is heavy on drinks containing creme de month and blue curaçao and all €3 just how I like it.
I am not sure which morning it was but KK, F-Dog and myself decided it was time to do something healthy and go for a run and climb up and see ancient Thira which towers over Perrissa. The climb up the mountain wasn’t the easiest and we didn’t have any water with us but my the climb was worth it. Ancient Thira is one of the best ruins I have ever seen and in a stunning location. You can see for miles out into the ocean, it really does feel like you are on top of the world, the paths around ancient Thira are sometimes daunting as it is extremely windy up there and it was the first time this whole trip I was glad to have some meat on my bones to weigh me down to earth. As a small person would be whipped up, up and away never to be seen again. This day was also when we decided to hire quad bikes. The greatest mode of transport ever. Okay maybe not ever but so much fun getting around the Island on them. Our first adventure was around the half of the island that Perrissa beach is on we visited the monastery at the top of a cliff that was also near a naval base or something with a lot of radiation signs. Not really sure what was going on there. Attempted to visit Akrotrir ( a pre-historic settlement that had been covered in larva) but it was closed, took photos of the red beach and then made our way out to Faro to watch the sun set from a light house. Along the way we stopped at a tiny little store called the Faro Market to get some beers to watch the sunset and it turned out to had the most lovely woman running it who gave us wine to try and olives to taste and we watched tomatoes being sun dried. It was a fantastic little place that I would recommend to anyone exploring the island one motorbike to visit and purchase some of their homemade feta and dessert wine, delicious. That day we also visited Santos winery. Set up on a cliff with spectacular views of another island maybe the volcano just off the coast line. Also the wine was pretty damn good and at only €11 a bottle who could say no to taking one to drink later.
The next day we got back on our hogs and made for Thira and Oia, these are the two places you will always see on post cards for the Greek islands and there is a reason for that they are spectacular. The thing I did notice in Santorini and mostly in Thira was that it was all couples. I can see why it is one romantic place particular if you can afford to stay in one of the places that has a pool that juts out over the cliff face and room service. If and when I do go back I think I will stay in Oia. Oia is breathtakingly beautiful like Mykonos I love it’s winding little streets but the difference to Mykonos is it is high up on the cliff with an view of the volcano island ( I think that was what the view was of) I could have wandered those streets for hours but we didn’t have hours as we needed to get in position for sunset in a town called Imerovigli. I was given the hot tip to watch it from there instead of Oia from a friend on Instagram. Great tip. Less people than in Oia and we got front row seats in a nice bar/restaurant/hotel.
The next day was KK and F-Dogs last day on the Greek Islands before heading for Athens then on to Albania. To celebrate them leaving we thought hell lets get tits out on the beach. My first time ever topless sun baking, I don’t know if I will ever do it again. I just don’t think my girls are really meant to see sun. Honest truth not much of my skin is meant to see sun. I am white and being on this leg of the adventure has cemented the fact that I am really white. I was defiantly with my peeps in Ireland and Scotland, I almost looked tanned there. The beach we went to was really cool though and had this phenomenal eroded cliff faces (see pictures) I can’t remember it’s name but it was about a 15 minute quad bike ride from Katerina and Johns. It was sad to say my farewells to KK and F-Dog I had become quiet attached to our little threesome and our quad bikes. In doing so though I moved myself into a ‘hostel’ in Thira for the night. To see if it’s night life was any better and meet up with an acquaintance that would become a friend Miss Tee. The night life wasn’t much better but the hostel/hotel was. I was given a triple room and told I would have it to myself so I picked the bed in the middle of the room that was kinda like a double bed and set up shop for the evening. Lucky I locked everything up when I left the room as it turns out they did put someone in the room with me. She was ODD. So I was in bed when she came in and was nearly asleep and instead of going and sleeping in the bed under the window she got in right next to me. Right next to me in the weird double bed. FREAK! So I got up and moved to the single bed. Who does that who sleeps as close to a strangers as they possible can. So so odd. I left early the next day as I had a ferry to catch and really just didn’t want to see her.
I think in the end I spent 4 or 5 days here. I did have plans to move but I just couldn’t be bothered. The hostel was cheap there where nice people and I was just over moving. I again hired a quad bike and headed up into the mountains to visit some ancient sites etc, all I really succeeded in was getting lost but that didn’t bother me it was a good day and I had a ball riding around by myself. I the I was craving a bit of lex time, just chilling out and doing what ever I wanted. I did take one of my room mates out on the quad one day in search of other beaches and that was great fun. I also meet back up with Miss Tee and her friend Miss Gee as we planned our trip to Malta. We originally met in Olympos, Turkey and through discussions figured out we were both staying with the same friend in Malta at the same time, same flight. Small small world.
Naxos is a great island if you don’t want to feel like you are being over run by people and it also has amazing cheese. It was also a place where you could see the struggle of the Greek people in the wake of the GFC. There were so many boarded up shops and places going out of business. If you walked a few streets back there was nothing silence, emptiness and a sense that this used to be bustling with shops and people.
I was a little bit sad to be leaving Naxos and my time on the Greek Island ending, I had become quiet attached. I even had a coffee shop who knew my order. It was nothing on my coffee shop back home (Carlton Espresso) but nothing is the coffee the Italian men, well mainly the Italian men I miss my coffee boys. I digress, I was also apprehensive about Athens as everyone had warned me how horrible it would be and made it sound like I would be lucky to get out of there alive or at least with all of my belongings. I will though return to the Greek Islands one day and hopefully sooner rather than later.