The 2018 GREEKLIPSE! Vacationing in Greece
Like many of the other things I've written about on here, this trip was birthed from a flight deal that I, and many others, caught back in the summer of 2017. I booked the $390 roundtrip direct flight on Emirates for my friend and I, and then posted about it on social media. Come to find out, many others booked the same deal, and a great portion of them booked the same dates as I. So, I started a Facebook group to start planning and collaborating, and the rest was history. Note: The Facebook group is still available, and is a great resource for anyone planning activities for a vacation in Greece. Search "Catch Us in Greece."
I've been to Greece before, however, it was when I was on a cruise, and I didn't get much time to explore the cities and islands. This time, however, there was an awesome fellow traveler (shout out to Kim Grey) who happened to be traveling on the same dates as I, and she took lead and planned an awesome itinerary! This included about 40 people. Now, I'm not big on group trips...they give ma an attitude, so I decided I'd opt out of the lodging accommodations, but would tag along to most of the activities planned. That was the perfect compromise for me!
So let's get into the trip!
We landed in Athens at 4PM, and immediately went through immigration and picked up our bags in time to catch our 6PM flight to Santorini. We had more than enough time because it seems Athens' airport is super efficient and there were no long lines at Passport Control. We even had time to chill in one of the lounges. Note: The Goldair Lounge in Athens is the best one. Our flight to Santorini was less than an hour. We checked into our AirBNB in the Megalachori neighborhood, and chilled out for a bit.
Though we were a bit tired, we headed out to the Thira area to find dinner, and meet up with some friends at a bar later. Unlike many, I don't really travel to various countries for food. I don't do much research, outside of the places people recommend to me. I have had pretty good luck with just walking in places in foreign countries and enjoying a meal. On this first night, we stopped at a place called Meat Corner Grill, and had pretty good gyros. We then walked around for a bit and grabbed a couple glasses of mulled wine from this outside bar overlooking the sea.
We met our friends at a bar called Two Brothers...a dope spot with reasonable drink prices, a hype crowd and good music.
On Day 2, we woke up and caught a cab to Oia...which is where the majority of "Santorini photos" you see online were taken. It's in the northernmost part of the island, and it's a great place to just walk around, take in the views, and get some pretty dope photos. We got up pretty early to go there because we wanted to beat the crowds, and because we believed this would be the only time we had to see it during the day.
Not pictured below: The agony I was experiencing from forcing myself to break in Birkenstocks in a city full of damn hills!
Next: Probably the best part of the trip for me...the sunset cruise! We had two boats booked for about 47 people. I opted to get on the smaller boat because I knew the majority of the people on that one, and because I like smaller, more intimate settings. *Whispers* The smaller boat looked more upscale and private than the other. I'm fake bourgeois so it was perfect for me, LOL! Of course I was equipped with my speaker and carefully curated playlist. When we set sail, the chef started cooking, and the party began!
That night, we went back to Thira for dinner, and met with friends at a Shisha bar called The Pure. I don't even like hookah (shisha) like that, and I know it's actually worse than cigarettes, but for some reason, I allow myself to partake when abroad. I regret posting snaps of me partaking though...that's mad corny...
On Day 3, we had some time in the morning before heading to our ferry to Mykonos, so we met up with friends who had hired a private driver to take us on a tour to see whichever parts of the island we wanted to see. We headed to the Red Beach (underwhelming and hella rocky), Profitis Ilias (the highest point in Santorini, Pyrgos, and Santos Wines. Our only regret is that we didn't have enough time to sit and relax at the winery, but we definitely took advantage of that six-glass wine flight!
The ferry ride was a bit choppy that day, but I'll take a ferry ride over having to go back to the airport any day.
Once we arrived in Mykonos, we transferred to our hotel, The Tropicana which is located right at Paradise Beach. Our room was perfect! Our view was perfect! Our balcony overlooking the beach was perfect! Note: When booking your room, make sure you choose one with the word "Deluxe" in the description. I believe that denotes the newly constructed and furnished rooms.
We spent the next couple of days relaxing and partying right at the beach. They start partying at 4PM every day and go well into the night. So, if you are looking for a relaxing beach, you either need to go before 4PM, or check out another beach.
For our last night on the island, we caught the bus to Mykonos Town to get dinner and watch the Cavs vs Celtics game at a coffee shop.
When in Mykonos Town, you'll notice that there are a few Souvlaki Story restaurants. ProTip: Go in! LOL. We got gyro platters, and I never say this...but it was way too much food. The taste was great and this was honestly the type of food I had been waiting for.
One of my favorite desserts is baklava. So, to have it in Greece was peak "MAMA, I MADE IT" for me. After dinner, we were looking for a place with a TV so we could watch the NBA playoffs. We stumbled upon this coffee shop (that ain't have no damn coffee) and saw that they had soccer on the televisions. We were the only people in the shop, so we asked if they could change the station. They obliged and we ordered our viewing treats LOL. I ordered the baklava and they served it in a way I had never experienced before...hot and with ice cream. Mind...BLOWN!
The ferry we took to set sail to Athens, our last stop in Greece, was a lot smoother. Most of us were exhausted from the "Party Island," though so it was a real quiet cruise.
So, Athens...the city in Greece that is most people's least favorite. The only reason many of us spent time here is because we were flying out of there to head back home. Last time I was in Athens, my best friend and I got scammed at a bar, so I already had a bad taste in my mouth. Be aware, there are a number of professional hustlers in Athens. Don't get scammed. Question everything and use common sense and you'll be good. For instance, if you get in a taxi that is not metered, ask for the cost of the ride before you get in.
Our AirBNB was awesome! It was located right in the city center, and walking distance from pretty much everything. Many of the popular restaurants and bars are located in the Gazi area, and our apartment was about a ten minute walk from there.
The main event in Athens, for us was the free walking tour (Note: you should still tip your tour guide. We tipped about 5€ to 10€ per person). Our tour guide was very informative and friendly. Make sure you wear really comfortable shoes...you will be doing a lot of walking and a great portion of it is uphill.
After the tour, my friend and I headed to the Acropolis. The ticket is 20€, and the climb to the top is not nearly as bad as it looks. It ain't a cake walk though. There are stairs. Just take your time and take in the views on your way up. Also, when you get to the top, take as much time as you want and get all the photos your heart desires. You deserve it after the climb. The rocks and pavement are very slippery. I was pressed to take a jumping shot, but please believe my butt cheeks were clenched like lever before, every time I landed! I got the shot, though!
For lunch, we caught a cab to Zorbas and had pasta on the waterfront.
To celebrate the end of our trip, everyone headed to Dirty Blonde to enjoy some drinks, shisha, and to dance!
ProTips for Greece:
- Most places accept credit cards, but to save time, it's great to carry cash. Use the ATMS
- There is no Uber in Mykonos or Santorini. Use cabs or personal drivers. You could also rent a car or a 4-wheeler.
- If a cab is not metered, ask the price of the ride before getting in the car.
- In Santorini, get a place in Thira if you want to be walking distance from the popular restaurants and bars.