July 8, 2017. Slight groggy, perhaps even still a bit inebriated from the night before, Amanda and I head off on our first adventure across the pond. Our destination, which I’d withheld from her until the evening of our wedding, was the Greek Islands and they did not disappoint!
They say an adventure is not truly an adventure until something goes wrong. In typical fashion, our trip started out as an “adventure” almost from the get-go. A delayed flight from Boston to Paris, not to mention the lack of customs agents at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, caused us to miss our connection from Paris to Athens. This, in turn, caused us to miss our ferry to Santorini…what a great way to start your honeymoon! But after 48 hours of travel, several delays, a few stops to the only local tavernas we could find in Pireaus, and one creepy bunk mate on the ferry, we found ourselves in a cab on our way to Oia, Santorini.
Santorini is unlike any place I’d ever seen. Huge rock cliffs plummeting hundreds of feet into the Aegean Sea, flora consisting of vines, grapes, and multicolored flowers that seemed to have no regard for the houses and buildings it engulfed, and of course, the famed white washed churches with their blue domes made Oia the most beautiful town I had ever seen.
Since our delays caused us to miss a half day in Santorini (major bummer) we had to pack a lot into a condensed amount of time. Our first day we mostly walked the streets of Oia exploring the various shops and cafes, taking in the breathtaking views of the town and the sea (oh and removing the spikes from the sea urchin I missed while swimming to a cliff jumping spot I’d spotted on our walk down the “the beach”). Day two was arguably one of the best days, not only in my travels, but of my life.
We started off by cruising the caldera aboard a small catamaran filled with all the wine, beer, and Greek food we could handle (this was also the day I neglected to bring sunscreen…not a good idea when you’re in Greece in July). After we’d had our fill of food, wine, and snorkeling, we made our way back to our room for a quick nap (this turned out to be the best way to combat a nine hour time change). That night we wisely took some recommendations from the locals for both dinner and our late night festivities. Our meal at Petros (best food we had in Santorini) was followed by some sangria at a local bar with one of the best views of the sunset we could find, something not to miss in Oia. Once the sun had set, we wandered over to a local taverna we’d heard about called Santorini-Mou. If there is one “can’t miss” spot in Santorini, this is it! Aside from the beautiful decor and inexpensive wine (of which we had more than our fill of) it was the experience that set this place apart. From the band that pulled us up front to offer us free champagne while serenading us under the moonlight to the waitstaff that had us fill out the honeymoon album, this place was absolutely AMAZING!!
On the way back to our room we were looking for one last stop before turning in and boy did we find a place! Marykay’s Bar was a little hole in the wall we’d walked past several times during the day but it turns out that Greeks are people of the night. With the music pumping, bartenders busy slinging cocktails, and a place so packed that people were dancing in the streets, this was THE place to be. Suffice it to say that dancing here until 2am with my new wife was a great way to end our time in Santorini.
Paros was a different experience entirely. Where Santorini felt like as if we were standing in the middle of a painting that had just come to life, Paros had a much more laid back island feel. On the water, cafes and tavernas lined the streets where as just a few block inland was Old Town.
By day, we spent most of our time exploring the islands countryside and beaches on an ATV we rented (of which there are plenty). At night, we took to the streets of Old Town and it did not disappoint. The best meal of our entire trip was at a little place called Dionysus. It’s was just what you think of when imagining an authentic Greek restaurant; a small, family run place with excellent food and wine, and service to match.
Back in Athens, I wanted to make sure we were able to explore some as much of the city’s rich culture as possible in the short amount of time we had available. I’m slightly ashamed to say that we did, briefly, jump on a city tour bus on our way to the Acropolis. Only having 24 hours in Athens, I can’t speak for the entire city but for us the old suburb of Plaka was wonderful. The Temple of Zeus, amazing views of the Acropolis, ancient churches, and cafes open all hours of the night made this a very enjoyable (and scenic) stop.
People often ask me if after visiting Greece or anywhere interesting for that matter, “Would you go back?” I think they’re often surprised when a smile comes across my face and I answer with a simple, “Nope.” That’s not to say that Greece isn’t absolutely beautiful or not worth visiting because it certainly is, without question. Greece has some wonderful traditions, an amazing history, and some excellent food. No, the reason I won’t be back is because I’ve already been there. It’s true there’s more to Greece than what I experienced in my seven day trip but I think of it like an appetizer. I was lucky enough to get a sampling of Greece but there hundreds, if not thousands, of other places in the world that are equally amazing. I won’t be able to see them all but as long as there’s air in my lungs, a few bucks in my pocket, and boots on my feet, I plan on getting to as many of them as I can!