So the task of researching and exploring the internet for must see “bucket list” places to visit consumed us after we got back from Africa. My husband and I decided right then that we would try to take an international trip at least once every year, if it is The Most High’s intention. We began to think of places that we have seen online that we just HAVE to see, and Greece came up. After searching Google for “things to do in Greece”, and seeing all of these beautiful pictures of Santorini and Mykonos, there was no question that a trip to Greece would be our next big international trip! Hubby almost immediately started doing the necessary research, because if it is one thing that his family is known for, it is planning trips and events months, sometimes years in advance. That’s one of the reasons I love him so much, because he is always on top of things like this.
Needless to say, after a year of saving, planning, emails, bookings, research, and so forth, the day arrived for us to leave for Greece, and to say that we were so excited was an understatement. Of course, there was always the chance that COVID could rear its ugly head and have Greece close their country to the United states, but The Most High saw that it was good for us to visit another place on our bucket list, and we are so blessed and grateful.
The flight from New York to Athens was an overnight flight, around 8 and a half hours. We are always impressed with American Airlines and their attention to detail and professionalism, and they did not disappoint this time. After a wonderful flight, we landed in Athens, Greece where we were able to catch our connecting flight to the first of our destinations, Santorini. We would come back and spend a week in Athens towards the end of our trip.
You guys, I was not READY for how beautiful Santorini is!
These are views from our balcony and roof top of the hotel we stayed in for the week in Santorini. The name of the hotel is The Reverie, located in Firostefani. I would give them 10 stars if there was such a thing. The warmth, hospitality, convenience to everything was top notch. I definitely recommend them if you ever visit Santorini. The roof top sunsets were OMG absolutely EVERYTHING! Honey, I didn’t know if I could take it all. But I somehow managed to survive.
Since the hotel was central to almost everything, we set out to explore the immediate surroundings and grab a bite to eat before calling it a night after a long day.
The next day, after an absolutely delicious breakfast on the balcony…
we set out to explore a little more of the Island. We took a stroll over to Fira, which is one of the main places for shopping, restaurants, and a big spot for tourists. It is only about a 20 to 30 minute walk from Firostefani, and the views were just magnificent. While there, we made a few purchases and tried our best not to get lost in the labyrinth of never-ending streets! Everywhere you turn there are shops, places to eat, drink, clothing stores, jewelry stores… everything you you could think of!
We even decided to make the trek by foot from Fira to Oia to see the sunset from one of the most picturesque spots on the entire island. This is about a 2 – 4 hour hike, depending on the number of rest stops, and how fast you are hiking. We took our time to enjoy to the fullest, some of the most breathtaking and beautiful views that I have ever seen. You guys, this hike was absolutely everything. There were moments when I literally could not tell the sky from the sea because they were both the same color blue!
We made the hike with enough time to get EXCELLENT seats to see the magnificent sun set into the sea. This seems to be a daily occurrence in Oia, for people to congregate to watch the spectacular sunset. Needless to say, it did not disappoint! Everything was freakin EVERYTHING… sitting with my husband and reaping the joys of our strenuous effort to get there. The challenging hike was well worth it to see this sight.
The next day, we rented an ATV to go exploring around more of the island. I am glad that we did our research and purchased an international drivers license. Our hotel gladly help us set up the 24 hour ATV rental the day before. We used the ATV to explore some of the many beaches of Santorini!
After the beaches, we went and did a tour of Santo Wines and also partook of one of their wine tastings. The package we purchased consisted of 5 wines and each one seemed like it was better than the previous. It is only by the grace of The Most High that we made it back to our hotel safe and sound. The wine was FANTASTIC!!! WHEW!!
For the last of our stay on Santorini, we took a boat tour out to the active volcanic island of Nea Kameni. The views as we were sailing towards our destination were INCREDIBLE. We only chose to hike up half of the volcano, but the views from the island were just beautiful.
Look at me and hubby enjoying the ride back to the port AFTER we got a chance to swim in the HOT SPRINGS! The springs were just outside of the volcano. The boat could not get too close, so we had to jump into the chilling sea and swim over to the hot springs. It was kind of weird being surrounded by cold, crystal clear blue water one minute, then suddenly being surrounded by hot, brown, sulfurous water! It was definitely amazing to swim in the Aegean sea.
After we got back from our excursion and cleaned up, we went out to our last dinner in Santorini. I can honestly say that EVERYTHING that I ate was absolutely delicious. The dish below is Salmon and pasta in a creamy white wine reduction sauce, and let me tell you… It was so good I wanted to hit someone. LOL. It was the perfect ending to a spectacular time in paradise.
After our 5 day stay in Santorini, we take the sea-jet over to the island of Mykonos. The sea-jet is THE WAY to get between the Greek Islands. Highly recommended.
We booked a room at the Damianos Hotel, and the owner personally came and picked us up. You guys, when I say that the Greeks know how to show a person some warm hospitality, they went above and beyond to make sure that we were not wanting for anything, that we understood everything, that we knew how to get around… the service was just amazing.
Here is the view from our balcony at our lovely hotel. We chose hotels that were central to the happening spots, and the main areas so that we could walk and explore instead of use public transportation and taxis. Therefore we wasted no time getting out to explore Mykonos Town. If it is one thing that I can tell you about Santorini and Mykonos, it is that you better be in good shape! The stairs and the hills can be brutal… especially after you have had a few drinks and are headed uphill back to the Damiamos hotel.
Mykonos is just as picturesque as Santorini. I was not prepared for the WIND! Mykonos is very windy… and full of CATS! I have never seen so many cats in my life! If you are a cat person, you will definitely get your cat fill in both Santorini and Mykonos. Especially Mykonos!
Nevertheless, we explored the city and was able to see some pretty amazing sights, including the windmills. This was definitely one of the main photo opportunities for all of the tourists, as well as the shore line. One thing I can say about Mykonos is that it is definitely a party island. There are clubs all over that cater to any and all groups and genres. The food is first class as well. I was not into Greek food before I visited Greece, but now I can say that I am definitely a FETA Cheese fan! OMGGGGGG the baked Feta was everything that I have ever dreamed of and imagined. It was soooooo good. The seafood as a whole was just top class. There really is no bad choice for your appetizer or entrée because it is ALL Good!
Mykonos is known for the beaches as well. There are so many beaches, we could not visit them all. We did visit Elia beach (our favorite, and I will tell you why in a second), Paradise beach, and Super Paradise beach. We had to take the city bus to get to Elia, and a private bus to get to the paradise beaches. Paradise and Super Paradise beaches are your more up-scale beaches featuring private cabanas and servers at your every need. Elia is EVERYONE’s beach, young, old, gay, straight, fat, skinny, you name it, and you will see it at Elia beach. And certain areas of the beach are clothing optional. The only thing I will say is what happens in Mykonos, stays in Mykonos… LOL. When in Rome… *eye wink*
Our last leg of the trip, we flew back to Athens. There, we stayed at the Athens Gate Hotel, again being central to all of the archaeological sites and very easy to get around by walking. The hotel was STUNNING and the best feature of all is that it is literally feet away from the acropolis!
What a treat you guys… We explored several ancient archaeology sites including the acropolis, the Parthenon, The Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, & The Temple of Zeus. The Parthenon was as awe inspiring as you would think. Being fascinated by Greek Mythology, I was absolutely in heaven. It is amazing that some of these structures are still around! I must say that a lot of effort goes into preservation and conservation.
After exploring the ancient sites, we explored the rest of the city including the flea market, the Royal Gardens, and we even got to see the changing of the guard. The Royal Gardens are absolutely beautiful.
The last portion of our stay in Athens consisted of us exploring more of the city, browsing the different shops, eating amazing food, and lastly taking the funicular railway up mount Lycabettus to the very top of Athens to be blown away by the 360 breathtaking views.
I can honestly and truly say that Greece does not owe us anything. We did everything that we had planned and we now have memories for a lifetime. I would LOVE to go back to Santorini for a week or two, to just let the stress go and relax. After we have checked off a few more of our bucket list vacations, Santorini would definitely be worth a return trip. What can I say… I fell in love with Greece.
Thanks Greece for your hospitality and a WHOPPER of a vacation.