About me, Lifestyle, Travel

The Beginner’s Guide to Greece

Hello Darlings!

Long time no speak; I have been incredibly busy these past months with planning and traveling. Toward the middle of May my family and I went on vacation to Greece. Now, I am no expert, seeing as I only went for two weeks, but I’m going to share my experiences and what we did during the duration of our vacation!

We started the vacation in Athens, Greece for one night. The first, being the night after a full day of traveling on a 10 hour flight from ORD to Athens airport. We stayed at the Intercontinental hotel which is a chain hotel that my family gets points from staying at. It was lovely and the people there were extremely friendly! In fact, everyone we met in Greece was incredibly friendly and welcoming. The intercontinental in Athens has over three restaurants and a FABULOUS buffet breakfast, (we were completely obsessed).

The day we spent in Athens we went straight up to the Acropolis. Our hotel was about a 15/20 minute walk straight to the Parthenon. It was absolutely magnificent and breathtaking for saying it was made in 440 BC. It’s crazy to think something so old is still in such great condition. Although it was raining the whole day we were there, the entire experience was amazing.

After a night in Athens at an authentic seafood restaurant in the Plaka District, we flew off to Santorini. We arrived to the most beautiful view and hotel I have ever seen in my life! The weather was magnificent opposed to Athens; sunny and warm. The hotel we stayed at was called the Petit Palace and it is located right at the top of the mountain of Santorini Caldera in Fira, Santorini. Throughout our trip in Santorini we realized that May was probably a bit too early in the season to go. Don’t get me wrong- it was still the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to, but the first and middle day we were there were the only hot days/warm days. Especially being on top of the Caldera mountain, it was extremely windy and cold. We definitely weren’t prepared what with the clothing we had brought, (so not so unfortunately we had to do a bit of shopping!) so if we went back we probably would go during the hotter months like July/August. The reason we did plan the trip around the dates we picked was because it’s right when the hotels and the town of Fira opens up for the season. It is the most quiet month of the season- even though there were still about 6 cruise ships into town during the days, (you can imagine how busy it gets during the busy time of year!). We did manage to sit beside the pool a couple of times on our time in Santorini; there are no sand beaches on this island.

Our stay in Santorini was still breathtaking- as thought out. We had brilliant views that you couldn’t get anywhere else, amazing dinner and sunset nights, and they had the greatest down town area in the center of Fira. In that town, on the third night of our stay, we went to an interactive “show” at the White Door Theatro which was essentially a wedding which we were a part of. The cast included us in everything; we were taught a dance, we got to eat and drink as the brides “side” of the family, and we even got to throw plates! The second to last day we were in Santorini we did a boat excursion to the old and new parts of the volcano which were detached from the main part of the island of Santorini in the hundreds BC. The crew of the catamaran were amazing and so warm and welcoming. Although extremely cold and windy as the sun set, the crew cooked dinner for us and we had an amazing view of the sun setting over the new “island” of the volcano. Lastly, in Santorini, we spent the night in Oia, the most beautiful part of Santorini for dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the sunset, (lots of beautiful sunsets!). Oia was  BEAUTIFUL; all marble footing, steps and buildings. There were tons of rich jewelry stores and shops with authentically well-made shops.

Following Santorini, we went to the beautiful island of Naxos. Being one of the smaller, most quiet islands, the weather was incredibly different being it being hot and sunny more than Santorini was while we were there. We spent the majority of our time on Naxos laying by the pool and beach sipping mojitos and pina coladas. When nightfall came, we drove into the Naxos town for gelato and dinner at cafe’s and little taverns. The differences between Naxos and Santorini are incredible. Santorini, still just a couple of hours away from Naxos, was so much windier and colder- mostly being because it’s more up on the mountains; Naxos is much more laid back. Santorini, I would say, is more touristy as Naxos is more “homey”. I would definitely go to both of these islands again!

In Naxos we stayed at the Medusa Hotel which is the only hotel actually on the beach. The hotel is family owned- the owner now’s parents actually created the hotel, decorated and landscaped it themselves. The hotel staff were incredibly professional, friendly and the light that they had within was inspiring! The pool area was landscaped perfectly being very green and earthy. They made it extremely tropical and inviting. My family and I shared two bungalows which were towards the back of the lot and the service we had gotten from the hotel was miraculous. In Naxos, we also saw Apollo’s Portara, or Lygdamis of Naxos, which essentially is the pride and joy of Naxos being such a sacred temple that the people of Naxos built for Apollo.

Upon leaving Naxos and coming to a close end to our vacation, we went to Athens again for two nights. This time in Athens we went to the majority of the Plaka District- not just the out skirts of it. The Plaka District was AMAZING. The inner-city feel of Athens was so different to any other city that I’ve visited. It was so warm and inviting and I got such a welcoming feeling from everyone we spoke to. The shops were a mix of authentic stores, vintage shops and souvenir shops. We had dinner in Plaka the first night at a small tavern-like restaurant that was outdoors in a stone and ivy covered courtyard, (pictured below).

In all, Greece, as expected, was amazing. The only downside I would say would be the weather most days and if we go again we’d probably go at a later time in the season. The people were awesome and the views were amazing on the islands. Our time spent in Athens was more inviting and exciting than I imagined and in all I had such a great feel for the city and country.

-From the enchanted mind of Sophie Salt-


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