Posted in Travel Adventures

Athens/Santorini/Mykonos

On the balcony of our tiny apartment in Oia, Santorini
June 2018

White washed, blue- domed buildings dangling above the Aegean Sea; twisty, narrow streets with bougainvillea clinging from buildings and ancient ruins keeping watch over the city; Athens and the Cyclades are all these things and more.

We logged time in both Athens and the islands of Santorini and Mykonos into nine days of bustling and busy as well as laid back and sun soaked. Here’s how we did it.

For all our travels, I make extensive itineraries with confirmation numbers, addresses/phone numbers and details referencing page numbers in the guidebooks I have poured over for months leading up to the trip. I find the itinerary making and planning part of the trip really exciting! For this trip and really all our trips to Europe we have relied heavily on Rick Steve’s Guidebooks. Purchase one, you will not be sorry.

Itinerary

  • Day 1-Departure
    • 10:45am flight to Athens with a layover in Toronto via Air Canada
    • Arrive in Athens on Day 2 about 9:30am
      • Purchase $8pp metro ticket. Take Blue line Metro to Monastiraki stop. Make sure to validate ticket before entering Metro.
  • Day 2- Ancient Athens
    • 2 nights at Tempi Hotel-Aiolou 6 near Agia Irini Square
    • Lunch: Souvlaki Row; Thanasis-page 174
    • Agora-commercial, political and social center of ancient Athens
Temple of Hephaistos; great views of Acropolis Hill from here
  • Acropolis Hill
    • $20 euro pp-entry to Agora, Roman, Forum, Parthenon, Temple of Zeus-valid for 4 days; see page 92
  • Acropolis Loop-page 48
    • Dionvsiou Areopagitou and Apostolou Pavlou
  • Dinner-at Arcadia (full disclosure: we went back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap before dinner).
    • Scott had the Mousaka-sort of like Greek lasagna and I had lamb chops. We also tried a small glass of ouzo. Ouzo is a traditional Greek drink with a black licorice flavor. We thought is was terrible, but I guess we can say we tried it.
  • Day 3- Modern Athens
    • Breakfast-pancakes with fruit and honey at Melilotos; steps from Tempi Hotel
    • Athens City Walk-page 68
      • Syntagma Square, Parliament Building, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Evzone Guards and Ermou Street
  • Greek Orthodox Athens
  • Old Town Athens
    • Arch of Hadrian and Temple of Zeus
  • Acropolis Museum-plan at least 2 hours here
    • $5 euros per person
  • Another full disclosure-we stopped at a street side vendor for a koulouri ring and a couple beers which we ate in a square near our hotel. Then we took another 2 hour nap.
  • Dinner-33 Adrianou
    • This time I had the Mousaka and Scott had orange chicken
  • Day 4-Santorini
    • 7:15am flight to Oia, Santorini
      • Thea Studios (2 nights)
    • Take bus from Oia to Fira-purchase ticket on the bus
    • Walk trail along Caldera back to Oia-11 km
      • Took us about 3 hours to walk with many stops for pictures like the ones below.
  • Back in Oia-walk to Ammoudi Bay
    • We rested a bit after the Caldera Walk before venturing down 250 steps to Ammoudi Bay.
    • We were rewarded with tasty drinks and some of the best seafood, including grilled octopus and shrimp saganaki at Fish Taverna.
  • Dinner-our later day Ammoudi Bay meal meant we weren’t really hungry for a big dinner so we bought a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers and just enjoyed the sunset and balcony at Thea Studios.
Our wheels for a full day of exploring Santorini
  • Day 5 – Santorini
    • Rent a “buggy” in Oia
      • First stop; Fira where we got a iced coffee and some breakfast before we explored the city and then walked down to the Old Port (alongside several dozen donkeys).
      • At the Old Port we grabbed a drink and a snack and then rode the cable car back to the top.
  • Continue “buggy” tour to Akotiri, the red sand beach. Dip a toe in the Aegean.
  • Next stop; Perissa and the black sand beach then back to Oia.
  • Dinner: King Neptune. Markos (from Thea Studios) had reserved a table with a sunset view for us here. We ordered the lobster spaghetti for two.
  • Ended the night with gelato at Lolita’s.
  • Day 6-Mykonos
    • Markos (from Thea Studios) arranged a ride for us to the port in Fira where we boarded a ferry to Mykonos. We arrived plenty early so we had omelettes at one of the cafes near the ferry dock. We had purchased our ferry tickets the day before in Fira when we were on our buggy tour.
    • After a 3 hour ferry ride we arrived in Mykonos town and snaked the windy streets to find the Carbonaki Hotel.
      • Carbonaki Hotel-Panachrantou 23 (2 nights)
    • Explore Old Town and windmills
      • We had appetizers and drinks at Sunset Cafe and then got a to-go drink to belly up to the sea wall to watch the sunset.
  • After sunset with took a nap and prepared for Mykonos nightlife. We joined the electric crowd at Scandanavian Bar for watered-down, over-priced drinks and thumpin’ music.
  • Day 7-Mykonos
    • Sleep in
    • Throw on a swimsuit and head to Paradise Beach.
    • Sit under a beach umbrella and waste the day away sipping drinks and taking dips into the sea.
      • We spent about 8 hours at the beach. The Tropicana Club started pumpin’ music and brought out the dancers about 4pm.
    • Dinner: Eva’s Garden
      • I had the mushroom chicken fillet and Scott the Greek meatballs. Best meal in Mykonos.
  • Day 8-Back to Athens
    • Take high speed Blue Star Ferry back to Athens (5 hour trip).
    • This time we stayed closer to Syntagma Square; Hotel Acropolis (1 night)
    • Last dinner in Greece: Old Ithaki. I had the beef skewers and Scott had lamb kleftiko (a dish of vegetables and lamb cooked in parchment paper over a pit fire). We also had one last cheese saganaki.
  • Day 9-travel back to Minnesota

Tips and Tricks

  • The Tempi Hotel in Athens is in a GREAT location, but lacks amenities. Like as in single beds lacks amenities and the bathroom was more like a closet. Price was right.
  • Don’t wear shorts in the churches. A little, old Greek lady chased me right out of there!
  • If I had a due over, I’d go to the Acropolis Museum BEFORE Acropolis Hill. We didn’t do that because rain was in the forecast and we saved the museum for a wetter day.
  • Our early flight to Oia meant we needed to be to the airport at about 5:30am. We walked from Monastiraki to Syntagma Square at 4am to catch a bus to the airport and surprisingly, I felt really safe.
  • Thea Studios was incredible! The balcony, the sunsets, the service are all so great. Markos arranged for pick up at the airport and transport to Fira for ferry to Mykonos.
  • If you eat the shrimp saganaki and you should, be sure to ask for it without the heads. Our waiter was kind enough to ask if we were Americans and clarified how we wanted the shrimp prepared.
  • Be prepared to wait for buses in Mykonos. You may need to be more aggressive than normal or you’ll find yourself waiting for several buses before your able to board. Frustrating.