Lastly, the Greek islands! I think this part of the trip would have been 100X better if I hadn’t done it via cruising. We only had three days to visit Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos and Santorini and in those three days, majority of it was traveling time. I would one day like to do a re-do of the Greek islands.
Overall, I would say Santorini was one of my favourite places I visited on this trip. I mean, I rode a donkey and drove an ATV (without killing or injuring anyone), that is pretty awesome.
After an early morning departure from our hotel in Athens, we began the 3 day cruise part of our trip. The cruise part was to visit the Greek islands that I have for so long (read: ever since I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) wanted to visit.
First stop, on the cruise was Mykonos, known for its nightlife (which we did not get to experience, more about that later).
Why I have decided this will likely be my last cruise (unless I’m going to the Antarctic to poke some penguins)
When you’re on a cruise, all you can really do is 1) nap 2) sunbathe by the pool or 3) swim in the pool then sunbathe 4) get drunk.
If you’re on a more classy boat, maybe there are other activities like shuffleboard.
Then when you arrive at the location, disembarking takes a long time, you only have a short amount of time there and you’re always worried about missing the ALL ABOARD time, thus the boat leaving without you. Had I had more time on the islands, I would’ve seen and experienced so much more but I felt kind of jipped by the time constraints. However, what I did enjoy were the buffets on the cruise — gluttony at its best.
Another bright side is that I didn’t get sea sick. I had bought a bottle of Gravol because I don’t do well on boats but I could barely feel the waves. I did get sick-sick because AC is on blast on this entire ship and it was freezing. I popped vitamin C like crazy to not get worse but I did end up feeling pretty crummy on day 2 of the cruise.
I learned after this 3 day cruise that cruises aren’t for me.
Got onto the cruise and set sail for Mykonos
Freezing and high winds but beautiful little town.
Had a baklava in a small little family run bakery. Ate another gyros. Saw the wind mills.
We only had about 3 hours there that evening, needing to get back to the boat for 10 pm, so not much we could do other than wander around the shops. It was a shame we had such a short amount of time there.
MMMBop in Mykonos!
Jun 29, 2012
While walking around the town on the island, came across a bar that was blaring MMMBop. Not gonna lie, probably the most surreal and awesome moment of the trip (me = fanson)
I was, and still am, rather “meh” about Turkey. We were only docking there for a few hours (7 am to around noon) so it’s not like we had too much time to explore. Plus what little of Kusadasi I DID explore, was all catering to cruise tourists seeing as it was a port town.
I checked out the bazaar, which was right outside the port, and good lord, I’ve never experienced such aggressive sales people before. If you don’t acknowledge them while they are trying to lure you into their store, they hurl insults at you. If you DO acknowledge them with a response, then you’ll be dragged into their store as they try to set you up with various counterfeit goods and t-shirts that say things like “Louis Vuitton” on them.
I also wanted to try a Turkish bath but that didn’t really happen.
Am getting/already am sick and it was particularly hard to get up for disembarkment. Also, roommate accidentally took my key so had a panic attack as I couldn’t lock the door and we didn’t have our stuff locked up in a safe. Thank god for our cabin stewardess, Zulema.
Went through the bazaar and holy crap, they are aggressive in trying to get you into their stores. Worse than in Hong Kong (who descend on you in packs and hover, giving you suggestions and help even if you never asked for it). And these store clerks hover beside you as you look at things but without saying a peep, until you engage. I ended up buying some apple tea drink just because the guy was all up in my face as I was looking at things.
I also crashed a random hotel’s continental breakfast (since I missed out on breakfast, long story) and got some free food! I was legitimately looking at the hotel’s spa and the whole “Turkish bath” thing and when I saw the breakfast being served, I thought “why not”. I already look like a tourist, might as well get a free meal out of it.
I think I got ripped off on some ice cream. Gave me barely 2 scoops (more like 2 teaspoons) for €1.50.
Patmos is an island that has a lot of religious significance. While technically I am Catholic, I am not really all that religious so the significance of the island didn’t really take hold of me.
It did have a pretty beach though.
Even though we didn’t spend much time on the island, I don’t really feel a yearning to go back again as I do with Mykonos and Santorini.
Sailed into Patmos, Greece
Not much to see other than a small beach (but I didn’t have my bathing suit on), some shops and religious things. Saw a lot of sad, stray dogs and cats, including at cat with one eye. Broke my heart not being able to bring them all home with me.
Had dinner at a restaurant near the shore and I had moussaka that was quite delicious.
Finally! The island I have been anticipating! The beautiful white-washed buildings, the right-out-of-a-postcard scenery, the beaches, the whole Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants thing…
We had from 8 am to 8 pm on the island (but of course, 8pm is all aboard time so realistically, we had until maybe 7 :30). The most time we got to spend at any given place while on the cruise, but still definitely too little time to really get to experience everything Santorini has. I want to one day go back and stay on the island for a few days.
We docked at 8 AM and we disembarked around 9 AM for the part of the trip I was most looking forward to, Santorini. Blame it on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but I always had a yearning to go to this island of white-washed buildings on a hilltop.
To get to the main part of the island, we had to go up a hill. You had three choices: walk up donkey poop covered steps, take a cable car or ride a donkey up. Obviously, I chose the donkey for €5. My donkey got easily distracted so I took some detours along the way until the donkey wrangler tied him up to the donkey in front. For the trip down the hill, I took the cable car instead – the donkey ride was very stinky. I felt bad for the donkeys, there were 100s of them just standing on the steps all tied up to each other without water and just waiting around.
I really wanted to go beaching but all the beach spots were far from where we ended up, in Fira. Pretty much all of us from the original group ended up renting ATVs for €20 (split between two people) and we drove south of the island to catch up with everyone heading to Perissa (which had the black sands beach). Obviously, we took a wrong turn and ended up on the west side of the island while Perissa is on the east side. Luckily we were still near a beach and so with the help of some really nice people along the way, we ended up at red beach. It required climbing through a rocky hill and the beach itself was very rocky with big rocks.
After finding other people in our group coincidentally on red beach, we followed them (they who had better directional sense) to Perissa where we ate lunch and chilled out on the black beach.
That was pretty much all we did in Santorini. When it came near to board the boat, I drove back to the port and the place to return the ATV (had numerous close calls on the windy roads and speeding traffic and me screaming “I HAVE NO TRAVEL INSURANCE!”). Found another place for frozen Greek yogurt and I got some, of course.
Definitely one of the best parts of this trip!
Stayed in Kallithea at an airbnb apartment
I’ve used airbnb before and had a good experience, so I figured I’d go that route again.
It was a nice and safe neighborhood and best of all, cheap. But no air conditioning so all the chocolates I bought (as well as some lip balm, polysporin, etc) melted in the heat.
Stayed here for 2 nights.
First day on my own in Athens
Jul 03, 2012
After the group disembarked the cruise, it was about 10am. But we were instructed to be ready to disembark for 7am so I woke up really early to get ready. That was futile.
Hung out in Everest (drinking another frappe, of course) and McDonald’s. Then trekked over to my airbnb host’s place, which was a feat in and of itself. Luckily, I asked many people and they were more or less able to point me in the right direction. But due to text messages not working, I had to call my host and it ended up costing $13 :/
After resting a bit at the apartment, and after eating a gyros (ate way too many on this trip) with my host, I walked around close to where I was staying. I found the fish spa place and had my feet and hands nibbled on by the fish. Cost €15 for 30 minutes but I got way more than 30 mins.
Then I went back and to bed since I was up since 5:30 am to disembark the ship.
Last full day in Athens/end of my vacation 🙁
After a night of waking up numerous times because of the hot weather and lack of air conditioning, I woke up at around 9 am to go out and explore on my own. I went to the metro station closest to the apartment, Tavros, and took it down to Syntagma Square.
I mainly went there because I was there a day earlier and went to Everest to get a €1 frappe. Shit, I love those drinks!
From there, walked down to Monastiraki square, browsing the nicer clothing shops on the way there and then eventually making it down to the Monastiraki flea market to buy the things I saw on my trip there before the cruise. That being, a magnet to commemorate visiting Athens (as I started doing with locations I visit after meeting someone on my Thailand trip and totally stealing their idea), some souvenirs for people, handmade Greek leather sandals (which pissed me off because had I walked down a few feet, I could’ve gotten the same exact sandals for €5 less!), and just some clothes shopping since I had bought pretty much nadda clothing wise on this entire trip. Just magnets, really.
Bought a small purse, a dress, the sandals, some things to give to people back home, a ring on this little trip.
I saw a nice leather purse in a shop and tried to haggle for it. This is supposed to be a place for haggling but I seem to suck at it. Every time I gave an offer (either for something pricey or when buying more than one), they just flat out rejected it. So I never did get my leather purse because I didn’t want to shell out €80 for it.
Took the metro back to the apartment and showered (that’s all you can do to keep feeling somewhat cleanly when it’s so hot out). Went back out to go grab dinner. I was going to do a sit down place but decided on just doing take out. Found a pizza place and got this weird pizza thing, like a pizza taco with cheese in the middle and a strip of bacon. I also happened across a bakery shop that had a delicious looking Oreo mousse dessert. It was SO GOOD!
On this trip, I’ve ridden a banana boat, a donkey, a single seat ski lift up a huge hill, an ATV (and driven it too), a boat/ferry/cruise, a bus, a plane, a cable car.
On my Thailand trip, in addition to the plane, boat/ferry, and bus/van, also rode an elephant, kayak, and tuk tuk.
This trip is a bit more extensive in the modes of transportation department.
Final notes on the Greek Islands
- Always have a bathing suit on hand!
- The best way to get around the islands, Santorini mainly, is to rent an ATV.
- To fully get the experience of the islands, you need to stay there for a few days. Cruising just doesn’t cut it.
- Cruising is boring other than the eating/drinking a lot part.
- It’s apparently pretty easy to crash continental breakfasts at hotels. Just look kind of lost and you’re golden!