I arrived in Athens are barely making the flight from Berlin. The first thing that stood out and that I loved abut Greece was the rolling arid mountains and of course the heat, the lovely summer heat I’ve been craving since Spain.
Only having two days in Athens (you don’t really need more), I set off right away to check out the Acropolis which conveniently was right next to my hostel. Winning. It was of course, awesome, yet maybe lacking a bit of direction and information for tourists. It was all very casual for one of the oldest heritage sites in the world, but as I learnt later on my travels that’s Greece for you.
That night I met some lovely half Greek, half Japanese girls from Crete who I spent the next day site seeing with in a nearby island just off the cost of Athens, Aegina. Famous for its pistachios nuts, baskets filled with fresh and roasted pistachios were around every corner. For lunch I had my first (and not my last) feast of Greek dips, salads and local seafood. That afternoon we drifted around the island exploring its little paved pathways and white wash houses, a grand way to spend ones day!
Making more friends at the hostel that night, we climbed the big rock platform to see the awesome view of Athens and the Acropolis at night, a few wines and Ouzo’s later I realised that it was almost time for my four hour ferry ride to Paros. Now believe me friends, this is not a recommended activity with a hangover and no sleep! It’s like nautical torture, but with 100’s of tourists and roller bags.
The boats that are used to herd people around the islands amazed me, they are all like these massive luxury liners, with cafes and fast food joints on board, although they were lacking comfortable places to rest my fragile head!
My Second Island in my island hoping adventure was Paros, a slightly more low key place with pretty light sand beaches and easy bus connections. My hostel was more like a bed and breakfast and two minutes walk to the beach. I spent the days the exploring the island and stopping to rest by yet another beautiful bay. In the evenings I wined and dined with a French girl and Kiwi at our local restaurant that just happened to be at the water’s edge.
I felt that four nights in Paros was perfect, I got to see most of the island and soak up enough sun before moving onto the famous Santorini.
Arriving in Santorini is amazing, the sheer cliffs and different tones in the earth, you can see why people come here for the perfect photo opportunity. Once again my hostel was only a two minute walk from the beach, although this was a black sand beach with big craggy mountains jutting out from the ocean.
I spent the day venturing around with an English girl and Australian guy, we stopped by Oia for the “must see” sunset, which in my opinion was slightly overrated due to the sheer amount of tourists that were there. It was like a mosh pit, worshipping the sun with their cameras, iphones and ipads.
I had four nights inn Santorini which was enough, it’s very dry there without much shelter so wandering around is quite exhausting. I suppose it didn’t help that I did the vertical hike up the mountain to see the Ancient Thera ruins midday in the blistering heat. On my last day I managed to make it to the Red Beach, which isn’t he nicest swimming beach but the ochre coloured cliffs with the deep blue water is really beautiful and worth catching two buses for. I was tempted to take a donkey ride at one stage but read an article about how badly they are treated so the humanitarian in me gave that one a miss.
Next stop was Ios, which turns out is a home away from home from Australians. Seriously, 90% of people here are young Auzzies, there are Australian flags flying next to Greek ones and they sell “Aussie meat pies” in the mini marts. Because of this of course, Ios is known as a party town. And party we did. I ended up meeting up with a Hawaiian girl I met in Santorini, who also saved me from a very disrespectful dorm room mate. That hostel was more like a resort, with a pool, restaurant, dairy, and of course was right by the water. You did not really need to leave this little resort village, so I didn’t. Days were spent lying by the nicest beach I’ve come across here in Greece and on Saturday night we decided to try the night life. As its low season now, things are a bit more chill and some bars had closed down, but that didn’t stop staying out until 5am in the morning and drinking 1 euro tequila shots!
So after a very indulgent 4 days in Ios, It was time for my last island; Mykonos… I only stayed here for two nights, which was enough. Due it being low season now, I was the only person in my 8 bed dorm so I was a little bit like Nancy no friends, but then paying 8 euros a night for a private room is pretty sweet. I spent most of my beach time at Paraga (which was where my hostel was). It was an ok beach, very pretty and if you like constant house music and lots of old man penis it is the place for you my friend!
I really enjoyed exploring the main Mykonos town and almost blew my budget multiple times on all the shops. I managed to find the windmills and ‘Little Venice” which was super cool. Then the next day I took the very choppy boat over to Delos, which is a uninhabited island filled with ancient ruins and breath taking views. Word of warning though the café here will rip you off blind! I think my jaw dropped when he gave me bill!
The locals talk of the financial crisis as the tourist’s lye there baking with their cocktails, it’s all very strange. The transport here reminds me of Africa having to clutch on to your seat as you ripped around the narrow cliff side roads. I’ve seen wild lizards, turtles and fish and eaten my lifetime’s supply of Gyros. I’ve floated effortlessly in the salty Mediterranean Sea and longed for sufficient plumbing in the bathrooms. Since visiting some of the ‘party islands’ I feel one step closure to realising what Euro trash might be, and miss New Zealand music and all my wonderful friends. But the adventure must continue! So here’s to sleeping at the airport tonight!…But where is she off to next you ask….? Where in the world is Sarah Caldwell-Watson?