Athens, Mykonos & Santorini, Greece
I know, I totally fooled you. I did a crazy amount of work and pre-scheduled a bunch of blog recipes so that I could go frolic around in Greece and Italy for two weeks without you noticing. I wish I could have brought you all with me, and spoon-fed you yogurt and honey. Allow me to do a little of that, virtually. Here’s how it went down.
Fly from Detroit to JFK, then JFK to Athens. Realize the flight to Athens had about a dozen babies on it, all under the age of one. Turn on noise-canceling headphones. Discover they cancel all noise except the sound of crying babies. Watch eight episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Don’t sleep a wink. Arrive in Athens mid-morning. Lazily drink coffee at the hotel bar until our room is ready.
Go have Sunday dinner at a place with lots of locals. Tell them to basically bring us a little bit of everything. They do. Discover that the bechamel in the pastitsio is a little cloud of heaven. Go to sleep for the night at 5pm. Sleep on and off for the next 15 hours. Realize I’m not good at this jet lag thing.
Take a bus tour of Athens in the morning. See the first Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Are temporarily bummed that the Parthenon is tarnished by scaffolding. Are totally in awe of how huge everything is. Laugh about how tiny we look standing next to all of it. Realize you can see all the sights in one morning. Start thinking about lunch.
Find a little place in the Plaka neighborhood. Fall in love with a simple dish of phyllo dough, feta cheese, honey and sesame seeds. Realize this is the first time in my life I’ve truly liked honey. Get free dessert with our meal, for the first of many times. Also get free shots. Tastes like Fireball. Greek Fireball.
Reorganize our suitcases to put our swimsuits and beach clothes front and center. Go to sleep dreaming of our flight to Myconos in the morning. Morning comes way too early. Jeff makes some hotel room coffee that is actually quite decent. Take a 25 minute flight to Myconos. Watche in awe as the flight attendants hand out gummy candies, then do a beverage service, then hand out chocolate-filled croissants. In 25 minutes. Rock on, Aegean Air.
Hotel picks us up at the airport. Greeter guy says “Welcome to Utopia” in the cheesiest way possible. Hotel is really named Utopia. It’s still breakfast time. Utopia employees lead us straight to the breakfast buffet. I eat yogurt and honey. And tomatoes and feta. And breakfast baklava. And coffee. And orange juice. And champagne. Basically just all the breakfast beverages.
Hotel manager gives us a comically thorough tour of the hotel and our room, but fails to mention anything about the gaggle of sheep lurking in the lobby, and the random words strung up on the staircase. Decide not to ask about it. Go to the beach. It’s super windy, but still quite pleasant. Take the shuttle bus to Myconos Town. Wander around and find a good place for dinner. Enjoy a piece of moussaka, and seafood pasta that is mostly just seafood. See a huge yacht docked near town. Jeff tells me it probably costs $2 million. I tell him it’s more like $20 million. Google it. It’s $70 million.
Sleep like babies on a cloud of babies in our utopia bed. Wake up, hit the utopia breakfast buffet again. Notice all the cool utopia kids are lounging by the infinity pool after breakfast. Find two empty lounge chairs. End up like Bernie in “Weekend at Bernie’s” and stay in those lounge chairs all damn day. The ambient utopia music is utterly hypnotizing. Try to read a book and decide that I literally can’t even. Wonder if the blue receptors in my eyes will get worn out. Eat pistachios and dried fruit and drink fresh lemonade by the pool.
Say goodbye to Utopia and its sheep. Confirm that the inter-island ferry that locals tell us is always late is in fact late. Worry about sea sickness. Ferry ride ends up being completely fine, but long. Ferry is oddly showing “Planet Earth” on its TVs; distract myself with that. Dock in Santorini. Don’t have transportation pre-arranged to hotel and the dock is all like WTF IS GOING ON cluster of humanity, buses, vans and taxis, people yelling. Find a guy to take us and a few others to our hotels.
Realize that Santorini is even more beautiful than photos can justify. It’s also extremely crowded and touristy in Oia, the town we’re staying in. Crop the crowds out of our photos and pretend they’re not there. Enjoy the sunset.
Go on a wild goose chase to find a restaurant I had heard good things about. Walk and walk and can’t find it. Sit on a ledge to consult our map. Map tells us it’s 50 meters down the road. Walk 50 meters, don’t find anything. Find a photo of the outside of the restaurant online. Realize when we were sitting on that ledge a few minutes ago, the ledge was in front of the restaurant. Walk back. Get a table at Melitini, the hardest restaurant to find in the world. Jeff drinks all these donkey beers from Santorini Brewing Company. Dinner is amazing. Immediately make plans to return for lunch the following day. Sleep like babies.
Walk all around Oia the next morning. Watch a bunch of couples take their wedding photos. Debate whether or not they really got married in Santorini, and decide it’s probably just their honeymoons, and they brought their wedding clothes to have photos done. Buy Greek-made jewelry for our moms. Buy a Fix beer and share it while walking around. Nobody cares.
Pet a bunch of island dogs. Hand sanitize. Pet more dogs. Are torn between feeling bad for the dogs since they are sort of homeless, but also look well fed. Most of them seem to have human best friends (usually shopkeepers) who care for them. The dog sleep outside their shops. Decide dogs have an OK life.
Fall in love with one dog in particular. Nickname him Charlie. Jeff tells me it looks like Charlie has been put inside a giant blow dryer. Try to brainstorm ways to fit Charlie into my suitcase. Decide he wouldn’t like Michigan winters. Say goodbye to Charlie. Hand sanitize.
Have a thing called a frappe that is apparently all the rage in Greece. It’s just Nescafe coffee blended with ice. It’s really nothing to write home about. Walk out to the far point of Oia. See a windmill. Watch as people take a million photos of themselves with selfie sticks. Try to find somebody to take our photo, but realize nobody knows how to operate a real camera anymore. Have somebody take our photo with an iPhone.
Go back to Melitini for lunch. It’s totally amazing again. Lose our minds over the Greek salad. The tomatoes and cucumber are grown on the island, and they put all other tomatoes and cucumbers to shame. Also have some fried tomato balls, because, tomatoes. Fall in love with the little aluminum wine pitchers Melitini uses. Find a hardware store a few doors down that sells the pitchers. Realize the owners don’t speak a word of English. We don’t speak a word of Greek. The four of us figure it out. We get our pitcher, they get their 5 Euro. Relax by the pool for a bit.
Decide to skip the whole “camp out in your spot for two hours prior to the sunset to have a sunset-watching/photographing spot” and make the trek down the cliff steps to Amoudi Bay instead. Sidestep donkey crap the whole way. Watch the sun set on our way down. Good enough. Have a lovely light dinner right on the water in the bay. Call a taxi to take us back up the cliff. Jeff gets attacked with love and affection by dumpster dogs while waiting for taxi. Dumpster dogs are filthy but cute. Hand sanitize.
Wake up extremely early and sit at the disgusting Santorini airport for an hour. Fly back to Athens, then to Rome. To be continued (in a few weeks) . . .
- Myconian Utopia Resort
- Katerina’s Bar & Restaurant