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) . . .
- Crowne Plaza Hotel – Athens City Centre
- To Omorfo
- Krasopoulio Tou Kokkora
- Myconian Utopia Resort
- Katerina’s Bar & Restaurant
- Canaves Oia Hotel
- Melitini (best restaurant of the entire trip!)
- Dimitri’s at Amoudi Bay
Bravo *as much applause as my tiny dwarf-sized hands can muster* This was an amazing recap, Lori. There are so many gems! I loved the way you worded this. I felt like I was there, experience all of it with you (if only I could have!). The photos are glorious. All that blue. All that food. Those adorable dogs! So much hand sanitizer! Gaaaaah there’s nothing more frustrating than walking in circles trying to find a place (except learning that you were right.in.front.of.it.and.now.have.to.back.track. When I was in Thailand last year, we saw a zillion stray dogs who looked a lot worse than these. I felt so awful for them but you’re right, lots of local shop keepers would feed them. So I guess try not to feel so bad? Beer, breakfast baklava, pastitsio, chocolate croissants…I want to eat all of it!
Thanks, Nancy! I figured I would experiment with a new writing style. It just seemed to work for something like this, and I was *hoping* it would have the effect of making you feel like you were along for the ride. Awww, poor homeless dogs in Thailand. It’s just not something I’m used to seeing at all. I really can’t help but feel sorry for them, even if they do have collars, and seemingly full bellies, and get loved on all day by tourists. I don’t know. I still wish I could take a few of them home.
OMG I am soooo sooo envious. I am half Greek and I have never yet been there and I LOOOOOOVE Greek food.
So I must ask, what foods were your favorites?
What were you surprised by?
Plus OMG Greek beer! MUST HAVE!
I think my favorite would be a tie between the pastitsio with the heavenly layer of bechamel and that Greek salad at Meletini. To be honest, I was surprised at how most of the Greek salads we had were just….OK. Most were nothing too special. I was also surprised by the dish called fava, which is puréed yellow split peas. It’s almost like hummus, but more enjoyable to just eat with a spoon. I’m definitely going to be creating my own version of that at home!
Four things: Holy BLOCKS of feta, I’m in love. I will never be satisfied with airplane peanuts again. Breakfast baklava!!!!!?? The royal blue shirt/windswept hair/sunglass combo is totally sexy.
Four replies: I KNOW, it was almost almost feta overload, but not really. Give me chocolate croissants or give me nothing, US airlines. Baklava is appropriate at any time of day on vacation. Oh la la, thanks!
I can’t even deal with how awesome this post is. Love everything about it, especially your tone of voice, hehehe.
AWww, thanks Jennifer! I don’t know if you’ve ever seen “Marley & Me,” or remember the interlude in the middle where they kind of “fast forward” through the main character’s life by saying a bunch of stuff in really quick, short sentences, but I was trying to replicate that style with this post. Always fun to play around with writing when I can.
Sounds like you had a great time and loved all the pics.
Wow – what gorgeous photos!! The Parthenon seems to be under restoration constantly…or at least that’s my impression. The scaffolding-less Parthenon is a rare sight indeed. Love your commentary of the trip – especially the “hand sanitize” after each dog encounter. So true!
I think you’re right about the Parthenon. I mean, the scaffolding didn’t seem “temporary” at all. It was just sort of…part of the scene. Kind of a bummer, but it is what it is. It’s pretty amazing that it’s still standing at all, in truth.
Love your trip story Lori!! My daughter and I went to Athens when her friend studied abroad but did not make it the other 2 places so now I have an excuse to go back – it looks simply gorgeous – great pictures!! I fell in love with greek salads and the ‘free’ desserts too! I can’t wait to hear about your Rome trip next!! Opa!
Oh yes, I vote you use any excuse you can find to go to the the Greek isles. Mykonos is so relaxing, and Santorini is so picturesque. They’re both so great in different ways. I know what you mean about the “free” dessert. I mean, of course the price of them is built into the meal, but I still thought it was a fun custom. And we had such a variety of different desserts at various restaurants!
Gorgeous photos! This leg of the trip sounded like a dream and my desire to visit Greece has grown even more. The food, the view, the food and the doggies!
Thanks so much, Susan! By the time we were getting ready to come home, I have to admit that I was a *little* tired of eating pasta in Italy. But I didn’t really tire of the Greek food. I loved it so much!
Food looks great, lovely photos, sounds like you had a great time, like the blog.
What a wonderful write-up. I never imagined our awesome vacation being retold so awesomely using a Marley And Me spin. Also, it is so nice to see all of those pictures we took come to fruition. So beautiful. Thanks for experiencing this all with me . . . Especially Melitini.
Again; wonderful photos and story!