Flashback: Rhodes, Greece 2011

Our final stop on our 2011 trip around Greece was the island of Rhodes. The island wasn’t initially on our itinerary as we initially wanted to visit Crete. However, we ended up changing to Rhodes due to a recommendation from someone who said it was their favorite island in Greece. We also weighed that Crete looked like there was more to do there and we would want to devote more than 48 hours to the island. The ferry schedule was also more convenient from Santorini to Rhodes as it was overnight and we wouldn’t waste part of a day traveling to another island. All in all, it wasn’t our favorite place in Greece and we are unlikely to return. The island was fine, but almost any island after Santorini is going to be a let down in terms of scenery. Rhodes was fine but a few unfortunate incidents left us with a bad memory of the island which is not to fault the entire island of course, but just not how you want to end your trip.

We arrived in Rhodes Town early in the morning and proceeded to take a taxi from the port to our hotel. We were of course too early for check in, so the hotel allowed us to leave our bags and told us to come back after 2pm when we could check in. We said no problem and headed out to do some sightseeing. We were staying in the main hub of the island, Rhodes Town. Eventually when we would return a few hours later, they had given our room away. Not the news we were expecting to hear, especially after having already been there earlier in the day. After a lot of nagging, they booked us a room at another hotel and it ended up being quite the upgrade for us. It was frustrating and we wasted a lot of our day dealing with the issue, especially since it wasn’t just something they offered to do right away after informing us our room was gone. We had to complain and ask multiple times before they agreed to do anything.  + Read More

Flashback: Santorini Sunset Cruise

Our final evening in Santorini, we booked a sunset and snorkeling tour. We actually had booked a tour for the daytime that would have taken us to Nea Kameni (the volcano) but the tour was canceled because not enough people had signed up. We were given the choice of either a refund or changing to the sunset tour. We opted to change to the sunset tour that included dinner, a bit of snorkeling, and the thermal springs. It was an enjoyable evening and the perfect way to close out our time on the island. I don’t have a lot to add in terms of commentary for this trip, being over 5 years ago (I didn’t even write down the name of the company we went with!).

Santorini Sunset Cruise

We were picked up at our hotel and drive to the port area with a small group of other tourists. We boarded the boat and headed first towards Red Beach. It was neat being able to see the famous beach from the water and we all did a bit of swimming/snorkeling here, though the water was pretty chilly so I didn’t stay in too long. Red Beach

After our snorkeling/swimming time was up, we cruised along the island towards the thermal hot springs. It was incredibly surreal seeing Santorini’s famous cliffs up close and personal from the water. It gives such a unique view of the island, that I highly recommend taking a boat cruise of some sort to enjoy the dramatic cliffs and the villages and houses perched along the edges.

Santorini Cliffs White Beach Santorini Cliffs Santorini cliffs Santorini Cliffs

Santorini from the water Santorini from the water

We cruised along to the thermal springs where we were allowed some more snorkeling and swimming time. Unfortunately, these aren’t the hottest thermal springs in the world. It’s more like slightly warmer water than the rest of the water surrounding Santorini, with an occasionally really warm spot. Needless to say, I didn’t stay in the water incredibly long again. Brian did more swimming than I did, but it was still a fun experience and I’m glad we got the opportunity at least. Being on the boat, just looking back at the island of Santorini was worth it regardless of the water temperature. After the thermal springs, we were served dinner on board the boat in a nice cove area.

Cove area Cove area Cove area

After dinner, we started the cruise back towards the island to get into position for the sunset. While in Santorini, we experienced the sunset from Oia, Imerovigli, and the water. If you have multiple nights on the island, this is the way I would recommend to experience the famous Santorini sunsets. Each offers a unique vantage point and while we were hit with some unexpected major cloud cover just at sunset time in Oia, I’m glad we opted not to return there as both other locations we viewed the sunset from were equally impressive (and a lot less crowded). You can’t be in Santorini for long without experiencing the Oia sunset, but you will get a more precious memory somewhere else when you can find an isolated spot along the cliffs or from the water.

Santorini sunsetSantorini sunsetSantorini SunsetSantorini Sunset CruiseSantorini Sunset

Travel Tip: I am incredibly glad that we were able to enjoy the sunset from the water and it was a good tour. Though I was a bit disappointed we weren’t able to make it over to the volcano. I guess my travel tip for this article is common sense, but don’t plan a tour for your last day on the island just in case. Book it earlier in your stay, in case of a conflict (whether from weather or lack of other people joining), you can reschedule for a later date instead of a different tour altogether. 

Flashback: Santorini Beaches & Vineyards, Greece 2011

We spent the majority of our two full days in Santorini checking out as many of the unique and beautiful beaches and vineyards that we could.

Santorini beaches are almost out of this world beautiful. I have a soft spot in my heart for black sand beaches and Santorini is full of them plus a few others. Neither Brian or I are big sit on a beach for the entire day people, so for us spending 1-2 hours at one beach then moving to another works best for us. I know that’s not how much of the rest of the world feels about beach holidays, so if you want a more relaxing week on Santorini, pick a few choice beaches and spend at least a half day at each.

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Flashback: Santorini, Greece 2011

After leaving Naxos, we boarded the ferry to the island of all Greek islands, Santorini. It’s a very common ferry route from Naxos with ferries leaving multiple times daily and a range of duration and price. Santorini is the quintessential Greek island that everyone pictures in their mind when they think of the Greek islands. My sister and I didn’t have the time to visit it back in 2009 when we did our backpacking trip. We made it to Athens only 2 days before our booked flight home and since then I had been dying to return to Greece and visit Santorini. Our three days in Santorini only left me wanting to return to the island again. It just has that magical element that leaves you wanting more, even with the over development and popularity.

Santorini has an airport and it is possible to fly there from Athens and elsewhere, however you’d miss views like these from the approaching ferry.

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Flashback: Naxos Sailing Trip, Greece 2011

On our final day in Naxos we took a sailing trip. We originally had planned on taking a day trip to Mykonos, but the trips had just finished their season due to weather. We were walking along the boardwalk in Naxos and spotted a sign for sailing adventures. The owner and his wife were sitting on the sail boat and noticed us looking at the sign and they waved us over. After talking on the boat for a bit and asking questions about the trip, we decided to book the day trip with Captain George.

We took the day trip sailing tour to Koufonisia Island. Koufonissia consists of two islands, Kato and Pano. Kato is largely uninhabited, but does have some nice beaches and a few select services. Pano is the smallest of the inhabited Cyclades islands. Pano is where the majority of hotels and restaurants are located. There is a boat service between the two multiple times during the day if you are staying on Pano. We visited Kato on our day trip. The island itself was gorgeous and looking at pictures of Pano now, it looks even more gorgeous and would be an excellent place to visit in the Greek Islands, if you truly want to experience beauty without the masses.

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Flashback: Naxos, Greece 2011

After spending essentially a week on the mainland of Greece, it was time to relax and hit the Greek Islands. Originally we had thought of visiting Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete but after a lot of deliberation, we ended up on Naxos, Santorini, and Rhodes.

We chose Naxos over Mykonos because we wanted to visit a less popular island and they do offer day trips to Mykonos from Naxos. However, we were visiting in the shoulder season and they stopped running those trips like 5 days before we arrived in Naxos. It was a bit of a bummer to find out once on Naxos, but it gives us a good reason to return to the islands.

Naxos is the largest and the greenest of the Greek islands within the Cyclades region. It’s in a perfect location between Athens and Santorini and extremely close to Mykonos, which makes it an easy addition to almost any Greek Island itinerary. We spent essentially 2&1/2 days on the island and while it was a good amount of time, it is a big island and more days would allow you to really explore more of what Naxos has to offer. Our first half day on the island, we spent walking around the main town and port area (Naxos Town or Chora) and relaxing on one of the beaches close to town. Our second day was a mismatch day where nothing went as planned, but it ended up being amazing and we ended up visiting the Sagri area and a couple of beaches. Our third day we spent on a sailing trip.

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Flashback: Sounion, Greece 2011

We saw more than we anticipated during our first day and a half in Athens, so with our second full day in Athens we decided to take a daytrip outside the city and settled on Sounion. Sounion is an easy half to full day trip from Athens being located 69 kilometers (43 miles) south of Athens. The most famous landmark in Sounion is the Temple of Poseidon which is located on the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula. It’s as picturesque a location as you could ask for in a country full of amazing ruins. The marble temple stands out against a beautiful blue backdrop of the sea.

We reached Sounion via bus along the coastal route. The buses leave fairly regularly both towards Sounion and from Sounion back to Athens. If you take the coastal route, try to get a seat along the right side of the bus for the best views of the sea during the bus ride. The last bus back leaves fairly early, so even though the Temple of Poseidon is gorgeous at sunset, don’t plan on catching the sunset if you are relying on public transportation back to Athens. The bus ride takes approximately 90 minutes each way. There is another bus that goes via the inland route to Sounion that passes closer to the airport if you prefer that option.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion + Read More

Flashback: Athens, Greece 2011

After visiting Meteora, we drove into Athens. Our rental car company had arranged for us to drive to the hotel and they would pick up the car there. That was an interesting adventure being in the middle of the 2011 riots in Athens. We drove through a small one and witnessed spray painting all over a bus. Luckily they ignored our car and we made it to the hotel safe and sound without too much trouble navigating the busy streets. We arrived early evening and after checking into our hotel, we looked through our Athens guide to see if there was open later in the evening that we could visit before dinner.

As it turns out there was and we headed to the Acropolis Museum. The building itself is absolutely gorgeous and the collection of artifacts are both interesting and beautifully displayed. The museum was built to display artifacts found at the Acropolis and was redesigned and reopened in 2009. The building was designed with large glass wraparound windows in order to allow visitors to have a view of the Acropolis while viewing artifacts from there. The museum displays a variety of artifacts from sculptures that were from the Acropolis temples to objects used in historical Athens to the main display the sculptures from the Parthenon frieze. When we were there, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum, but it looks now you can in certain galleries without the use of flash.

Our first full day in Athens, we spent the majority of the day seeing the biggest sights throughout the city. Part of what makes me love Athens so much is how the modern city has been built around all these ancient historical sights. You’ll be walking down a street lined with shops and restaurants and then turn the corner and there’s the Acropolis or Ancient Agora or another smaller sight. It’s what made me fall in love with the city in 2009 and only cemented it in 2011. It’s not the cleanest city or the nicest, but for some reason, Athens has my heart. It’s one of my favorite cities in my favorite country and I know that I’ll be back to uncover more of what this city has to offer.

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Flashback: Meteora, Greece 2011

After spending the day at Delphi, we drove to the Kalampaka (or Kalabaka)/Kastraki region of Greece for the evening. We stayed in my favorite hotel of mainland Greece in Kastraki at Archontiki Mesohori. It was a charming hotel with a very friendly staff. It’s nestled in between the famous Meteora rocks (though you can’t actually see the monasteries from the hotel). After checking in and relaxing on the porch of our room with a couple of coffees, we headed into the town itself to walk around, though the majority of shops were closed already. We chose a spot to eat dinner then headed back to the hotel for the rest of the night.

Hotel in Kastraki + Read More

Flashback: Delphi, Greece 2011

Continuing with my flashback series to our Greece September 2011 trip, we headed from Ancient Olympia to Delphi. Delphi was one of the biggest surprises of the trip for me and I really enjoyed our time spent at both the sight and the town itself. We had added Delphi as a stop after putting both Ancient Olympia and Meteora on our itinerary and Delphi made a good stop in between the other two must see sights for us. In the end, some of my favorite memories from the trip are from Delphi.

After arriving in town and checking into our hotel, it was nearly dinnertime and we had an excellent dinner at the restaurant recommended by our hotel. At dinner we were granted with a gorgeous sunset over the surrounding mountains.

View from restaurant

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