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Our first evening in Santorini was somewhat of a blur as we had spent the entire day traveling and we were all pretty tired. However, we found the important things - a delicious pizza place (Skiza Pizza), grocery store, and wine. We took all of our findings up to the rooftop patio for dinner before heading to watch the sunset. Our AirBnB was in the PERFECT location. Basically in any picture you see of the three blue domes, you will see the gate that opens to our front door. The only downside was having to fight our way back home on occasion when cruise ship passengers made their way into town for this epic photo-op. On our second day in Santorini I woke Morgan up early to use his drone to capture a few shots of Oia. Drones are technically not allowed but at 6am, the rest of the city was asleep. Ask for forgiveness right? The rest of the day was spent exploring wineries and our tour also included a cooking class. I know what you're thinking - giving drunk people sharp utensils and hot surfaces, but it was AWESOME! We had so much fun and the food was delicious!
The next day we definitely burned off all we ate and drank on our tour with a 6 hour hike from Fira back to Oia. We took the bus from Oia and then made our way through smaller towns, around gorgeous resorts, and up to heights that I was definitely not comfortable with. Our bellies were hungry after such a long hike and we scarfed down delicious gyros at Pito's Gyros once we got back to Oia. Poor Wendy twisted her ankle on our hike but powered through and was rewarded with a local brewing company's beer - the Yellow Donkey. After lunch, Roger and Wendy put their feet up to rest Wendy's ankle and I got to cash in on Morgan's Christmas gift - a fish pedicure. It was such a crazy yet super relaxing experience!!! You first wash your feet and legs and then you lower your feet into a tank where about a hundred fish start nibbling on your feet. We left with baby-soft feet and it was awesome.
We capped off our long (but amazing) day with an EPIC dinner at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern on the Amoudi Bay. To go from the tops of the cliffs in Oia down the bay wasn't without it's hazards and I managed to eat it on the stone step path [saved the camera obviously]. We watched the sailboat tours leave for the sunset cruise... and then come right back as the waves grew. We were sitting right on the water and actually had to switch tables as the waves were crashing over our feet! Our dinner lasted about 3 hours and it was a FEAST. One of my favorite things about the Greek culture was their amazing customer service and the staff at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern treated us like royalty. Not only did we pick our own fish, but they gave us a delicious dessert and dessert wine for free.
On our last day in Santorini, we rented a car (they only had manuals) and it was quite snug. Since Morgan and I definitely don't know how to drive a stick shift, Roger was our chauffeur for the day! We went to the very top of Santorini and made our way back to Oia stopping at several different beaches along the way. The black sand beach reminded me of Hawaii with the sounds of waves washing through smooth black rocks. At the red beach we snagged fresh fruit (hello delicious watermelon) and put our toes in the water. When it started to rain we decided to pack it up and grab some lunch at Dorians Pub/Grandmas Recipes. I had a monster lunch and I tucked leftovers into my camera bag to bring back for the dogs that hang around Oia. That was one of the heart breaking parts of staying in the city - the stray dogs. However, it is obvious that these pups are well taken care of and seem to be quite happy... especially this one white fluffy dog that literally hugged me and let me rub its belly (I totally thought about bringing him home). After polishing off a bottle or two of wine while watching the sun go down with about 10,000 of our closest travel buddies, we went BIG for our last dinner in Santorini. We had Lolita's... gelato. And it was delicious.
If you want to know what the next Cinque Terre is before everyone else ruins it with tourism, head to Milos. We stayed in a small fishing village called Mandrakia and it was unlike anything I've ever experienced. We left Santorini before the sun came up, flew into Athens and then onto Milos on a super small plane which was a little unnerving. We arrived in time to enjoy an AMAZING (and super cheap) bakery called Mouratos where we met up with our incredibly sweet AirBnB host, Christina. As we made our way to the house, we drove through what looked like farmland and open fields. It truly felt like we were the only ones there... which wasn't far off since we missed their busy season by about a week. Our house in Milos was absolutely amazing. The views looking right out at the crystal clear water were stunning and the bright colors of the fishermen's boat houses could have been advertisements for Crayola. The owner of our AirBnB let us use their two kayaks and the second we could, we had those babies in the water and we ventured into the caves and around huge rocks. It was super windy that day so our journey back home was tough! The water was super salty and a little chilly but it was SO clear. It felt like we could see the ocean floor and enjoyed the colorful coral and somewhat spooky caves. For dinner we found a restaurant called O! Hamos and it was the freshest meal I've ever had in my life. The restaurant has its own farm so we had fresh goat cheese and vegetables on our Greek salads (which in Greece are not filled with lettuce!) and of course a liter or two of wine.
On our second day in Milos it was still pretty windy and since I'm prone to chumming the waters on the open sea, we decided to drive around the island instead of taking a sailboat tour. I am so glad we did because we were able to explore the most incredible beaches I've ever seen. It was amazing to drive through farmland and then end up at the at coastline to see amazing views of colorful cliffs leading down to the beautiful beaches. The colors in the rocks were truly unreal and covered every color in the rainbow. On the first beach we found beach chairs and took a walk along the beach to enjoy the cool water and explore all the colorful cliffs. After laying in the sun (and not having a cooler full of beer and wine), we headed into town and picked up lunch and beer and headed to the next beach. This beach required us to go down a ladder to access the beach (a big NOPE!) so we skipped that one and headed to a beautiful beach with chairs and umbrellas and had a picnic on the beach. We collected rocks, napped and Morgan got some great drone shots! Wendy and Roger were leaving Milos the next day so we had one last dinner along the water and since Roger gave Morgan a driving lesson that day on the stick shift, Morgan drove us! Lots of prayers happened in the back seat of that tiny Suzuki.
The next morning we drove Roger and Wendy to the airport and headed back to our place to use the kayaks one last time. This time we went even further and found a cove with a beautiful beach! There was a huge photo shoot for an athletic company happening there and we laid out and watched them work. After a needed rest, we kayaked a little more and found a shipwreck! The water was so clear you could see the remains of it underwater. We circled it and decided to drive back to Sarakiniko beach with the drone later. We came home and sipped wine on the balcony before showering for dinner. We took a few pictures on the water and then headed to Sarakiniko with the drone. The shots are INCREDIBLE. You can see so far into the blue waters. After flying the drone and taking a few pictures, we headed to Platka for dinner. Google Maps wasn't kind to us and we ended up deep into a different village.... and up a steep hill. And then into a light post. Thankfully a resident heard the commotion and drove our car out of the tight space we had gotten ourselves into. A few curse words and a lot of panic later, we were parked and walked to Kastro for sunset. To avoid driving any more at night than we had to, we headed to the port and got dinner on the water. For Morgan's first time driving a stick shift, he chose the hardest possible place to learn to drive! I was proud of him but also really glad to be done driving the stick shifts.
Our FINAL stop in Greece was in Athens. We left Milos early to fly out (after paying for the damage on the rental for our accident... 60 Euros. Literally everything in Milos was cheap!) and met up with Roger and Wendy at our AirBnB that was SO NICE! We had a view out at the Hadrian Arch and our apartment was basically right out of an Ikea catalog. We hit the ground running with a tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum with our private tour guide Dora. She was AMAZING and incredible knowledgable about the history of Athens and the interesting stories about the culture. It was 4 hours long but incredibly interesting! We got a lot of walking in as we ended the Acropolis tour at the museum. The museum had see-thru floors that showed excavations happening underneath. After a long afternoon of walking, we headed back to the apartment to enjoy the wine our AirBnB host left for us. Roger, Wendy and Morgan went to the Olympic stadium while I stayed back at the apartment and drank wine. [Pretty typical.] Our next outing was for shopping (where we tried on lots of sandals) and then dinner at Sabbas that had a great view of the Acropolis and delicious food!
On our very last day in Greece, we were tired and kind of ready to go home. Roger and Wendy left at 4am so we had a lazy morning before venturing to the Hadrian Arch and Temple of Zeus. It was a super hot day (95+ degrees) so our walks around Athens were exhausting but we made it through the National Gardens (way less impressive than the name implies) and headed to the Athens Flea Market. Part of the market was just tourist souvenirs but there really was a flea market with cool antiques - it made me wish I had more room in my bag! After lunch we headed to the Agora and it was incredible how much of it remained. With the heat and getting that time-to-get-home feeling, we took naps before heading out again for one last round of shopping and dinner. We got turned around a million times and retraced our steps so much the shop owners started to recognize us. 17,000 steps later, we grabbed ice cream for dinner and packed for the trip home.
What to pack:
I cannot stress packing light enough, especially if you're staying in Santorini. The steps, tight spaces, stone-steps and your general exhaustion from travel will make lugging large bags nearly impossible. Comfortable shoes are also a must. You will do a LOT of walking and if you go on the hike, bring good sneakers. We all almost slipped a time or two. Layers are a good idea as the evenings get much cooler - especially on the coast. Everyone was pretty casual where we went, but then again we don't necessarily venture to super swanky places. If you're packing camera gear, bring extra batteries and a tripod! Long exposures at night are worth it!
Where to stay:
- Santorini - Oia is a really awesome place to stay, everything was walkable!
- Milos - Cannot beat the location. There's a bar and restaurant that is open seasonally that's a stones throw from this house.
- Athens - I would recommend staying in or close to Plaka
Tours to take:
Santorini Wine Tour
Private Acropolis Tour Guide - Dora Mavrommati: firstname.lastname@example.org