When I was sixteen I read Captain Corelli's Mandolin; a book with magnificent descriptions of Greece that had me wishing I could just jump on a plane and see it for myself. Greece became a dream destination for me. Last year two friends and I decided to take the leap and book our second Topdeck tour nine months in advance! We got a double discount - such a bonus. We booked the 7 day island hopping sailing trip. My friend Sarah and I planned to see the more touristy places afterwards. Tour and flights were booked. Then January hit me like a ton of bricks (more on that soon) and because of my health issues I didn't earn much money for six months. But I went anyway, armed with my credit card. I'm so glad I didn't cancel everything. Despite not feeling 100%, it was such a fulfilling experience. Sailing is the BEST way to see Greece. I highly recommend it. I even sailed the yacht myself for a few hours. Okay so I just steered using the wheel, but still. We were blessed with amazing weather too. June is a good time of year there because it's not too hot, and it's not peak tourist season either. I recommend Booking.com for accommodation. It's so easy to use and their customer service is excellent. All our hotels were lovely and affordable, even considering the ailing South African rand. I didn't drink on the trip so you can thank my friends for the pretty alcohol pics. Wine & cocktails are so photogenic ;) Here are some of my personal favourite pics. I hope you enjoy the post.
This island features an ancient amphitheatre from 400 BC that seats 12 000 people! It's still used today and the acoustics are incredible. Someone dropped a coin in the middle and we heard it hit the floor from the TOP ROW.
This island just blew me away. The views! A pic or two from Ermioni in here too.
An island where the only form of transport is a donkey or walking. Yes, it's true. I think there is maybe one car on the entire island. We all loved this place. We had to climb over three other yachts to get to the dock. The authentic Greek experience!
The original home of the pistachio! Needless to say, we tried everything pistachio-flavoured in sight. The ice cream was a winner. I wish we could have stayed here longer. The last photo shows our final swim stop somewhere in the Aegean sea on our way back to Athens.
This is where Sarah and I left our friends from the Topdeck tour and found our hotel. After a week of sailing and the tiniest, smelliest bathrooms you can imagine, comfortable beds with a proper shower and bath felt like the ultimate luxury. Athens was incredible. We bought two day bus tour tickets which gave us the perfect overview of the city, and we could get off at any stop and wander around. The main tourist areas were packed with people from all over the world! Our hotel was a 10 minute walk away from the Acropolis because the Parthenon was obviously a must. It felt surreal being there. Bucket. List. Check.
Another bucket list tick. Santorini is not ALL blue and white like the postcards, but boy is it beautiful and full of life. We stayed in Fira which is the capital, and we managed to see practically the entire island in less than three days! Oia stole our hearts and we found THAT postcard view (I had to ask a local where to go!). We did the hike from Fira to Oia after a full day of walking (bad idea) just before sunset (bad idea) in sandals (bad idea) with the howling wind against us. We eventually made it to Oia and just when I thought I couldn't walk another step, Sarah found the most incredible restaurant and we collapsed onto their chairs. Santorini and Athens were very expensive compared with the smaller islands we'd seen, so just be warned if you're planning a trip and you're budgeting for food. A drink, a meal and dessert on the lesser known islands cost the same as ONE Fredoccino (delicious ice coffee) in Santorini. Ouch. Worth it though, to see this world famous island and it's epic buildings, volcano, beaches and sunsets.
Agios Prokopios is one of the most famous white beaches in Greece and I was in love within hours of being there. The waves of the sea are almost non existent, so you just walk straight into the ocean as if you're in a gigantic pool. On the second day we explored the town of Naxos and had a sunset dinner right next to the Portara, which is 2500 years old!
Our last stop before I flew home via Qatar (I got to see a bit of Doha as well). We stayed one night in Piraeus after taking our second ferry ride between islands. There was a market happening and such a great vibe. We found the ideal place for dinner and had our final taste of Greek food.
My dream came true after fourteen years, and Greece didn't disappoint. I loved the people, the language, the food and the fascinating history.
Efharisto Greece. I really hope we meet again someday.