Thursday, October 18, 2012

Greece - Part 3

Our accommodation in Santorini
A fortnight ago in - Part 1 - I spoke about Greece pre and post Euro and planning your trip. Last week in - Part 2 - I looked at vegetarian food and wine, scooter hire and getting about.

The sailing conditions for this holiday were either so-so or non existent. My husband was nervous of the Meltemi winds - see here - but we were lucky. We had to do a fair amount of motoring. Once we tied up at night we either went out to eat, have a drink, or we self catered on the boat.

Moored for lunch at Kokkinokastro
One memory I have is late at night, tied up in a little place called Steni Vala. The tavernas were closing up so I could hear bottles and plates clinking as the waiters tidied up. People were walking past the boats with their dogs chatting softly. The sound of the water splashing against the side of the boat and the creaking of the mast combined with the rocking of the boat was so soothing. We had our cabin open to see the stars. The smell of cooking and the sea was coming into the cabin. That is my idea of heaven.

Craft shop in Naxos
After a week of boating we returned the boat and took a ferry out to Naxos. My other half loves Naxos. He found his favourite place to stay - and that is where we stayed. We took walks along the beach, lazed in the sun - or shade for me, we ate right next to the sea and we drove our dead beat scooter all over the island - getting lost frequently. After a few days on Naxos we moved on to Ios and then Santorini.

Moored for the night at Steni Vala
Each island could not be more different in character. Naxos is laid back and very cool. There are nudie beaches and a relaxed attitude. Naxos is also an agricultural island and does not need tourism. Ios is a Jekyll and Hyde island. By day it is quiet and traditional. There are still shepherds herding the animals across the fields. By night drug popping people come out and party till sunrise. And Santorini is the movie star island. It's famous, flashy and all about big boats, fast cars and being seen.

Ferry coming into Naxos
Beware of the people who flock to the buses and ferries touting rooms. They take you off the beaten path - round and round - until you have no idea where you are and then leave you in grotty accommodation. In Santorini we stayed in a very basic self catering home that belonged to a family. Sister came and serviced the place every day.

We had finished our sailing and island hopping and now it was back to Athens. Our last few days in Athens we decided to stick to the city and see as much of the ruins and museums as we could. Athens is a sprawling city. From the Acropolis it extends as far as the eye can see. I've put some links to the traditional must sees - here - and - here - and here.

Ios island
Much like any capital city, Athens is heaving with camera clicking tourists, trashy souvenirs and inflated prices. But just like any other capital city, if you wander off the tourist map just a little bit and explore peripheral areas, you will find local people and affordable eateries. Which is what visiting a country is all about really.

Looking down on Athens from the Acropolis
See the other destinations we have traveled to in the Greenie archives by clicking - here.