In my last post, I mentioned I had been traveling and would post about that soon. It took me a while to gather my pictures and my thoughts, so I hope you enjoy them! Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting Greece. My two girlfriends and I went backpacking across four different islands – Athens, Santorini, Mykonos and Zakynthos. As you can imagine, it will be difficult for me to write about all islands in one post so I’m going to split them up into two. In this one, I’ll focus on Athens and Santorini. So join me as I take you through my adventures in the Hellenic Republic!
Athens is officially the capital of Greece and is named after the Goddess Athena (a.k.a Minerva) after she defeated Poseidon in a battle. Of course, everyone comes here to see the Acropolis and rightfully so, since it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Acropolis comprises of multiple temples dedicated to Gods such as Nike, Zeus, Poseidon, etc. The most famous ones are Parthenon and Erechtheion. The former is arguably the most photographed since it is visible even from a distance. The latter is situated inside the perimeter and marked by beautiful columns in the shape of female figures. Most of these monuments are made with marble. This makes the restoration project extremely difficult, since 50% of the restoration material has to also be marble.
After you’re done perusing the city, grab a drink and indulge in some delicious Greek food. There are multiple places to do so in Athens, but one bar I definitely recommend is City Zen. Cocktails are reasonably priced and you get breathtaking views of the Acropolis (sorry, Parthenon). Another advantage is that it’s located right in Monastiraki, which is a major shopping area. Mellisinos, the poet sandal maker, is also located close by. If you want authentic gladiator sandals, do NOT miss this shop. You’ll likely be tired from all the shopping so feel free to partake in an afternoon siesta. You’ll wake up right in time to grab dinner and go partying in Gazi. This area is filled with bars/clubs but make note, no one gets there before midnight.
Weather/Clothing – Athens gets HOT, so dress accordingly. I forgot to wear a hat while touring the Acropolis, so please do not repeat my mistake! The city is quite fashionable and I encourage you to dress up in your summer best. You can also buy a ton of outfits there (like the green dress below that I bought in Athens for $40).
Little factoid: Acropolis literally means the ‘highest point of the city.’ However, that is a misnomer, considering there are higher hills in proximity.
Fire and lava came together to form a beautiful cluster of islands, known as Cyclades. The islands are located in the Aegan Sea and the largest island is named Thira/Thera. The name Santorini was later allotted to this island in the 13th century by the Venetians. I stayed in the Akrotiri area, which is home to excavations performed by a late professor in an attempt to uncover a city buried entirely under ashes following volcanic eruptions. The Minoan civilization was believed to have lived here and their complex consisted of multi-level buildings, streets, pipes and even a modern toilet! I can’t put into words how it feels to walk through this deserted town. I pictured people walking through alleys going about their day-to-day businesses, only to be ruined by the fury of Mother Nature. If you visit Santorini, this is a must-see!
Another very popular area in Santorini is Oia, where everyone huddles to watch the beautiful sunset. My friends and I had visited a local winery before, so we came equipped with a delicious bottle of wine. As you can see from my pictures below, the beauty of the sunset against white-washed buildings, blue-domed roofs and a vast sea is unparalleled. Come here and be wowed.
Pro tip: get here early to find a spot, as it gets extremely crowded.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the wine! Santorini is known for their Assyrtiko grapes, which flourish in the ash-rich soils. One common feature of wines produced by these grapes is the acidity. Hence, a lot of Greek wines are acidic and dry…but delicious nonetheless. I made sure to bring back at least a bottle for my husband. But If I’m being honest, it was more for me.
Weather/Clothing – It was definitely warmer here than Athens, so packing light is a general rule of thumb for Greece. However, it was much windier in Santorini, so pack a light jacket as well. I picked this romper purchased at a local boutique. It was light, yet fashionable, which allowed me to travel in style.