The last stop on my world tour ended up being Greece, where I would be reunited with two close girlfriends from home, Elyssa and Trish! Looking back on the time I had in Greece, this was the perfect ending to a wonderful 7-month journey.
As we arrived in Athens, we had planned on only spending one day there exploring the Acropolis and the Parthenon…little did we know we would be in the midst of an extreme heat wave. The day we had to explore Athens and all of its beauty and ruins had been cut short because the temperatures were at an all time high at 115 degrees and the government put out a country wide alert to stay indoors. Fortunately, we were able to climb up the hill to the Acropolis and Parthenon before the 2:30pm deadline where they would close the exhibits for the day. Due to the crazy heat wave, Elyssa and I were absolutely drenched from head to toe in sweat and couldn’t really appreciate the beauty that these ruins had to offer us. The history and the stories attached to these buildings are remarkable and really transported us back in time. After walking around the grounds and taking semi-decent pictures while not fainting, we decided to head back down to Athens to get a traditional Greek salad and head to our ferry early.
As soon as we boarded the ferry to head to our first island on our island hopping tour, we were absolutely exhausted from the heat and not getting proper sleep the evening before (both of our flights arrived around midnight). We took a much-needed nap and enjoyed our 9-hour ferry ride from Athens to Santorini. While we were on the ferry we were able to enjoy the sunset while sailing across the Aegean Sea, it was absolutely stunning.
We decided to take it easy the next day and head to Ammoudi Bay for some cliff jumping since we had arrived in Santorini at 3am the night before. We rented an ATV and explored the island while heading towards Oia and Ammoudi Bay. My old boss had actually suggested Ammoudi Bay and it did not disappoint at all! It was absolutely beautiful and the cliff jumping spot was so pretty and was facing Oia. We swam around in the blue waters, cliff jumped, swam with the scuba divers underneath us and admired the beautiful small church that was perched on the cliff where we were jumping off of. Unfortunately, this spot was not a hidden gem anymore so we met a ton of American’s who were trying to chase the same thrills we were.
After relaxing a bit and soaking in the sun, we decided to head towards Fira to do some shopping before heading back to our hostel. Fira is a small town on the coast of Santorini with the most beautiful shops and restaurants. It is very easy to get lost in this small city due to the winding alleyways but within each small alley, we came across another beautiful jewelry shop or leather goods store. Elyssa and I spent the rest of the day purchasing souvenirs for our loved ones and admiring the beautiful works of art.
The next day, we decided to hang out on the black sand beach with our new friends, Camilla and Sam. It was great to wind down and stay put for the day while enjoying the company of two new friends. That day we also found our favorite small town gyro shop! Elyssa and I went back to this small mom and pop shop every day after because the gyros were that tasty, we honestly think it had to do with the special homemade tzatziki sauce and the low price of two euros per gyro. That is one thing I absolutely love finding while traveling, the small, off the beaten path restaurants where the food is impeccable.
The next day was an adventure filled day with LOTS of ATV challenges…. we decided to go on an ATV tour around Santorini with our new friends to see the red sand beach, the white sand beach and also the sunset at the Santorini Lighthouse. We arrived at the Red Sand beach with no problems and were able to enjoy it along with all the other tourists who stopped by. (Sidenote: I had previously been to a red sand beach in Hawaii so I was expecting it to be nicer and more enjoyable than what it was. This particular red sand beach was way too crowded and the waves came crashing into us as we were trying to cross to the other side where you could sit down and relax. Unfortunately, this beach did not live up to the expectations I had in my mind and were probably skewed by my love for the red sand beach in Hawaii.) The real dilemma came about as we were searching for the white sand beach…
As we began our search for the white sand beach, we noticed our ATV’s accelerator would always get stuck when we were trying to go slowly around cliffs or on dirt roads. The accelerator would make us go faster when we were trying to brake which was not a good sign and a risk for our safety. Then Google Maps took us to two different locations. The first location you had to go up a steep cliff and maneuver around big boulders. Luckily I’ve had some experience in ATV-ing offroad so I was able to get to the top of the cliff with Elyssa on my quad while the other girls stayed down on the street. Of course, when we reached the top, the white sand beach was nowhere to be found so we decided to head to the second spot that google maps directed us to. Elyssa hopped on the other quad because the girls didn’t feel comfortable driving off road to the next spot. As soon as we arrived at the next spot, 3 miles away, Elyssa noticed that the key was not in the ATVs engine anymore…and it turned out that the white sand beach was not accessible by land, you had to take a kayak or boat to it! After learning this information we gave up on going to the white sand beach and decided to retrace our steps to search for the missing ATV key before heading back to the black sand beach. Of course, we couldn’t find the small key after 40 minutes of searching for it so we headed back to the ATV shop to discuss with them all our mishaps of the day. Luckily they were super understanding and gave us a new ATV where the accelerator worked properly and provided us with a new key for our other ATV. Since we basically spent our entire day riding around searching for beaches that didn’t exist, we decided to head up to the lighthouse early to watch the sunset. Most people go to Oia to watch the sun set which is directly across from the light house but we wanted to avoid the crowds and have a peaceful night…or so we thought.
We enjoyed the sunset at the lighthouse and the peace and quiet we got from not having large tourists groups with us. It was absolutely stunning to watch and the perfect place to see it with close friends.
After the sun set, we had an hour to return our ATVs in order to get our IDs back (side note, we were leaving the next day on a 6am ferry to Ios). Of course, as the girls are trying to start their ATV, it’s out of gas so with quick thinking I decide I will grab a pint or two of gas and get back to fill it up in time for us to get back to the ATV place. I get on the ATV with Camilla and head to the closest gas station which just happened to be 15 minutes away! We quickly grab as much gas as we can in our water bottles and head the 15 minutes back to our broken down ATV. With only 30 minutes left to get our ATVs returned (FYI the ATV place is 35 minutes away with no traffic), we put the gas into the ATV and guess what….it doesn’t start!! We are in a complete jam at this point. Elyssa and I decide to hop on our ATV to get to the shop before it closes to tell them about our dilemma while the other two girls stayed with the broken down ATV next to the light house…also at this point it’s getting really dark and none of us have any cell service. Being the crazy, fast driver I am, we somehow make it to the ATV shop as soon as the shop owner is locking up. We have to explain to him what happened with the ATV and by this point, he’s pissed off at us after experiencing all these difficulties during the day (new key, new ATV with a proper accelerator, etc). As we are about to hop in his car to go get the girls and the broken down ATV, the girls appear out of nowhere with their ATV!! We were absolutely in awe with how they got it up and running and were so thankful that we didn’t have the owner drive to the light house for no reason….anyways we gave our ATV keys back and decided we needed a drink after all this confusion and recklessness from the day.
Cheers to being ATV free and getting our ID’s back just in time for our morning ferry ride to Ios.
Santorini was an incredible island but we were ready to leave to check out the new destination, Ios. For those of you who don’t know, Ios is a very big party island that many people have told us to check out before we headed to Mykonos. The only thing people didn’t tell us was that we would be the oldest people at the beach bars since it’s all 16-21 year olds! We spent the 4th of July here with new friends and had an absolute blast. I also met some of the nicest guys who happen to live in NYC so you bet I will be seeing them again (Shoutout to Ervin & Josh).Trish met up with us the day before we headed to Mykonos to end our island hopping tour.
As soon as we arrived in Mykonos, I fell head over heels in LOVE with this island. I’m afraid that if we came to this island first, I would not have left. We only had 4 days here but we used every hour to our advantage to check out every part of Mykonos. The first day we went around Mykonos city to explore the shopping, the small alleyways and find some good gyros! The people who work in the bakeries and the small shops are all so lovely and happy and absolutely beautiful. On the coast of Mykonos city, there were mega million dollar superyachts casually parked at the dock and while we were walking around we noticed people coming out of Louis Vuitton and Prada with 8 shopping bags. It was seriously a millionaire’s fantasy land in the middle of the Aegean Sea!
The next day, we rented ATVs (don’t worry we made sure they worked properly and had enough gas) and explored the island. This was the day I absolutely fell in love with Mykonos. Every single beach we went to was more stunning than the one we had just been to. As we were swimming around and enjoying each other’s company, we would notice that this one super yacht had a helicopter and this helicopter kept flying back and forth from this super yacht to this mega mansion perched on top of the hill that looked over the beach we were at. I just kept thinking that these super yachts probably have 10 bedrooms on board but why stay on the yacht when you could rent out a mega mansion on the ground? I honestly could not believe the amount of wealth these people had. While they weren’t flying their helicopters to their mansions, they were using their water slide that was attached to their yacht to get to their jet skis. Just watching them live their life was entertaining enough for me, I think my jaw had been wide open for the entire time we were on this beach. The 3 beaches we visited that day were Agari, Super Paradise, and Paraga. My personal favorite was Paraga because there was a line of super yachts parked out in the sea.
Our last day in Mykonos, we shopped until we dropped and took many pictures of the gorgeous flowers around Mykonos city. I truly see myself coming back here one summer to live here so I can get to know the locals more and enjoy waking up in paradise every single day.
What a way to end my 7-month adventures with my close friends in my new found paradise! Until next year Greece, I will most certainly be back every summer!!