Europe Recap Part 5 – Mykonos & Santorini

This is the last of my Europe recaps. Sadly, we had to come home at some point! If you missed my previous recaps check them out here:

Lisbon, Madrid & Venice

Florence, Pisa & Cinque Terre

Rome & Athens

Mainland Greece

After mainland Greece, Tom and I headed off to the island of Mykonos. After a busy trip, ending with some relaxation on the Greek Islands was definitely the way to go. When our ferry pulled up to Mykonos, I was a little surprised. Compared to the lush mainland, the island of Mykonos is quite barren and desert like. However, the town is absolutely gorgeous. The white houses with blue trim is striking! We pulled up to our apartment we were staying at and I thought I might never leave.

mykonos

Our apartment actually seemed to be a very popular picture spot. I think Tom & I ended up in a lot of tourists photos as we were coming and going.

Mykonos is well-known for 2 things…beaches and partying. Check and check!

mykonos

I even found a Sephora in the small town of Mykonos, that’s when I officially decided I could move there.

sephora mykonos

Mykonos also had some gorgeous sites like the windmills & “little venice”

mykonos

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After two days in Mykonos we moved onto the island of Santorini. Santorini has been my dream place to visit for as long as I can remember. I was not disappointed!

The first night we got there we had a sunset dinner right along the Caldera overlooking the volcano. The view was outstanding the food however was meh. In Santorini you either have good food or food with a view.

santorini

The next morning we got up bright and early so we could hike from the town of Fira, where we stayed, to Oia. The hike took a little over 2 hours and was beautiful. You get incredible views the entire time and get to see some great little churches along the way. The island of Santorini has over 250 churches with many of them built in the most difficult to reach places – up steep hills, in the middle of cliffs, etc. No matter where you go, you are never far from a church.

santorini

santorini

Once we reached Oia, my dreams of Santorini came true. This is the most beautiful town imaginable.

santorini

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After Tom dragged me away from Oia and my paparazzi picture taking, we headed back to Fira where we took a tour to the volcano. We learnt about the volcanic history of Santorini and the formation of the Caldera. Afterwards we went to a natural hot springs formed from the volcano. It’s in the middle of the sea and the hot spring water mixes with the sea water so there are pockets of hot and cold. It is full of sulfur from the volcano, it didn’t smell but the water was brown.

santorini hot springs

After our tour, we decided to opt out of the roughly 600 steps to get back up to the town and went for an old-fashioned donkey ride. The donkeys just do their own thing. They stop when they feel like it and then they will take off and try to pass the other donkeys. You just hold on for the ride.

 

santorini donkey ride

That night we checked out a local bar called Two Brothers. We stumbled upon it and ended up having the best time. It was a tiny bar but by the end of the night the place got packed. They had some interesting specialty drinks including one where you took a shot of ouzo while wearing a helmet and the bartender would whack your head with a bat. Sound like a good idea? I didn’t think so either, but Tom did! Boys…

santorini two brothers

 

The next day we rented an ATV to cruise around the island and check out the sites.

santorini ATV

We drove around looking at smaller towns, the light house and then headed for the beach. Santorini has a red sand beach and a black sand beach. They are both really unique. We didn’t stay long at Red Beach, it’s really beautiful but it’s pretty small and didn’t have much to offer. We spent our day relaxing at the black beach of Perissa.

red beach santorini

After a day of beaching we went to Santo Winery for some wine tasting. We got the most incredible wine tasting that included a flight of 12 wines with some delicious local snacks. The winery was gorgeous with incredible views. Sipping on 12 wines while overlooking the sea wasn’t too shabby. Even better, Tom had to drive the ATV so more wine for me!

santo wine winery

That night we drove to Oia for the famous sunset. Tom wasn’t too interested in going because we heard the crowds were pretty big and he figured the sunset would be the same as we saw in Fira. But I insisted we go and see, otherwise I would always wonder if I missed out on something. So was it worth it?

oia sunset

It was gorgeous. Although, truthfully the crowds do take away from the experience. I really tried to embrace the experience though, I took a few pictures then I just put down my camera, blocked out the crowds and truly enjoyed the experience. I found it the perfect end to our holiday. I sat there thinking about our trip and was so grateful for my life and the opportunity to travel and see these gorgeous places.

The next morning we were hopping a flight from Santorini to Athens, Athens to London, and then finally London to Calgary. We got home around 8 p.m. which was 5 a.m. Athens time. We got a little bit of sleep before we both headed off for work the next morning. Ugh, worst decision ever. I was a complete zombie the first day back at work.

Overall, the greek islands live up to the fame and hype. They are simply incredible. If you have ever thought about going there, make it a priority. If you have never thought about going, start thinking about it now!

If you have any questions about my trip or are planning a trip of your own and want some advice – feel free to ask!

 

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Europe Recap – Part 4 – Mainland Greece

I have two more Europe Recaps for you. I know some people are thinking thank goodness, I am so sick of this girl’s vacation! But I hope some other people are sad and wanting to see more pretty pictures because I have a bunch in store for you today!

If you missed my previous Europe Reaps check them out:

Lisbon, Madrid & Venice

Florence, Pisa & Cinque Terre

Rome & Athens

For mainland Greece Tom and I decided to book a bus tour. Greece is not nearly as easy to get around by trains. With my less than stellar navigating skills, driving can become stressful very quickly. So in order to save our vacation and marriage we opted for the bus. The great thing about the bus trip was that we had a guide. I highly recommend this if you are going to be visiting ancient Greece. I find that after a while of visiting ruins they start to look alike, having a guide there to explain everything was so worth it.

After leaving Athens our first pit-stop was at the Corinth Canal.

corinth canal greece

Next stop was the ancient town, Mycenae. This is one of the oldest ancient Greek civilizations dating back to 1600 BC. This place made the Roman Forum look brand new! The ruins that remain there are very minimal except one, the lion gate which was the entrance to the city.

mycenae greece

After Mycenae we headed to Epidaurus which has the most well-preserved amphitheatre. This place is 2500 years old and still hosts theatre performances. I wish we had got a chance to see that! The acoustics in this place were incredible. If you were standing at the very top you could hear every word someone talking in a conversation voice was saying on the stage.

epidaurus theatre greece

 

The next day we were off to Olympia. I loved this stop. It was so cool to see the origins of the Olympics, which dates back to 776 BC and the museum there was phenomenal.

It was funny to learn that not a whole lot has changed in thousands of years. Athletes learnt that taking certain herbs helped enhance their performance. This was considered cheating and in order to stop this, they had to submit a pee sample. The pee was smelt in order to determine if the athlete had been taking any herbs. If athletes were caught cheating their names were carved in the stone walls that led to the Olympic stadium. These carvings are still there today, talk about the ultimate punishment.

My favourite part of the day was running a lap in the Olympic Stadium. It is one of those life moments that I’ll never forget.

olympia stadium greece

FYI – that is supposed to be me celebrating crossing the finish line, I don’t just run with my hands up in the air…

After our run, Tom and I graciously accepted our place on the podium where victors were crowned with olive wreaths.

olympia greece

On top of that podium used to be a statue of Nike, the goddess of victory. We got a chance to see the statue later in the museum.


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The next day we were in Delphi. We started the morning off with an early morning hike. Tom was less than impressed when I said I wanted to set my alarm for 6 am to go hiking. But it was a gorgeous hike through the Greek mountains where we got to overlook the ruins of Delphi, well worth the early morning wake up call.

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After the hike we headed off with our group to tour Delphi. Delphi was believed to be the centre of the earth. This is where, in the Temple of Apollo, the oracle was. Greeks would come from all around to ask the oracle questions as it was believed they could speak directly with the gods.

I found being in Delphi such an incredible experience. This is the place of Greek mythology.

delphi

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Our last day on the bus trip we headed way north to Meteora. Meteora means suspended in air which is entirely fitting for a place where monasteries are built on the top of sandstone pillars. This area of Greece is absolutely beautiful and then the monasteries just make it incredible.

meteora

There were 24 monasteries but today only 6 remain. In this picture, you can see 4 of them.

meteora monasteries

We visited 2 of the monasteries, where I was given a very fashionalble skirt to wear.

meterora

You couldn’t take pictures in the monasteries but these are still functioning places of worship where nuns and monks live.

After Meteora we took a very LONG bus ride back to Athens. We stayed at the port because we had a early morning ferry the next day.

Overall, I loved seeing mainland Greece. I think a lot of tourists skip over this part and go straight to the islands which I think is a big mistake. While the tour did involve a lot of driving, seeing these ancient sites was incredible. It’s so humbling to think of how old these places are and the civilizations that came before you.

Tomorrow I’ll share my final recap of the Greek Islands, which are incredibly beautiful so you don’t want to miss that recap!