When approached with the question – “What is your favorite place that you have been?” one of the first answers that comes to mind is Greece. What’s so great about Greece? Answer: The Greek Islands. 70% of Greece’s population lives in the city of Athens on mainland Greece, and the rest are found across the Isles. It also helps that the people in Greece are the nicest people. For those wondering what to eat – you’ll find that the food is amazing.
There are MANY amazing, jaw dropping, million dollar views in this world, but none like that of Santorini, Greece. One of the many Greek Islands, Santorini is a caldera in the shape of a half moon. A caldera is the leftover parts of land following a volcanic eruption. I’m telling you, it’s magical. It is believed by some, to be the Lost City of Atlantis. How on earth did they build these towns on these cliffs?!
While enjoying lunch on a restaurant’s terrace, the cook came outside to pluck a little cherry tomato from a vine near us to use in a dish he was preparing (and this is long before it became trendy to see these outdoor gardens at restaurants here in the States). There are types of tomatoes that ONLY grow on Santorini due to the climate. I am still trying to re-create a Greek salad as good here in the States.
Santorini is a place that you can stay in a cliff house. There are doors in the rock formations with romantic ambiance and views like no other. Think “luxury cave.”
From the Old Port where cruise ships arrive, there are only three ways of transportation to the main town of Thira – cable car, foot, or donkey. We took the cable car up, and the donkey back down. I would not recommend the donkey option because this is a cliff and the entire time I felt like the donkey was going to slip and fall! Next time, I’d take the cable car or walk down all 587 steps.
You all know I love the beach and have a romance with the sea. Well, Santorini has them. They even come in black sand and red sand varieties, thanks to the volcanic action.
A picture is worth a thousand words. More like, Santorini is worth a thousand pictures.
Mykonos is “up there” on the hypothetical ‘awesome places to go’ chart.
Known for its crazy nightlife, windmills, and an area called “Little Venice,” it doesn’t disappoint. This is where I tried octopus for the first time. How could you not when “sun dried octopus” is literally on the menu? Ironically, this is also the place we found an octopus while snorkeling.
For memorable dessert food after eating a hearty meal of the typical Greek Moussaka, Salads, Dolmades, and Gyros, ..try the Bougatsa. This apple/ creamy filled pastry is delicious. Know that unlike most Caribbean beaches, Mediterranean beaches are usually rocky. In the case of Mykonos, the particular beach that we were on was like walking out onto a flat rock that felt like it was covered in green slime carpet. This made walking out to deeper waters very slow. And when we went back ashore to rent some snorkels, WOW! The number of fish dancing around that green-carpetted area was astounding. We even came across a fairly large octopus. It was definitely some of the best snorkeling.
I can’t stop thinking about how awesome of a place it is… and I’m not talking about the typical clear blue water, nice beaches, beautiful people type of awesome place. This island is filled with the friendliest and most trusting people that exist. The people on the island of Corfu actually leave their keys hanging outside of their doors on their porch when they are home. Could you imagine if we did that here in the U.S.? I’d say most of us would be missing a flat screen TV or two, to say the least. In Corfu, showing that you are home is done on purpose. Come on in! And when you do, buy some Olive Oil bath and body products, because the prices are so affordable here.
Corfu is where we first learned the process of how exactly Olive Oil is made. All over Greece, they have nets under the olive trees to catch any olives that fall from the branches. We learned on a recent trip to Spain that Spain is the worlds largest producer of Olive Oil, but they didn’t enter the market like Greece and Italy (where the most comes from otherwise). This “green gold” is best served fresh (unlike wine). In the United States, it is just never the same since it is not as fresh as if you were in Greece, Italy, or Spain. You also really have to read what you are buying to make sure it isn’t mixed with another oil, making the product not nearly the standard that it should be.
Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands, by both area and population. It’s bustling capital of Chania is waterside. We found some very good deals on jewelry at shops here. There is even a Starbucks (Starbucks can be found in various parts of Europe) if that is something that interests you. Along the row of restaurants on the water, there were a few places offering a soak of your feet into a tub filled with a small minnow fish which will exfoliate your feet by eating the dead skin cells. Maybe next time.. There are (of course) great beaches – some with restaurant service. Grab a lounge chair and the waitress will take your drink and food order beach side. If I get a chance to get back to Crete, I want to see the Samarian Gorge. It is a National Park of Greece, and well known around the world. If you get the chance to go see it, I’d love to hear about your experience!
Whichever Greek destination that you decide, I hope that it takes you off of the mainland and allows you the chance to explore at least one (or more) of the incredible Greek Islands.