I have many readers sending emails and friends asking about Santorini. OK I GET IT! VERY POPULAR AMONG SINGAPOREANS. But Greece is really more than just Santorini. There are still many many pretty underrated islands around Greece. And of course not as commercialized too. But nevertheless, Santorini is nothing short of amazing (except that it is so crowded with tourists omg). Ever since we got to Athens, we were chasing sunsets everyday. We are finally seeing sunset after 4 days of daylights in Iceland! The temperature change we went through was insane too. From 13°c in Iceland to 30°c in Greece, CAN YOU IMAGINE?! And the European sun was so scotching hot that you instantly become tanned after few hours in the sun. Prepare your sunblock please.
1) Getting the right ticket
a) Flight: We flew back to London from Iceland and caught a flight to Athens via Pegasus Airline. The flight costs around 170 EUR (SGD 300) and is cheaper to book in advance. So book early! Like I mentioned in my previous post, there are many European budget carriers that offers really good deal like Pegasus, Wizzair, Ryanair, Easyjet, Germanwings etc but I particularly liked Pegasus because it provides a free 20kg check-in luggage. DONT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT RUCKSACK TOO HEAVY OR WHAT!
b) Ferry: As we did island-hopping within Greece (Athens > Santorini >Mykonos >Athens), we had to book our ferry ticket beforehand too. We booked our ferry tickets from FantasticGreece! It costs us 124EUR(SGD 232) in total. Remember to make a mental note to yourself about where the ferry is departing from. Athens has 2 ports, Piraeus and Rafina. Piraeus is the main port in Athens and the largest port in Greece. It serves most itineraries to the Greek islands and is conveniently located on the green line of the metro system in Athens. Rafina is the second largest port in Athens and is further away from the city center. To go to Rafina, you will have to take Suburban (KTEL) buses that leaves from Pedion Areos in Athens centre. Buses usually leave every hour and the ride takes about 70 min, depending on traffic. To go to Pedion Areos, take the green metro line to Victoria station and then walk up Heiden street. The bus ride costs 2.5 EUR(SGD 4.25). Your ferry ticket is not an e-ticket. Before embarkation you need to pick-up your tickets from the offices of the ferry company at the port or the central agency of the ferry company at that port. You can pick-up your tickets at any time and it doesn’t necessary have to be just before departure. The offices of the ferry companies or the central agencies are always open where there is a departure or arrival of their ferries. We always picked up our ticket before boarding the ferry on the day itself.
2) Getting a shelter
As usual, we airbnb-ed in Greece too. One very important thing is to check the location and reviews. If you are in Athens, it will be best if you stay near Acropolis or Syntagma (city center). As for Santorini, it will be best if you stay near Fira (the “capital of Santorini”). It doesn’t really matter for Mykonos because it’s smaller but it will be better if you stay near to the town area called Chora. Accomodation costs us SGD 210 for the 6 nights here.
3) Getting around
Where did I go in Athens!
In Athens, it was pretty easy to get around because it is a city and places are easily accessible by metro! You can take the metro from the airport! Remember to buy a two way ticket at the counter because it is cheaper! And in Athens, remember to flash your student cards everywhere especially when you are buying admission ticket. There are usually discounts for students! Best if you say you are from an university in EU. I used my card and said that I am from a Danish university and I got free admission into the Temple of Zeus but when I said I am from a Singapore university, I was charged but at a cheaper rate of 6EUR for admission into Acropolis. We rented car when we were in Santorini and Mykonos because we had 3 persons so it was very worthy to rent a car. It costs 45EUR in Santorini and 40EUR in Mykonos to rent a car for the entire day and with 3 persons, each only had to pay 13-15EUR. Not only that, the bus frequencies in islands were really low and with a car, we went much further to explore the non-touristy places. Fret not, there are many available options to go around the islands! Rental shop offering rental of scooters and ATV are everywhere. We wanted to rent ATV in Mykonos at first because we had already drove in Santorini but ATV costs 20 EUR each and there was 3 of us so we need to get 2 ATV which makes it 40 EUR. So we decided to rent a car with the same amount of money but at much greater comfort.
Not all European cities has one so you need to google search first! We joined the free walking tour that departs twice from the Acropolis museum entrance (next to the big yellow mailbox) everyday at 10.00 and 16.00. The free walking tour won’t bring you into those attractions that require to pay so you can go in before/after your tour. Kalimarmaro Stadium – huge marble stadium most famously used for the first modern Olympic games held in Athens in 1895.
Where did I go in Santorini!
Because we had a car, we basically drove around using Google map. Didn’t know that you actually don’t need wifi for location service. You just need wifi to load the map and location. So what we did was before we stepped out of our apartment, we loaded our map and location. Then when we are out of the wifi range, the map will still show our location. We saw many couples having photoshoots/wedding here and I can’t help but goes awww. I always thought it was overrated to have photoshoots here knowing that it sorta got famous among Asians because the Taiwanese drama, Love at Aegean Sea (hmmm it was a decade ago) was filmed here but after coming here, I can totally understand why everybody want to come here because it is just so romantic!
Where did I go in Mykonos!
I remembered telling my friends that this place resembled the whitewashed houses with colourful doors and window frame in Mama Mia! And walking along the street of the main street, it felt like somebody is going to pop out singing and the whole town will sing together just like in Mama Mia. Mykonos is so different from Santorini and it definitely has its own charm. I love how the bougainvillea trees bloomed and stood out against the pristine white walls and how this island surprised me with its quirkiness.
Harbour City – The Port has an old and a new port. The old port is mainly used for excursions with many ferries arriving. Everyday 10-12 ferries anchor at the port and 3cruise ships arrive. It is a busy port especially in the summer months betweenMay and September. When arriving in the old port there are a row of whitewashes houses looking over the water. Mykonos port is located a 10minute walk from the City of Mykonos.
Windmills – When visiting Mykonos a popular tourist attraction and common photograph setting are the windmills. Dating back to the 16th century, the windmills came about due to the need to refine grain. The windmills were positioned near to the main port for easy access to the harbour. Originally there were more than 20 windmills, today 7 are preserved for tourists to explore and take pictures. The circular windmills were all painted in white with a wooden roof. They represent an impressive site from all angles and at night the silhouette makes the perfect picture against the sunset. The windmills were labelled as one of the most popular landmarks of the Cyclades Islands and their picture now recognised around the world.
Beaches – This island has countless of beaches. Set out on a trip to discover the beauties of the island, in particularly its sun-kissedbeaches. Along the southern coast you will find a great selection of the most cosmopolitan ones. Here, wild parties keep the crowds rocking day and night. Paradise and Super Paradise may already be familiar to you. (Beach club) Órnos and Psaroú are favorite spots for families. Try a visit too to Platis Yalós, with a well-organized beach where you can soak up the sun lazing on a sun lounge. However, if you are looking for a serene beach to unwind with a book, pick a less organized one on the northern coast of the island, like Ayia Ánna,Houlákia, Kápari, Agrári and Ayios Stéfanos.
Road tripping – Having a car opens endless possibilities, allowing us to just drive aimlessly around the island! So we had a mini road trip, spending the day driving around the island and stopping for photo-worthy spots, beach-hopping and relaxed under the sun. We also drove up to the lighthouse that overlooks the whole island and sat on top of the car waiting for the sun to set. That sunset was golden. We also accidentally drove into somebody’s home and that person has a helipad in his’her place.
4) What to eat
Mediterranean food was awesome omggggggg. *INSERTS HEART HEART HEART* IT IS DAMN GOOD I SWEAR! Basically we burst our pocket on food here because we had been eating out almost everyday. You definitely can save more money if you don’t eat as much as us. But the food is so good!!!! I LOVE IT! And sorry for the messy table because I really couldn’t care much other than eating.
Authentic Greek Variety Platter (Traditional Fave Beans, Fried Tomato Balls, Cheese Croquettes, Herbed Meatballs, Eggplant Salad-Tzatzikim Zuchinni Balls, Cheese pie, Fish Row Salad).
Moussaka, popular Mediterranean dish that is terraced with layers of cheese, potato, minced meat and eggplants. I LOVE IT OMG!
Grilled Calamari stuffed with Feta cheese – THIS WAS SO GOOD OMG. The calamari is so fresh and juicy!!! Toward the last few days, we were so tight on budget that we ate street food everyday. And one of our favourite street food is pita! It is sold everywhere in the town! Basically it is grilled wrap stuffed with meat, fries, tomato and mayonnaise! There is different variety of pita from chicken, lamb, beef but our favourite would be gyros! It is actually very filling! We can eat up to 3 pitas everyday! One pita cost around EUR2.5.
Greece was really romantic, charming and delightful! It definitely has one of the best sunsets on Earth. I love how the people there were so hospitable and warm especially in one of the dessert shop we chanced by and how nice and patient our host in Athens was even though we caused her so much troubles. Basically we spent EUR150(SGD 255) in these 7 days so it should be enough to cover expenses like petrol, car rental, food etc. Thanks Greece, for allowing me to experience bits of Mediterranean culture and I would definitely want to bring N here one day just because I cannot resist how romantic this place is. And knowing that Santorini is in almost everybody’s bucket list, I hope my post would help in the planning.