The only analogy that I can think of, for Greece, is Rajma Chawal. It keeps everyone happy . I am sure the fellow Indian travellers would understand. For those who don’t, Greece is one country that has something to offer to every kind of traveller; History buffs , budget travellers, luxury lovers, beach babies, party animals and the list goes on. It is extremely safe for solo travellers and a delight for cat lovers. Yes, the cats of Greece are famous, theyare proudly drawn and printed on various souvenirs as bags, T shirts and you can witness cats walking in and out of even the airports , nonchalantly.
Greece is a quaint Eastern European country with the historic background, unmatched for. It is also budget friendly as compared to its counterparts in the continent. Due to the limited time at our disposal, we chose three destinations with three different flavors – Athens, Santorini and Mykonos.
It all started from here! No literally. City of Athens stands tall with some of the greatest achievements of mankind. The birthplace of democracy in all its splendour and glory represents thousands of years of cultural evolution. Greeks were the avant-garde of sports, modern medicine, mathematics and sciences that we practice today.
Some things to do in Athens:
- Parthenon: Climb up and bask in the glory of past. This grand structure signifies landmarks in the history of human civilization. The temple is constructed for Godess Athena, who is considered to be the patron of Athens. The Acropolis is made of many such temples and amphi theatres. It has often been lauded as the symbol of glorious Greek legacy.
- The Acropolis Museum: A must visit for archiphiles. Those who don’t enjoy history as much, you can visit a cafe inside, which offers the most astounding view of Parthenon.
- Plaka: Though well known, we discovered this gem on climbing down from the wrong side of the Parthenon. A good walk along the plaka is laden with local shops, taverns and cute little pricey cafes. Striking little houses will give you a glimpse of everyday- history.
- Along the way there are numerous souvenir shops, with owners begging you to come in, and mind you, you can’t come out empty handed once you go in. Try to avoid the big shops, as they are a little pricey.
- We opted to walk further down to find a fine old gentleman inviting us in his shop, offering us water and showing pictures of his friends visiting from all over the world.
How could have we not honour his kindness!! So ,ended up buying quite a lot.
- Greek Parliament, Syntagma square: Change of guards ceremony is something that we missed. In the current turmoil of financial austerity, the parliament is a place that sees a lot of protests and demonstrations.
- Temple of Olympian Zeus: The sheer size of the pillars leaves you speechless. Walk where the god once lived!!
There are a lot more to do in Athens like taking walking/cycling tours, open air theatre, national gardens.
- Always , always, always travel by metro. It is the cheapest mode of transport and also gives an opportunity to talk to locals.
- Take a walk in plaka and dine in one of the cafes from where the acropolis can be seen. There is no better way to witness the splendid history with the mix of modernity.
It is undoubtedly the most beautiful place on earth. Santorini curves around a huge lagoon of sparkling blue pristine Aegean. It is a perfect setting for beginning an eternal romance. If the beauty of breathtaking views, modern yet peculiar white towns adorned with little houses can’t make you fall in love, nothing else will. Waking up in Santorini must be every nature lover’s dream.
- We travelled from Athens to Santorini by Flight.
- Santorini is made of various villages .The postcard perfect Oia, Fira, Akroriti, Perissa etc.
- Oia has the most breathtaking views of Caldera and it boasts of adorning the pictures of Greece on every single website, postcard . But also, it is extremely crowded. The small white houses are pre dominantly very pricey hotels, which I would not recommend to anyone. Think of soaking in the warm pool, watching the sunset with hundreds of people looking over you, constantly clicking photographs. Oia, as beautiful as it is, is disappointing due to sheer volume of tourists(Not travellers!!) it drives.
- The only attraction for me visiting Oia was Atlantis Book Shop. A quaint bookshop, overlooking the Aegean sea with its quirky interiors , always features in every booklover’s bucket list.
- Fira is comparatively better, less crowded.
- We stayed in Akroriti , on the other end of the caldera. It provided all the serenity and solitude essential to drown into this eternal beauty called Santorini.
- Red beach is also a must visit, with less people and with peculiar red rocks and sands.
- We gave a miss to volcano tour and decided to explore the far off villages.
- Public transport is affordable and frequent. However, one can rent a car or bike to drive around. We rented ATVs and explored the less populated villages, shopped in local grocery stores and basked in the sun on Perissa beach. In short, we decided to give popular places a miss and went where the road lead us.
- Always stay on the other side. The grass is definitely greener here.
Part of the Cyclades, Mykonos has a nickname ‘The island of wind.’ It is famous for the huge windmills and a thriving nightlife. We felt that Mykonos was a little pricey. The must see place in Mykonos is ‘Little Venice’. Little balconies hanging over the shore with narrow pathway that connects the windmills to the bustling market is a pleasure to explore. There are various cafes and bars over the shore , along the path and is always crowded with people watching sunset.
The alternate way is to walk all the way up to the docks and sit peacefully in one of the cafes facing sea.
We travelled using ATVs here too, took buses occasionally and roamed on various beaches. From Santorini, we travelled by Ferry to Mykonos. Always go by high speed boats and book business class tickets. There is hardly any difference in the fare, but offers a thousand times better sitting, viewing facilities.
Greece has this calming, rejuvenating effect on you; makes you appreciate beauty the mother earth has bestowed so generously upon us. It has a strange vibe of familiarity and comfort. Though lying miles away, some places just become home to us. Greece is indeed one such place.