Greece – Part 3

Greece – Part 3

Our accommodation in Santorini

A fortnight ago in – Part 1 – I spoke about Greece pre and post Euro and planning your trip. Last week in – Part 2 – I looked at vegetarian food and wine, scooter hire and getting about.

The sailing conditions for this holiday were either so-so or non existent. My husband was nervous of the Meltemi winds but we were lucky. We had to do a fair amount of motoring. Once we tied up at night we either went out to eat, have a drink, or we self catered on the boat.

Moored for lunch at Kokkinokastro

One memory I have is late at night, tied up in a little place called Steni Vala. The tavernas were closing up so I could hear bottles and plates clinking as the waiters tidied up. People were walking past the boats with their dogs chatting softly. The sound of the water splashing against the side of the boat and the creaking of the mast combined with the rocking of the boat was so soothing. We had our cabin open to see the stars. The smell of cooking and the sea was coming into the cabin. That is my idea of heaven.

Craft shop in Naxos

After a week of boating we returned the boat and took a ferry out to Naxos. My other half loves Naxos. He found his favourite place to stay – and that is where we stayed. We took walks along the beach, lazed in the sun – or shade for me, we ate right next to the sea and we drove our dead beat scooter all over the island – getting lost frequently. After a few days on Naxos we moved on to Ios and then Santorini.

Moored for the night at Steni Vala

Each island could not be more different in character. Naxos is laid back and very cool. There are nudie beaches and a relaxed attitude. Naxos is also an agricultural island and does not need tourism. Ios is a Jekyll and Hyde island. By day it is quiet and traditional. There are still shepherds herding the animals across the fields. By night drug popping people come out and party till sunrise. And Santorini is the movie star island. It’s famous, flashy and all about big boats, fast cars and being seen.

Ferry coming into Naxos

Beware of the people who flock to the buses and ferries touting rooms. They take you off the beaten path – round and round – until you have no idea where you are and then leave you in grotty accommodation. In Santorini we stayed in a very basic self catering home that belonged to a family. Sister came and serviced the place every day.

We had finished our sailing and island hopping and now it was back to Athens. Our last few days in Athens we decided to stick to the city and see as much of the ruins and museums as we could. Athens is a sprawling city. From the Acropolis it extends as far as the eye can see.

Ios island

Much like any capital city, Athens is heaving with camera clicking tourists, trashy souvenirs and inflated prices. But just like any other capital city, if you wander off the tourist map just a little bit and explore peripheral areas, you will find local people and affordable eateries. Which is what visiting a country is all about really.

Looking down on Athens from the Acropolis

See the other destinations we have traveled to in the Greenie archives by heading to the top of this page and clicking on – My holidays and Trips.

Greece – Part 2

Greece – Part 2

Red sand beach Santorini

Last week in – Part 1 –  I talk Greece pre and post Euro and planning your trip.

Ferry arriving at Syros island

I normally rant about limited food options for vegetarians. Not in Greece I’m pleased to say. I ate really well. My choices were Greek salad, big bean salad, side dishes of feta blocks, yummy olives, creamy salads such as Tzatziki and smoked aubergine dip, spinach and cheese filo pastry pies, stuffed tomatoes and stuffed peppers, cheesy aubergine bakes and dolmades. There are also lots of Turkish food places where I ate falafel. Greek salads in Greece are not the Greek salads I have had before. No lettuce in a Greek salad. Bread is consdered extra, just so you know. And do keep an eye on what you order, bills can get a bit out of hand when you order in bits and pieces and sadly, it does happen that un-ordered items find their way onto your bill.

Our hire boat Medussa

Retsina – a type of Greek wine – is awful. But after a glass or two a person gets used to it. You may want to visit one of their vineyards to get a proper bottle of wine. Wine tastings come with feta cheese and olives and are worth trying. The Greeks aren’t big on breakfasts. The most you will get is thick Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a stiff coffee which leaves a thick sediment at the bottom of the cup. They do sell Nescafe for the English who usually don’t drink their coffee strong.

Shopping in Santorini

To get around you have to read Greek. All road signs, and they are not always present on the remote islands, are of course in Greek. The Greek alphabet is completely different to a European one with unique letters. Usually I can learn to say a few words in another language but I struggled with Greek. This is what the last two sentences would look like written in Greek – Συνήθως μπορώ να μάθετε να πω λίγα λόγια σε μια άλλη γλώσσα αλλά αγωνίστηκε με ελληνικά. Αυτό είναι που τα τελευταία δύο ποινές θα μοιάζουν με γραπτή στην Ελληνική
See what I mean? Fortunately most Greeks speak English.

We hired a little scooter which is easy and common in Greece and followed the coastal roads. We did get lost a few times but somehow we always made our way back to the accommodation. Be warned – some of these bikes are not in good condition or particularly powerful. A couple of times I had to get off and walk up a hill because the bike wouldn’t go. Accidents on these bikes are common. Here are links to maps  – Travel bookstore – and – map Greece.

Naxos beach

The first part of this holiday was a week of sailing around the Sporades Islands, next we did some island hopping in the south and we finished with a few days in Athens.

We arrived in Athens and headed straight to Skiathos for our boat. Due to mishaps and limited services it took a lot longer than we planned. When we finally reached our boat and bought provisions it was nearly midnight.

Enjoying retsina next to the ocean at Naxos

This was my first boating holiday ever and I was nervous. I had done a quick boat handlers course before this holiday just to make sure I had some idea what to expect. Fortunately my husband is an avid boatie and has done countless boating holidays both in Greece and other parts of the world. I could rely on him to know what to do. Novice sailors can sail in a flotilla where there is always someone on hand to help you with the tricky parts of sailing such as berthing, sorting out the sails, ropes and tying up your boat securely.

Next week in – Part 3 – I talk about sailing, the islands and Athens.

Relaxing on the boat at Mourtas

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.



Travel in Greece in 2002


Before he met me, my husband would take his annual holiday in Greece, every single year, for nearly a decade. He’s not alone. There are plenty Grecophiles who migrate to the same island and the same hotel, to hopefully have the same experience, again and again. For Europeans Greece is a go-to destination where sun is guaranteed and the landscape is vastly different from the grey skies and rain soaked fields.

Waiting for the next ferry

We went to Greece a few years after it joined the Eurozone. We heard that Euro status had pushed prices up. We heard right. Overnight a cup of coffee that would have been say $1 in Drachma became $3 in Euro. And that translated into all areas, meals, scooter hire and accommodation. Before Greece had been a value destination, now it costs the same as a trip to most Western European countries.

Ferry arriving at Ios island

It’s always so interesting to write about our older holidays and how many changes can occur in just a few years. Greece is in economic crisis right now and may well have to revert to the Drachma. Will the old prices return? Who knows?

Tourism is the number one source of income for Greece and in the height of season – July and August – Greece is more hell than heaven. Unless hanging out with hoards of bright red, drunk or hung over Europeans is your idea of fun. The best time to visit Greece is mid to low season. If that’s not possible then avoid the tourist hot spots and seek out remote areas of Greece. There are places in Greece where time has stood still.


Much of the tourism industry shuts down after low season. Ferry services dwindle, restaurants and accommodations close as many islanders head back to the mainland for winter. You don’t want to visit Greece too close to the end of the season or you could struggle to have a holiday at all.

I always say this and it’s true. No matter how much time you budget, you never have enough time to explore a country. A person can’t see and do it all. You have to prioritise and accept your lot or you can run yourself ragged and ruin your holiday. Athens is probably your arrival destination and a good vantage point for seeing the mainland. So allow a couple of days there.

Sailing off Skopelos island

Greece has over 60 inhabited islands in the Ionian, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The northern islands are greener and cooler. The southern islands are hotter with less vegetation. Ideally a couple of days in say the Sporades Islands and a couple in The Cyclades islands will give you a chance to experience the diversity.

Most common mode of travel – run down scooters

If you book in advance – make sure you factor in ferry times and allow plenty time for tardy services. We missed our ferry to Skiathos when our bus from the airport broke down. And the next hydrofoil that came only had one seat. We waited nearly half a day to finally get to the island.

Next week in – Part 2 – I talk about food for vegetarians and wine, scooters and getting about. And the week after in – Part 3 – I discuss  sailing, the islands and Athens.

Naxos town

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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