If you’ve read some of my earlier blogs, you’ll recall Reuben’s lack of romance being discussed elaborately. Maldives put him in touch with his romantic side and Greece gave it massive amplification. We covered Santorini, Zakynthos & Naxos in this trip.
Zakynthos : You know God is on your side when there is a tornado two days before you land and rain starts on the day you have to leave. Days in the middle – calm seas with the sun playing its part in making it all look surreal.
We have to give credit to Niko for all the fun we had in Zakynthos. He was our host at Kymothoe Elite. First up, we rented a speedboat. My very first time as the skipper & I was ecstatic. My husband says my driving sucks but boy you should’ve seen me speeding across the Mediterranean. For those 4-5 hours, all naysayers had to seal their lips. I struggle to describe the feeling of controlling a speedboat in the open sea. It’s both humbling & exhilarating at the same time. I’m a sucker for new experiences and this one will stay with me for some time to come.
After spending the day at sea, all you want is a chilled beer in an infinity pool overlooking the sea. That’s just what you’ll get at the Kymothoe. Get a little drunk and appreciate man imitating God in these different shades of blue. I know you don’t get the depth of that line now but it’s bloody profound after you’ve downed a few pints.
We spent the other two days doing the more touristy things. Go up to the blue caves, spend a few hours at the shipwreck beach etc etc. Word of caution – Don’t take a tour from the city. Go right upto the Cape Skinari. You’ll see a tour operator a little ahead of the lighthouse. They’re awesome because they operate small groups and leave every 10mts. You don’t want to be sharing the beach with 300 other folks in one of the bigger boats leaving from the city.
You’ll notice a strong territorial divide between the green and blue waters on your return from the shipwreck beach. Somewhere in the vast sea expanse, there is a marked line with each color holding their side. I love how nature works!!
The other new experience I loved at Zakynthos was the ability to get hot gyros and kebaps (kebabs) at your doorstep till 4am. I love the idea of all that fun and conversation lingering without the worry of an empty stomach at the other end. Zakynthos should definitely be added to your Greece itinerary.
Santorini: Honestly, I was a bit skeptical when I landed. There was a sea of people with banners waiting for their tourist groups at the port. It reminded me of the packed cities we deliberately left behind. We sat in our shared shuttle and cursed the traffic on our way to Oia. We agreed we’ll go experience the open air cinema, visit the donkey beer brewery, go to some fun crazy bars & before we know it, our four days here will be over.
Then we reached our apartment in Oia overlooking the caldera. Love at first sight is too clichéd It’s that gorgeous feeling of a new crush. We didn’t leave Oia for a min. To be honest, I had to be dragged out even after the four days. I’m not ashamed because Oiais is breathtaking and leaving it almost felt like I’ve broken a trust that was in the nascent stages of building. Bottomline is, You HAVE to stay at a place overlooking the Caldera in Oia. Have to!! It’s worth the money spent.
I loved the energy about Oia. Everyone is in love and the positive vibes people send out when they’re in love can’t be matched. I’ve never seen so many couples walking about the streets in their wedding attire. People are getting married around you, wooing their loved ones or folks like me in stable relationships, are just renewing and revalidating their love! I absolutely love the vibe!!
We’d start our day around noon by visiting a new local eating joint(“a taverna”). Eat a kingly Greek brunch and then fight off the resulting lethargy with a chilled beer (Try the local ones – I preferred Mythos beer over Alpha & Fix) or their local aniseed drink called Oazu. The place we ended up visiting the most was Lotza & a patisserie I can’t remember the name of. I loved Lotza for the food, the family that runs the place, and the location. They also serve the most scrumptious Greek yoghurt with honey and fruits. The taste lingers in my mouth to date. Not in a foul stench sort of way… In a happy food memory way..
No meal is complete without a local dessert. Greek desserts are divine and this patisserie was our favorite. Their orange pie still makes my mouth water. The best baklava was from another bakery though. Eat a dessert right after a meal & God alone can get you back home on your own two feet. We’d drag ourselves and fall on the bed for a nice long afternoon siesta.
Wake up and continue the conversations you didn’t have time for in the city. We’d sit on our terrace overlooking the caldera and laugh & talk for hours. A nice bubbly makes a perfect companion.
Stroll the gorgeous streets in the evening, take the steps down to Amoudi bay, enjoy the world famous sunsets (not from the touristy spots). Nothing can be boring in Oia so sit back and enjoy! And let the magic of love sweep you over…
Athens: Athens was just a transit for us and we decided to make it special by staying at the best hotel of Athens. The hotel is rightfully called Grande Bretagne coz everything about the hotel is grand. Original work by Christie & Sotheby. 125 years of history..you get the drift!! Highlight was our dinner on the 8th floor with the best view of the Pantheon . If you want to experience the Ronan baths, you don’t need to look beyond their spa. Besides the award winning treatments, you can enjoy the Amethyst Grotto, Herbal steam bath, Serail mud chamber etc. etc. Enjoy the pampering as you prepare yourself for the next island hop.
Naxos: You sail into Naxos with images of Bollywood stars singing and dancing about. I’m not kidding you!! Ask any Indian and they’ll know what I’m on about. There are doorlike ruins of an ancient 2500 year old temple (Portara – Apollo temple) that have been used by Bollywood stars as a perfect backdrop to their romantic musings.
Our finest discovery in Naxos besides the yummiest food was Kitro!! Kitro, ladies & gentlemen is a citron liqueur obtained by distillation of pure alcohol in copper stills. It’s yummy!!
We would combine it with our meals, desserts and everything in between. We loved walking about Naxos. You’ll find adorable staircases like these
Or beautiful classic Greek sit out places like these.
When & if you get tired of exploring the bye lanes, come out to the water front and sit in one of the hundreds of cafes to take in the views over a nice chilled beer. The cafes by the water front completely transform by the night. The sit out places extend to the road and that main strip (if I can call it that) is abuzz with music, stories and lots of laughter. We’ve all heard of the large Greek families & the strong bond that transcends generations. You see a living example of that in these cafes. You’ll get a chance to be acquainted with the mum, dad, kids, grand kids during the course of the night, while the grand parents make a passing appearance. The vibe is really quite lovely and you make a mental note to spend more time with your family on your return.
To sum it all up, Greece represents everything good….Great food, gorgeous views, family bonds and a nostalgic feeling that makes you want to come back for more.
Recommendations for Greece
Best time to visit: Mid April to June or September to October. We went in October
Ideal trip time: 2 weeks
Getting around: We took a return flight from Delhi to Athens.
Within Greece: Take a ferry from Athens to Naxos. Then a ferry from Naxos to Santorini. We then flew into Zakynthos and then took a flight out to Athens
Staying in Greece:
Santorini: Thea Studios, Oia
Zakynthos: Kymothoe elite
Naxos: Finikas Hotel
Athens: Grande Bretagne