Monday, March 28, 2011

The Island Life

I honestly feel that Greece was the home of the gods for a reason so as promised here is my experience of The Greek Islands in all their glory (watch out it's a biggie!).
Oia, Santorini. You know you want to go but how?
Let’s start with getting there: Ferries are your friend. Buy your tickets a day or two in advance and you can’t go wrong.  As a guide, the trip from Athens to Santorini takes around 7 hours on a regular ferry (you can choose to go on a high speed ferry but faster = pricier). We paid €33.50 to get from Athens to Santorini and €15 between Santorini and Ios. Be cool and remember to take your iPod/Sudoku puzzle book/lollies out of your luggage when you get on. Otherwise it will be a long, long journey.

Where I stayed: On Santorini my friend and I stayed at Stavros Villas. The owners were kind and hospitable, the room was perfect but the pool was disappointingly small!  

Whilst in Ios we made Ios Resort our home. My friend and I shared a clean, modern room with a private bathroom, air conditioning, mini fridge and a balcony overlooking the pool, for just €22 a night each. The owners were wonderful and they sold the island’s best daiquiris, sandwiches and Greek salads at the poolside bar.

If you’re backpacking on Mykonos look no further than Paradise Beach Backpackers. I stayed in a beach hut 2 minutes from the beach and bars but it was more expensive than our accommodation on the other islands and not nearly as nice.

My first afternoon on Santorini was spent in Fira drinking wine, eating salted pistachios and watching the sunset over Nea Kameni -the islet volcano. This is one of my favourite memories. Ever. I felt really peaceful and so lucky to be there taking in something so beautiful.
My first afternoon in Fira

I’d highly recommend doing a day tour of the Island. Ours started with a boat ride to Santorini’s Nea Kameni Volcano to climb to the top. As you can imagine, the Greek sun is unforgiving and the rock radiates the heat making this a pretty tough climb, but rest assured the view from the top will blow your mind (pardon the pun)! After descending the volcano we swam at some so-called ‘hot’ springs before sailing to beautiful Thirassia. Quiet and laidback, this Island was the perfect spot for a long lunch of swordfish souvlaki and moussaka in the sun. mmmmmmm.
I am a big believer that when you’re on holidays you get an exercise-free pass. Embrace it. I’m serious, who wants to climb 250+ stairs after eating a giant piece of moussaka when they’re on holidays? Not me! Splash out a few Euros and take a joyride on one of the very excitable donkeys from the port up to Oia, Santorini’s most picturesque and popular town.
Oia is the home of blue-domed, white washed buildings, tiny overpriced shops and cafes and according to many: the world’s best sunsets. The best view is from the ancient castle, so go early to get a spot. We waited and watched and as the sun dipped lower in the sky, purple, pink. orange and gold spread over the Aegean like a blanket. Everyone applauded the spectacular show.
Not bad eh?
What else is there to do on Santorini? Hit the beach of course and spend the day at Kamari Beach. We feasted on fresh fruit and yoghurt and listened to chilled out tunes. It was bliss. My only gripe is the exorbitant cost of English magazines. Cosmo is not worth the equivalent of AU$15 in any country.
Lounging at Kamari beach
The epic poet Homer is buried on Ios, along with the dignity of many a drunken tourist…Ios is about fun in the sun, late nights, dirty dance floors and hot hook ups. Spend your days lazing by the pool or tanning at Mylopotas beach. Evenings should be spent watching the sunset and drinking cocktails at Harmony, before heading into Chora (the town centre) to dance until daylight and scope out the talent.
Exploring Ios during the day
Ios has many beautiful churches and the narrow streets are great fun to explore so make sure you see more of the island than sand and dancefloors. We got lost in the maze of white buildings on our mission to find the Panagia Gremiotissa church overlooking the town centre but it was well worth it for the view.

What was the best island discovery? White chocolate covered Oreos. Oh. My. Goodness. Why in god’s name don’t we have these in Australia? Tell me WHY!?!!?
Church on Ios

I didn’t love Mykonos – it’s much pricier than both Ios and Santorini. Whilst it is pretty with its postcard perfect buildings and winding streets (designed to confuse pirates) I felt that it was overly touristy and a little seedy. To make the most of Mykonos you should do the following:

  1. Watch the sunset from/over the Chora Windmills
  2. Eat in Little Venice
  3. Search for Petros the Pelican and his friends
  4. Head to one of the many beaches to tan and check out the locals
  5. Befriend/enjoy a flirtation with a good-looking bartender from Serbia who executes cheesy courting techniques like writing you a note on a serviette and getting his coworker to drop it at your table (when you’re eating at the restaurant next door to his bar), making you a rose out of a serviette, serving you overly alcoholic post-dinner cocktails then taking you on a personal tour of the island the next day…
Mykonos Windmills


Nightlife:  To say Ios and Mykonos are well-known for their nightlife is an understatement. You may have already guessed but my pick of the two is Ios which is full of bars pumping out Daft Punk, Kid Cudi and Rihanna till the early hours. Take your pick from Slammer Bar, Karma Beach Bar, Orange Bar, Disco 69, Redbull Bar and The Dubliner to name a few or visit them all! Drink specials are plentiful and the clubs kick off about midnight/1am. 

Paradise beach on Mykonos is home to a Ministry of Sound club and if you’re gay, Italian or both, you may prefer the party scene here. Things get going at 4pm thanks to a man (naked except for a g-string with an elephant on the front) dancing on a nearby bar encouraging everyone to drink and ‘get crazy’.
Food: It’s all yummy! On Ios I would recommend Lord Byron’s for dinner and warn you that you’ll most likely end up at Porky’s for a late night/early morning feed. There are loads of great restaurants and supermarkets as well so you certainly won’t starve.

Drink: Jaeger-bombs, vodka, Mythos, tequila, you can find it all in the islands. The daiquiris Mike makes at Ios Resort are second to none!

Getting around: Whilst on the islands you can walk, bike or ride. On Ios and Mykonos we walked or caught the local buses as they were cheap, fairly frequent and reliable. Santorini is a little bigger so we made the decision to hire a quad bike. After a few hilarious lessons in the car park my inner biker emerged and we were off with the wind in our hair…and a few hours later a bloody sore thumb!  

One night on Santorini I also went ‘off-roading’ on a scooter. Clinging to the torso of a handsome American boy we drove along a deserted beach before stopping to run into the ocean and lie under the stars…aaaah such a perfect date! Not recommended by bike salesmen, highly recommended by me.
Walking is best!
A little advice: On Ios do not go to Harmony and drink 2 cocktail jugs between you and three girlfriends and then follow this with strawberry daiquiris and slammer bar shots. You will end up at orange bar trying to get your ‘free souvenir t-shirt’ by ordering 7 shots and only after ‘winning’ your ‘free t-shirt’ will you realise that you actually need to order another 7 shots so your friend has a t-shirt too.

If you do this you will end the evening sharing a porky’s kebab with your friend (sharing because you don’t want to get too fat) only you will both be so hungry/drunk that you actually ‘share’ two kebabs and the Greek man behind the counter will laugh at you before selling you 1.5 litres of heavenly water. You will wake up to roughly 100+ photos of you and your friend (in your free Orange Bar t-shirts) dancing on a piece of furniture/pashing random English boys/falling down stairs/generally behaving badly. But you know this is just a warning. I’m not speaking from experience or anything…
Take this as a warning
Don’t forget to take: Sunscreen, swimmers, towel, sunglasses and maybe a hat. Aspirin and perhaps some birth control is a smart move to.
Where I shopped: The local stores are great fun to browse. I bought a dress and a gold ring I rarely take off.
What to read: Trashy magazines galore!
What I wear: Swimmers, shorts, singlets, and lots of summery dresses.
What I listened to: Metric ‘Fantasies’, Peter, Bjorn and John, Ash Grunwald, Daft punk, Rihanna, Katy Perry…


  1. i've always wanted to go to santorini and it looks so beautiful in your pictures. sunscreen is my most important friend on a beach holiday =)

    Bow Dream Nation xx

  2. santorini is m dream destination. but thats just wishful thinking! :) i envy you.:)


  3. I so want to be on a beautiful island sipping cocktails right now! Awesome post, K.

  4. Dude, we totes have white chocolate oreos here.
    Peace out.

  5. Oh, God, Greece!
    Adorable photo and story! It was interesting to read, thank you Kirst)))
    I vacationed in Crete summer of 2011, Greece - my love)))


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