Ok so I haven't run off to Greece for good, although it sure was tempting! I really meant to continue writing about my fabulous Greek adventure much sooner than now but got caught up with technical difficulties (some things never change) and life in general since I got back and these last few months (can't believe it has been that long!) have flown by. I do want to share some of my favorite bits of my time island hopping in Greece before moving back to blogging about my little old life back home and the fun projects I am working on...
Let me just say that if you haven't been to Greece, you should go. Honestly, it was one of the most amazingly beautiful countries I have ever visited! The geography, the food, the people... did I mention the food? And the most beautiful blue sea I have ever seen did not disappoint! Far from it! I was close to tears almost everyday I was there because I was so very thankful that I got to experience such a magical and beautiful place. And, although I had the worst hair of my life (humidity frizz times a thousand!), it wasn't such a bad thing being a blond gal in Greece. Even a frizzy blond gal. Now if only that mojo will continue at home in LA... Oh, and blue was not my favorite color before I went but after seeing the amazingly beautiful blue sea there, how could I not be inspired???
|breakfast of Greek champions|
When I left LA I wasn't really sure which islands I was going to visit. I bought a book on the Greek Islands and was so overwhelmed by the hundreds listed that I decided I would just wing it when I got there. While I have traveled internationally quite a bit, I have never not planned every moment of my trip as far as hotels in advance. But this last year has taught me that there's something kind of awesome about flying by the seat of your pants! And it was a really wonderful experience that I am going to have to do more often! I chose every island I visited by chatting with folks I met along the way and booked hotels shortly before my ferry docked on the next island. And Trip Advisor was my best friend on this trip. I booked hotels based on reviews that they were small, clean, inexpensive, cheerful, homey with great owners and fabulous views and was not disappointed. Oh, and I learned that booking directly with the hotels and avoiding booking websites actually got me the best rates. Especially since I was booking my rooms very last minute.
Shortly after arriving in Athens, I hopped on a ferry to Mykonos. Boy, was this island beautiful! I ended up staying an extra day, stranded because of cancelled ferries due to high winds. What an island to be "stranded" on! Stunning views from everywhere I went on the island. I walked/hiked the entire island in my 3 days there. I learned that not only was I quickly becoming obsessed with the color blue, but I was also developing an obsession with windmills as there are some great ones on this island. And really lucked out with a super cute little hotel called the Hotel Omiros. Above is a photo of the view from my room. Not too shabby, right? And the owner, Yiannis, was awesome. He and his wife created such a cool vibe and I met and hung out with some really great fellow guests through him. Oh, and remember how I was stranded there an extra night?? Well, this guy was so fabulous that he offered to call my next island's hotel to get them to credit what I paid for the night I missed there. How cool is that? Will definitely be visiting again during my next trip to Greece!
So, I knew that I had to visit Santorini at some point during my trip. After all, it epitomizes what I pictured Greece as being. And I was the superstar aunt sending postcards of the donkeys going up the steep hills to my nephews from here. They thought it was a pretty cool mode of transportation up hill. I met a fab girl from England on my first morning in Santorini and ended up doing a bunch of fun sightseeing activities with her. She was very cool and I definitely met a new friend for life!
Hotel Kavalari. The boys that were working the front desk, James and Kostis, were fabulous with all sorts of great restaurant and sightseeing advice. Bonus was that James is a hairdresser as well so he had lots of tips for me and my frizzy blonde puffball moppy mess! I stayed in a cool cave room built into the cliff which is apparently the thing to do there.
And while at the red-ish beach, look for this guy and be sure to get some of his corn!
As you all know, I have an appreciation for handmade jewelry as I dabble in it myself. Well, I met this woman named Anita that has a great little store called Ernesto Workshop and Gallery with her husband who is a woodworker. Let me just say that her jewelry was so stunningly beautiful and unique... if you find yourself on Santorini, it is definitely worth a stop in as her pieces are works of art!
My friend bought this fab turquoise ring from her! Totally envious of it! And above that is the Aquamarine ring of my dreams. My someday-when-I-make-money-in-this-new-career-I-have-chosen ring. And if you visit Santorini, be sure to visit a restaurant called Argo. I ate there more than once as the food and vibe was amazing! And the owner/chef, Konstantin, is not bad to look at and a sweet guy as well. Order the Pasta Santorini and tell Anna who works there that I said hello!
I also had an amazing hotel experience here! I stayed at this fab place called Nefeli Studios. The owners, Roula and her husband, were amazing and so warm and inviting. They helped me maximize my short stay on Milos. I truly wish I could have stayed longer than the few nights I was there but sadly high winds were expected and were going to cause ferry cancellations, stranding me much longer than the extra day I wanted to stay.
On my first night in Milos, I was dining alone at a groovy restaurant in the village near my hotel and this really fun group of British folks invited me to join them (actually, they insisted and would not let me say no). And I had the best time hanging out with my new friend Christina and her family and friends. One of my favorite things about traveling solo is that you tend to meet all sorts of cool people along the way.
I spent one entire day on a boat ride around the island, stopping at all sorts of fab beaches and amazingly aqua colored swimming spots. I was the only American on the boat filled with Italian and French tourists. I ended up having lunch with a really sweet older Italian couple and somehow my knowledge of the Italian language left me that day. My Nonna would have been so disappointed in me as most of my sentences consisted of "mi piace_" (I like) and "no mi piace" (you guessed it! translation - I don't like). I used to be able to speak more than that but I choked! And of course it all came flooding back to me after bidding my new friends "arrevederci!"
As I mentioned before, I chose most of my islands to visit based on conversations I had with random people offering their advice. Well, I met this fab couple that was a Greek gal and her French husband while hiking the volcano off Santorini. They said to me "Have you heard of Amorgos??? You MUST visit! It is so beautiful and perfect for hiking and outdoor activities." I decided to check it out. This is a sleepy little island known most for being the location where a very famous (in France) French movie called Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) was shot. I had never heard of the film before but upon arriving on Amorgos, I learned that the film is shown every single night at a bar of the same name. I saw it my first night there and thought it was very beautiful but could have done without the depressing ending.
Hotel Minoa. Because Amorgos is teeny tiny (under 1000 people live on the island), staying in the port is not noisy and polluted as it might be on some of the larger and busier islands. Here, it was just lovely. The owners, Stamitas and Ioanna, were just as warm and welcoming as every single other Greek person I met on this trip. And the hotel was simple, cute and clean and lovely having breakfast under bougainvillea and staring at the sea. Bonus that this hotel has a pastry shop in the lobby. Yum!
It was on Amorgos that I had my most "Gosh, sometimes I am such an American prude" experience. One day I was sitting alone on the beach reading my book. All of a sudden I hear someone speaking in Greek and I turn around. Sitting behind me was a woman about my Nonna's age (mid 80's). Topless. Speaking to me in Greek. I had no idea what she was saying to me as other than please, thank you, hello and goodbye my Greek is nonexistent. So, I am just smiling at her and trying to act cool, like I am around naked old people I don't know all the time. And then a French guy swims up to me with his snorkel. He gets out of the water. Nude. He starts chatting with me, guessing what the Greek lady is saying. Here I am, alone on a tiny beach with a topless old lady and a naked snorkeling French dude and then his girlfriend, who has just arrived. The only person "fully clothed" in a bikini and feeling like a loser. Oh well.
Perhaps you're inspired to travel to Greece? I promise there won't be such a lag between now and my next post! So much to catch up on!
For those of you just tuning in and wanting to know more about me you can by going here... and you can read about the start of my journey as an interior design intern here and if you didn't already know... I created a facebook page... check it out and "like" it! and follow me on twitter and you can even follow my boards on pinterest too!
until next time...
the formerly almost 40 year old intern