Sunday, November 8, 2015

Greek Island Hopping

Greek Island Hopping
The travel to Greece went smoothly. We had plenty of time for our layover in Madrid. We needed it as we picked the line in passport control where the guy was flirting with all the high school girls. He also flirted with Teresa, offering a mock western gun fight as Teresa was wearing her Mexican cowboy hat.
After we checked into our hotel in Rafina we booked our ferry for Mykonos for the next morning. We walked around the town before settling on a restaurant. We both had gyros. I had a beer and Teresa a large bottle of water, 10 dollars.
The next morning, after a large breakfast, we headed to the Blue Star ferry which took us to Mykonos.

 Andreas, our hotel owner, picked us up at the dock and took us to our room, which was next to the windmills.
We took a bus to Paradise Beach and did a little hiking.

We came back, cleaned up and went walking through the streets of Mykonos, including Little Venice. The streets are very narrow with no vehicular traffic. 

We ate at an outdoor restaurant and both had garlic lamb which was very good, with a very large chunk of lamb. More wandering, then gelato, and then back to the room.

The next morning we took the ferry for a tour of the uninhabited, sacred island of Delos. We hired a private guide who gave us the history of the island as he showed us around. After the tour we climbed Mt. Cynthnos putting the finishing touch on the highest point of the island and then came down to the Egyptian temple of Isis. After a 7 dollar glass of orange juice, we went through the museum, toured the stadium and hippodrome area, then back to the ferry to get back to Mykonos.

In the afternoon we walked to a nearby beach, did some swimming and drank Yellow Birds at happy hour at the taverna.

 After cleaning up we went to see the sunset, then wandered through Little Venice until we ate pizzas and a Greek salad. I had banana and wild cherry gelato after we spent some time at an internet café.

The next morning we rented a four wheeler and went to more remote beaches. First to Agrave where we stayed awhile, we then walked to Elia Beach where we rented lounges and an umbrella. We had lunch at the Taverna nearby, Teresa had a Greek salad and I had spaghetti Carbonara. Everything, including for the first time, the bread, was good.

 We left around 5 p.m. but toured the rest of the island on the four wheeler before heading back. I eschewed gelato although passing right by it. We had gyros for dinner, got on the internet and booked a room for Naxos, succumbed to the temptation of gelato and went back to the room.
In the morning we went to the Archeological Museum and the Nautical Museum, can’t recommend either. Gyros for lunch. It was windy but decided to take the bus to Gialos Beach. It was my favorite beach on Mykanos. Pretty enough, nice sand, well protected from the wind, and nice lounge chairs and umbrellas. They were ten Euros but you got credit for eight if you ate at the restaurant attached. I had an appetizer of grilled octopus and grilled perch as an entrée. Teresa had lamb kaflekti. 

We took the bus back, went on the internet, and Teresa called her sister to inquire about her Mother who had been hospitalized. She was doing better. As our waiter had comped us a dessert at the restaurant, we passed by the Pagota gelato place without stopping.

The next morning Andreas drove us to the port where we boarded the fast jet ferry first for Paros where we stopped long enough for some pastry then to Naxos. After getting a map, we got a taxi to our hotel. We decided it was too hot to do anything other than go to the beach at that hour. We walked to a nearby beach after buying an umbrella. The beach was nice, though sandy and somewhat windy. On the way back to the room we bought Magnum equivalents. 

We ate at the waterfront. I had roast chicken with an appetizer of fried sardines and Teresa had a vegetarian plate with stuffed tomato, roasted potatoes, big beans and eggplant. We both had gelato later at the Waffle House. 

Thursday morning found us at the Kastro district. We saw the Venetian Catholic Cathedral (small), the Archeological Museum (better than the one in Mykonos) and we went through a tour of a Venetian house where we picked up interesting bits of information. We then went to the free Byzantine Museum where it is said that it is so sparse some customers ask for their money back; but it did have a nice terrace with a view.



After that we went back to our room and then to the bus stop for a trip to Plaka beach, pastry on the way. A great day for the beach, just the right breeze, beautiful water and perfect temperature. We stayed until the 6:30 bus. We got cleaned up and rented a car that night for the next day. We drove it back to the hotel room and went to dinner at Maro’s. I had Roquefort Steak, Teresa had Lemon Lamb and a side dish of a cooked vegetable that was similar to spinach. I had two beers, Teresa had a half liter of wine and we shared some complementary spiced raisins for dessert, all for twenty euros. We still got gelato later. A wonderful day.

Friday morning after breakfast, we headed out in our car and after one wrong turn and backtrack, we arrived first at a Venetian tower house in Kourochanari. We could only view it from the outside. We then went to the ancient sanctuary and Kouros factory. The sanctuary included reverence of two very strong demigods who helped move boulders. There were the usual burnt sacrifices. This was the area Naxos marble was carved in rough form. Two of the Kouros broke and were left.

We then went to Panagia Drossiani where frescos inside a church were credited with stopping a drought. I believe they should be painting more frescoes. We then drove to Apereanthos which was a town of Naxos marble. We had lunch there; Teresa a Greek salad, I had a tuna club sandwich.

Next we drove to Chalki which had Venetian architecture and a tower house. Then on to Ano Sagri and the temple of Dimitros. This was situated in a fertile valley and offerings were made to the god of the harvest. It was renovated twice as a Christian church and they are attempting to show all three phases. 

From there we went to the beach where it was windier and at times threatening but we met a nice couple from London who we talked with for some time.

We returned the car and after walking a bit had gyro like meals with a Greek salad thrown in. We went on the internet and passed on gelato as we were both full. A wonderfully splendid, brilliant day.

We decided Saturday would be an exercise day. We walked to the port and then Teresa ran, I ran and walked and rendezvoused at a determined place and time. We walked back to the room where we continued exercising. We then went out and bought a picnic lunch, a tuna and egg salad sandwich, chocolate cake and two apples. We also found ice for our cooler. We then took the bus to Plaka beach. The day was perfect. A light breeze kept us cool. We broke out lunch. Back to our room after a fine afternoon of reading, walking, and swimming. For dinner we shared a Greek salad and a pizza. A wonderful day.

Sunday morning we searched out the historical portions of the city. There was a small free museum built over ruins, mostly of cemeteries in the Mycenaean age. They showed where offerings were made, vases broken purposely because they were defiled being associated with death, and where you “threw the stone over your shoulder”. We looked at some old churches then wandered about the less touristy areas and bought salami, cheese and tomato.

The night before I had half filled a sealable hefty bag with water and put it in the freezer portion of our refrigerator. It froze overnight so we had ice for our cooler.

We walked to the bakery by the bus stop, tickets to the beach, bread, and a chocolate dessert to share that turned out to be very good.

When we got to Plaka beach our English friends were there. It was a little windier than the day before but still quite nice. We swam out to a distant rock and rested there before swimming back. After returning we cleaned up and went to an Asian restaurant. I had sweet and sour chicken which was okay. Teresa had the Indian vegetable marsala which was quite hot and spicy. We went on the internet then hit the waffle house for gelato. A wonderfully stupendous day.

The next morning we took the slow ferry to Amorgus. When we arrived we did not immediately see the domitians hawking rooms and Teresa became worried as we had not booked one. Fifty meters later however, there they were. We ended up at Pension Georgia, a very large modern room with a single and double bed, refrigerator and stove, two balconies, 30 Euros a night, very close to the port but quiet. 

We decided to rent a four wheeler for 24 hours and went across the island to the beach at Ogia Anna. The beach was coves and rocks and a cliff, very picturesque. We rode back and had pizza for dinner.

The next morning we took our four wheeler to the famous monestary and toured it. They served refreshments: candy, water and a liqueur. We chatted with a couple from New Zealand and a couple of women from Switzerland.

We then rode to Chora, capitol of the island and walked through it. We returned to the port and turned in our four wheeler. Lunch was a Calzone sandwich and ice cream. We then took a boat taxi to a different beach where we spent the afternoon.

When we returned, we made a long trek to the town of Minos and ancient ruins on top of a hill. After wandering around the ruins and goats, we headed back to clean up for dinner. I had chicken with tomato and wine sauce with spaghetti, Teresa had Lemon chicken and potatoes. We shared a mixed salad. It was very good.

We arose early the next morning for the ferry to Paros. We hadn’t reserved a room so we got one from a hawker at the dock. 

We walked into town to look around, got money and had lunch. It was a very hot day so we decided to take a boat to the beach. It was a decent beach and the water was a good temperature. After returning and cleaning up we looked into renting a car for the next day. When we decided we had the best price (35 Euros for an automatic) we got salad and gyros for dinner.

In the meantime we had made the greatest discovery. There was a supermarket right on the promenade. I got a liter and a half of thirst-quenching carbonated lemonade for 1.45 Euros. We had spent seven Euros for 1 liter of Powerade at the beach.

After dinner we walked some more, got on the internet, and got some very good news about Teresa’s Mom. When we got back to our room we decided the air conditioner wasn’t up to the heat so we confirmed our decision to get a different place the next morning. While Teresa packed up and waited to pay for our night in the room, I hired our car and inquired about another room. We got one for 10 Euros a day cheaper and although the shower head wasn’t great, the a/c was better. We moved our stuff there and then headed out in the car.

First we went to the Valley of the Butterflies. Millions of brightly colored moths come to this one spot each summer to mate. You are told not to disturb them but it seemed everyone except us was doing it.

Next we traveled along the southern and eastern coast of the island, checking out the beaches. We stopped at a ceramic shop and bought a colorful bowl. 
We then went to Lefkes where we walked through the town during siesta; only about three natives were stirring, one elderly gentleman gave us both two tiny pears. They were very good. 

We then headed to Naoussa where we parked and walked to the harbor. There we had lunch of delicious savory crepes (ham and cheese) and some good gelato. We then went to Santa Maria beach. We had brought our cooler with our homemade ice, coke, carbonated lemonade and water. After that we went to Kolibithres Beach with its rock formations and took our final swim of the day.

We drove back to our room where we unloaded and I took the car back and made another trip to the supermarket.

For dinner I had lamb Kleftoki and Teresa had a Greek salad- then a chocolate baklava. At the internet café we had a fruit and ice cream bowl.

The next morning we took the ferry to Antiparos for the day. We walked through the town, saw the indefensible fortress then walked to the beach. We brought sandwiches to eat. After ice cream we took the 6:00 p.m. ferry back.

For dinner I had a pizza and Teresa had another Greek salad. After some time on the internet it was back to the room. A wonderful day.

The next morning was Saturday so we decided it was exercise day again. We both walked and ran in different directions and met back at our room where we exercised some more. I then went and rented a motor scooter while Teresa packed our stuff to go to the beach. We bought some sandwiches to put in our cooler with our water and carbonated lemonade. We then scooted north and checked out some beaches, including one that took a long walk to get to before deciding Kolibithres was the best. We abandoned our umbrellas when we couldn’t secure them from the wind and we rented chairs and a permanent umbrella.

On the way back we stopped at a bakery I had seen in the morning and got some baklava and some unnamed chocolate honey things. For dinner we had a mixed souvlaki grill and shared a Greek salad. Our waitress was French so I got to practice that language.

The next morning was traveling day, but as it was windy, the early fast boat was cancelled so we had to wait for the 2:20 ferry. First we split and did a run/walk for an hour. We met back at the supermarket for our last minute shopping for lunch supplies, then a bakery for bread and back to the room to pack. We left our luggage in reception to go to the archaeological museum. It was the best so far.

The ferry was about 50 minutes late. We ate our lunch on board. When we arrived on Ios Nicky met us and took us to our hotel. We decided to rent a scooter so after cleaning up Nicky drove us to the scooter place.
 We then drove to Chora. We walked through the town which was charming but oriented to young crowds. One club advertised free admission until 3:00 a.m. 
We ate at “The Nest” which was very good. We both had grilled swordfish, rice, salad, French fries and some garlic potato thing. We again received a dessert on the house, a lemon cake- Teresa asked for and received the recipe. Our waitress was from Australia and was working there to extend her vacation. We spoke to a South African couple there, who, like many patrons there were in our age group. We then scootered back to our room.

Monday morning we took our scooter for a tour of the island, going to all the beaches. The ride was long over the mountains. We came back to a supermarket much like the one in Paros.

We decided to eat lunch in our room before heading to the beach. We were there relatively early, about noon (one restaurant there advertises breakfast from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) but soon found it was the beach of the young crowd. We were surrounded by Aussies and Irish and had 30 years on almost all of them. The cost of our umbrella and chairs was only 3 euros- might have been a mistake. Another Australian girl who picked up a couple of jobs there to stay the season collected our money.

After the beach we scootered back to the room to clean up before going to Club Ios to see the sunset. We had garlic mushrooms along with our drinks. For dinner we had gyros and shared a huge Greek salad. We then walked through Chora and found an internet café. 

The next morning we took our scooter to scout out a few beaches then went to Chora to climb to its highest point and scout out the town in the day time.
 Back to the room before heading to the beach. We chose a different part of Mylapotis beach not dominated by the young, although there were still a few. We ate a picnic lunch as we found ice to buy for our cooler. 


We returned to the room, cleaned up, and returned our scooter. We ate at Susanna’s; I had a tuna pizza- very good- Teresa had mousaka- she enjoyed that too. Then for the first time we climbed the steps to Chora. 8 minutes 54 seconds. We walked around, got on the internet then returned to the gyro place for waffles and ice cream.
A wonderful, grand slam day.

Bright and early the next morning to the ferry. Nicky drove us. The ferry was a little late. 

There were no taxis at the port in Santorini so we took the bus to Thera and another immediate bus to Ferastefani and our hotel. We walked to a scooter place, hired one and headed for Kamari Beach. 
We got a free set up with a promise to eat there. I had a “hamburger” consisting of 2 pieces of bologna with a grilled bit of something unidentifiable in between- at least the fries were good. Teresa had a Greek salad.
We walked along the length of the beach on the road above and it seemed it would go on forever.

Back to the room to clean up. We walked the improved rim walk to Thera where we did a little shopping and a lot of window shopping. We later had gyros and unremarkable ice cream. Back late.


The next morning we scootered to the Museum of Ancient Thera (which was very good). Almost everything was from Akrotiri and the 17th century B.C. 

Back to the room to prepare to go to Perissa Beach. The cooler fit inside the scooter and our freezer froze my hefty bag of water. We again got a free set up with the implied promise of a purchase. I had a lamb gyro. Teresa had a Greek salad. At 5:15 we scootered back to the room.

After cleaning up we took our scooter to Oia and arrived around 7:45. We had time to walk through town and see a few sights before sunset. We then headed for the spot we had seen the sunset on our last trip. It consisted of ruins of a castle and church, though quite small, on an outcrop. When we had visited 10 years before, we were the first to climb onto the ruins and other followed. These were the ruins featured in Laura Croft Tomb Raider 2 for the earthquake scene. This time the ruins had been transformed into tourist friendly seating areas and there were several hundred people there, including the cute Asian girl I had given my seat to on the bus from the port.

We found a place on a wall which had not been changed. After the sunset it was like leaving a close football game as the sunset viewers walked through the narrow walkways. We got back to our scooter and raced other scooters, 4 wheelers and cars back toward Thera. Only the cars beat us. For dinner we ended up in a Greco – Italian place and we both had pizzas.

After breakfast the next morning we did the one thing I swore I would never do again- the Rim Walk from Thera to Oia. This time was much different. It was during the day and there was an improved path so we weren’t forever on the edge of a 6” wide loose gravel path whereby one misstep would mean plummeting 330 meters to the rocks below. There were still mountains to climb though so it still took 1 hour and 50 minutes. We saw the Taverna that had been the first sign of life on our last trip- and had good roast chicken- but now was well within the vastly more developed Oia. 

After walking around Oia we took the bus back to our hotel and prepared for the beach. This time we took the scooter to Red Beach. We had been there on our previous trip after visiting ancient Akrotiri. That was closed but Red Beach was open and vastly more popular, with rental umbrellas. We met a couple from New York who were headed to Istanbul who had different attitudes than we did. We left about 5:15, got some pastry on the way back, and then stopped at a supermarket to get more lemonade, crackers and cheese for snacks- we hadn’t eaten lunch except for some large Greek peaches.

We walked around Thera before dinner and went down one row on the caldera side and chose a place to eat. We shared a Greek salad and both had spaghetti- hers was bollagnaise – mine was carbonara- very good, very large portions. Then back to the room.

The next morning we took the scooter to ancient Thera. Not so easily done. Ancient Thera is on top of a mountain and the Romans hadn’t been thinking about motor scooters when they designed switch back road with odd rocks and stones. Ancient Thera was better excavated than the last time we had been there and had more information available.

Back to the room to prepare for the beach and picnic. I had some HBN lemonade left . We took salami, cheese, tomato, bread, 2 peaches and 1 ½ liters of water. We decided we liked red Beach the best so we headed there. On the trip back from the beach we stopped at or favorite bakery and got some treats. We returned the scooter on the way back to the room.

For dinner I had grilled sardines with oregano. Teresa had a stuffed tomato and a stuffed pepper she did not enjoy too much. We headed back to the room to pack as we had an early morning coming up. 

The cab picked us up a little after 5:00 a.m. Going through Thera we saw groups of girls spilling out of night clubs.

We arrived in Athens at 7:30 a.m. and took a bus into town. We were able to check into our room and then went to the flea market which is open on Sundays. Rubbish at exorbitant prices. We then walked to the Stygmata Square for the changing of the Guard.

From there we picked up sandwiches and then went to the Archeological Museum.

 After the museum we got ice cream and sat in a park before walking back to the room. We cleaned up and cooled down before going to the Plaka for dinner. I had chicken, Teresa had lasagna. We walked around the Plaka some more before getting some good gelato and back to the room.
We went out early the next morning, first to the Theater of Dionysus outside the Acropolis, the Roman Theater, then up to the Parthenon and Erekthion .

We next visited the Acropolis Museum which will be impressive when it is completed, as there is little there now.
 Next we went to the Temple of Zeus Olympia and the Roman ruins there. After that it was Hadrian’s Library; followed by the Roman Agora (forum) and then the ancient Greek Agora which had its own museum. At one end of the Agora area is the best preserved temple in Greece.

From there we went to the Keramikos Museum, Sacred Way, ancient city walls and the cemetery.

We had gyros for a late lunch, followed by gelato, and then after a walk through the Plaka area we went back to the room. Dinner again in the Plaka area. I had pizza, Teresa had a Greek salad. We had to have gelato one last time before going back.

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