I’ve been really busy the past few weeks with my internship and whatnot and let myself get really behind with these blog updates.. I’m trying to catch up now whenever I have some free time. I filled in more info about Brighton, Brussels and Paris so far and we’ll see how far I can get with Greece and everything I’ve been up to since..
After writing two research papers, taking two exams and staying awake for more than 24 hours, I was pretty wiped out. This was the state I was in when we left for Gatwick airport at 3 AM to catch a 6:30 flight to Athens. I managed to sleep for most of the 2.5 hours on the plane and then my excitement kicked in and I felt pretty great. We made our way out of the airport and decided to chill out, explore a bit and eat before catching our ferry to Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands (we were originally planning to go to Santorini, but some of the group members decided that 5 hours on a ferry was easier to handle than 8 hours on a ferry and had found a great hotel in Naxos that was right on the beach- definitely a great decision). I had an amazing chicken gyro and some chocolate gelato.. definitely a great way to start the trip.
While the ferry ride wasn’t exactly a wonderful experience (less than fantastic food and some close calls with seasickness toward the end of it), the views were amazing and I managed to sleep for a bit. We were picked up from the port by our adorable hotel owner, an older Greek man who spoke almost no english and we decided to refer to as “Grandpa” for the rest of the trip. We crammed the 8 of us into a van built for 5 and headed off. As soon as we dropped off our stuff in our rooms, we walked the 30 feet to the beach to chill out for a bit. The water was nice and warm and we found that our hotel was right next to a bar/cafe place that was right on the beach.. perfection.
We spent pretty much all of the next day drinking fruity cocktails on the beach, tanning and generally chilling out after finals.. exactly what we needed. We explored the town a bit as well and I ended buying a really cute sundress (that I obviously won’t be wearing again for the next 8 months, but whatever). We also saw a lot of ATV and scooter rental places around the town and decided that we’d look into renting some the next day.
That night we went to this nice restaurant for dinner called The Flamingo and ended up becoming BFF with the owner, Appy (totally spelling his name wrong). He gave us a round of free drinks and taught us a greek dance before we went to Escoba, this bar that he recommended to us. We did some drinking and dancing before passing out to rest up for our ATV adventures (the use of the word “adventure” here is legit, as you’ll soon find out).
The next morning we woke up, got breakfast on the beach again (coffee, fresh squeezed OJ, fruit, waffles and greek yogurt.. ahhhhmazing, I tell you) before going to rent our ATVs. The guy took our money, gave us a map of the island and some really brief instructions and we were off. We got some gas, left the town of Naxos and started riding all around the island.. on paved roads, dirt roads, up hills, near some cliffs.. it was pretty awesome. At one point we went off-road and down this embankment right near the edge of a cliff/ravine type situation before we realized that there was nowhere else to go- and some of us (not me, obviously, as I’m useless with heavy lifting) had to push two of the ATVs back up a ridiculously steep hill. I should mention that of the 4 ATVs, maybe two ran pretty well- one wouldn’t go over 11 MPH and another stalled every time we stopped.. but we Tim Gunned that shit and made it work.
We rode through these little towns deep in the hills (such a cool experience), checked out the remains of an ancient greek temple that was literally in the middle of nowhere (even cooler) and then went to this gorgeous remote beach on the other side of the island from where we started out. It was seriously amazing.. totally untouched and ridiculously beautiful.
We had two scary crash moments, but other than scratches, bruises and a broken camera (mine, as I was filming at the time of the crash.. hilarious video), we were all okay. We made it back to the rental shop just before 8, the time we needed to be back. After making our way back to the hotel we all promptly showered, went out for some food, chilled on the beach and passed out.
The next day there was more food/beach time/chilling out/exploring.. it was so nice being there in October when the weather is still perfect but there are a lot less tourists.
Later in the day, we headed up a small hill near the harbor to take some pictures of the Naxos Portara, which is this structure that dates to 522 B.C. and is all that remains from a temple built for Apollo. We watched one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen from up on the hill- such an amazing experience.
After that, we went back to the Flamingo to see Appy and get some more amazing greek food (greek salads [with the best feta cheese] and mousaka), did some pregaming with rum and ouzo (greek liquor that tastes like licorice.. kind of like sambuca) and went dancing at this club called Ocean. I got an amazing nutella/banana crepe at this stand that was open late after we left the club.. definitely worth mentioning.
Sunday morning we got up early, met the ferry at 9 AM and napped on the tables out on the deck for a few hours. We had some time to kill in Athens before our flight back, so we explored a bit.. to be honest with you, I wasn’t impressed. Naxos was so clean and beautiful, whereas Athens is crowded, hot and dirty. It felt like we were in the shady parts of the city, but we were right near the Acropolis- the most well known tourist attraction in Greece. We trekked halfway up the hill where the Parthenon is only to find out that it was closed (it was around 5 PM at this time, so maybe we should’ve known).. big fail. Oh well, I bought a postcard with the Parthenon on it and I was technically right there.. it counts.
We spent some time in the airport chilling before our flight back to London (I almost bought an issue of UK cosmo before the woman told me that it cost 16 euros.. yeah, SIXTEEN EUROS.. for a MAGAZINE. Airport price markups are insane). I slept a bit on the plane and we arrived back at Courtfield Gardens around two in the morning. I got a few hours of good sleep and headed to my 9 AM class.
That’s Greece, pretty much.. an awesome paradise vacation that I’d do a million times over if I could.