Like many New Zealand teenagers, I long daydreamed of having a life abroad travelling the world. One of my early inspirations was the film ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’ where Lena visits the Greek Islands for the summer, so travelling with Med Experience around the Greek Islands was literally my dream come true.
Our tour started in Athens, where we met up with our tour leader and fellow travellers at Exarchion Hotel. My favourite part about this hotel was the smoothie bar ‘Up’, located just a couple of doors down. If you stay here make sure to try their chocolate thick shake made with dates and cacao – yum!
The next day we departed for Santorini at the crack of daylight. Our ferry journey took about 8 hours so we arrived sometime in the late afternoon and checked into our accommodation at Santorini Camping which was basic but beautiful. A poolside bar and beats – what more could you ask for.
Santorini is one of the most romantic islands in the Cyclades, known for it’s breathtaking sunsets and views of the caldera. On our first evening here we took to the cliffs of the caldera for photos and our first of many great Greek dinners to come, complete with Ouzo (an anise-flavoured aperitif popular in Greece) and Bhaklava (a rich sweet pastry made with nuts and honey).
The next day it was time for a hike across the island to Oia, the most well known township in Santorini. Think white-washed stone walls, blue dome roofs and celebrity hideaways. The meal of the day was of course Gyros (typically meat, salad and fries served in a flatbread – vegetarian version for me). Later that day it was time for a local wine tasting at sunset to wet our appetite before dinner… and more drinks.
By the way, you may not recognise the vineyard in the photographs. The way grapes are grown here is interesting, because of the strong winds, grapes cannot be grown on vines so instead they are grown in clusters close to the ground.
The next day we were sad to say sayounara to Santorini, but it was time to get lost in the stone paved pathways of party island, Ios. After checking in at Sunrise Hotel we had the afternoon to relax by the pool and freshen up for the night ahead. You may notice a lack of photos from some portions of this trip, which directly correlates to a spike in alcohol consumption… and after a big night in Ios town there was no better way to wake ourselves up than by being pulled through the salt water waves behind a speed boat.
Our next island was the more laid-back Paros where we got a little more sophisticated at a Greek taverna, learning some Greek dancing, drinking Ouzo and smashing plates, the traditional way. Staying at Siroco’s was an absolute pleasure – hopefully their breakfast crepes and iced coffees are still as amazing as I remember! On our full day in Paros we also took a small sailing boat out for snorkelling and lunch on a secluded island beach. For us, Paros was a great opportunity to relax and really soak up the Greek sun before another party in Mykynos.
Windy Mykynos is famous for its windmills, but my main memory of this island is the paint party at Paradise Beach Resort (no photos which is probably for the best). Two spandex wearing Zumba bodies got the party started around 4pm and by 6pm, one fish bowl down, everyone was joining in. Partying late into the night was no problem with our beach bungalows just a few steps away. We did of course also wander between the cool concrete blocks in town and spend some time enjoying yet another amazing sunset beneath the windmills.
On the day our tour finished back in Athens, we had some time before our flight to explore the Acropolis, the Monastiraki Flea Market and sample some more local food. Friends has told us of a joint selling the best Falafel in town, so of course we had to check it out and Falafellas did not disappoint!
If you’re looking to book a Greek island hopping tour this year I cannot recommend Med Experience enough. We chose to go with them because of their smaller group sizes, slightly more mature travellers and affordable price. I’m really looking forward to travelling with them again in the future!