Highlights of Greece

After a week in France,  I traded the Côte d’Azur for Mykonos with visions of pristine white buildings, souvlakis, and the sparkling blue of the Aegean Sea. After a three hour flight from Nice Airport in France, my mom and I touched down in Mykonos airport at night, and were welcomed with gusty, warm winds from the moment we stepped off the plane. After catching the hotel shuttle to our accommodations, we immediately went to bed, eager to start exploring the following morning.

We booked an early tour to the nearby island, Delos, an archeological site that is a short distance from the Old Port by ferry. While waiting to board the ferry, we explored the numerous white alleyways made up of boutique shops and restaurants; the quintessential embodiment of what tourists think of when they picture Mykonos- and so began our trip in Greece.

First Stop: Mykonos

Ferry from Mykonos to Delos

The guided day trip tour of Delos was an incredible historical journey told through the leftover stone ruins and our knowledgeable local guide. Located in the center of the Cycladic islands, this island was once a busy trading port that boasts the birthplace of Apollo. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the location of the most extensive archeological excavations taking place in the Mediterranean. Walking along the village pathways, I felt a connection to the ancients who were said to live here dating back to the third millennium BC.

If you ever find yourself in Mykonos, I highly recommend checking this island out.

The Horizon Boutique Hotel was our little slice of paradise. I personally didn’t like the crowded streets of Old Port Mykonos and the club disco scene that the island is known for, so this little hotel in Aghios Ioannis was perfect for me. Tucked away on the hillside, I loved feeling the warm breeze of the Mediterranean climate while admiring the natural beauty of the island. Every evening, my mom and I had front row tickets to one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, right from the privacy and comfort of our room’s balcony.

Aside from the archeological tour of Delos, we didn’t venture around Mykonos too much. The main method of transportation on Mykonos is by scooter, and neither my mom and I trust ourselves to drive one in a foreign country. The handful of accidents we witnessed while near Old Port was also reason enough to stay away from scooters. However, we did plenty of walking in the area near the hotel, and a beautiful, quiet beach was a short distance away. We used our time in Mykonos mainly to relax and enjoy our surroundings.

Ferry from Mykonos to Santorini

From Mykonos, we hopped on a ferry to Santorini. Unfortunately, the ferry was delayed three hours, so a three hour trip turned into six hours. No matter, we arrived in Santorini just in time to catch the sunset as we rode a taxi to our hotel in Perivolos, the other side of the island from the infamous Oia. I personally liked the quiet countryside of Perivolos. It was easy enough to catch a local bus to Thira and Oia to sight-see, and it was nice to escape back to our part of the island at the end of the day.

We got on an early bus to Oia to try to beat the crowds. My skillfully taken photos don’t reveal the insane number of tourists that were bustling about; it truly was overwhelming (perhaps because I was visiting during the most crowded month of the year (August)- whoops!) Even so, it was fun to stroll around the clifftop city of Oia; a view I had only seen in movies and photos until now. It was truly remarkable seeing it in person.

Obviously, Greek frozen yogurt while in Greece is a must.

Back at the hotel in Perivolos, there was a black sand beach close-by that we didn’t discover until our last night in Santorini. In the morning before heading to the airport to Athens, we got up to see the sunrise, and enjoyed the beach all to ourselves. It truly was a magical moment, and a great way to say goodbye to Santorini.

Santorini to Athens

From Santorini, Athen is a quick 40 minute flight away. Our few days in Athens was spent exploring the historical ruins and museums, walking along crowded streets of the Agora, and eating amazing Greek food. We bought a bus pass for the day that went to all the major attractions of the city, from the Acropolis to the various museums the city has to offer. The highlight of Athens for me was going on a mythological tour of the archeological ruins of Athens. We visited the Temple of Zeus, the Acropolis and Parthenon, and various grave sights, all while listening to the stories of the ancients.

Afterwards, my mom and I visited the Acropolis museum, (which absolutely blew me away), and we spent a peaceful few hours roaming around. This museum is a must-see in Athens. Not only do you get a view of the Acropolis from inside the museum, but you can also see ongoing excavations through the glass floors under your feet. I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside the museum, but you’ll see masterpieces from the Parthenon itself and countless numbers of statues and vases. This was hands down the best museum I’ve ever been to.

I was only able to explore France and Greece on my first visit to Europe, but it was an incredible experience. I can’t wait to see more of Europe in the near future!

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