Last summer my boyfriend and I decided to go on a whim and take a trip to Greece. I am Greek, so I have always naturally felt a desire to go to my home country where I practice so much of the culture here at home in Minnesota. Being Greek is something I’ve always been intrigued in knowing more about the history- the arts, astrology, and many impactful political leaders and decisions that originated in early centuries of Greece. Not only does Greece offer a rich history, but the landscapes and monuments are absolutely breathtaking. Much of my family still resides in a small part of Sparta, Greece called Rafina. For our trip we decided to explore the beautiful islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Since tickets directly into Greece are fairly expensive, we decided to look into other countries we could fly into and then take a smaller plane actually into Greece, allowing us to see another part of the world. We decided on a $500 ticket into Copenhagen, Denmark. We only spent one night here, call it an overnight layover, but we were able to explore some amazing landmarks here before setting off to our $200 ticket into Santorini (direct flights range from $1,200-$2,000), saving quite a chunk of change. We mostly stayed in resorts that were all inclusive, so we didn’t have to pay for food. I’m only sharing this because I feel like most people think paying the crazy amount for the ticket is the only way to make it to Greece, and that’s not the case! I want everyone to be able to see this beautiful country.
We first spent 4 days in Santorini, exploring beaches, eating pasta and hiking the landscape. It was super hot, which was quite the shift from our Minnesota native weather. We stayed on the lower point of the island, which I do not recommend, because the whole “city” is in the north, Oía. We had to rent a car to drive all the way up there, about a 45-minute drive, and not to mention all the crazy roads and drivers which was a little scary, but thank God Cole was driving and not me… When we got to the main part of the city and it was honestly breathtaking. When we turned the corner and saw all the buildings, we were speechless. As we ascended into the city, stopping a few times along the way, we were literally taking everything in we saw. When we got the top of the island, we did a hike down to Ammoudi Bay which was a popular spot. When we got to the bottom the view looking up was incredible, as we hiked a little deeper on the surrounding land and found a place where people were cliff jumping. We luckily had brought swimsuits in our backpacks and turned into a spontaneous adventure! It was honestly a mutual highlight of the trip. We then preceded to hike back up the trail and witnessed the most spectacular sunset we’ve ever seen. The sun seemed to melt into the ocean as it set and a harmonious applaud followed by hundreds of people watching. We stayed around our resort the next days and explored the lower end of the island where we stumbled upon, in my opinion, the coolest part of Santorini. The next day we went on a catamaran around that same bay and went to the famous “Red Beach”. We enjoyed scuba diving, tanning in the sun and swimming in volcanic mud. In Ancient Greek mythology there once was a city called “Atlantis” when then one of the most powerful earthquakes erupted and ultimately sank the city and wiping out the population. This then turned into the “Lost City of Atlantis”, which I’m all sure you’ve at least have heard of. That’s the same volcano we got to swim around. The mud is said to be sacred and healing. The city now that surrounds the hole in the island is called Akrotiri, and that’s where we spent our night overlooking the ocean where they claim the city is sunk under and enjoying my favorite Greek dish “Pastitsio”. Santorini will always have the most special place in my heart, I’ve honestly never felt more comfort and peace in my life.
Then, we hopped on a ferry that was more like a cruise ship to the next island, Mykonos. Mykonos had a completely different vibe and feel to it. It was very fast pace and the city didn’t really come to life until night. Like seriously, people don’t eat dinner until 8 or 9PM, that’s about my bed time. Mykonos is also known for its beautiful beaches. We went to 4 beaches in one day, renting a four-wheeler and exploring the entire island. We ended our adventure at a “hidden beach” that’s known as the most beautiful and private since there are so many tourists, thankfully our concierge told us about it! I think that’s my biggest tip about visiting a new country is to ask the locals for the best places to go and eat! Mykonos was where we said goodbye to our week long adventure. It was really hard for me to leave, I honestly felt like I belonged there and to experience my culture first handed was a surreal experience. I also wasn’t looking forward to the 15 hours of traveling to get back home either. This trip was one I will cherish for the rest of my life.