I don’t know why I’ve never written about this before – it’s literally one of my favorite places on Earth. Aside from the fact that everywhere looks like a fucking postcard, it’s just amazing food, people, and culture. Some might argue that last part, but whatever, forgive me for thinking saganaki is culture. Oh and Athens? Not for me.
Athens. Sorry but, here are my feelings on it: go for maybe a day or two to take pictures of the Parthenon and the Acropolis or any other ruins you want for your digital scrapbook. Other than that, wasn’t overly impressed. It was very “Western” and reminded me of Midtown. Starbucks, McDonald’s, etc. The Greek food is still great (though I suppose they just call it “food”?), but you can spend a much more relaxing and enjoyable time on one of the islands.
To that end, there are so many islands you can hop around to via ferry (we’ll get to that), and I’ve only been to a few of them: Mykonos (obviously), Santorini, and Ikaria. That last one is not a very popular destination, but it’s the land where people live forever, according to Greek folklore. This could be because they have some of the best, most fresh food I’ve ever eaten in my life. Or maybe it’s because they wake up to gorgeous views everyday instead of homeless people jerking off on you on the subway. One or the other, I bet.
Santorini is probably my favorite of all the islands I’ve been to thus far – it’s just SO picturesque, and the sunset really is something you should see before you die. I’ve been twice, and the first time we stayed in Fira, the second time we stayed in Oia (pronounced EE-YAH by the way). Oia is where you want to stay if you’re into the whole sunset thing. I recommend a few restaurants there based on views.
Fanari Villas. I went here the first time I went to Greece in 2011, and it was amazing. It’s actually a restaurant within a hotel, but it’s one of the best spots for the sunset. Make a reservation in advance.
Metaxy Mas. This is THE place in Santorini. MUST make a reservation, well in advance, and prepare to dole out some cash. It’s not cheap, but the food and the views of the sunset make it worth it.
Argo – this one is actually in Fira, but great food with beautiful views.
Lauda – ok, I haven’t been here, but I’ve seen it, and let me put it this way: they could serve me canned sardines on a bed of iceberg lettuce and I’d probably STILL be overflowing with joy. The views are INCREDIBLE and the ambiance just looks like something I want to be a part of. Plus, I’ve heard from friends that it’s amazing.
Mykonos is where you go when you want to party. And I mean, PARTY. They eat dinner around 11 pm and hit the bars/clubs around 1 am. You will most likely be coming back to your hotel when the sun is coming up. But you want to stop at Jimmy’s for gyros. Or two gyros, in my case. They’re my favorite, but they are a little small for the Skinny Pig appetite. One night I double fisted two gyros in one hand. Alternating bites from one gyro to the other. People clapped. It was a moment.
You should know that while I’m writing this, I’m sitting at the W in Union Square, having a tall beer and drying off my back, neck, face…basically any part of my body that has skin. It’s October and for some reason it’s still humid and 80+ degrees. The world is ending. But I digress. This leads me to my next point about Greece… It. Is. Hot. Like, sunburn on your eyelashes hot. I don’t know if you’ve seen me, but I’m a pasty mofo. I burn on a cloudy day wearing SPF 45. So, be prepared if you head to Greece in the summer. Hats, sunblock, sarongs that double as shoulder shawls. You get it.
And since we’re on the topic of comfort, ladies, LISTEN UP AND LISTEN GOOD:
LEAVE YOUR HEELS AT HOME.
I know you will want to fight me on this, but I promise you, that will be the best decision of your life. You cannot wear heels in Greece. Well, you can try, but you will not be successful. i.e. you will give up halfway down the road, turn around and change into flip flops, or you will trip and sprain an ankle. I’m not exaggerating. The roads are tiny, hilly, curvy, and some are cobblestones. It’s a nightmare. And you walk everywhere in Greece – we took maybe ONE Uber, ONE time. But it’s not something that’s rampant over there. You’re better off walking and saving the space in your luggage for smuggling back olive oil.Alright, now that THAT’S out of the way…here’s where I stayed in Mykonos most recently – Portobello Boutique Hotel. VERY good hotel – clean, super nice staff, free breakfast in the am, wifi, strong AC, and toilets that flush paper. Did I mention that’s a thing? Yea, I’m not sure if it’s still that way but a lot of the places in town don’t let you actually flush paper and they have bins with soiled TP. It’s…kind of gross. But I think the plumbing system is getting better. Still, use sparingly when you’re in a restaurant or one of the beach bathrooms.
Anyway, here’s some spots you want to go in Mykonos:
Skandinavian Bar. It’s a fun bar with an outdoor/rooftop situation. Bottle service too, which is weird because it’s super casual.
Super Paradise Beach. Not just ANY paradise guys…SUPER PARADISE. I don’t know exactly how to describe – Miami mixed with Europe? Lots of boobs, booze, and muscles. Dancing on tables is almost required, but you can totally just chill on the outskirts and soak up some sun while the beats vibrate through your hair.
Cavo Paradiso. Another beach party situation, slightly classier than Super Paradise. Slightly.
Nammos. THIS is my favorite beach restaurant. It’s on Psarou Beach. So peaceful and gorgeous. I’d make a reservation because it seems to be ALWAYS packed.
Jimmys. We’ve been over this. There are fries IN the gyros. Ok? Just go at least once at 5 am. For me.
M-eating. Obviously I love this place, because the name makes me laugh. The food is really good, a bit on the pricey side, but worth it.
As for Ikaria, I don’t know that I recommend going as a tourist who doesn’t speak the language. I went back in 2011 for a wedding, which was…an experience. They actually fired guns into the air as part of the “celebration”. I was hitting the deck thinking the village was under attack. It was a great thing to experience, but the place actually RAN OUT OF WATER and someone did too many shots of “homemade Greek wine” and did a little too much kalamatiano (the circle dance) so I vomited and then passed out in our rental car. I am told I also made out with someone’s 18 year old cousin. So…good times.Pyrgos hotel is where we stayed though, and it was beautiful. A little on the rustic side, but again I’m going back a few years so they may have updated things since then. But the pool made it all worth it.
Here’s where you can book flights to the islands: Olympic Air
Here’s where you can buy the ferry tickets: Danae Travel
And here’s one last note about the ferries:
WATCH YOUR LUGGAGE AND BRING DRAMAMINE IF YOU GET SEASICK.
I was fine the second time around, but the first ferry we took (the one that is enclosed and is the “faster” ferry) made me so nauseous. If you have one where you can go upstairs and be outside, you should be ok. As for the luggage – they just throw your shit into a pile or they make you stow it away yourself under the ferry. Then it’s like a free for all when it docks and everyone just grabs their luggage and you can easily mistake yours for someone elses or vice versa, so just be careful with that. I didn’t have any problems but if you’re like me and you have travel anxiety, it helps to know this going in. And it gets a touch windy on the top of the ferry…
I think that about sums it up. If you have the chance, GO. It’s really so beautiful and delicious and fun. Everything you can possibly want in a trip.