Greece, Travelogue
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A Hellenic Holiday – How to Explore Greece in Two Weeks

Greece

A treasure-trove of history and artifacts, a culture that uplifts, a melting pot of indescribable local flavours, a vision of natural beauty that is both wild and tameable, a hotchpotch of idyllic and lively islands strewn across sapphire and turquoise waters, a land where memories live with you for a lifetime – that is Greece.

Tucked between the Aegean and Ionian Seas, this cradle of Western civilization offers more than what meets the eye. It is a nation steeped in art, culture and history, a product of myths and facts, an exquisite example of the aftermath of volcanic eruptions, a land battling economic crises, and the home of a proud and welcoming people.

Our plan was simple – acquainting ourselves with Greek history and culture, sampling local cuisine, relaxing by the seaside, and indulging in aimless meandering – within a reasonable budget. The challenge was not the sticking to a tight budget; it was us needing to make peace with the fact that two weeks is nowhere near enough to truly experience Greece! In fact, we had to skip several I-really-want-to-go-there places because of our two-week cap.

We spent roughly three days in Athens, two in Delphi, three in Milos and Santorini each, and two days in Corfu.


Athens

The vibrant capital of Greece, Athens offered what I can describe as thbest way to start a vacation. With quiet suburbs and parks, lively streets and bars, rich architecture, several museums, and excellent transport, Athens seems to have all the requisites for the perfect city.

Athens, Greece

The vibrant Monastiraki square, in its morning bustle.

Start your evening with cocktails from one of the several bars and pubs in the heart of the city. We really enjoyed Drunk Sinatra, a bar specializing in original recipes, just off Kolokotroni Street. Everything we had ordered was perfection; in fact, we even ended our trip with a few drinks here!

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The drink Happiness at Drunk Sinatra seemed to really take Kevin by his heartstrings.

Walk early in the day to the Acropolis crossing the Plaka – a street with many steps, souvenir shops, cozy restaurants, and charming homes that make for some amazing Instagram-worthy pictures.

Athens

The Plaka offers views of little souvenir shops and their colourful wares, Athenian homes with floral draperies, and cozy eateries whipping up local delicacies.

Athens, Greece

Spend a good part of the day drinking in the remains of the Parthenon, the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, the Erechtheion, and other architectural marvels that stand lofty and proud as symbols of a civilization that was prosperous, intelligent, and worthy of being the subject of ageless tales.

Acropolis, Athens

Donated to the city by the orator and sophist Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, built between 160-169 A.D was used for musical and philosophical events.

Acropolis, Athens

The walk across the Acropolis may be tiring, but one gaze at the mighty Parthenon makes us realize that the effort is worth it.

Acropolis, Athens

The Erechtheion was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The pillars in The Porch of the Caryatids are replicas; the originals are housed in the new Acropolis Museum and the British Museum, London.

Explore Athenian street food by grabbing some yummy grub from vendors across the city – bite into warm and filling pita with gyros, tuck into falafels with tahini, savour tzatziki with pita bread, devour a hearty kontosouvli, and dig into delicious souvlaki. Sample local dark beers, and lose yourself in the music wafting from streets as people take to their instruments and talents.

Athens

A delicious and filling Pita Pocket with meatballs from Falafellas, for just €2.50! Throw in a chilled beer or ginger ale, and you’re refreshed and satisfied after the long hours at the Acropolis.

Where to stay – We stayed at Small Funny World, a hostel with free breakfast and Wi-Fi, for €15 per person per night. Located in Kalamiotou, it is a ten-minute walk from the central bus terminal and the Monastiraki Metro Station, and a fifteen-minute walk from the Acropolis!


Delphi

A village in Central Greece surrounded by high-reaching mountains, lush cypress and fruit-laden olive trees, Delphi is ideal for escaping city views, and to lose oneself in the colourful past of the Greeks. The weather is crisp and cool, the food a delight for gastronomes, the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Athena Pronaia a testament to why Delphi was considered the navel of the ancient world, and the Delphi Museum a bang for every euro spent there.

Take the morning bus from the KTEL Bus Terminal at Athens, and enjoy the enroute scenery, appreciating the contrast between bold and flashy Athens, and picturesque and quiet Delphi.

Delphi

Enroute Delphi, where we first caught a glimpse of its majestic mountains.

Spend a day walking to the ancient sites and the museum, and drink in the sights and sounds of a village so simple and beautiful it makes you sigh.

Delphi

At Delphi, the mountains make for constant companions.

Delphi

The Temple of Apollo, or what’s left of it. The Sanctuary of Apollo is home to many ancient remains.

Delphi

This is the vision that greets us when we walk downhill from the Temple of Apollo – The Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.

Delphi

Getting up close and personal with the famous Tholos of Delphi.

Enjoy a warm cuppa at one of the many cafes that offer views of the looming mountains. Walk around the village that offers reminiscence of Christmas-y evenings, and shop for local bakes and trinkets.

Delphi

Snuggable cups of coffee with a view of the Parnassos mountain? Yes please!

Where to stay – We stayed at Hotel Orfeas, and it was one of the most pleasant stays we had experienced in Greece. A nine-minute walk from the bus terminal, a warm and friendly host, a clean and well-equipped room with a gorgeous view of the mountains – all for €32.


Milos

Three enchanting days were spent in one of the most beautiful gems in the Aegean Sea – Milos. This Cycladic island is a quieter sibling to tourist-y Santorini and party-esque Mykonos.

Milos is a volcanic island resting in azure Aegean waters. According to Greek mythology, Milos was the son of River Skamandros who colonized the island. The three Olympian Goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, fell in love with the young man. A dispute was thus created, and Paris of Troy was called to judge, the reward being an apple offered to the fairest one – given to Aphrodite.

Home to the volcanic mineral obsidian and the birthplace of the famous statue of Aphrodite (also known as Venus de Milo) Milos exudes as much natural charm as it conjures historic allure. The activities and sites here are endless, and three days on the island feel like they just aren’t enough.

Milos

Soaking it all in at the waterfront of Papikinou Beach.

The best and budget-friendly way to get to the island is via ferry, starting from Athens. Once in Milos, rent a bike and explore the island, from the port of Adamas to the fishing village of Pollonia. If weather permits, opt for a dive in the clear waters of the Papikinou beach. Head to the little fishing hamlet of Klima to observe the colourful houses and the syrmata.

Milos

Watching the final rays of the sun hit the waters over the tiny fishing village of Klima.

Experience the historical significance of Milos by visiting the Catacombs of early Christians and the Ancient Roman Theatre. Indulge in impressive Aegean cuisine – pitarakia made of local cheeses, sweet wines, and the traditional dessert Koufeto.

Milos

Approaching the Ancient Roman Theatre and realizing that the Aegean served as the backdrop for plays of bygone days.

Milos

Milos’ take on Pitarakia – traditional pies stuffed with local cheeses.

Milos is home to over seventy beaches, each offering something spectacular. From the cliffs and pebbled shores of Papafragas, the quiet blues and sandy landscape of Pollonia, to the lunar facade of the pirate bay Sarakiniko, the topographical marvels of Milos are out of this world!

Milos

The limestone cliffs, natural caves, pebbled shores, and clear blue waters of Papafragas had us believing that Poseidon resides here!

Milos

Want to swim in the inviting waters of the Aegean Sea? Sarakiniko is the best place for that.

Milos

Sarakiniko was once a pirate cove, thanks to its bounty of natural caves.

While we had heard great things about the sunset views at Santorini, the ones at Milos are just as amazing. Walk to the Plaka – the commercial capital of the island – via the village of Trypiti, and lose yourself in cobbled pathways and alleys of whitewashed houses. Climb up to the Kastro, and watch the setting sun caress the Aegean Sea, transforming the waters from a bright blue to a captivating gold.

Milos

We were blessed to be allowed this vision from the Kastro – the fiery sun shedding its blinding armour, to be able to touch the sea.

Where to stay – It is ideal to stay close to the port of Adamas – not only is it well-connected to the ferries and commercial spots, it is also the best place to rent transport, and has several supermarkets and bakeries in the vicinity. We stayed at Giannis Hotel Apartments, and were pretty impressed with the facilities. The kitchenette, where we whipped up our breakfasts, helped us save some bucks.

Milos

A final sunset at the Plaka.


Santorini

We took a ferry to Santorini, where we spent the next three days. In all honesty, we weren’t too impressed with Santorini – possibly because of the number of tourists, the hype created by netizens, and the slightly rushed ambiance that the island exuded. However, Santorini is a breathtaking island – a caldera formed as a result of volcanic eruptions, and landscapes shaped by many earthquakes.

Unlike Milos, Santorini is well-connected by local buses. Travelling using local transport is a wonderful and budget-friendly way to explore the island.

Visit the different beaches on the island, each with unique shores – Black Beach, Red Beach, White Beach, and others. While heading to the Red Beach, allot some time to visit the archeological site of Akrotiri, for a glimpse into the ancient Minoan civilization.

Santorini

Staying at Perissa made it so much easier to hit beach no. 1 – Black Beach.

Santorini

Many hours were spent at the Red Beach – reading, making little stone pillars, and getting a ridiculously crispy tan.

Head to Fira for a walk around the bustling capital, and window-shop (or shop!) at the boutique and luxury stores. If you’re up for it, take a cable car-ride from Fira all the way down to the port of Santorini.

Santorini

In the true spirit of Santorini luxe, we splurged on a wine tasting at Nektar Lounge, which had a great view of the setting sun over the caldera.

Walk through Fira, upto the end of Firostefani and Imerovigli, and take the steps up the Skaros Rock for unbelievable views of the entire island and the Aegean Sea.

Santorini

A common spectacle when meandering through Firostefani and Imerovigli.

Santorini

Walking up the Skaros Rock may be tiring, but it rewards those who endure with gorgeous views.

While in the Athens Airport, I had come across an ad saying –

“Skip the must-do, go with your instinct.”

Looking back at our time in Santorini, I realize that we followed this quite often. Slightly bummed out by the crowd, we skipped the must-do sunset view at Oia. Instead, we took a bus to the traditional village of Megalochori, walked a few hundred metres across a small vineyard, nearly froze in the whipping wind, and witnessed the setting sun lend the sky and sea a palette of glorious shades, with a stunning panoramic view of the caldera.

Santorini

Taking in the panoramic view of the caldera, with the sun guiding my eyes.

Where to stay – If you have room in your budget, Santorini is the place to splurge – Fira, Oia and Imerovigli are strewn with boutique hotels, with private pools and views of the caldera. We chose to stay at the budget-appropriate and extremely pleasant Onar Rooms, which is a two-minute walk from the Black Beach at Perissa, and the Perissa bus terminal. We spent our first night on the island at Zorbas Hotel in Pirgos, as this was closer to the port (we took the night ferry). The property is beautiful, and quite reasonably priced.


Corfu

We took a ferry to Athens, and then boarded a night flight to Corfu, since we could not leave without visiting at least one Ionian island. Looking back, we could have cut down our time in Santorini in lieu of Corfu, because believe me when I say that Corfu is as striking as it is idyllic!

Corfu is nothing like its Cycladic counterparts. It offers views of cyan waters and pebbled beaches, lofty mountains and the countryside, Venetian cityscapes and historic monuments in equal measures. While bikes and cars are available for hire, the budget-friendly way to explore the island is via the local bus.

Corfu

The calm before the storm – at Agios Gordios.

Visit the beach at Agios Gordios for scenic views of the horizon, with the sun streaming through the clouds to shine on the clear waters of the Ionian Sea. Take a bus to Corfu Town, and lose yourself in the many roads and alleys, at each turn marvelling at the different wares being sold – from Kumquat fruits and liquer, to handmade jewellery that promise luck.

Corfu

The colours were so irresistible that I ended up buying quite a few things from this store in Corfu Town!

Visit the Old Fort and the New Fort, and if time permits, visit the Museum of Asian Art, which has an excellent curation of ancient and medieval art and culture pieces from the Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Nepalese, and Baloch regions. This museum was our favourite of all the ones that we had visited during our trip.

Corfu

Making our way to the fort, through the scenic Corfu Town.

Where to stay – Our AirBnB property at Agios Gordios – Alexandros Apartments And Studios – was my favourite of all the places we stayed at in Greece. The property is bountiful with orchards and flowering plants, and our room was impressively equipped – we even had bar equipment! Most importantly, our hosts were extremely gracious and hospitable, which made it so much harder for us to say goodbye to Corfu.

We ended our two week trip at Athens. A final drink at Drunk Sinatra, some Latin American food, much lighter wallets, camera rolls and minds full of memories later, we bid adieu to our perfect Greek summer.


Greece is a masterpiece of seas, stories, and dreams. Its hospitable spirit is a testament to the resilience of its people who have endured so much – from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, to the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and the current economic crises that has led to this multifaceted land to throw open its arms to tourism. There are many undiscovered gems, unexplored trails, uncharted caverns, and unshared stories that define Greece – solidifying our belief that this country was indeed crafted by and for the Gods.

Greece

“Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.”

Nikos Kazantzakis

 



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