After escaping the world for 10 days in the Greek Islands we have re-entered the busy, hectic city life in Rome for a few days.
In emails to us several of you commented on the crazy travel pace we had been keeping, especially in Egypt and Athens. Frankly, we had to agree with you. We were pretty worn out. We both read Rough Guides, First Time Around The World before we left. Basically, it's a travel guide with a lot of miscelleous information of things to think about when you are planning an extended trip around the world, like what we are doing now. One of the tidbits of wisdom I recall from the book was for every 2-3 months of traveling you should take 1-2 weeks to relax and recouperate. So, that is exactly what we did in the Greek Islands. We slept a LOT--about 10 hours a night, read a lot--Snow even finished a couple more books, enjoyed some yummy food, and overall just absorbed the peacefulness of where we were. We really needed it.
However, it turns out that 10 days of relaxing doesn't make for a very exciting travel journal entry. We didn't climb any mountains, didn't see any cool, exotic animals, didn't get stuck fording any streams...we did, however, have an unplanned visit to a hospital on the island of Naxos, but I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, I'm feeling much better now.
We're very pleased with how well our pictures of the islands came out--the Greek Islands are nothing if not picturesque and photogenic. We're hoping that the lack of exciting adventures to report on will be compensated by the killer pictures. Hope you enjoy it!
Our journey through the islands took us to four islands, Santorini, Naxos, Mykonos, and Andros, (with a few hour layover on Paros on our way from Naxos to Mykonos). We spent 3 nights on each island except Myconos where we stayed only one night. It was a required stopover to get to the more remote Andros. In our constant packing and unpacking, moving around a lot we've come to really appreciate any opportunity we have to stay more than one night in one place. Two nights is nice, three is wonderful, four nights is downright lazy...unfortunately, we haven't hit four nights anywhere yet.
Being from the Puget Sound, we're no strangers to ferries but the ferries out to the Greek Islands take it up a level compared to the Washington State ferries. The Blue Star ferry line was more akin to a cruise ship. It was shiny and new with nice seating, a fast food restaurant, and an espresso bar onboard. We enjoyed all of our ferry rides as a nice time to relax, read and even strum the ol 6-string.
At least twice in my life I've had calendars in my cube showing the fabulous Greek Islands. I've even given my mom a Greek Islands calendar so it was definitely my destiny to set foot on the islands one day. Now that I have, I strongly recommend the Greek Islands for a 10-14 day vacation destination. The island of Santorini is the island that 90% of those calendar photos must be taken on. Wow, a photographers paradise. Course there's always the little challenge of waiting until the 7 million tourists exit the shot, and somehow creatively framing the shot to avoid the power lines going up and down the craggy hillside. But such are the challenges of an 'artist'. And stop your snickering about my self-proclaimed status as an 'artist'. A universal truth is that everyone proclaims themself an artistic photographer when traveling. I am no different. Me and the other two dozen artistically inspired 'photographers' lined up each night for the perfect sunset shot.
Santorini is chock full of white walls with blue doorways leading to incredible vistas of the caldera (the volcanic circle of cliffs which define Santarini's landscape). The various hotels and cafes are all perched along the side of the cliff overlooking the sea. Many have pools whose water goes right up to the edge of the cliff. Spectacular to say the least. May is still a bit chilly for swimming which is the price you pay to arrive before the tourist onslaught of July-Aug. However, I would highly recommend visiting in pre or post July/Aug as the town really is quite charming when you can still wander the narrow alleyways without feeling like you're queing at Disneyland. The alleys are filled with shops selling jewelry, clothing, pottery, fine art, and pastries. There are countless cafes as well.
The highlight of our time on Santorini was the day we rented a scooter (I love scooters) and toured the island before ending the day in the beautiful town of Oia at the northern end of the island. Oia is pricier than Thira, the main town, and has elegant cafes and hotels. We enjoyed sunset in Oia. Oia is where you want to stay on Santorini if you can afford it. Imagine a hot tub at the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea and you get the picture. We watched the couple in the hot tub overlooking the sea. And even that was pretty luxurious.
We spent a few nights on Naxos which was a notch less touristy and scenic than Santorini. We really rested here. Naxos has a an old section of town which is quite charming with old alleyways, shops etc. Like good Americans, we treated ourselves to Mexican at Picasso's Mexican Restaurant. Turns out Greek margarita's are not to be toyed with.
At nearly all of our hotel in the islands, we had mini fridges and at times a kitchenette. This was a real treat since it allowed us to eat a simple cereal or yogurt breakfast in the room. It sounds silly but breakfast is often the hardest meal when you're on the road because the concept of a quick, simple and cheap restaurant breakfast doesn't exist in many parts of the world. When all you want is a 5 minute bowl of cereal and not a one hour cup o joe... that turn into a frustrating, pre-caffeine quest.
On Snow's Nightstand:
The Greek Islands allowed me to finish three books: 'The Optimist's Daughter' by Eudora Welty, 'Along Came a Spider' by James Patterson, and 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' by Mark Haddon. Of the three, I enjoyed "Incident of the Dog" the most. It's written in the voice of an autistic teen which makes it both funny and odd. 'Along Came a Spider' is a compelling thriller that moves along but reads a bit like a novelized version of a movie. It's the kind of book you'd expect to have pictures from the movie in the middle. Those were always the books I read to meet my summer reading quota in elementary school. Classic children's fiction like 'Herbie the Lovebug - the novel'. Eudora Welty's book is a quiet book about a southern middle-aged daughter whose father dies.
Have a great summer everyone,