GREECE – Which Islands to choose? And Athens!
I have always wanted to go to Greece. For so long I have wanted to live out my romanticized dreams of Mama Mia and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – combined.
The only problem is — I know who my father is (thankfully), and magical pants don’t exist. Although, my friends and I had a short conversation about shipping a pair of black yoga pants around the world, a quest unrealized by the time we were in the country. Plus, I don’t have a Greek family inviting me to spend the summer.
Regardless, we decided to squeeze in two glorious weeks into our schedule to explore as much of Greece as we possibly could! I was so excited to start planning our trip but had no idea where to start or which islands to choose. Thankfully, both of our moms were so excited for our Greek getaway that they both sent us detailed lists of islands, cities, what to do, and where to do it! (Thanks moms!) But even still, there are 6,000 Greek islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Geographically, some islands look rather that they belong to Turkey! So how do you decide when you have so many options??
Crazy fact – We didn’t have our greek trip planned until about 3 days before our flight to Athens. There are few reasons for this; really terrible wifi in the Philippines, and anxiety that we would be going to the wrong places. Again, too many options!
After watching a lot of different videos on YouTube ranking which islands to prioritize, we decided on Naxos, Santorini, and Rhodes! Why? I’ll tell you why!
Naxos – this island always falls on the top 10 list, literally neighboring Mykonos, but people say it is the Mykonos before Mykonos became a tourist trap.
Santorini – because you can’t go to Greek Islands and NOT go to Santorini; picturesque whitewashed buildings on Cliffside’s looking over a volcano? Yes.
And Rhodes – an island with an identity completely different than other Greek isles, and only 12 miles off the coast of Turkey! Our means of transportation, you ask? What other way than by ferry? So here was the basic plan:
Two days in Athens, four days in Naxos, two days in Santorini, and 2 days in Rhodes. And between each location was a five-hour, two-hour, and nine-hour ferry ride, ending with a flight back to Athens. It was the perfect plan!
We flew into Athens from Cebu City with a brief stopover in Singapore. We were exhausted. After 20 hours of traveling it was hard to think, but thankfully we didn’t have to work that hard because Athens has a wonderful public transportation system! We collected our bags and made it to the metro station. From the airport, you can train into the city for 10 euro per person. The fact that we were no longer in Southeast Asia was really setting in… 10 EURO? In Asia, it would have cost maybe half that! The train takes approximately 45 minutes and gets you right into the heart of the action of Athens, so I guess its worth it… actually very worth it.
Athens is an interesting city. It has so much history and the Acropolis is absolutely gorgeous. Everywhere you look is a different ancient ruin, they are literally everywhere! It is so cool! But, it does have a downside of being a little sketchy. The lady-security guard at our Airbnb told me (in Greek) that I needed to keep my purse at my chest at all times. I couldn’t understand her Greek, but I could understand her woman-to-woman heed of warning. So watch out ladies and gentlemen! Keep an eye on your back pockets and purses, just as a general caution.
Athens is a great place to spend a few days. It is a delightful experience to simply walk the marble streets below the Acropolis, meet the local cats, and pass local musicians serenading the streets in that oh-so-iconic greek style! Everything you’ve imagined about what you think Greece will be like… is exactly correct, ha! It’s just true! Greece is a magical place will leave your heart full of wonder and your belly full of feta cheese.
For more on this subject, I have a few more posts heading your way about our time spent on the three islands I mentioned above. Keep an eye out for it!
Thanks for reading,
Leah & Zach