We had been planning this trip since what felt like the very beginning. I believe it was early in Month 2 when a Remote suggested we should go to Greece in the middle of Month 4. It is hard to plan that far ahead while traveling day to day but I said I was in. Luckily, he did the research so I just had a to book a few flights and venmo him for the AirBnB. Our plan was to fly from Sofia to Santorini stay for two nights, fly to Athens, stay a few nights then head out. A quick trip but with all of us working its hard to take more than a long weekend. When I think of Greece, I really only think of two things, the ancient Greek and Roman history and the Greek isles. I figured I could knock both those off on this trip so that was the plan.
Our first stop was the island of Santorini, a famous volcanic island part of the Greek isles. I didn’t realize how many islands were really comprised Greece but Santorini was one of the few I had heard of. The island itself was beautiful with stunning views of the surrounding sea and other islands. With a high enough vantage point you can really make out the circular shape of the ancient volcano that city is now built on top of. It is a three-quarters circle shape so from one end of the island, you can see the other. The bulk of the little towns are on the western side of the island and that is where we stayed. Narrow two-lane roads run like arteries through Santorini and our group decided to rent a convertible to maneuver our way to the different sites. The most popular form of transportation is ATV but since we had 5 people, someone would’ve been left out so we opted for the car.
The first morning we drove to Oia to see the famous white buildings with the bright blue domes. The views were stunning, looking down at the roofs, the cliffs and turquoise water below. We had breakfast at a little restaurant overlooking this and I could’ve stayed there for hours. While the blue domes were beautiful, the bigger revelation for me at breakfast was my newfound love of tzatziki sauce. Now I definitely had had it before, but it was just different here. It was the focal point of our breakfast instead of the usual casted-aside condiment to cool my cheaply-made gyro down after I doused it with hot sauce. This tzatziki was the star of the show and it was so delicious. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as it is certainly a famous greek spread but it certainly opened my eyes to how good it can truly be when it is made properly. This first meal started our tzatziki binge and I had it with EVERY meal the rest of the trip. You can go to Greece with the islands and the views but the real gem is that wonderful sauce.
After seeing the little town of Oia we explored some of the beaches around the island. The beaches were rocky but they had amazing views. The area had big red cliffs jutting out right over the beach and the water was the perfect temperature allowing you to easily float and relax in the sun. The views are incredible and the water is crystal clear which makes the scenery very memorable. After lunch, we wanted to find a pool so we found this great hotel that allowed guests to use the pool as long as we bought drinks. It had a great lounge area and an infinity pool overlooking the island and sea beyond. It was just what I needed for my first “vacation” of Remote Year, relaxing in the pool and not a care in the world. I call it my first “vacation” because it is the first weekday all trip I haven’t opened my laptop to answer email. It was truly a day to just explore this beautiful island and thats what we did. Other Remotes that were in town came to the spot for dinner and the ten of us had a wonderful dinner as we watched the sunset disappear beyond the islands and horizon in the distance. It was one of the most beautiful views and sunset I’ve seen and spending it with great friends made it that much better.
The next day we did more of the same. Beach, pool, cocktail, repeat. Santorini was amazing and I think the pictures are worth more than the few words I’m writing about it.
Late that night we were off to Athens. We got in and went straight to bed. The next morning we split into a few different groups to explore based on our preferences. I went out to see the Acropolis and Parthenon was some others slept in. The heat in Athens was almost unbearable and it felt hotter than Morocco or at least that is what we said. It was amazing seeing the Parthenon, the ancient city of Agora and the rest of the Acropolis. It was definitely a bucket list item to see these iconic Roman and Greek structures. Looking at the incredible Parthenon stationed high up on a hill overlooking the city, you can really picture how the local people thought it touched the heavens and the gods. From down below, it looks so high up and so God-like as it almost touches the clouds. It really puts you in the shoes of the people back in the day who wanted to make these glorious structure to please the Gods. We couldn’t stay for too too long as the crowds and heat pushed back down the hill.
After walking around a bit, we found the oldest distillery in Athens and camped out for a while. Brettos, the name of the place, had fifty or so cordials that were all homemade and in different flavors. We tried raspberry, melon, orange, watermelon, coconut and a few others. Raspberry and limoncello were our favorites so we bought a bottle and set out to find the “best gyro” in Athens. We found a spot and I thoroughly enjoyed my authentic Gyro. We couldn’t waste time as we had to meet back at the AirBnb to catch our boat ride for the afternoon.
We decided we’d book a catamaran for the afternoon since being on the water is better than melting in the city. The next six hours were some of the best I ever had. The six of us Remotes, four others and two captains took to the Aegean sea. We were on a state of the art catamaran with unlimited beer/wine and a fresh cooked dinner before we sailed off into the sunset. We cruised around, stopped to jump in, snorkeled and enjoyed every minute of it. These boat trips aren’t cheap but they are worth every single penny in my opinion! The landscape was incredible and the company was even better. For dinner we had fresh cooked shrimp, squid, chicken and pork with greek salad, potatoes, grilled veggies and of course tzatziki. It was my favorite meal in Greece, so simple but with great ingredients and dining on a boat you can’t really beat it. After teaching my buddy how to properly backflip we sailed back into the sunset capping off an unforgettable cruise.
The next day we saw the rest of the sites we wanted to see like Zeus’ temple and the Acropolis museum. We stopped by our favorite distillery, Brettos, and enjoyed the rest of the day while getting in some much needed work. Athens certainly isn’t the prettiest or cleanest city but it does have some of the most amazing history in the world so I’m glad we stopped by. Greece really did feel like a true exotic vacation and it was a great way to break up the month of Bulgaria!