The flight from Bucharest to Athens passes over beautiful Bulgarian mountains and Eastern Greece regions of Thessaloniki which can be enthralling. We landed in Athens without any delay and proceeded to take the metro to our Airbnb house. The metro runs from the Airport to the city quite often but we somehow managed to be late as it took us a while to figure out where the metro was.
The ride to the city was boring but it does seem like there are a lot of beggars in the metros asking for alms as we saw 4-5 beggars wandering in the train in the 30 mins journey. We took a walk to our house and the host arrived to show us in within 5 mins. The house was much better than expected and was a good choice for a repeat booking as we were again going to stay at the same place after a week. The washroom makes for an interesting tidbit: Toilet Paper is not meant to be disposed of in the WC instead in the dustbin near the WC because the Greek drains are not built to handle the dissolved TP and get clogged making for expensive cleaning expense. After settling in a bit, we sauntered out for a bite at Simply Burger which has some really good burgers on the menu. Disappointingly, there are no local beers on the menu as Heineken somehow assumes the local flavours in Greece. Post dinner, we headed for an R&R as we had 2-day long trip coming ahead.
Day 1: Athens- Delphi-Thermopylae-Kalabaka
We had booked a package tour from G.O Tours for Delphi and Meteora as the long distance public transport is not really great and making your own trip can be exasperating. Too many points of failure to simply state the risk of planning especially with tight planning and no days to spare.
We met the tour group at scheduled time and almost immediately headed on our trip to Delphi. Delphi was nearly 2 and half hour drive and at the start of the journey, the guide kept us engaged with stories and sights which soon gave way to sleep. We awoke close to Delphi as we started climbing the winding mountain roads and the scene was amazing to behold. We arrived at Delphi on schedule and after making our way past the entrance, we arrived at the temple of Delphi where there used to be many statues and offerings from the various states of Greece, both mainland and islands. Each statue has a story and each island or state had an offering. The true centre of power in the olden Greek days to simply put. The story of how the site was chosen is that Zeus determined to know which was the centre of the world let loose 2 eagles, each starting from one end of the world and they met at Delphi. Delphi is where ‘The Oracle’ used to converse with God and advise men and kings alike. Now the Temple is in ruins but still is majestic in its appearance. Walking up the mountain from the temple, we came across the Stadium which hosted the Olympic games and then we made our way back to the bus for the next leg of the journey.
After Delphi, our tour headed towards Kalambaka which is where we to rest for the night but not before visiting Thermopylae. After nearly 90 mins, we arrived at Thermopylae where the statue of Leonidas is erected in honour of him and his 300 soldiers laying down their lives to protect Greece. Disappointingly, other than the statue, there is nothing else to see at Thermopylae. We made our way to Kalambaka where we checked into our first hotel in years and instantly realised why we prefer homes to hotels. We enjoyed a hearty buffet and retired to get sleep.
We made our way to Kalambaka where we checked into our first hotel in years and instantly realised why we prefer homes to hotels. We enjoyed a hearty buffet and retired to get sleep.
Day 2: Meteora – Athens
We had been advised the previous evening to be dressed modestly and most people complied. However, there were a few who dress as they as always do. And for them, there was a nice surprise at the monasteries in Meteora. Meteora was formed by sea chipping away at the mountains and then receding suddenly leaving the mountain formation as we see today. The monasteries on the top were built as the monks needed secluded praying spaces and even today, it is as it was conceived. We visited 2 of the 6 monasteries which survive to this day. At the monasteries, if anyone is thought to be immodestly dressed, the nuns ask the person to cover themselves up with skirts, shawls or pants kept for this very purpose.
After the visit, we headed back to Athens as it takes about 6 hours to get back and we made it back around 7 PM. The most interesting part of the day was yet to come as we were to meet up with Family for which we had rescheduled the entire trip. Uncle’s family arrived at the hotel and had checked in while we were having Tapas at a nearby Tapas bar. We wolfed down our dinner and headed to the hotel where they were staying which was only a minute away from our Airbnb house too. Our bonds transcend time and distance as we are able to connect in an instant as though we were always together. I started pulling my cousin’s legs like always and my uncle started pulling ours, all in all, it was already beginning to be awesome. We headed back to give them time to sleep and we anyways were headed into Athens the next morning.
Day 3: Athens
Our tour started early in Athens and we had a hotel pick up. After spending a lot of driving around the city, we finally met the group we were to go on a tour with. The tour guide started off in an uninterested manner and gave us a quick rundown of all the places we were visiting and honestly, it was only a short tour which we did not feel was worth taking the tour for. We might as well have done it on our own. Anyways, the tour moved at its own pace, while we moved at ours. We went past the Syntagma square, the various landmarks of Athens, stopping for a while at Panathenaic Stadium where the modern Olympic games were born and finally at the Acropolis museum where the guide took us through the entire museum explaining the artefacts. Post the Museum, we started climbing the Acropolis which was magnificent and every bit as I had imagined it would be. For me, the trip was finally complete as I wanted it. After climbing the hill to the Acropolis and admiring the Pantheon, we walked towards Plaka for a meal which we found at a restaurant where we gorged on Souvlakis, Gyros, Greek Desserts and Salads, the bill for which was still lesser than it would have cost in Western Europe.
After lunch, everyone, except me and Swapna, wanted to head back for a nap. We split at Ermou Street where we made our way through the winding market towards Syntagma Square where we rested for a while and then headed back past the running man sculpture and aviation museum. Athens is host to many museums which if one has an interest in can take up the entirety of the travel duration but if visiting museums is not on the itinerary, then sight seeing means covering a lot of distance. We had an early dinner at the Tapas bar and retired to bed as we had to take the early morning ferry to Mykonos.
Day 4 – Mykonos
We had to leave early as we had yet to collect tickets for the Ferry and as the Ferry was scheduled to leave at 7, we had to collect before 530 AM. We managed to collect the tickets in time. The taxi fare is really cheap compared to Netherlands and despite the port being 12kms far, we paid about 13 euros as taxi fare which shocked me pleasantly. The ferry was surprisingly spacious and much better than my expectations. It also had a well-stocked pantry for breakfast and coffee. During the ride, we started playing games and chit chatting which resulted in fun for us but generated glances from the rest of the people onboard. We were playing heads-up, a game in which you get a card with a name related to a topic of choice, everyone else has to describe the card and the one holding the card is to guess it. The game was really fun and also quite interesting as it was a new take on Dumb Charades.
At Mykonos, we checked in to the hotel but as the room was not yet available, we were waiting until it was. Uncle decided to rent a car as it was much cheaper that way than relying on public transport to get around the island. Mykonos is a very beautiful island with the beaches being crowded and filled with beach shacks. The inland part is peaceful and laidback. We headed into the town for a bite and after searching for a long time we found a good place to hog called the Souvlaki story which had some amazing spreads. After this, we made our way back to the waterfront. Can really call them beaches as it lacks the laidback atmosphere associated with one and is also just a patch of sand in an otherwise rocky area. As the evening wore on, we went on to our next part of the trip which was the Delos tour. Delos is a smaller island which is 30 mins by Ferry away from Mykonos.
As the evening wore on, we went on to our next part of the trip which was the Delos tour. Delos is a smaller island which is 30 mins by Ferry away from Mykonos. On Delos, we walked past more ruins admiring the grandiose history they are part of and which now remains forgotten except for what is now still remaining at the site. The site is marvellous and has been remarkably restored to the extent possible. After Delos, we had a quiet dinner on Mykonos at Obati, Italian nice restaurant which boasts of wood-fired pizzas and decent salads. After dinner, more conversations and more sleep.
Day 5: Mykonos – Athens
Our plan was to take a tour of the island and head back to Athens where we will be staying for the night as we had a flight next morning.
We started off with the 2 Orthodox monasteries. After having seen many Orthodox and Catholic churches, I can now differentiate between the 2 and spread some wisdom on Frescoes etc. From the monasteries, we headed to the Super Paradise beach where we took long walks and settled down on a cafe to enjoy some fruit juices and relax. This trip had proven to be the most relaxed trip of all so far with the best company to be enjoyed with.
After having a repeat telecast of the previous day’s lunch, we headed to the port where we waited for the Ferry back to Athens. The ferry was delayed due to high tides and we had to wait much longer than expected. The journey back was really silent as we had already started missing our family. In Athens, our host George spent some time chatting with us regarding his thoughts on Greece and how he spends every year visiting a new island and his views on the islands themselves. We had a nice quiet dinner in Athens and then packed for the flight the next day
Day 6: Athens – Amsterdam
We took the metro to Athens airport and had an easy time getting through immigration and security. 4 hours later, we were in Amsterdam and further 2 hours later, we arrived in Eindhoven and our trip was officially over. The Best trip ever.