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Athens to Santorini & Back

Oct 12, 2022 | Greece

While overlooking the sea of low white buildings that is Athens from the Electra Palace Hotel, I was overtaken by an urge to shout “Opah!” and start smashing plates. The Acropolis is an incredible sight, but nowhere is better than this rooftop restaurant veranda!

The hotel is located in the Plaka (the charming old city). It’s a maze of cobbled streets, small shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s fun to think about Plato and Aristotle wandering these same streets long ago. Getting lost (and you will!) is half the fun. Good luck reading street signs in Greek. Google Maps will be your best friend.

 

No visit to Greece would be complete without a visit to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon! The majesty of this iconic structure built two and a half thousand years ago can’t be overstated. The advanced engineering alone is mind-boggling. The short hike is all uphill and can be very busy during June, July, and August.

  • Take-aways – Go early in the day to beat the heat and avoid cruise ship days. Hire a private tour guide for half a day. 

 

The front desk of our hotel was helpful with restaurant suggestions. They speak english well and they even made reservations for us at a great little outdoor place called Seychelles. You will take a taxi from the hotel, and the neighborhood is less touristy, but the atmosphere, food, and especially the prices make it well worth the trip. Table service in Greece is uniformly “unhurried”. Go with the flow they will get to you.

Take away – Establish the taxi fare to your destination with your driver before getting in! Prices vary a lot!

 

The next night we dined at https://athinaikon.gr/ restaurant near the pedestrian zone three blocks away. 9:00 PM is “the Greek dinner hour”. Go at 8- 8:30 PM to get a seat. Restaurants are lively and festive, but nobody is in a hurry, including the waiters. Sit back and have another glass of local wine. Dinner here is surprisingly relaxed and affordable. Everywhere we dined, we were too full for dessert. Bonus, it seems customary that they bring a complimentary sweet something, a small ice cream, a plate of watermelon, etc. 

  • Take-away, ask to add a gratuity before receiving the bill. In Greece, a suggested tip is no more than 10%.

 

The Palace’s delicious breakfast buffet at the rooftop restaurant is included with your stay. The morning view of the Acropolis with the sun to your back is breathtaking, and will beckon you back for a sunset cocktail! If you plan on going out for dinner, head up to the rooftop, the sunset view must-see, before you head out for the evening. 

 

The Variety Voyager, our 223 ft. “mega-yacht” for the week (mega = greater than 180 ft.) is impressive in its intimacy, a host to 42 guests. We got to know most of the friendly crew by name. They were super accommodating. When we docked in Ephesus, we were near the Celebrity Reflection, a veritable floating city of three thousand! The contrast was stunning. 

 

Exploring the Greek Islands with old friends was great fun, and very relaxing. Greek history in the islands is almost as impressive as what you see in Athens. For example, there is the Prehistoric Town of Akrotiri. This (covered) archaeological excavation on Santorini covers acres, with more acres yet to be un-earthed. The small city with structures 4-stories tall is remarkably advanced for the time.  

 

Of course, who could visit Santorini without noticing grape vines on every open patch of land? The local technique of training the vines into a ground-hugging ring is fascinating, and the local wines are both delicious and affordable. 

 

In every port, there are many great restaurants. Be sure to get a recommendation and make a reservation. The best places fill up quickly. We had fantastic dining experiences along our travels. My favorite bite, Spanokopita, (spinach pie)! Delicious everytime!