Backpacking around Greece and its islands can involve sleeping on ferry ships’ decks, photographing black sand beaches and eating lots of feta cheese.
Here are some tid-bits I learned in Greece that I’d like to share with other travelers:
A salad means tomato, cucumber, olives, and lots of feta. Do not expect lettuce.
If cheese could rule a country, feta would rein over the Greeks and they would subserviently comply.
Left: Feta rules in Greece, cut the size of a deck of cards and tossed onto veggies.
Just because you buy an overnight ferry ticket, it doesn’t mean you have a SEAT on the boat.
Arriving at the ferry to Santorini just 5 minutes before departure seemed like perfect timing, until we realized everyone was camped out on the deck and laying on the couches in the cafe. After realizing we took would have to set up camp for the night, Katie, Jason and I found a bench under an awning and faded into and out of sleep among fog horn blows and announcements over the loud speaker.
The blue and white paint combo is everywhere, just as you see on postcards.
My friend Katie, from high school, met me in Athens and did the island hopping with us. She said she read that the reason the homes are all blue and white is because when the Turkish people ruled, they did not allow the Greeks to fly their flag. This was the Greek way of expressing patriotism.
Above: Sifnos is known for its hand-made pottery and the blue and white paint on homes.
Be prepared to share your food, since Greeks enjoy eating off one plate in the center of the table.
My friend Danae, a native Greek I met in college, let us know that we were now all part of her Greek family and that we could just share the plates by all digging in. Danae’s boyfriend Giannis did an excellent job of ordering the cuisine, from the Crete Salad to the last detail: yogurt with honey and pistachios. Then we all feasted family style.
That old marble in Athens really is slippery!
The marble stones beneath your feet are so old and polished that they are as slick as ice in some spots. Or maybe it was the worn-out flip flops I wore? Whatever the case, be careful! It’s impossible to finish off your trip by swimming in the Mediterranean if you have a cast over a broken bone.
Left: Ruins of the Acropolis in Athens
A gyro and potatoes are to the Greeks what a hamburger and fries are to the Americans
Above: Super gyro!
Many beaches are picturesque, but the rocks make swimming difficult.
Left: Rocky Kastro Beach on Sifnos.
Above: Katie and I hung onto our dock as the waves crashed over the rocks at Kastro Beach.
If you’re ever in need of extra attention, travel with a pack of girls.
Above: Vacationing with my girls: Danae from Greece and Katie from Chicago
Take a risk and climb Nea Kameni, off Santorini’s shore.
On this active volcanic island, warm air creeps through the earths surface through little vents in the earth. In some areas, you can smell the sulphur as you climb across the lunar landscape. Visit this site in the morning because the sun’s reflection on these black rocks is hot!
Above: Hiking the volcano
When staying in Santorini’s famous Oia area, be sure your hotel has a pool.
As you can see in the photo below, there is no beach access from these picturesque hotels on the cliff! The view is breathtaking from the bright pools that are set into the stones.
Above: Santorini’s city of Oia.