Category Archives: GREECE

oia: santorini, greece.

watching the sunset over the cliffs at oia.

oia is a delightful little village on the northern tip of santorini, perched high above the caldera far below. white-washed houses are tucked tightly into the cliffside just below the town itself, which is a warren of narrow, cobbled passageways – a jumble of homes, stores and restaurants, bursting with people who crowd the streets each evening to witness the spectacular sunset.

the most striking thing about greece, the secret to its unsurpassed beauty, lies not only in the pristine surroundings and picturesque architecture, but in the light itself. the light, so perfect and strong and clear, illuminates the land in a completely magical way. in the morning as the sun rises it sets the blue shutters and doors aglow with its cool, steely light. as it rises high in the day, the cloudless sky becomes a vivid shade of royal blue and the intense rays reflect off the white-washed buildings with a beautiful, almost blinding glare, everything in sight increasingly vivid and crisp. and later, when the afternoon sun begins to slip towards the horizon, the golden light spills across the land – reflecting off the water and dancing across the walls. just before the fiery ball is seemingly consumed by the ocean, its warmth turns even the whitest facades light pink and a deep orange glow is engulfs the island, the early evening light casting shadows across every wall…

no sooner does the sun sink away, then the moon rises – bright white, and pouring its luminance clear and strong onto the waters below: it shines a perfect white glow upon the streets, the sky fading from an sudden blue to deepest black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *
greece part I: athens
greece part II: kamari beach, santorini
greece part III: my mom’s 50th bday

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fifty and fabulous in santorini.

my mother celebrates her 50th birthday on the greek islands.

july 17th was my mom’s 50th birthday and the real reason behind our impromptu, amazing trip to the greek islands. i wanted to do something very special for her 50th, and could think of no better way to celebrate than by whisking her off to explore the famed and fabulous islands of greece! this was her first trip to europe and it was absolutely amazing to share it with her.

having watched me travel all over the world, and knowing i was up for anything, she told me that greece was her ultimate destination. i hadn’t given much thought to the mediterranean island, but once i started looking into it i was captivated. we spent 10 days traveling through the cyclades, soaking up greek culture, cuisine and sun – it was perfect!

on her actual birthday we were on the island of santorini, and spent the day on the black sand beach of kamari before riding up to oia to see the acclaimed sunset above the caldera. for dinner we came back to kamari, where the waiters outside one of the restaurants, upon learning that it was my mom’s birthday, began to serenade her with “happy birthday.” the taverna, eanos, was one of the wonderful seaside restaurants with the friendly waiters and great food we had come to love in kamari. the waiter selected all our food, and brought out course after course of delicious seafood, pasta, salad, and wine. for dessert, the owners and waiters presented my mom with a cake and roses, singing loudly and enthusiastically, ending with a resounding OPA! i’ve never seen my mother look more beautiful or more happy – a testament to her fifty fabulous years.

mom i love you! thank you for trusting me to throw together this amazing trip and for being the best mother anyone could ask for! until the next one…

YASAS!

 


above: mom + i on the moonscape beach of sarakiniko, milos; at dinner one evening in santorini; lounging in the calm water along the shore of pollonia, milos; sunset on kamari beach, santorini. 

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kamari beach: santorini, greece.

escaping to the islands.

after an eventful stay in athens (read part I of the trip here) we departed for the islands: our first stop the fabulous, famed santorini. there are a number of ways to travel between the greek islands, depending on your time and budget there are different speed boats which depart continuously from the port of piraeus – from slow, hulking ferries to high speed ships and ultra fast speed catamarans. we chose to fly on one of the daily flights, making it a sweet 45 minute trip as opposed to a possible 8 hour voyage by ferry.

santorini is the southernmost island of the cyclades and 240 miles to the southeast of piraeus (mainland greece.) all the individual greek islands belong to a larger group of islands, most prominent are the ionian, the cyclades, the dodecanese, and the aegean. crete, by far the largest and most diverse island, is the only one that stands alone. we decided to visit the cyclades – a delightful group of idyllic islands that form a circle around the island of delos, and are known for their irresistible beauty and relaxed island lifestyle.

with a population of less than 15,000, the small island of santorini has many attractive little towns and we chose to stay on the southeastern coast at kamari beach. for four fabulous days we lounged along the black sand beaches, dining alfresco and relishing the quaint atmosphere of this fairly well-developed (yet perfectly tranquil) resort town. our hotel was a simple, family run establishment where we slept facing the ocean, our balcony doors flung open. every morning we were served tea and coffee with fresh bread, and practiced a few greek words with the owner: a kind, old woman, who i lovingly referred to as greek grandma, and who kissed us goodbye when we left the last day.

the food was incredible: fresh tomatoes and vegetables, hot bread, amazing seafood – and the days were long and languid under the hot sun. with so many places to choose from, kamari was the ideal spot to escape to, and santorini a new favorite destination.

 

 


our delightful host posed for a photo with my mom :)

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arrival in athens.

10 hours overnight on a direct fight to athens.

we arrived at the beautiful new athens international airport early tuesday morning, having purchased the tickets just a week before. i love to travel spontaneously: picking a destination, buying tickets, and taking off with no plans, no expectations – just the latest copy of lonely planet and my camera. my mom wasn’t so sure about this, but i told her to trust me, so she tossed a few things in her bag, notably the latest lonely planet greek islands and her new SLR.

we hit the ground running, wasting no time and super excited to explore the city. within an hour of landing we were checked into our hotel and on the streets. athens is, in many ways, an ancient city that still reflects much of its complex past and is home to countless antiquities. however, it has also become a modern metropolis, a phenomenal juxtaposition that was utterly striking. one minute you stand entranced by the grandeur of the ruins which jut impressively into the sky, and the next you are strolling down through the chic streets of kolonaki, with the designer boutiques and swanky sidewalk cafes. after admiring the acropolis up close, we were amazed to see that we also had a clear view of the parthenon from the rooftop pool at our hotel.

the crowning achievement of greece’s golden age, the acropolis continues to epitomize greece for many people, and the magnificent parthenon and accompanying buildings on the site are an impressive window to history – bringing to mind everything one learned in world history and providing an amazing opportunity to reflect on ancient civilization. wandering through the acropolis, it is easy to be transported back in time – visualizing 5th century BC greek life. however, a short walk to the edge of this “upper town” (the definition of the word acropolis) brings you quickly back to the present – the sprawling city of athens below, its 5 million inhabitants bustling through its streets.

from the acropolis we walked to plaka – a warren of shops and restaurants packed along the narrow, cobbled streets. we had our first taste of greece at a cafe beneath the acropolis, the parthenon looming overhead, as we sampled the grilled octopus, stuffed tomatoes and greek salad. i fell in love with the creamy feta cheese – far superior to anything i have ever tasted in the states. the fresh bread and warm olive oil were perfect, and we loved the relaxed service, lingering over the ice cold water and bitter mythos beer.

late in the afternoon we returned to the hotel, refreshing ourselves at the rooftop pool, watching the sun set over the acropolis from high above. fueled by the excitement and knowing that we were only in athens for a few more hours, we hit the city streets again, stopping for wine and a bite to eat at one of the boisterous sidewalk cafes that reminded me of rome’s neighborhoods. i love european cities and it was so amazing to see my mom’s reaction – this being her first trip to europe! we returned to the hotel after a very full day, falling quickly asleep, thrilled to be in athens, and even more anxious to depart for the islands in the morning…

 

 


me + mamasita in action on the streets of athens!


the greek mini-bar at our hotel: olives, honey, olive oil, greek dolls in traditional dress, vinsanto, and of course, ouzo!

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