Sunday, June 5, 2011

A quick overview of our 2 weeks in Greece

I have over 1,200 pictures from our Greece trip to sort through and pages and pages worth of stories to share from our vacation in Greece. It will probably take at least a month for me to recap our long vacation so I thought I'd just post some of my favorite pictures and give everyone a quick rundown of our trip and then those who want to read the in depth vacation tales can do so over the next month or so.

We started our vacation on Saturday and made the 4 hour drive to Milan, Italy. We stayed the night in an airport hotel and caught our 2.5 hour flight to Greece on Sunday morning. We stayed 1 night in Athens, then Monday morning we took a taxi to the port and boarded our cruise.

Overall we did not like the cruise. Everything from the food, to the people, to the excursions, to the freezing cold pool did not fit us. But I'll save the details for another post. The only nice part about the cruise was being able to visit several Greek islands. Our first stop on Monday afternoon was Mykonos.
 We had an hour or so to walk around the city and snap some quick pictures
Tuesday morning we had to get up at 5am to make the tour of Ephesus, Turkey. First we stopped by the town of Kusadasi where we visited the house where Mary was supposed to have spent her last days.
House where Mary spent her last days or tourist trap?
Not sure we will ever know...
Then we visited Ancient Ephesus. The ruins were absolutely amazing but staying with the tour group was impossible to do with Jack who only wanted to search for all the stray cats.
So we spent the afternoon roaming around feeding hundreds of stray cats while trying to enjoy the scenery and imagine what we were looking at

After leaving Turkey we sailed to the island of Patmos where the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation. We took a tour bus to the actual cave where John lived when he wrote the book, as we were getting off the bus Jack started throwing up. First it was a little bit and I cleaned it up, then came another round and he managed to puke all over the aisle down the middle of the bus. Poor bus driver had to take the bus to get cleaned while we visited the cave.
No pictures were allowed inside the cave so this is the best I could do.
Once we entered this building we had to hike down several (hundred) steps
to the cave and make room for all the American tourists who were huffing and
puffing their way back up the steps.

I had no change of clothes for Jack after he
threw up so he ended up having to wear one
of my tank tops I had (thankfully) left in my
backpack. He got lots of comments and stares and
I'm very happy that at this age he doesn't care what he wears
 As soon as we were back down at the main town we were able to buy Jack a new shirt.
We weren't sure if Jack threw up from dehydration, or from getting
sick on the winding roads on the bus. In either case, we started forcing
him to drink lots and lots of water
Tuesday night I went to the excursion desk on our cruise ship to book our excursions for the next day and I was told everything was full and no more excursions were open. Of course, this was after the man at the desk asked me if I was the one with "the baby" (meaning Jack). Luke is convinced that people complained about Jack on the tours and we were somehow blacklisted from any more excursions. In any case, it worked out very well. Wednesday we were to spend the entire day on the island of Rhodes and instead of being stuck in busses and with crowds of tourists, we rented a car and set off.
Driving in Greece is a bit more difficult than in countries who use the alphabet
 First we visited some "hot springs"
 They turned out to be not so hot after all

Jack looking cute in his traditional Greek outfit
Then we drove to the ancient city of Lindos set 400 ft above the sea. Rather than walk up in the heat of the day we rented some mules for the trek up the mountain.

Walking around the ruins of Lindos

After we had seen enough, and were sufficiently sweaty we drove to a beach to cool off

After the beach, we drove back to the main city of Rhodes and enjoyed walking around the walled city

Thursday morning we arrived in Crete. Since we were banned from the excursions we were on our own to explore the city.
It seemed to be mainly a shopping area just for tourists with not much interesting to see in the 2 hours we had
However we made one of our great discoveries of our entire trip here in Crete:
Greek donuts with honey and cinnamon
 After Crete, we sailed to the last island of our trip.
Sick of being stuck on the boat with nothing to do
We bid farewell to cruise ship at the island of Santorini and settled in our hotel on the black sand beach of Kamari.
We stayed here for 2 nights at a wonderful hotel that we are pretty sure was a gay/lesbian place. Nonetheless the 2 women who ran the place were exceptionally nice, the place was immaculate and the breakfasts were amazing! Each morning we had a unique breakfast such as fresh made chicken salad, tomato and feta bruschetta, greek yogurt that was so thick it looked like whipped cream topped with figs and honey. I would go back to this beach and this hotel in a heartbeat.
Friday we had the whole day to explore Santorini so we booked a tour on one of the pirate ships to take us around the island.
First we sailed to volcano island where we were able to hike to the top and peek in to the crater of this still active volcano
Trying to find a place for the pregnant lady to pee on the volcano
was quite the task. Much harder than actually climbing the volcano

Throwing rocks into the volcano
The next stop was to be the hot springs. Jack had been looking forward to swimming in the hot water all day so we were surprised when the ship stopped several hundred feet from the shore and told us all to jump in and swim to the island where we would find the hot springs. If the jump from the boat wasn't enough to shock Jack, the 16 degree (Celsius) water sure was
Our brave little boy 
It was less than a 10 minute swim to the island but felt like an eternity in the freezing cold water. Finally we reached the red water hot springs. Jack cried when when the boat called us to swim back.
Our next stop was the island of Thirassia which we were told was the least developed of the Greek islands and we had 2 hours to eat lunch and walk the city

In the late afternoon the boat dropped us of at the port Oia on the main island of Santorini. From here we had to walk up hundreds of steps to the village of Oia
A long way up

I'm much more tired than I look
 We gathered here with hundreds of other tourists to watch the sunset
 Saturday we sailed from Santorini to the island of Naxos
Jack is happy to be at a sandy beach
 Here we spent 4 days relaxing on the beach
 Swimming in the pool
Jack learned to swim solo (with floaty arms)
 Enjoying some of the ancient ruins of this island
Jack's favorite

Hiking up to some more ruins

 It was here in Naxos that we found an Italian restaurant that serves the best pizza we have ever had
 After 4 days on Naxos, we sailed back to Athens where we stayed in the heart of the city. Right next to all the protestors
Thousands of protestors marched daily, causing traffic street closures
and major headaches for tourists trying to get back to their hotel

View of the Acropolis from our hotel

We dedicated a day to Jack and made a journey outside the city to a non-touristy greek theme park
We couldn't even attempt to translate anything here
 Friday we had another tour on another tour bus

Realizing that we are not "tour group" people
This time the tour was in French, and between trying to understand what they were saying and keeping Jack from falling off the Acropolis hill it made for quite an interesting afternoon.
But finally the crowds and the heat and the protestors got to us and after 2 weeks in Greece we were ready to go home.
Overall it was a great vacation. It was the first time since traveling around Europe that we've felt like we were somewhere "different." Greece didn't feel anything like the other European countries we've been to, it felt like an entirely different world. But yet again, I think I packed to many things to do in too little time. When I'm planning these trips, I forget how difficult it actually is to travel with a child... especially one who is not content to sit in a stroller or sit at all for that matter. We would have been much better off spending the entire 2 weeks at our beach hotel in Naxos. But looking back, I'm really glad we got to see so many things... even if we did come back from our "vacation" completely and utterly exhausted. 

1 comment:

  1. I got useful information from your Blog.Thanks for posting. One of the main Jet lag symptoms you can experience is broken sleep once you reach your destination.