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Where We Are: Greece

Greece was the last checkmark on my original travel Bucket List. (That list has since grown to just include “the world”.) Before I knew anything about travel, I dreamed of flying off to Morocco, Australia, Egypt and Greece. I’m happy to report that Greece was the country that was most like what I dreamed it to be.

Sunset from Parikia in Paros
Sunset on Paros

Some popular destinations, like all four countries on my list, get super hyped up. People tell you about their travels and how amazing they were, and it sets the bar high. When you finally arrive, sometimes it’s hard to make your own assessments.

Greece is nothing like that because everything anyone has ever told you about Greece is true. I think it’s probably even better than they described. I’ve never had my highest expectations so thoroughly met as they were in Greece.

View from the Acropolis
Greece is a city where old meets new. The Parthenon, seated on the highest point of the Acropolis, was built in 447 BC. From this ancient perch, you look onto a modern city that stretches all the way to the Aegean Sea.

We’ve been in Greece for 12 days and I intentionally put off writing this post until now. That’s because Greece is separated into two major categories: mainland and the islands. Some people think of Greece and picture the island of Santorini with its blue roofs high on the cliff, while others think of the Acropolis, mythology and ancient philosophers. We wanted to see both sides before checking in.

Approaching Santorini
Our first glimpse of Santorini from the Ferry from Paros

Our Greece Itinerary

  • Athens | We spent our first three days visiting the ancient ruins of the city, eating Greek salads and feta and exploring their eclectic bar scene. We also watched a lot of Wold Cup soccer … when in Europe.
  • Delphi & Meteora | We ventured inland for a two-day journey to the temple of Apollo at Delphi and the suspended monasteries at Meteora. If you have time to squeeze this into a trip, we’d definitely recommend it.
  • Greek Islands: Cyclades | It was finally island time! We spent four amazing days on Paros and then onto the postcard-perfect Santorini. Our last stop will be a week on the largest Greek island of Crete.

We’ve gotten a pretty good sense of Greece and it’s safe to say we love it.

Delphi is an ancient Greek sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo. Pictured here is the theater of Delphi, which was built in 400 BC. It hosted musical and drama performances and could seat up to 5,000!

First Impressions on Greece

  • So much variety. We have three weeks in Greece with a packed itinerary, and we didn’t even scratch the surface of places to go and things to do in this country! There is history and beauty, beaches and mountains, and each destination seems to be home to some of the nicest local people we’ve met during our travels. I think everyone can go to Greece and have a perfect trip, no matter what you’re looking for.
Meteora is a unique rock formation in central Greece. Nomads have lived in the caves of Meteora for the past 23,000 years! Today, tourists flock to the region to see the 11th-century monasteries perched high on the rocks.
  • Athens is our kind of city. We get why some people don’t love Athens. It’s a bit grungy, it’s very touristy, and the ancient ruins can be crowded and hot. But we loved it. We only did a few sites each day and we did them early, which helped to fight fatigue. We made a point to research bars and cafes in advance, which is particularly important in Athens where there are a lot of mediocre spots. You won’t likely stumble across the best places if you’re just wandering. For us, Athens was the perfect balance of doing things and relaxing.
The cute tiki-esque bar of Baba Au Rum in Athens is one of our favorite bars in the world. But don’t just trust us! It was recently ranked as one of the 50 best bars in the world!
  • Paros has the best shopping. We go to a lot of markets, shopping streets and malls around the world. (My tracking puts that number at 114.) Paros is absolutely my favorite place to shop. Each store was unique, with windows filled with handmade local items, island clothing by Greek Brands, and darling jewelry. I left Kenny at a coffee shop one day and spent a few hours wandering in and out of the shops and had the best day. I chatted with all the shop owners who told me about their products and then I quickly proceeded to spend all of my money. I bought a bracelet, handmade leather sandals and the perfect summer purse. When we went out for dinner that night, I noticed that everything I was wearing I bought on the road.
I bought these adorable sandals from Vicky’s Handmade Creations in Paros and I’m obsessed with them.

What you need to know — Greece:

  • Population: Athens: 664,000 / Paros: 13,710 / Santorini: 15,550 / Crete: 620,000
  • Altitude: Athens: 338 meters / Paros: 700 meters / Santorini: 564 meters / Crete: 20 meters in towns, but up to 2,400 meters in the mountains!
  • Temperature: Highs in the 80s, lows in the 70s.
  • Exchange Rate: 0.86 Euro to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: Greek, English
  • Walking Tour: We did not take one.
  • Time Zone: Eastern European Summer Time, UTC +3 (8 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Athens, yes, but on the islands and outside the city, it’s mostly private transfers or public transportation.
  • Uber: Only in Athens
  • Public Transit: Trains and buses in Athens, a great ferry system around the islands, and limited bus service on the islands.
  • Emergency Number: 112
  • Running: We thought about running, but it’s so hilly, guys!
  • American Football: Not yet in season.
  • Starbucks: Athens: Yes / Paros: No / Santorini: No / Crete: Yes (Fun Fact! Only two of the Greek Islands have a Starbucks, Mykonos and Crete.)
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: TBD
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: TBD
  • Coffee Price: About 3-4 Euro (~$3.50 – $4.50 USD) for the Greek classic, Cappuccino Freddo
  • Beer Price: About 4 Euro (~$4.50 USD) for a small draft (300ml) or bottled beer, and about 6 Euro (~$7 USD) for a large (500ml) draft beer.
Ancient history radiates all throughout Athens. Pictured here is the Temple of Apollo with the Acropolis in the background.

The Journey Continues