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Category Archives: Greece

Corfu is an island on the Ionian coast of Greece and is about a 9 hour ferry ride to Italy. The climate and terrain is much different than the islands to the east and south of mainland Greece. It is actually green and reminds me more of Italy than Greece.
For me, Corfu was a tale of two hostels. Prior to arrival, I booked the Pink Palace. It sounded great online and ended up being the worst hostel I have ever stayed at, EVER. I arrived at reception at about 7am. The bartender, who looked to be 18 or 19 and was clearly drunk, was yelling and swearing at a girl at the bar. He had apparently done something to her and she spilled water as a rebuttal and the temper tantrum was his response. Another adolescent staff member showed me to my room. As we were walking he asked if my backpack was my backpack. This was the first time I had ever been asked such a question and it did not put me at ease. The room had 4 beds, but only 2 keys, and there were no lockers to secure your belongings. I had never experienced the shared keys with strangers while staying in a dorm situation before and the lack of lockers did not sit well with me after just being asked if I had stolen someone’s backpack. Unfortunately, I had paid a 1 night deposit and was stuck. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price. The food was beyond bad. For dinner we had a salad of rotting greens and a roast that was overly salted to such a degree that it was difficult to eat. The meat was accompanied by broccoli and carrots that were overcooked to the point that they were nearly baby food. The wifi was so slow that I couldn’t load a browser to find another hostel.
Checkout time everywhere in Corfu is 9 am, so I got up and out of there nice and early. I found the Sun Rock Hostel online and it was my only real option. Sun Rock is family owned and operated and the patriarch, Spiros came to pick me up. We talked the entire time I was in the van and I knew before the 20 minute ride was over that I would love Sun Rock. Spiros is extremely wise and smart and has a profound understanding of people and the world. The family also has an organic farm where they grow olives, grapes for wine, and vegetables, raise animals, and have bees for honey. Spiros’ wife, Magdalena runs the hostel and does most of the cooking. Their staff consists of backpackers who work as a means of supplementing a longer stay. They are not motivated or hard working and Magdalena is noticeably and understandably frustrated with them. The difference in food between the Palace and the Rock was also night and day. Dinner was pasta with lamb ragu and it was delicious. The only problem at Sun Rock was the lack of fans or AC in the rooms. There was no wind and it was very hot and stuffy at night. There was a hammock at Sun Rock and that made me very, very happy. Spiros and Magdalena are a wonderful couple and it was a pleasure to share their home.
Both hostels offered beautiful views and were close to a nice beach and a village. The village of Agios Gordis near the Palace was backpacker trash oriented, while the village of Pelekas near Sun Rock, despite being a very difficult uphill walk from the Hostel, was very nice. I went up there for lunch and had spit roasted lamb and rotisserie porchetta!
Corfu town is a UNESCO world heritage site and is well worthy of the designation. The Old Town reminded me of Spain or Italy. The architecture is beautiful and the streets are made from nice stone. I only spent a few hours there on my last evening on island, but really enjoyed it. Corfu is a relatively big island and I hardly scratched the surface. It’s a place worth checking out if you are traveling between Greece and Italy by ferry. If you’re traveling on a budget go to Sun Rock and not the Pink Palace!

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I chose my birthday to serve as the transition point between Asia and Europe. Three of my four grandparents were born in Greece and I wanted to enjoy my most special of days in the fatherland. I had been to Greece once before, but it was in December and I only went to Athens for 10 days. I hit up several museums and the acropolis, so this time I wouldn’t have to do the tourist trail. Also on that trip, I met some relatives. I also met some relatives or relatives that I’m not technically related to. My “cousin” George and I really hit it off and kept in touch.
When I arrived at the airport this time, George was there to pick me up. After freshening up at his place, we were off to the Danish ambassador’s house for dinner. That’s how George rolls. The place consisted of 4 floors in a very nice highrise with an amazing view of the city and the acropolis. My first full day in Athens included a phenomenal lunch of roast chicken with lemon and potatoes, real Greek salad, and a very nice white all prepared by George’s grandmother. His family has a 3 story building and she lives on the ground floor. She does all of the laundry, cleaning, and cooking for George and his brother. They are extremely fortunate to have that kind of a living situation and I feel bad for their future wives. After lunch, we hit up a beach that played techno music. It was pretty cool and a little taste of what to expect on beaches in Greece. That night, George’s friend Maja the model took us out to the hottest bars in town. It was surreal listening to Serbian pop as we flew down the streets in her new Audi after coming from se Asia. My birthday began with shots at midnight of that evening. The bulk of my birthday was spent planning the logistics of my trip to the islands. George took me to a very cool bar on the beach to watch my birthday sunset before returning to his place for dinner. His family had prepared a great birthday meal highlighted by an unbelievable pastitsio. They even got me a birthday cake and sang happy birthday in Greek, English and Swedish (George has dual citizenship and lives there for part of the year). It was such a nice birthday and it really felt as if I was at home with family. I also learned that they produce their own wine and olive oil and their family hasn’t purchased olive oil for generations.
I took the ferry to Santorini the next day, but returned to Athens twice more (once was not unintentional). I fell asleep on the 45 minute ferry ride from Santorini to Ios and ended up back in Athens. I called George and he came to the port to pick me up. We had a good laugh and another great night. We went to the Gas District, which was full of people and lots of cool bars and clubs. At 4am, he took me to see “the doctor.” The doctor is his friend’s dad that owns one of the most popular gyros/souvlaki places in Athens. He is half Vietnamese and half Greek, but is not very in touch with his Asian side. He was a really cool guy and his gyros were the perfect medicine after a night of drinking.
A few days later, I returned to Athens from Mykonos at 10pm for a flight to Corfu early the next morning. Again, George picked me up at the port and we had a great time. Last year his parents bought a house 2 hours north of the city and moved there. The house is high on a hill near where the naval battle of Salamis occurred and has an amazing view of a national forest, harbor, and the city. The view wasn’t the only amazing thing, mom and yaya (grandma) had been busy in the kitchen again. We had stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants with Greek yogurt, honey, feta, and cucumbers. It was a perfect meal in a beautiful setting with wonderful people. We enjoyed the view for a while before heading to a bar on nearby Marathon Beach. It was full of people at 230 am on a Wednesday and was a very chill place to be after the islands.
Athens is one of the places that everyone says to spend a couple days in and leave. For me, it is one of the places I find hardest to leave. The overwhelming hospitality, generosity, warmth, and love of my quasi-family makes Athens one of my favorite places in the world.

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Mykonos is the biggest party island in Greece and is rivaled only by Ibiza, Spain as the premier party destination in Europe. Visiting such a place was a radical departure from my travels in southeast Asia. My time spent in Mykonos consisted of partying all night and sleeping on the beach during the daytime. It was a vacation from my vacation and quite an experience.
The first thing that I noticed about Mykonos is that it is EXPENSIVE; really, really expensive. The cheapest hotel room I could find was 43 euros for a shack with a bed in it and communal bathroom. I opted to sleep on the ground at Paradise Beach for 10 euros a night. It is 15 euros to sleep with a tent and you must buy the tent. A coffee is 4 euros, covers to clubs are 20-30 euros, beers are 8 euros, and a vodka red bull is 12 euros. It is 23 euros per day for a scooter rental and 34 for a quad. In Santorini the prices are 15 euros and 20 euros respectively. Food isn’t cheap either and I only had one proper meal while on island.
While the price tag for a visit to Mykonos is high, it is for good reason. If you like to party, Mykonos is the place to be in mid-August. Most of the visitors were from Italy, but there is also a strong showing from Greece, Spain, and France. There are literally thousands of very attractive girls that come to party and they compliment the natural beauty of the beaches rather nicely. Paradise Beach is the biggest party spot on island and was a great home base for my time in Mykonos.
I ventured to Mykonos town each day (by bus!) and managed to catch a sunset by the windmills, meet a fellow couchsurfer and have an excellent meal. The restaurants are quite pricey, but I stumbled upon Niko’s Taverna where I had a relatively inexpensive and delicious lunch. The daily special was octopus pasta and I washed it down with .5 L of the house rose. With the exception of a pizza, everything else I ate in Mykonos was some form of gyros.
Mykonos does not offer much outside of partying and beaches and is very expensive. If partying and the beach are what you’re after, and you can afford it, Mykonos is the place to be. I’m glad I got to experience Mykonos at its finest and recommend you do the same if you love to party.

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Santorini is the most photogenic Greek island, the one famous for its white buildings with blue roofs. The amazingness of the island is not limited to the architecture, Santorini may be the most beautiful place I have ever been. The Aegean is a magnificent blue and the coast is lined with steep cliffs, colorful beaches, and those picturesque white buildings.
I spent my first night at an overpriced hotel in Perissa before finding Ana Youth Hostel, where I would stay for the rest of my time on island. Perissa is in the southeast of the island and is more laid back than the capital city of Fira. Fira is heavily touristic and home to the only semblance of nightlife in Santorini. Since I was heading to Mykonos next, I decided to hold off on the partying until then and stick to Perissa.
Perissa is separated from the town of Kamori by a huge rock/mountain. There is a pass that allows you to go over, rather than around the rock and I took it. The way up was difficult, requiring you to walk up steep slopes in terrain that was mostly deep gravel. When I reached the top and looked down I discovered that there was a path and I did not take it… It was extremely windy on top of the rock and the way down to Kamori was very scenic and beautiful. The town has a long black sand beach with restaurants lining the adjacent road. I had grilled fresh sardines and an ice cold beer for lunch at one of them.
There are many options for getting around Santorini. You can take the bus or rent a car, scooter, or ATV. I went with the quad and it was so much fun! I checked out the red sand beach, black sand beaches, the lighthouse in Faros, the capital city of Fira, a quiet town on the east coast whose name escapes me, wine tasting at Gavala Vineyards, and watched the sunset from picturesque Oia all in one day.
I ate mostly seafood while in Santorini, having sea bass and sardines twice each. The food was good, fresh, and only moderately expensive considering it was the middle of high season. Santorini is definitely not a party island, but has a lot of natural beauty to offer visitors. Santorini was the perfect starting point for my travels in the Greek islands and I really enjoyed my time there.

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