I’ve traveled a reasonable amount this year and it’s mostly been quite last minute / down to chance. I started the year in the mountains in the Val Thorens ski resort in France, detoured down to Sweden for a quick work trip, then found myself in Vienna as Levi was doing a speech there. In March, I headed to Madrid for a birthday trip and then when May rolled around, I found myself in Turin, Italy for a last minute family event. However – whilst most of my trips have been spontaneous, my trip to Greece most definitely wasn’t. I’ve wanted to go to Mykonos for a while now (as the Kardashians went there), but Levi has wanted to go to Santorini (since Rick Ross did a song about it) – so we met in the middle and decided we would Greek Island hop this summer. Ladies & gentlemen – the annual summer “baecation”.
I’d heard a lot before travelling that the two islands had very different vibes. And indeed – they most definitely do. Whilst Santorini is romantic, chilled and picturesque (I could literally clog my Instagram feed up with photos of this place… well, I already have…), Mykonos is a different type of beast and makes way for a very luxurious, late night party scene. For this reason, we got our holiday started off in Santorini. We split our trip between 4 nights there, and 3 nights in Mykonos.
Where we stayed
The first factor to consider with Santorini is what part of the island you want to stay in (it’s different to Mykonos, where you really just want to be close to Mykonos Town / “Little Venice”). The two more popular places to stay in the island are Oia and Fira, Oia is the more “romantic” choice and for sure – also a bit more picturesque. However, Fira is the capital of Santorini and is a central location for wherever on the Island you may want to travel (the bus station can take you pretty much anywhere within half an hour). We chose to stay in Fira for this exact reason.
When it comes to accommodation, one of my main concerns when I’m travelling for a summer holiday is to be somewhere which (i) has a pool and (ii) serves free breakfast! One thing to be mindful of when staying in Santorini is that most of the hotels there are “boutique” hotels, which, if I’m correct, just pertains to “smaller” hotels. Not quite the multi-floor Hiltons we are used to seeing around the corner in most cities; really just a handful of people stay in these villas. In Santorini, we stayed at a place called Gianna Suites – we picked it as it had all we wanted (breakfast & a pool), had good reviews on Booking.com and it was also walking distance from the center of the town. Gianna Suites was a fantastic stay – there really is nothing like waking up in the morning, have breakfast served to you and then deciding you’re going to take a dip in the pool. Honestly, Levi and I had the most fun doing all sorts of races and activities in the pool both in Santorini and in Mykonos (probably looking like very big kids).
What we did
We always like to kick our holidays off by exploring the city where we’re staying. But first – food. The first thing we actually did when exploring Fira was eat one of the Greek traditional foods called a “Gyro”/”Souvlaki”, it’s essentially meats, salads and chips served in a flatbread with a creamy sauce. It’s fast, greasy food – and was definitely very yummy. Away from the eating, we hiked up to see the Three Bells of Fira (one of the historical landmarks), a few of the churches & cathedrals (there are tons – you can find them all on Google), and just generally took in the views. Honestly, Santorini is so absolutely gorgeous that you can just sit and stare if you really want to, and not get bored.
Day trip to Oia
Oia is Santorini’s most romantic city – and has even better views than in Fira. So, of course, we had to visit. It was about 20 minutes from Fira by bus and we did much of the same as we did in Fira – explored, hiked, and checked out the amazing views. Special mention goes to the Atlantis book store, a little hidden gem in Oia which I heard someone say was the best bookstore they’d ever visited. You can also stop by Amoudi Bay in Oia (famous for cliff jumping, swimming and sea food of course). However, to get there you have to walk down 300 steps, and the only way to get back up (unless you want to walk all of those steps) is to get a donkey ride. We weren’t really keen on doing any of these things, and God knows I wasn’t about to do any cliff jumping (my swimming skills are sub par to say the least) – so instead we just made it down some of the steps and enjoyed the views. However, if cliff jumping is your thing, this could definitely be for you.
St. Nicholas’ Church – Oia
Drank cocktails in the sun
On the day of the England vs. Croatia match we scouted out a few bars beforehand and spent the afternoon drinking some cocktails in the sun at a bar called “The Town”. Whilst I love exploring – sometimes there’s nothing quite as fun as just chilling tf out. Granted, the match didn’t end as well as it started, it didn’t come home, ya’ll. But it was a fun night nonetheless.
Ate to our hearts’ desires
Every meal is Santorini was one to remember (you find the best gems when you do a bit of research beforehand), and actually when the hotel host first asked us what our thing about Santorini was, I initially blurted out “the food!” These were a few of my favourites:
- Volkan on the Rocks: On one of our days exploring Fira, we walked past this restaurant which – at the top of the cliffs – had the most amazing view of the Island and was a prime location to watch the sunset, so Levi booked a dinner there on the spot. The food was on another level of tasty and they also happened to be playing the France vs. Belgium match on the big screen whilst we were there so all in all, it was a great evening
- Kokkalo Restaurant: This was where we ate on our first night, as advised by our hotel, and it was amazing. The place has really fantastic views of the city, is well priced and you even get a free shot with your meal!
- Pelican Kipos: This is a cute little restaurant that you’ll miss if you’re not careful as it’s essentially a little hidden garden right in the center of town – aside from the gorgeous decor, the seafood here was seriously delicious
Volkan on the Rocks
After four nights in Santorini, we hopped on a ferry over to Mykonos. The journey was around 4.5 hours long and included a stop off at Páros, a slightly less well known (but equally gorgeous) Greek island midway between the two we stayed at. That said, the journey was so relaxing that the hours honestly flew by and we ended up spending much of our time just trying to spot which islands we were crossing by on Google Maps.
I flicked through Instagram when we arrived at Mykonos and saw that Paris Hilton and Justine Skye were also on the island at the same time as us, which made me realise the island is clearly a popular choice for a lot of celebrity travellers. With designer stores and £5,000 bags every where you look, it definitely had a different vibe to the chilled Santorini.
Mykonos is a city that stays awake all night – people go out for dinner at 10pm (we even started doing this), and even a common clothing store will stay open until 2am. The clubs close when the sun has already come up, and they don’t open until 12am. It’s definitely a change from London which I’d say is a very early city.
Where we stayed
We stayed in the Three Shades Mykonos which we actually found via Airbnb . Similarly to Gianna suites, it was another small-ish boutique hotel situated within walking distance from the center of town. It was a bit more luxurious though in that the pool was bigger, there was a poolside bar which stayed open until 1am, they served you food at any time of the day wherever in the hotel you were and finally, they had a buffet breakfast. We’d wake up every day and after breakfast and some chill time, we’d just sit by the pool for a bit, eat our lunch on our sun lounges, read, and go back to being big kids again in the pool. Honestly, it was a fantastic stay and really a taste of the good life!
Three Shades Mykonos
What we did
Given that Mykonos had a much bigger and well-known party scene, we opted to live the “relax during the day, party at night” type of lifestyle vs. Santorini where we were more up for exploring. Mykonos is more known for it’s lovely beaches along with it’s nightlife so it all made for the perfect formula.
On the first day, we got settled and explored the town a bit. Similarly to Santorini, Mykonos has no pavements so you end up walking on the roads with the cars, and the drivers are definitely more reckless than in Santorini, which means that I spent most of my time getting from destination to destination fearing for my life (the two Islands are definitely not pedestrian-friendly). On our first night we ate at a restaurant called Kalita which was a pretty fancy restaurant with great service in the center of town – if you’re looking for a “nice” meal out, Kalita is definitely a choice, however beware, in true “posh” restaurant style, their portion sizes are fairly tiny. The next day, we hit up a little beach nearby our hotel called the “Ammos” beach. Mykonos is known for their beautiful sandy beaches and crystal blue water – however, I must say, that wasn’t quite what we were met with at Ammos beach. Actually the beach was quite polluted and after some time lying in the sun feeling a bit grossed out, we decided to duck within the hour. We wanted to explore more beaches the next day a bit further out to really see if this claim stuck (and I’m sure it does, somewhere), however that night we went clubbing and pretty much spent the entire next day dying of our hangovers in bed and by the pool, so we weren’t able to make it out as planned.
The club we decided to visit was called Toy Room and it was recommended to us by a good friend – supposedly it’s pretty much the only club in Mykonos that plays hip hop music, so it was right up my street. Overall, we had a really good night, the music was good and the drinks were well and truly flowing. That said – the club is very much a “buy a table” club (which kind of defeats the purpose of a “VIP” experience), by that I mean that if you aren’t buying a table (we weren’t going to fork our £1,000 for just two people), there’s only a very tiny area left for (the “peasants”) to dance. If you’re going to hit up the Toy Room, unless you don’t care about the tiny area (we got used to it, drank and danced anyway), it might be nice to go in quite a big group such that you can purchase a table without have to drop too many balls of sweat.
On our final night we had dinner at a restaurant called D’Angelo as I was absolutely craving some Italian. We were a bit sceptical about it as it was extraordinary cheap compared to any of the other restaurants we had seen/been to, but actually it was so delicious and the service was fantastic! It was such a perfect send off back to the not-so-pictoresque city of London.
As I end this post – I must say, the holiday blues have started to kick in. I was in a strange zone before my holiday where I felt like I had to be doing some sort of work at all times. I started to feel guilty about going out and sleeping in as I had written a mental handbook on “how to be successful” and “how to grind in your early 20s” and neither sleeping or going out were on the list. Actually, whilst I was in Greece I brought a few papers with me for a project I’m working on (and announcing soon!) and planned to read them by the pools, I also scheduled a call for that same project whilst I was out there and it was Levi that had to tell me to relax and focus on enjoying myself (the call didn’t happen, of course). There is no handbook to success – we each have our own paths and breaks are absolutely necessary. I can tell you that the break was needed! I had the most amazing time out in Greece and it was even better to be able to make more memories with my best friend – I’ve already started thinking ahead to the next *big* baecation and this time I’m thinking we take things across the Atlantic, I’ve never been to the Caribbean before so I’m looking for options. 🙂