We left Memorial Day weekend on a direct flight to Athens. We attended an AirBnB “experience” during which a man in a toga taught us that the penalty for adultery in ancient Greece was “radishes in the ass.” We learned more than that about the ancient Greeks, but that’s what
scarred impressed us the most.
We saw the changing of the guard in front of the palace and hiked up to the Parthenon (which is not nearly as well preserved as Nashville‘s version–get it together, Athens of the East).
Driving in Athens was NOT fun, as we had an enormous Mercedes van that made narrow parking garages a challenge, but after parallel parking in front of a shop that earned me a ticket I never plan to pay, we found a garage with tall ceilings not far from our hotel (the Moxy) that served us well for our days in Athens.
We drove to the sunken city of Epidaurus to snorkel and see its ruins, and we visited the ancient theater at Epidavros and old town Nafplio plus Mycenae archeological site.
Driving in the Greek countryside to these places was actually fun in my enormous stick shift van; I was especially fascinated with the liberal use of lane splitting by all the Greeks on scooters and motorcycles.
We visited Corinth and saw a bungee jumper plummet into the canal there (and wondered if Paul did the same while planting churches there 2000 years ago), and we visited the ancient Delphi site and its archaeological museum before flying to Santorini.
In Santorini, we ate at Naoussa restaurant and watched the sunset over the sea as some older man threw clay plates everywhere. I hope he’s in a position of authority, or you’re unlikely to see him employed there. Afterward, we went downstairs and talked to a server whose son plays with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The next day, we dove the very cold waters at Caldera Beach (even in 8mm wet suits) and went on a sunset cruise that lacked a sunset, since it poured rain all day, but we enjoyed the honeymooning couple who were on the boat with us and the crew’s hospitality. My youngest even swam in the sulfuric waters of the caldera.
The next day, we hiked the 10km from Fira (where our AirBnB was) to Oia –my favorite activity of the trip. It was peaceful and beautiful. It only got crowded at the end (in Oia).
We ferried to Crete and rented another van; we stayed at a huge house we got through AirBnB, and its host made us an awesome dinner. That night, the Mrs and I walked to Zelita Wine Bar and loved its offerings and its owner, who was so hospitable (and rides a Harley like me!) that we stayed about 2 hours longer than we planned.
The next day, we drove to Knossos to see the palace/labyrinth there.
Later, we rode ATVs through the mountains and on the beach before stargazing atop a mountain observatory that night.
The next day, we visited an olive mill and had a picnic in its grove. Like Athens, Crete had lots of stray cats (the children counted 168–a “Cats of the Ancient World” instagram page is forthcoming), and our eldest tried to sneak off with a mustached one at the olive grove. Its owner told her this is not the way.
We saw the Heraklion archeological museum later that day and learned (and observed) that the ancient people on Crete were influenced by Egypt, as they traded with the Egyptians back in the day. At some point, we drove south to the hippie caves beach.
Our 4th and final stop in Greece was Paros, where we ferried on June 6. We had our nicest accommodations there (complete with hot tub on balcony), enjoyed great meals, and saw an elderly couple snorkel in the nude (not a highlight). I celebrated a birthday on the 7th by renting a scooter and zipping around the island to meet the rest of the family at a beach (where they’d ferried)!
All in all, Greece was a great trip (had it not been just a few weeks after Israel, it would have been an amazing trip).
We wisely left before the Summer crowds get horrendous (from what the locals told us), and we researched and planned around (as we did in Bergen, Norway and Venice, Italy) cruise lines’ porting schedules to avoid 12,000 people (they sailed away as we ferried up) in Santorini. Crete had next to no cruise ships while we were there, and Paros always has zero. I loved every stop we made, but especially enjoyed exploring and relaxing in Crete and Paros.
Below is June’s “1-second a day” compilation video, including several seconds from Greece.
After we got home, I hosted a birthday band party in the backyard, and we saw the Foo Fighters in Birmingham before camping on our land in Woodland, AL on Fathers Day. On other June evenings, we saw 2 Cure concerts and a Braves game. Hooray for June!