Greece

When

  • April/May 2012 for one week

Places

Kos

  • We caught a ferry from Bodrum in Turkey where we hired a quad bike to share and rode all around the island stopping off at some pretty cool beaches to explore.
An abandoned house on a beach in Kos..
An abandoned house on a beach in Kos..

Athens

  • I had a whole morning in Athens which turned out to be plenty;
  • I spent the entire time at the Acropolis which was pretty impressive.
  • There is a great view of Athens from the top of Agora and I sat down and just admired it for a while, you could even see the temple of Olympian Zeus;
  • Ate lunch whilst overlooking the Acropolis from the bottom.
View from the top of the Acropolis to the Temple of Olympian Zeus..
View from the top of the Acropolis to the Temple of Olympian Zeus..

Metéora (Kastariki)

  • It was a five-hour bus journey from Athens and well worth it – such a contrast leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Athens;
  • There are 6 monasteries and I got a bus to the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron (built mid-14th century) was quite impressive and you could walk through the old cellars, kitchens, dining rooms and they also had a museum (it also had a chamber full of human skulls!). Listening to some people singing in the church at this monastery was magical;
  • The next monastery I walked to was the Holy Monastery of Varlaam which wasn’t as impressive as the first but still amazing;
  • Instead of waiting (and paying) for the bus each time I walked from monastery to monastery which was quite something in itself as it was spectacular panoramic views;
  • The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen is now run by nuns and I sat down in the courtyard to read my book for a while;
  • The Monastery of the Holy Trinity is on top of the cliffs (built late-14th century) and a steep climb but well worth it;
  • Walking around the town of Kastariki I met some amazing locals – they were all so friendly and it was such a cute little town full of cobbled streets.
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Metéora..
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Metéora..

Aegina

  • Roughly 40 minutes (by Flying Dolphin Ferry) to the closest Greek Island of Aegina from Pireaus which suited me perfectly for the last few days of my six-week trip;
  • I stayed in Agia Marina which I caught a taxi too (not cheap but the bus had finished for he day!) from the ferry terminal;
  • I went for a massive walk for a day along the coast and to various beaches armed with food and water and set up camp at Karos Pitsiliou where I was the only person around – bliss;
  • I walked up to the Temple of Afaias which had a great view of both sides of the island;
  • Stunning sunsets and sunrises here just out the front of the hotel I was staying at which was ideal;
  • I hired a quad bike for a day (25EUR) from the Aegina Port and rode around the entirety of the island stopping at a few cool beaches along the way and going for a couple of walks. I ran into a group of young Austrians’ also on quad bikes and they asked me to join them for a bit of 4WD off the normal tracks – good fun;
  • I hired the quad bike until the following day so I rode it back to the town with my bag ready to catch the ferry;
  • The town of Aegina Port was busy with people everywhere and on sunset I managed to sit with an elderly local couple who were fishing and had a great to chat whilst watching the sun melt over the water.
Cruising around Aegina on a quad bike..
Cruising around Aegina on a quad bike..

Accommodation

  • Athens – Athens International Youth Hostel – this was ok and the hosts helped us with all our questions;
  • Metéora – Hotel Tsikeli in Kastariki so we were relatively close to the monasteries. Great breakfast and coffee at this hotel!
  • Aegina – Hotel Rachel in Agia Marina was lovely and I had a room overlooking the water, great spot to get away and relax for a couple of days. Great breakfast spread here too – massive selection!

Language

  • Greek but English is widely spoken and you should not have any issues.
  • Hello: yia sou
  • Thank you: efharisto
  • Good bye: yia sou
  • Yes / No: ne / ohi
The streets of Metéora..
The streets of Metéora with the Monasteries in the background..

Visa

  • Visa not required for Australians for a stay of up to 90 days

Money

  • Euro (0.73 EUR = $1 USD)

Food

  • Greek salads typically contain tomato with cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and kalamata olives, dressed with olive oil
  • Greek yoghurt, honey and walnut ice-cream – yum!
  • Gyros (pita filled with lamb, tomato, onion, fries and tzatziki) is amazing and so delicious – I would often get two as it was so yummy and so so cheap!
  • Chicken souvlaki – very similar to gyros but wit chicken
  • Mezze platters which includes food such as hummus, falafel, pickled vegetables, baba ghanoush, tabouleh, olives, pickles and other various dishes (simple meze is feta cheese and olives)
  • Dolmadakia (same as Turkish dolma) grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables and often meat is included
  • Moussaka – eggplant, mince, cheese and potato lasagne – delicious!
  • Spanakopita which is spinach, feta (sometimes in combination with ricotta cheese), onions, egg and seasoning wrapped in phyllo pastry in a form of a pie
  • A wide variety of cheeses, mainly feta
  • Baklava and halva are found in Greece
  • There is a lot of Frappé coffee here instead of your normal coffee
Mmmmm gyros!!
Mmmmm gyros!!

Tips and tricks

  • They do make you cover up when you go into the monasteries in Metéora and sometimes you have to pay for the scarf so best idea is to cover up at the start of the day.
  • Driving from Aegina Port to Agia Marina (about 30 minutes) in the pitch black was a little scary. Lucky it was warm but the streets were pretty bad and all I could think of was the movie, ‘Jeepers Creeper’!
  • Gyros are my most favourite Greek food and so cheap. At some places (on Aegina) I was getting the yummiest ones for only 1.60EUR so naturally I would get two.
  • I found the locals here incredibly friendly – especially in Metéora and Aegina. They love a good chat and will go out of their way to help you! I sat talking with an old man in Metéora who even drove me in his jeep to check out an old cave and a monastery where a monk was still living in.
  • Something I did notice a lot of in Athens and in particular Aegina, was the abandoned hotels – they were everywhere. These big massive buildings were empty and were at most beaches.

Greece blog posts

Temple of Afaias on the island of Aegina..
Temple of Afaias on the island of Aegina..

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