Travel Diary: Shopping in Athens, Sunset in Santorini

watching the sunset from the rooftop in Oia (Santorini, Greece)

The best thing I did in Athens was the free 3-hour walking tour. After all that action, my legs were so sore. My dogs were barking! While the tour was no cost, of course the guide expects a tip. I gave the guy $2 euro. It was SO worth it to hear all the history behind the city and the ruins laying all over the place. If you want to do the tour when you come to Athens, I highly recommend you check it out – just meet George in Monastiraki Square at 9:30am!

the changing of the guards ceremony at the Parliament – happens at 12pm daily

My routine in Athens was pretty much the following: enjoy a leisurely breakfast, talk to interesting people over coffee, do some writing, walk around the city all day, find a place for dinner, get back to hostel by dark (about 9:00pm), do some more writing/answer business email. I meet some cool folks in the hostel who invite me out to a bar, but I decide to save my alcohol money for wine in Italy. I opt for the cheap drinks at the hostel instead! Besides, I have a little shopping to do…

Since I packed for a snowpocalypse, I take advantage of a great sale at H&M in the Ermou shopping neighborhood of Athens.

My $75 euro haul from H&M: shorts, babydoll tees, flats and cheap sunglasses (I forgot mine!)

I had planned to stay in Athens for the whole week until I realized there wasn’t a whole lot for me to do around here. The tour guide explains that most business owners go on “holiday” during the month of August and CLOSE their shops and restaurants for the whole time they’re on vacation. Good for them, but not good for us!

Most of the people I meet say I should definitely try to see some of the Greek islands, with Santorini being recommended the most. I debate on whether to take the ferry ($40-$100 euros) or fly ($100-$150 euros) to Santorini from Athens. It’s cheaper to take the ferry, but it also takes 9 hours of discomfort. I decide on comfort this time around, with a 45-minute flight on Aegean Air. I’ll save money in other ways!

I actually figure out how to take the train to the airport. I’m so proud of my directionally-challenged self LOL.

the inside of the metro in Athens

Everything is beautiful in Santorini. The only catch is that it’s WAY more expensive than Athens.

beautiful view of Santorini hillside

Except my lodging, which is super-cheap.  I’m staying at the Youth Hostel Oia for $18 euro a night.

Why so cheap, you ask? Because it’s a 12-person dorm room…and it’s not nearly as nice as the one I stayed at in Athens. The views from here are gorgeous…but remind me not to book such a big dorm room ever again! (More on hostels/dorms later. I want to have several different experiences to share before I make my final judgements LOL.)

So far, I like Santorini much better than Athens. Oia is a popular coastal village with lots of restaurants, jewelry shops and art galleries. It’s a place to relax, swim, eat, drink and enjoy the sunset. The word that comes to mind for Oia is “elegant.” There is definitely a strong air of European sophistication here.

I fell in love with this little bookshop in Santorini and bought a copy of Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” to                   read while I’m here!

I have an amazing dinner at Kyprida, a lovely little restaurant up on a hill overlooking the sea…well, everything here pretty much overlooks the sea LOL.

I brought my book with me to dinner – LOVING Zadie Smith!

I’m so glad Greece makes delicious food for vegetarians. I was apprehensive ordering such a simple vegetable dish because in the U.S., veggies are usually prepared with very little creativity. At Kyprida, I order briam, an oven-roasted vegetable dish with potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in a savory sauce. They put a beautiful block of feta on top, which made the whole thing SING. And…it’s only $10 euro, which includes a basket of fresh bread to sop up all that yummy sauce!

for dinner, I had briam, a roasted vegetable dish with potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes …’twas delicious!

Tomorrow, I’ll be exploring this beautiful island a bit more, including spending some quality time with my book at the beach!

Read my previous Travel Diaries:

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