Greek food and donkey poop
In July we decided to buy tickets to Greece so we started to browse the possibilities, taking into account that right now in the world is Pancemic and airlines are canceling flights one after another.
My long dream was to go to Santorini and Martin dreamed about that too, so without a doubt, we knew that we would like to include it into our trip.
First, we booked tickets to Athens for our stay from 1-6 of August. On the second of August we were celebrating Martins's birthday, so this time, I chose a hotel myself (usually Martin finds and then we decide together).
After browsing available options I chose Polis Grand Hotel. On the photos, it looked really good, promised exceptional breakfast (which is a very important part of our trips, if you don't believe, ask Martin ) and the location also was very central and close to the metro station. The reception staff kindly offered us to give a free upgrade to a better room (I recommend you to always use the advantage of the special request fields, they are there for a reason) because of Martins's birthday, so without long hesitation, I booked this hotel.
The location was good, just as I expected, the staff was very kind and keeping up with all the Covid-19 recommended safety measures, but the room was not really what we expected. It was quite small, dark, with not very good views and I'd say- its a good hotel where to stay for a night, but for a longer stay, there are definitely better options, especially now, when all hotels offer relatively cheap prices.
The second disappointment came when we came down to the cafe for breakfast. Like I wrote before, breakfast is essential, based on its quality we chose where to stay and this hotel promoted that they serve breakfast in a fancy restaurant and the offered food is exceptional. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, they not only limited the food choices in the buffet but as well served it in a cafe downstairs which was not very pleasant and we could not take the advantage of the outside seating because so many guests were smoking there. It's ok to limit the breakfast offer due to Covid-19 but, in our humble opinion, then the advertisement should state the actual offer and not something from the good times, from the past. Then people can make the decision about the hotel based on the current offerings.
But, of course, we didn't let that ruin our vacation, and, after all, we intended to mostly be outside exploring beautiful Athens where we were so happy to return.
If you ever were fortunate enough to visit Athens, you know that Athens is famous for its neighborhood Plaka.
Plaka is like a village within the city, an island for those who don't have the time to visit the Greek Islands. It is the oldest district in Athens (it is also mentioned as "Gods' district") with outstanding scenery. The moment you start walking on its paved narrow lanes you get the feeling that you travel back in time. Here we tried the famous FALAFELLAS falafels and here we came to ZORBAS taverna even twice because we simply love Greek food and live music.
We didn't do classical Athens sightseeing like the Acropolis exploration, because we explored it on our previous time in Athens, this trip was about the Greek food culture and simply rest which we needed so much.
On Martins Birthday, I thought that we must do something special, as every year, so I booked the Orizontes restaurant that is located on Lycabettus hill. It is a wonderful place where a couple could go to enjoy the sunset.
Unfortunately, the gastronomical experience didn't turn out the way you would expect for that money. It's always very easy to spend money, but not so easy to earn it, so obviously, we don't feel good to pay for something, that in the end turns out to be a waste of time&money instead of gastronomical pleasure. Everyone who travels to Athens and wants to experience the best panorama in the city will hear about this restaurant.
Our unpleasant experience started already from the minute we arrived at the restaurant. Booking was made at 6 PM and at that time, the restaurant was like 80% empty. The waiter didn't hesitate to remind us at least 3 times (within less than 5min) that we can eat here a maximum of two hours. To say that it seemed so arrogant and not in the place I think is needless. If you come to a restaurant where one dish costs at least 20 EUR (not even mentioning drinks, dessert) the last you want to do is watch at the time on your phone. Also, to remind you that 3 times? Second, what was supposed to be a ''chef's complement'' turned out to be something so disgusting that I didn't even eat, some liquid what was supposed to be cold tomato soup. The food we ordered was below the average. Martin chose white fish with vegetables, fish was soaked in oil and looked like microwaved and the vegetables were raw. My risotto was eatable but nothing special with too much salt. The waiter became friendly only at the moment when we were about to leave and he asked ''would you like to leave a tip''. That was an expensive, not tasty, unpleasant experience. But the view was superb, too bad greedy and unprofessional management ruins this beautiful place. Not recommended! If you go, go for a drink, but don't be surprised that stuff keeps poking you from behind and asking when will you leave!
We really enjoyed our Athens trip but it was time to head to Santorini. We were lucky and we found tickets for 20 EUR (two persons in total).
In Athens, as in the rest of the world, hotel prices dropped down, so we were fortunate to afford a superb location. From 6-9 August we stayed in the Arches hotel. The building itself, situated in the center of Oia, serves as a paradigm of co-existence between the traditional Cycladic white forms and the array of west-influenced arches. Located only a short walk from the main pedestrian zone (literally you can reach it in less than 1 minute), but in a very very quiet area. The room was very tidy and the bed was very comfortable. We liked all, except, the furnishing could be a bit better, like, for example, it was not very comfortable to hang our clothes or put items in the bathroom. Stylish though. When we booked the hotel we knew that there will be breakfast included, but we were not sure how they will serve it, since there was no actual hotel building but separate rooms for guests. For our nice surprise, breakfast was served at the Oia Gefsis Restaurant, just 50m from the hotel. It was really a nice surprise because the breakfast restaurant had a stunning panoramic view and the food was really good. Also, have to mention that the service in the restaurant was very high level and friendly.
If you ever hear that Santorini is expensive, it is true, but, sometimes, there are places that are worth every cent. For example, Dimitris Ammoudi Tavern. For our anniversary we decided to go to eat somewhere special (oh, I guess I didn't mention that we had not only Martin's Birthday celebration but also our upcoming 4th anniversary). Being by the sea so close seems just so perfect to have some seafood. In Santorini, there is a lovely location where you walk down 230 steps and reach a seaside with a line of seafood restaurants. We visited Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna and that was by far the best dinner we had during these almost two weeks in Greece. There is a short but very nice menu with different fish selection and the restaurant informs you about the ''fish of the day''. We chose grilled Grouper &Greek salad and it was just a perfect dinner! In order to enjoy the beautiful sea view and have the best possible seating, we do recommend booking your table in advance.
Getting to the restaurant is interesting too, as I said, in order to enjoy a sweet dinner, we needed to conquer 230 steps! 230 steps that were covered in a donkey poop! Yes, yes, you see that right! But oh, coming back was so romantic, the sky was covered in a thousand stars and the view across the Santorini was just panoramic.
If you will ask me how long should you stay in Santorini, then my answer would be- 3 nights are totally enough! Unless you book one of those fancy houses with panoramic infinity pools- then yes, who wants to ever leave that kind of luxury. Not me!
When the last day on Santorini was approaching we were not sure where we will go next. We didn't have tickets so we had quite many options on our plate. Somehow we came up with the decision to go to Naxos island. It is not a very short journey, by ferry it took us almost 4 hours.
We booked Anastasia's Sea View Studio Airbnb and again that was the next surprise of our trip. The owner of the listing inserted very beautiful photos, showcasing a seaside relatively close to the apartment. Without long thinking we booked it because who didn't want to spend the last days in Greece by the seaside, right? To our surprise, we arrived at Airbnb that was partly a construction site. Yes, yes, a construction site. The host welcomed us with a freshly baked pie and the apartment was very clean, but the fact, that we stay in an unfinished home, where literally, all around is construction mess, was a bit a mood killer. Also, the sea, was not that close, on photo, it was more of an optical illusion. Oh, those expectations! But again, hey, we are in Greece, can't be sad about it! Exactly on this beach was my first swim this year, water was milky warm, although Martin said that it was cold. Usually, he is the opposite, I am the one who is always not satisfied with the water temperature. But not this time. We didn't have a chance to explore Naxos much, so we just simply enjoyed a beach life.
What we would do next time differently? We would definitely rent scooter and enjoy island life by driving around and discovering all the beautiful scenic views. We can't wait to visit Greece again and we really miss our tan!
Places we recommend to try in Athens:
Places we recommend in Santorini:
Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna Hungry Donkey
Oia Gefsis Restaurant Elinikon
Places we recommend in Naxos: