Tamara is just back from a trip to Greece and she tells us all about this dream vacation. Find out what it is like to travel to Greece right now — plus what to do and where to stay in Santorini and Naxos!
ABOUT OUR SPONSOR – ATLAS OCEAN VOYAGES
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Atlas Ocean Voyages.
If you have ever dreamed of cruising to Greece or Egypt, now is the time to book! Atlas Ocean Voyages just introduced its expedition ship World Navigator. This small ship, luxury vessel is built for adventure in a sustainable, energy-efficient manner.
Perfect for adventurous families or multi-generational groups, its compact size and small guest count of fewer than 200 passengers, means a higher space to guest ratio and more intimacy and personalized service.
From August through September 2021, World Navigator will sail 7 separate 12 night itineraries to Greece and Egypt. And its small size and agility means she can dock in smaller ports, avoiding large crowds and getting a more authentic experience. And this summer, arrivals in Greece do not coincide with any other cruise ships in port!
Bookings are all inclusive, including both airfare and excursions. The ship’s facilities and protocols reflect state of the art public health guidance. With stringent public health protocols followed by staff and crew with pre-boarding and pre-embarkation PCR testing provided for all passengers. Social distancing will be maintained with small group shore excursions.
Atlas welcomes travelers to ‘come back to something brand new’ To learn more, please visit www.AtlasOceanVoyages.com and we thank them for their support.
2021 Trip to Greece Tips
- Greece reopened to USA citizens this springs. Visitors need to either be fully vaccinated (all shots + 14 days) and have a vaccination card OR show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding the plane. These are reviewed at check in for your flight.
- Visitors also need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form more than 24 hours before arrival. The Greece government will then send you a QR code after midnight on the day of your arrival that you need to show at Customs on your arrival. You need to show the receipt of submission or QR code when you check in to your flight.
- Masks are required in airports, planes, trains, ferries, ferry ports, busses, and taxis, as well as indoors.
- You also need to complete health forms before going on ferries or boats and either be vaccinated or take a test before going on a ferry.
- Vaccination cards will also be checked when you check into hotels.
- To return to the USA, you need to take a PCR test within 72 hours of your flight departure. There are public clinics available to get tested but appointments may be required and hours are limited. Tamara’s tests on Naxos were 60 euro per person.
- You can also order Binax Now tests from Abbott Laboratories online. Just make sure they are the ones approved for travel and include online monitoring of the test as that is what is needed for re-entry into the USA.
- On Santorini, Tamara stayed at the Canaves Oia Epitome, which is a new property from the Canaves brand, and it is a luxury hotel located about 10 minutes walk from Oia and Ammoudi Bay. They booked the honeymoon suite with private plunge pool. See her full Canaves Oia Epitome hotel review here.
- Elements Restaurant at the Canaves Oia Epitome offers an amazing Degustation Menu and it was a top dining experience.
- Santorini is a very popular destination and Oia is the most famous town. When you visit, be sure to go into town early in the morning to avoid crowds.
- Tamara also had a chef’s tasting dinner at Lycabettus in Oia but felt it wasn’t worth the price.
- Santorini Wine Trails does half or full-day wine tours in Santorini. All tours are private right now.
- Ammoudi Fish Tavern is a fun restaurant right on the water in Ammoudi Bay with great views and fresh fish.
- Tamara also did a photo shoot with Nikola from Flytographer and got some great photos.
- Book ferry tickets in advance of your trip
- Note that you should arrive at the ferry port early to figure out where to queue up.
- Boarding the ferry can be chaotic so listen closely for when they call your boat and note that the same ferry makes multiple stops at different islands so it isn’t like there is a separate boat for each island.
- It helps to arrange transportation for airport and ferry pick ups so you don’t have to wait in a long line when you arrive. We used Welcome Pickups on Santorini and Athens.
- On Naxos, Tamara stayed at the Virtu Suites boutique hotel on the beach in Agios Prokopios. See her full review of Virtu Suites here.
- Naxos is a much more affordable than Santorini — dinner for two costs only about 40 euro at many local tavernas.
- Tamara booked a full day private boat tour and snorkeling with Naxos Sailing. They also offer small group trips and have a variety of itineraries.
- The boat tour stopped in Paros and Tamara took a cab to Naoussa, the main town, which is really beautiful and filled with shops and restaurants.
- Tamara and Glenn also took a full day wine, cheese and island tour with Eleni from Philema Food Tours.
- In Naxos Town many people visit Apollo’s Temple or the Portara for sunset but you need to get there early to get a prime photo spot.
- In Athens, Tamara stayed at the Hotel Grand Bretagne, which she was able to book using Marriott points. The rooftop restaurant, where breakfast is also served, has beautiful views of the Acropolis.
- You can see Tamara’s full itinerary for 10 days in Greece here.
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.060] – Kim Tate
Today, we’re taking a European journey to the Greek islands.
[00:00:15.900] – Announcer
Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.
[00:00:30.870] – Tamara Gruber
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Atlas Ocean Voyages. If you’ve ever dreamed of cruising to Greece or Egypt, now is the time to book. Atlas Ocean Voyages just introduced its new expedition ship, The World Navigator. This small ship luxury vessel is built for adventure in a sustainable but energy efficient manner. It’s perfect for adventurous families or multigenerational groups. Its compact size and small guest count of fewer than 200 passengers means a higher space to guest ratio and more intimacy and personalized service.
[00:01:00.750] – Tamara Gruber
From August through September 2021, World Navigator will sail seven separate 12 night itineraries to Greece and Egypt, and its small size and agility means she can dock in smaller ports, avoiding large crowds and getting a more authentic experience. And this summer, arrivals in Greece do not coincide with any other cruise ships, and port bookings are all inclusive, including both airfare and excursions.
[00:01:22.590] – Tamara Gruber
The ship’s facilities and protocols reflect state of the art public health guidance, with stringent public health protocols followed by staff and crew. With preboarding and pre embarkation PCR testing provided for all passengers, social distancing will be maintained with small groups shore excursions. Atlas welcomes travelers to come back to something brand new. To learn more, please visit AtlasOceanVoyages.com, and we thank them for their support.
[00:01:48.330] – Tamara Gruber
Kim, I have to say after just coming back from Greece, now is such a good time to go that if people could still book a cruise for later this summer or the, you know, the fall, it would really be a great time to go.
[00:02:01.560] – Kim Tate
I can see that I was following along on your stories. I think a lot of people are just unsure about all the you know, I guess in some ways you’d say loopholes and things you have to think about when you’re traveling. And so it might be the perfect time for summer in Europe.
[00:02:16.230] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it’s definitely not as crowded. And people are very eager to welcome you back. And, you know, luckily, especially with Greece, the emphasis that they’ve put on vaccinating people in hospitality and on the islands and plus the fact that everything is outside it makes you feel so much more comfortable. So definitely a good time to go. But otherwise, if you can’t go this year and you’ve dreamed about a cruise either to Egypt or the Greek islands, then check out Atlas Ocean Voyages for small ship luxury cruising.
[00:02:48.060] – Tamara Gruber
Sounds like a great way to go because it includes all your excursions and everything else. At least you know exactly what it’s going to cost you.
[00:02:54.660] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And as we’ve already said, the small ships are really the way to get a more intimate experience with the destination. So you’re not being dropped off on huge piers.
[00:03:03.390] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, exactly. When we took our ferry back, I saw maybe one or two cruise ships that a couple of the islands that we stopped out on the ferry back to Athens. But those were mostly like small ships as well.
[00:03:14.070] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah, cruising is coming back. We saw on our flight back to JFK, like one whole section in the back seemed to have those little celebrity bags. So it’s nice. Yeah, well, that’s exciting. And I think it’s great if people want to look at kind of that new journey. And like you said, there’s still a whole month of August left for the summer. So if you’ve got some free time to make an impromptu vacation plans, then the Atlas Ocean Voyages might have a good deal for you to jump on.
[00:03:43.800] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, and if you want to explore Greece by land or at least to the islands, then I can give you some tips, because that’s what we’re going to be talking about this episode.
[00:03:53.460] – Kim Tate
I cannot wait to hear about your trip. It seems like you guys really enjoyed your time together. And, you know, for an anniversary trip, it seems like it it just checked all the boxes for you guys. So I’m looking forward to sharing with our listeners everything that you guys did and what you learned. And we should just get right into it.
[00:04:11.580] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, definitely. It was one of those trips where I was prepping myself as we were driving down because we had to drive to New York and we flew from there just so that we could get a direct flight to Athens.
[00:04:23.550] – Tamara Gruber
So since our other flight was canceled, we wanted to not have to worry about transiting through another European country and worrying about what their entrance requirements were and such. And so we’re driving down and I said to Glennn, like, look like something is going to happen, like not everything is going to go smoothly.
[00:04:41.010] – Tamara Gruber
You know, that’s always the case, but especially right now, like, we need to prep ourselves like I’ve had in my mind, like this dream trip for two years now. Right. And that’s like dangerous, you know, when you are putting so much like, you know, hope and everything into this trip that you’ve thought about for so long and especially, you know, as we’re used to traveling. But, you know, after two years of not a lot of travel, it’s like it gets even more focus, you know, for you.
[00:05:04.510] – Tamara Gruber
I’m like, something’s going to go wrong. And it just ended up like, you know, OK, there are a couple, like, little bumps, but thankfully, like, nothing huge happened. And it was just it was just so nice. Still be in a different place, you know what I had said, like, I need a change of scenery. If we can’t go to Greece, like we’re going somewhere that has palm trees or something, like I needed a change of scenery and then it just it was beautiful, but it was everything is outdoors and we just.
[00:05:33.430] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, you had to put on a mask when you were in, like, you know, a cab or something like that. But we just didn’t worry.
[00:05:38.770] – Tamara Gruber
And it was really amazing.
[00:05:40.450] – Tamara Gruber
And I think it was like the combination of those couple of things of like feeling really normal and being in a new place and just having this amazing time.
[00:05:50.260] – Tamara Gruber
And and we you know, it was a splurge trip for us. So I booked, you know, some luxury hotels. And just like being that back in that experience. And you think about like what we talked about in our last episode about how like for the services and the hotels and stuff right now, you know, because of staffing, I like to be back in like what felt like a very normal travel experience was it was just amazing. It really is awesome.
[00:06:13.570] – Tamara Gruber
It really was so good. And I look yeah, I look at the pictures and I’m like, you can just tell, like, our smiles, like we’re just happy.
[00:06:21.670] – Kim Tate
Yeah, exactly. That’s what I got that sense from. Just everything that I was watching and following and seeing. It was just seemed like you guys had had a really great time. So why don’t you start us, you know, for the people who are wondering, why don’t you explain what you did before to be able to get to Greece, you know, so they just know what the requirements are maybe. And then walk us through your itinerary if you want or however you want to present it.
[00:06:45.960] – Tamara Gruber
Definitely. So, yeah, there’s definitely a few things to know about going to Greece right now. I mean, they were one of the first European countries to open up. So what they require is you either need to be vaccinated, fully vaccinated, which includes the two weeks after your second dose or your one dose if your one dose person like I was. And you also need you know, if you don’t have that, then you need to show a negative test PCR test within the last 72 hours.
[00:07:14.110] – Tamara Gruber
And you show that when you arrive at the airport, when you’re checking in in the U.S. and the other thing that you need to do is complete a passenger locator form and you need to do that. You can probably would be emailed it from your airline carrier, but otherwise you can find it on like the Greek website.
[00:07:32.710] – Tamara Gruber
You need to fill that out before 24 hours before you leave. So, you know, at least a day before you leave, you fill that out and it has all your information, your passport information, all that kind of stuff. But also look where you’re going to be staying.
[00:07:44.950] – Tamara Gruber
You know what places you’re visiting, all of that. It’s an online form. You you submit it and then you get a receipt that it’s been submitted and that’s what you show when you get to the airport to check in.
[00:07:59.020] – Tamara Gruber
Then when you arrive in Greece, it’s kind of weird because they email you a QR code, but they only email it to you like after midnight the day of your arrival. So we were doing like an overnight flight. So it’s like we couldn’t show it at the airport when we arrived because we don’t have it yet. But we showed it at the airport I’m sorry, when we arrived in New York. But when we arrived in Athens, luckily they have free Wi-Fi in the airport.
[00:08:23.800] – Tamara Gruber
Just connect and then you get the QR code and you show them as you’re coming into the customs area for Athens.
[00:08:30.550] – Tamara Gruber
So that’s really it. It’s pretty simple, really. There are some other things to think about just in terms of, you know, traveling right now. Like if you’re going on a ferry, you need to show your vaccination card or your test, but you also need to complete like a health form, you know, like one of those like you haven’t had these symptoms, you know, that kind of stuff. And they give you a QR code for that.
[00:08:56.200] – Tamara Gruber
Of course, I can talk later about like the whole ferry boarding process. And it’s such like a madhouse. They don’t actually check that.
[00:09:02.110] – Tamara Gruber
But, you know, technically, you need to do those kind of things, too. So there are some things.
[00:09:07.900] – Tamara Gruber
And when we checked into each of our hotels, they checked our vaccination cards.
[00:09:11.620] – Tamara Gruber
So, you know, you keep that information handy. We had to do one for a boat that we went out on for the day. We had to show the vaccination card and fill out a health form for that as well. So I guess either a vaccination card or a negative test. Yeah, but then within three days, does it have to be within three days so we can keep repeatedly testing while you’re there if you’re not, you know, because we’re vaccinated. That’s something that you would look into if you have younger children that couldn’t be vaccinated or something like that. Yeah. Something to ask. And then, of course, to come back to the US, everyone right now needs to have a negative PCR test.
[00:09:48.940] – Tamara Gruber
So when we arrived, I had already figured out what we were going to do to make sure that it was possible. Otherwise I would have bought those Abbot Binax Now test to bring with us.
[00:10:04.990] – Tamara Gruber
So they have two different Abbott ones. This is I guess good to know. Like there’s one that you can buy just in like a CVS or something. That that does not qualify for overseas travel.
[00:10:15.310] – Tamara Gruber
Because it needs to be monitored, but they have another one that you can order online, I think it’s one hundred and fifty dollars that includes like multiple tests.
[00:10:24.220] – Tamara Gruber
And what you do is you self administer it, but you do it like you get in an appointment with a doctor, like over Zoom. Right. And watch, you know, that you’re doing it so that they can verify, you know that to you.
[00:10:36.700] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah, that’s a separate one. You have to order online and that’s actually an option. But luckily for us, we were able to get to our second island of Naxos. We our hotel helped us arrange an appointment at a clinic there. We just it could take up to 24 hours before we were getting our results. So we did on Friday for a Sunday morning departure. And we had our results by Friday evening. And it cost us only 60 euro per person.
[00:11:03.400] – Tamara Gruber
If they came to the hotel and did it for us, it was going to be like a hundred and twenty euro per person. So that’s what we did.
[00:11:08.950] – Tamara Gruber
But just one thing to note about when you are traveling and you’re looking to go to a local clinic for your way back, the hours are very limited. Still, like the one that we went to is closed on Saturdays. So, you know, you needed to plan that into your time window. But then some of them will be open, like for a few hours in the morning or a couple hours in the afternoon. But it’s not like all day or, you know, you know, 24 hours.
[00:11:31.600] – Tamara Gruber
So you need to definitely plan ahead with that. But overall, like, it was pretty easy. I definitely think the the most challenging part is, you know, just the long flight, you know, frankly, like, I’ve never had a mask on for 16 hours before. And that is true. You know, that was a really long time because we had to deal with our long flight. You know, you have your time in the airport, the long flight on the way there.
[00:11:54.490] – Tamara Gruber
We then had like a three hour layover in the Athens airport and then another flight to Santorini, because our itinerary was to have three nights in Santorini, five nights on Naxos, and then one night in Athens for our return. So when we arrived, we wanted to not have to spend time in Athens, but get right to our destination just because we didn’t have we just didn’t have a lot of time. If I had two weeks, I would definitely spend more time like in Athens.
[00:12:19.900] – Tamara Gruber
So we had that flight, you know, and then the cab ride from the airport to our hotel. So, you know, that’s that’s a long time, you know, to be in your mask. I definitely switched up my mask like midway. Yeah. About getting this thing kind of stinks after a while, you know. Yeah.
[00:12:36.490] – Kim Tate
Are they not doing food either? So do you have to kind of make sure you’re packing your own food and then are you able to eat it.
[00:12:41.620] – Tamara Gruber
They do do food, yeah.
[00:12:42.770] – Tamara Gruber
So we had our flight was Delta from JFK to Athens. We did have a bit of a scare that we weren’t going to make our flight because we gave ourselves five hours to get to New York and it should take three hours. But it ended up taking like five and a half. And we parked in like an economy pre booked online. So then we had to take an air train over to the airport. And we were so nervous that, you know, we started off so relaxed, like we have plenty of time. Then we were so nervous that we weren’t going to make it, but we got there. It was kind of chaos in the JFK Airport because it’s just super busy. And, of course, you know, everyone, not everyone had all the information they were supposed to have right now.
[00:13:25.360] – Tamara Gruber
And then that takes a little bit of a longer time. But we got triggered as we were boarding.
[00:13:29.920] – Tamara Gruber
We got on luckily, they were serving food because we our plan was to go to a lounge and have a meal and, you know, take some, you know, some time. We didn’t have that. So we were getting on to the plane with a bag of chips and some trail mix for like a ten hour flight. So, yeah, luckily they serve food and basically, you know, they make announcements, of course, when you board just the same way they would in the US.
[00:13:53.560] – Tamara Gruber
And while you’re eating, you can lower your mask. And then it’s kind of like after they do their meal service, they’re going around being like mask up, like making sure everyone was still lingering, you know, that they’re lifting the mask. But I will say, and I’ve said this before, like with us travel, that if I was not vaccinated, I would not be comfortable going because there are a lot of people that, you know, it’s an overnight flight, it’s dark.
[00:14:20.080] – Tamara Gruber
People are kind of lowering their masks as they’re sleeping. And on those kind of overnight flights, the flight attendants aren’t up and down the aisles as much checking. So I think, yeah, you definitely see some like if they saw someone, they would say something, but they weren’t being super proactive with. Checking often is I say, you know.
[00:14:40.840] – Tamara Gruber
But that’s not the case in the ferries and in the, you know, Athens airport, it seemed like, you know, much more strict. And on the ferry, someone went around regularly like, you know, talking to people and even having a little confrontations with people. So if that’s something that’s worried, I know I’ve gotten a lot of messages. I don’t want to linger on this too much because there’s a lot of really good stuff to talk about.
[00:15:01.900] – Tamara Gruber
But, you know, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people, like asking how comfortable I was. And I want to say, like when I was in Greece, I felt extremely comfortable. I really, really did.
[00:15:10.900] – Tamara Gruber
You know, we had masks on in the cabs, but everything else. Is really outside, you know, like it’s it’s amazing how much everything is outside, I came back and I’m like, oh, right, restaurants have indoor dining, but we don’t want to do that, you know? So it’s it’s very comfortable in that way.
[00:15:28.320] – Kim Tate
Great. So you made it to Santorini. That was your first stop. So what sort of things did you do there?
[00:15:34.440] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. So in Santorini, Santorini is a very crowded like over tourist island. It’s really expensive, but it is very, very beautiful.
[00:15:44.820] – Tamara Gruber
And so I knew that we wanted to only spend a few nights there because they didn’t have the budget to spend a long time. And I have to say that this year is such a great time to go because it still seemed a little crowded at times and it was picking up like throughout our stay seem to increase. But they were telling me, all the locals are telling me that it was only about 20 percent of the 2019 numbers. So it’s definitely like an over tourist destination.
[00:16:12.600] – Tamara Gruber
And I had an opportunity to visit when there weren’t that many people there, which made it like absolutely amazing.
[00:16:18.460] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, we stayed like one of the main towns is called Oia. And it is it’s an essential that everybody sees in the pictures. Exactly.
[00:16:30.130] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Yeah. So I really wanted to stay there again. This was our milestone anniversary, a birthday trip. So it was a splurge, something that we’d saved up for for a while.
[00:16:40.620] – Tamara Gruber
So I had booked us three nights at a luxury hotel that called the Canaves Oia Epitome. So this brand, the Canaves, they have, I think three or four properties that are well known, luxury properties, most of them are right in the town. This one is brand new and it is just about a ten minute walk outside of town, kind of like down the hill. But we love the location and I loved the property. It was gorgeous.
[00:17:07.740] – Tamara Gruber
I had booked us a honeymoon suite with a plunge pool. So big splurge on the suite. We’ve never spent this much on a hotel. I will admit, you know, definitely like a huge privilege here.
[00:17:17.580] – Tamara Gruber
But we walked in and so it was like you kind of opened this one door. You go up some steps and there’s like our patio with our plunge pool to loungers, picnic table, a little bench. And then you go into the room from there.
[00:17:32.340] – Tamara Gruber
And we walked in and we were just like, wow, like this. It’s just so nice to go back to, like a luxury hotel and have this beautiful place and beautiful, you know, setting. And it was just it was so nice. Like, I’m so glad that we had that splurge. They do have other they have some other spaces for families. And there actually I saw a number of families, both with teens and with like toddlers are smaller, like elementary school age.
[00:18:01.770] – Tamara Gruber
So there are other types of rooms, some larger, some smaller. So that was my big splurge. At one point, Glennn was like, how much was this place? And I’m like, I’m not going to tell you. This was one where I was like, I want to book this, you know, and surprise you. And so we we really, really enjoyed that, like, kind of sitting out by the our little plunge pool.
[00:18:22.500] – Tamara Gruber
But then they also have, you know, the property has like a really nice infinity pool and it overlooks the water. And you get really beautiful sunset views there, which, you know, in this part of Greece, like some some of the views, some of the places will face a caldera. So you’ll get really pretty hues and color, but you don’t see the actual sunset. So this is the sunset and it’s like ten minute walk up to town or they can shuttle you and like a ten minute walk down to Ammoudi bay, which is where are the sunset catamarans go out.
[00:18:55.620] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s just like there’s a lot of cool fish restaurants. So I thought the location was fabulous.
[00:19:01.110] – Tamara Gruber
The service was amazing, the food was great, the breakfast is included. And it’s one of those things where you can order as much off the menu as you want. You know, like you order a la carte and then they’re like, oh, do you want fruit? Do you want this? Like the one day that I had breakfast, I like pineapple juice. And so on their menu, they had grapefruit and orange juice. And I was like, oh, do you have pineapple juice?
[00:19:22.440] – Tamara Gruber
And they’re like, we can do that for you. And they came out, they had like blended a fresh pineapple for me.
[00:19:28.770] – Tamara Gruber
And the the food was just it was fantastic. Like everything was so good. And our first night there, like we were exhausted.
[00:19:35.280] – Tamara Gruber
Right, because we had this five hour drive. Then we had, you know, a ten hour flight, three hour layover, half hour flight, you know, so we got there and I saw those lounge chairs by our plunge pool. And I’m like, I am taking a nap right there. And so we kind of just like napped in the sun for like an hour or two was somehow like it. Just something about the excitement of the first day of your trip where you just like kind of have the adrenaline to keep going, right?
[00:20:01.320] – Tamara Gruber
So that little nap was like all I needed. I usually plan for something like this for our first day to just have dinner close to the hotel where we’re staying. So I had booked dinner at the hotel. The hotel has two restaurants, one is like fine dining, one is casual. I had booked us at the fine dining restaurant and so we ended up having like a degustation menu, like a chef’s tasting menu, seven courses. And so you would think we would be like way to jet lag to like appreciate it.
[00:20:31.580] – Tamara Gruber
But I will tell you, this is one of the best dining experiences of our lives. And we still go back and we’re like, is it because we were just so happy to be there? Or is it just like that first night? You have nothing to compare it to.
[00:20:44.120] – Tamara Gruber
But it was really just wonderful because the service was so it was just so perfect.
[00:20:49.160] – Tamara Gruber
It wasn’t crowded because it was primarily just people at the hotel. So, you know, we were outside. We are overlooking this beautiful infinity pool and the sunset and, you know, our tables were all spaced and our server was just so sweet. Like every time I was, like, really enjoying a dish. And I would compliment her and compliment the dish. She would get almost like a giggly, you know, like she was so pleased with how much we liked it.
[00:21:17.480] – Tamara Gruber
And it just like that shows like how much like it means to them to, like, present and prepare like something that someone’s really enjoying, you know, like that kind of hospitality where it’s not just like a you know, like a process, like a routine. You know, it was just like a lot of it added a lot of enjoyment. And the the food was just it was fantastic. It was so, so good. So, you know, another huge splurge for us.
[00:21:41.090] – Tamara Gruber
But like, if you stay there and I actually had like three people, I think like or more messaged me on Instagram saying that they had either already booked it or they were booking it for the fall, like that particular hotel and asking about the restaurant. So I definitely think it’s the it’s a luxury hotel. And the price point is just slightly below the places that are in town. So it made it you know, it made it fit with my budget.
[00:22:07.400] – Tamara Gruber
You know, it was already a splurge budget, but. Yeah. So anyway, that’s what we did the first day. And then the next day, again, I didn’t want to like over because I really wanted to make sure that this trip was like some exploration, but a lot of time for like relaxation and doubt and just time to enjoy it and soak it in. You know, I didn’t want us to be like, go, go, go.
[00:22:26.300] – Tamara Gruber
And we also didn’t want to be around a lot of other groups or people. So we did things, you know, like more on our own or privately.
[00:22:33.560] – Tamara Gruber
So the next day we decided to walk into town and I thought we’re just going to maybe, like, wander around for a little bit. But it was so charming. And so we were just like going down all these side streets and I’m taking like a million pictures and we just loved it.
[00:22:47.810] – Tamara Gruber
And it was so quiet at first. Like in the beginning, the streets were like empty when we got there, probably like ten thirty.
[00:22:54.500] – Tamara Gruber
And the streets were so empty. And everyone says, like, go super early in the morning, but I’m like my first day. I’m not getting out there like 6:00 a.m. you know, that’s not my idea of a vacation. And then it got like a little busier, like closer to noon. But I think if you’re going on a regular year, you probably really have to get there early to avoid the crowds. That’s why it’s kind of nice to stay right in that area, because if you’re traveling from another part of the island, of course, you’re not going to get there, you know, quite that early.
[00:23:19.820] – Tamara Gruber
Right. But it got really hot, definitely. People ask me about the weather, too. It was probably in the high eighties, like maybe low 90s the entire time we were there. I mean, I loved it.
[00:23:30.470] – Tamara Gruber
Like it was it was the kind of weather where I could go out every night in a sundress and not have to bring a sweater, you know, just like, wonderful. And it was, you know, the sun was strong.
[00:23:40.940] – Tamara Gruber
So you would like a little break from it or take a swim. But it wasn’t I didn’t find it oppressive. Apparently earlier in that week, there was you kind of what’s been typical Europe right now is the end of June, early July for the last few years has had like an extremely high heat wave. So they had temperatures well above one hundred for a few days. But then, like I said, when we were there, it was kind of more normal summer.
[00:24:03.300] – Tamara Gruber
But still, we needed a place. We needed a little break. And their lunches are a little bit later. They’re still like at one point we stopped and we just Glennn had, I think, like a beer and I had a smoothie and we just sat at a place where we’re having this beautiful view. And then we walked around some more and then we had this amazing lunch. I like this salad with grilled shrimp and like, everything was like so wonderful.
[00:24:24.050] – Tamara Gruber
And all I could think was like years ago when I was a picky eater, I was like, oh, I could never do I could never go to Greece because I don’t like and I like this like at the time I didn’t like feta, now I love feta.
[00:24:34.970] – Tamara Gruber
I still don’t like olives. And I didn’t eat as much fish. But it is like the food was amazing. All the food that I had was really, really good and I did not have a problem with that at all because I for a long time ago I was like, I’m gonna have to do it on a cruise so that I like the food, but I’ve expanded my palate. So we had a wonderful lunch. Like there’s just so many places that have beautiful views or cute courtyards.
[00:24:58.520] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s just we had a lovely time and it reminded me a lot of the Amalfi Coast in Italy and in Capri, except the shops there aren’t like the big designer shops. It’s more like, you know, there’s there’s a lot of touristy kind. You know, now knickknacks and T-shirt kind of things, but then there’s some more local shops, and so I liked that. You know, sometimes when you go to places and you see all these, like really upscale designer shops and like, well, first of all, I can’t afford to shop there wherever I see them.
[00:25:30.650] – Tamara Gruber
And like, if you can get that at a city, like, near you, like, why do you need it like on vacation? You know, I’d rather find, like, more of the local kind of authentic things. Like we stopped into a gallery and I totally was ready to buy art until I realized we missed a zero on the on the painting price. But yeah, we just had a really lovely time. We went back and we sat by the pool and then we went back into town that night and we did another tasting menu at this place called Lycabettus, I’m sure mispronouncing it.
[00:25:59.150] – Tamara Gruber
But it’s named that after a place in Athens that also has a beautiful viewpoint. But it basically is a restaurant like on a cliff side. So you pay more to sit on this like promontory that sticks out into the caldera. And you have this great view. Of course, Glennn was like, so where it is like, am I going to be nervous? And we had to go down all these steps to get to it.
[00:26:24.500] – Tamara Gruber
He was like slowly going down the steps and the the hostess kept turning and looking back. And I’m like, we’re OK, you know? But I will say, like, that place was crazy expensive, which we knew it was going to be, because it’s definitely very like this is one of the most beautiful places to have a meal or whatever. But I didn’t think it was worth it. So I wouldn’t say to do it like the food was good, but it was much more like it came out very quickly and it was like everybody near us was getting the same thing at the same time.
[00:26:54.950] – Tamara Gruber
And it just didn’t have that personal feel to it. And for like a gas station menu was a lot of like phone this and, you know, like very I don’t know, kind of it was inventive, but it also felt very like it’s probably been done a lot, you know. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, but it was still we had a beautiful view. We wandered around town afterwards and it’s just so nice.
[00:27:13.550] – Tamara Gruber
We sit as we’re sitting there because we probably had like an eight thirty reservation, like, you know, the sunsets. And then so things start to have that beautiful glow and then the lights start to come on. And then by the time you leave, it’s like all lit up and it’s just, you know, like really, really gorgeous. I really fell in love with, like, that part of Santorini. But, you know, someone asked me, like, how long should you stay in Santorini?
[00:27:35.750] – Tamara Gruber
And I said, well, I think at least three nights, you know, maybe two nights if you’ve already, you know, been in Greece. But really, it depends on your budget. Like, how long can you afford to stay there because the food’s expensive, like everything is definitely pricey.
[00:27:49.700] – Tamara Gruber
So our last day on Sunday, we ended up we had booked a half day wine tour with Santorini wine trails, and we did that. All the tours that they’re doing right now are private. So, you know, we basically visited a vineyard and then Santorini is probably most well known for their wine, their white wine. And so we went to, I think, three wineries and did different tastings and tasting. We had like some local cheese or one thing I totally fell in love with was the tomato paste, because like Santorini is known for tomatoes, too.
[00:28:25.520] – Tamara Gruber
And you think about tomato paste like that, you would buy at the store, come to where the little can and you just like your lasagna or something like that. Like this was it was like you just want to spread it on bread. It was amazing. You know, I definitely had a great time on that tour. We learned a lot. You know, it’s just the kind of thing that we like to do. Again, this trip was very oriented towards couples, you know, as I apologize, or people like looking for family, you know, kids, things to do because we were very focused on things that we love to do.
[00:28:56.390] – Kim Tate
Well, that still sounds awesome. Sounds like a gorgeous splurge. And I’m sure there’s plenty of people listening that don’t have kids are looking for an anniversary trip or, you know, some kind of luxury luxury time. So I think it’s good.
[00:29:08.840] – Tamara Gruber
[00:29:09.800] – Tamara Gruber
And then our last night, we walked down to Ammoudi bay and we watched other sunset catamarans go out and man, those things were packed. Those were crowded.
[00:29:17.900] – Tamara Gruber
And then we had dinner down there at a Ammoudi Fish Tavern, which was it was just a great you know, it’s very touristy feeling, but it’s just it was like such fresh fish. The guy was like, no, no, come over to that, because I was asking, like, what is this type of fish like? And he’s like, come look. And I’m like looking at it is not going to help me know how it tastes like, you know, he kept trying to like, you know, like, look at this one and we’ll cut it this way.
[00:29:44.810] – Tamara Gruber
He’ll do this. But, you know, it’s very fresh.
[00:29:47.390] – Tamara Gruber
So, you know, that was that was a lot of fun. And I didn’t mention. But if you follow on Instagram, you’ve probably seen.
[00:29:52.730] – Tamara Gruber
But we did a Flytographer photography shoot that morning before we did the wine tour. So that was a lot of fun to
[00:30:00.770] – Kim Tate
those turned out so well. And I’m happy with the dress you chose. It looked perfect.
[00:30:05.240] – Tamara Gruber
Thank you. And thank you. Yes. For your advice. I was going back and forth, but I’m like, you know, I just feel comfortable in this one. And I think, like, you know, Glennn is a pink shirt. It’ll kind of go together and yeah, we worked with Nikola and he did a fantastic job. And he did so many different, like locations. We’re like really fast, which is good because, like, I didn’t think about poor Glenn because it was a lot of like edges. Edges.
[00:30:33.540] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, exactly. I did at one point he was just like, I need a break. I, I’m sitting this one out, take some pictures of her on her own. But, you know, we had fun. It was it was really nice. So it’s just something that it’s just such a good memory. Like I know I will look back at those photos and like always smile, you know, I was they’ll bring back such happiness.
[00:30:56.520] – Tamara Gruber
It’s nice to have photos of the two of us because frankly, I don’t know. We have some from our wedding, like, yeah, I have a lot of that.
[00:31:03.210] – Kim Tate
So he did a great job also of posing you guys. I mean, they were definitely nice anniversary shots. And I think that was part of it is some of the looks and the poses were great. So it wasn’t just being in a beautiful area. I mean, they really were engaging of the two of you and good, good representative representation of your relationship.
[00:31:22.210] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah, no, I agree.
[00:31:23.970] – Tamara Gruber
It was it was really it was very nice. And so I’m happy to do that and tip for anyone that wants to do something like that for a future trip. What I do for photographer is every Black Friday they have a sale and I buy a gift certificate like gift card for that sale and then I’ll just use it whenever I book for a trip. So little money saving tip there.
[00:31:47.270] – Kim Tate
If it’s that smart, is it? So it’s like a gift card or whatever. And then you can. Yeah.
[00:31:51.840] – Tamara Gruber
And then I get a code or whatever you apply.
[00:31:53.670] – Tamara Gruber
[00:31:55.320] – Tamara Gruber
So and that one I had a credit from, we had booked for Paris and twenty twenty that we didn’t do and so I wanted to use it. I didn’t know how long they were going to keep that credit valid and I didn’t know when our next family trip would be. So my kids do this so.
[00:32:09.600] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah but so that kind of wraps up Santorini. And then the next day we were taking a ferry over to Naxos, which is one of the largest of the Cyclades Islands. And it’s you know, but it’s quieter and it is a lot less expensive. I know that our friend Eric from Travel Babo has gone there a lot with his family. And, you know, so I decided to do that as our second island.
[00:32:32.860] – Tamara Gruber
It would have been nice if we had a little more time to maybe squeeze in one other island. But, you know, that one was good. We did five nights. I think a lot of people will do like Santorini. Well, maybe they’ll do Mykonos, but Mykonos is very much like a young party island. I’m like, yeah, I’m too old for that. And it’s super expensive. Or they’ll do Crete, but Crete is huge. And so you could do like your whole vacation.
[00:32:54.150] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. Just on Crete. Yeah. So yeah, this felt like a good mix for us to have like one more of the famous ones and one of the slightly less visited ones. So we took the ferry and I’ll just like a few words about taking the ferries in Greece just because it was new to me. And now I know. And if I had known what to expect, I may not have been so stressed out.
[00:33:12.420] – Tamara Gruber
But we got to the very port early. But it’s just open. There’s no like docks that have names of where to go. So we went into like the siege at office, which was the ferry that I had booked.
[00:33:24.000] – Tamara Gruber
We had filled out our forms and also done our mobile boarding passes. We had all that like on our phones, but we weren’t quite sure where to go when we got there. So I went to the office. They’re like, oh, just go to like this building like Terminal four. So, OK, so we go in there and we’re sitting there and I hear different people talking around me and they’re like, oh, we’re going to make a noise, we’re going to Athens.
[00:33:43.740] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m like, OK, so there’s multiple boats. So we have to like, really listen for like when our boat is coming right. And the time is getting closer and closer and closer and the place is really filling up and everyone’s talking and it’s just like loud and you can’t hear a thing. And then I hear some guy like all the way at the end of the hall, like coming in and shouting like anyone going to want, you know, and you’re like, what was that?
[00:34:06.870] – Tamara Gruber
So there’s like nothing on the loudspeaker to like. No. You know, which boat are they announcing? Should I go out? Do I not go out like what’s going on? And then finally I hear them say, like Paros and I hear them say things.
[00:34:20.280] – Tamara Gruber
And so I’m like, oh, OK, that’s not us. That’s not us. And then finally, it seems like everyone is just walking and going. So I’m like, we should just go. Like, I was going, yeah. So as we get out there, the boat is coming in and I realize it’s a huge boat. This boat is going to all those islands. It’s not like there’s one boat to meagerness, one boat to Paris, one boat to Athens.
[00:34:43.320] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m like, oh, OK, I get it now. But so you’re in this giant, like heard and then they are running a few minutes late, which they often are. And so like the boat is not even like docked yet and you know, the gangplank is down, people are ready to walk off and they’re like hurting us. They’re like, go, go, go, go, go down. You, you know? And I’m like, you know, I have my you know, we have our luggage.
[00:35:07.230] – Tamara Gruber
Of course, I have my phone out to show, like the boarding pass. And I think I’m have to show like my health form and my boarding pass and like all this stuff. And the people are streaming off the boat and and, you know, we’re like streaming on at the same time and the people are in the back almost with, like, cattle prods, like, go, go, go. And I hear the captain go in like, we got to go.
[00:35:26.710] – Tamara Gruber
We got to leave. We got to leave my. Oh, my God. Like, what are they going to do, like leave people, you know, we’re barely on the boat. And the thing is coming up and they’re pulling away and we’re it’s just like you’re in the hold of the boat with, like, the cars. And there’s like these racks where you can put your luggage and some of them are labeled with certain islands. But, you know, people are just throwing their luggage up on racks and like you’re running out of space.
[00:35:51.910] – Tamara Gruber
So Glenn’s like putting it up on the top thing. And then there’s this huge, like line to get up the stairs, you know, but it’s like very bouncy at this point. So you’re, like trying to keep your balance, but there’s like a catch point because that’s where you then have to show, like, your boarding pass. They never checked the health forms, you know, and then we get up there and then finally they’re like, OK, these are your seats.
[00:36:11.650] – Tamara Gruber
And we sit down.
[00:36:12.160] – Tamara Gruber
We’re like, oh, OK.
[00:36:14.200] – Kim Tate
Like, that was very stressful. How long ago, right? Was it?
[00:36:17.560] – Tamara Gruber
It was. I think I was like about an hour and a half to go from Santorini to Naxos.
[00:36:22.900] – Kim Tate
What do they do with the people who don’t have their boarding?
[00:36:25.120] – Tamara Gruber
I know. Exactly. And they start from like they stopped at another island like Ios, I think first, you know, and so I don’t know. I don’t know. Do they like I have no idea what you put your kind of don’t want to put your bag in first either because like how do you get your bag out then these racks of everybody and throwing their bags on top. And I believe that they wait there for a while. They’ll let you get your bag.
[00:36:50.590] – Tamara Gruber
so then we’re sitting there and you hear and it’s, you know, how things are. At least they had a loudspeaker on the on the ferry. And the ferry is very much like, do you actually hear it, though? It’s probably like what you’re used to with your ferries where, you know, you have assigned seating. It’s more like airplane seating, like, you know, like you have seats.
[00:37:07.330] – Kim Tate
We don’t run out here in Seattle. It’s open seating.
[00:37:10.790] – Tamara Gruber
So, yeah. So we had assigned seating and I was like, there’s a concession bar. So it’s more like, you know, it’s, it’s a big, you know, it’s a big boat.
[00:37:17.410] – Tamara Gruber
There’s multiple tiers.
[00:37:18.790] – Tamara Gruber
So there is a loudspeaker, there’s like TVs playing but they’re in Greek. I don’t know what’s going on in them. And they’re making the announcement first in Greek, but then in English. But I tell them, you you cannot understand it. It’s just Charlie Brown. Yeah. And so we’re just like, what?
[00:37:33.010] – Tamara Gruber
You know, what was that?
[00:37:34.000] – Tamara Gruber
What was that? And like, luckily we had seen as the boat was coming in, there was like one of those leg things where it was like Ios, Naxos, Paros, and it gave like the order. It seems like we’re going to be the second one. Just remember where the second one, you know, but they’re like, oh my, please report to whatever.
[00:37:50.770] – Tamara Gruber
So basically, like before you get to your island, they’re calling you to go down to the hold and that’s where you grab your luggage. Yeah. So then we grab our bag.
[00:37:59.920] – Tamara Gruber
But even then, like, it got stuck on, like there was like a net up there and like the wheel was stuck and we’re like, oh, I got to get it out, you know. And then we’re, you know, standing there and again, like it’s like the thing is barely coming down. Stop, drop and roll.
[00:38:12.280] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, like, go, go, go, go.
[00:38:15.040] – Tamara Gruber
And then the cars are coming off and they’re like, get out of the way. And I’m like, oh my God. Like, what am I supposed to do? This is crazy. But one thing I will say is when you arrive at an island by ferry or by plane, it’s really helpful if you have your transportation already arranged because there are not a ton of taxis on these islands. So we saw people like waiting a really long time for a taxi.
[00:38:37.510] – Tamara Gruber
So I had used I read about it online somewhere, but it’s called Welcome Pickup’s. It’s like a little bit like an Uber, but you arrange it ahead of time and it worked seamlessly. They weren’t on Naxos, but it worked in Athens and it worked in Santorini, you know, where we walked out of the plane in Santorini. And there’s a guy holding a sign, you know, Gruber, and we get right in and go. And that’s how it was when we arrived in Naxos.
[00:39:00.730] – Tamara Gruber
Although I didn’t use that service, it was like through the hotel. But it was just so nice to be like, oh, here’s a guy. You know, we do that we like just super long line to try to find a taxi. And, you know, so that was really great. I would definitely recommend using the welcome pick ups because the hotel in Santorini was going to arrange something. I think they were going to charge us maybe like seventy five euro.
[00:39:21.580] – Tamara Gruber
And then I booked through this and it was like less than 50 euro. So I’m sure it’s even cheaper if you got a taxi. Sometimes it’s like you’re already spending that much money. It’s like, do you really need to save twenty five bucks or whatever?
[00:39:38.170] – Tamara Gruber
Then that’s how a lot of like when we were in Naxos, we the main town is called Naxos Town or Chora, I guess like what I’ve learned is that on the islands there’s one town and all the others are villages, you know, so you have to like get to a certain size. And then all the main town is called like or something like that. And but it’s also just called Naxos.
[00:39:56.620] – Tamara Gruber
So so we were about fifteen minutes south of there, like on a beach called Agios Prokopios. I always like switch the key in the P and so you could take a bus like back and forth. But we were like, yeah, I’ll just take a taxi. But, you know, like, it’s it is a little bit more so I can see why people would like to stay in town, but I really loved our location. So we stayed at a place called the Virtu Suites.
[00:40:30.980] – Tamara Gruber
Maybe they have a dozen rooms or so. They have different ones. We didn’t we didn’t go with the top of the line there. I just looked like a Seaview suite. So it was just like basically you walked out of our room and the pool was right there. But I love this hotel again. It was really new. Like they opened, I think late 2019.
[00:40:51.880] – Tamara Gruber
So then they were closed most of last year.
[00:40:55.090] – Tamara Gruber
And so there, you know, they are back and they were like, please leave us a review. Or if you like, we need, you know, we need to get the word out and like don’t you worry. Yeah. I’m going to like let them know. So we, I loved it. Like everything was all these natural materials. It was like rope and wood. And, you know, it’s just like a very, very nice style, very comfortable style.
[00:41:16.990] – Tamara Gruber
The service was wonderful. It wasn’t I don’t even know if all the rooms were filled. Definitely not when we got there, because we got there on a Monday, I felt like at first. We might have been like one of the only ones in the place. The room was pretty large, you know, it was just it was just so nice like you.
[00:41:32.230] – Tamara Gruber
We walked out of our room, you know, two steps.
[00:41:34.930] – Tamara Gruber
There is the pool, you know, ten steps. We’re at the restaurant, which is like open area, restaurant, bar facing the street. And then you go across the street and there’s the beach and the beach is gorgeous.
[00:41:46.840] – Tamara Gruber
And they have you know, they have loungers with umbrellas. And all you have to do is a hotel guest just have them reserve it. They give you a form the night before and the reserve you loungers down in the front. And then if those don’t fill up, then like people can come and pay to stay at the other ones, you know, and they can bring you drinks and food and stuff. And so it was the and the beach was beautiful.
[00:42:09.850] – Tamara Gruber
The water was like fairly calm, whereas up by town, like there were a lot more waves. It was rougher. Like that’s where people like surf and windsurf.
[00:42:17.260] – Tamara Gruber
So I thought it was great even for families, you know, like it. And it was it was fun because someone had said like, oh the yeah, the because the beaches in Santorini are like rock.
[00:42:28.990] – Tamara Gruber
So they’re like, oh no. Naxos has really good beaches there. It’s like silk. And I’m like, OK, they haven’t seen, you know, some beaches because that was not like Florida. Well, it was it was not rock. It was more like, you know, what I’d have here in the in the Northeast, like, you know, coarse sand and then, you know, maybe some rock, like as you are getting into the water.
[00:42:51.400] – Tamara Gruber
And then it kind of drops off fairly quickly. And then it’s super, super soft, like there is no seaweed, no shells.
[00:42:57.130] – Tamara Gruber
Like it was just really beautiful.
[00:42:59.470] – Tamara Gruber
You could go out, you know, and just kind of float or swim. And you had a pretty good current. Glenn tried to swim a little bit and it was it was tough.
[00:43:06.700] – Tamara Gruber
But, you know, you can just float and just like, you know, enjoy and relax. And the water was clear and, you know, a couple of fish swimming around. It was just it was really, really beautiful. Like, I was like, why am I in the Caribbean like this water? It was so turquoise. It was really beautiful and quiet. there were families. They would play like beach games and, you know, kids around. But it was it did not feel super crowded at all, like especially if you were out there in the morning. I think I posted some pictures and you can see there was like no one in the water. It was just it was beautiful, really, really beautiful. So I loved where we stayed.
[00:43:40.720] – Tamara Gruber
The town right where we were staying was smaller. So it was basically like a couple of beach shops with like beach bags and bathing suits and stuff like that.
[00:43:50.200] – Tamara Gruber
Maybe one boutique shop where I actually bought something and a few restaurants, you know, there were there were a few like attached to hotels. There were a few like right on that beachfront road and then a couple of others, but like very, you know, authentic and good food.
[00:44:07.000] – Tamara Gruber
You know, like we had our two dinners that we did. There were forty euro total and we had an appetizer to like giant entrees that we couldn’t finish, I think. Well, the one place they brought us a free dessert, two drinks, like I was like forty euro versus Santorini. So it was it was really very affordable there. Even the hotel restaurant, which was really good, was not overpriced, you know, for anything. A hotel restaurant is always going to be a bit more.
[00:44:35.380] – Tamara Gruber
So we loved it there. I would definitely recommend looking at staying there. Like I said, it was very comfortable, great service.
[00:44:42.520] – Tamara Gruber
And, you know, the distance from town was a little bit of a challenge, like we did take a taxi back and forth a few times. But it depends like if you’re planning on renting a car or if you’re going to, you know, just spend time on the beach, like you don’t necessarily need to be going back and forth every day. Yes, I really enjoyed it. And then our first sounds nice.
[00:45:03.010] – Kim Tate
You know, first full day there, I had arranged for us to charter a private sailing on a sailboat. It was something that we had done. When we were in Italy one time and it was like one of my best travel days ever, so like, I really want to do this and we just didn’t want to do like we wanted. I felt like we’re in the islands, like, how do you not get out on the water and see it from the water?
[00:45:25.360] – Kim Tate
And like that felt like part of the experience. But I didn’t want to do like a big group thing. Like, it just wasn’t comfortable with that.
[00:45:31.900] – Tamara Gruber
So, yes, I had booked it through Naxos Sailing and the guy, the Captain George was like he was such a character, so funny.
[00:45:40.960] – Tamara Gruber
So I don’t know, like, sarcastic, like just he was great. But he also like, you know, he really took care of us and he had like another guy that was kind of like apprenticing for him, helping out too. But we went out for the whole day and we went first to it. So basically, like from Naxos, you can see the island of Paros. So we went over to Paros and then there’s some small, like a smaller island off of Paros called Antiparos And so there was an area there where we were snorkeling or is like definitely popular. You could see like a number of boats coming out to do snorkeling there. There are a couple like yachts sitting there. It was a little bit rough. It reminded me a little bit of when you and I were in Key Largo and we went, oh, yeah, yeah. So not as seasick, but like, remember when we got in there and we’re like, really bobbing around like the water bobbing like this.
Like I went in and I’m going to I’m you know, I’m just not comfortable in the water. It’s, I’ve never like the water, I don’t enjoy swimming. I don’t like going under the water. Snorkeling is fine because I can stay on top. But then when you’re like bobbing around and then like a wave is coming and like water went down my snorkel. So then I’m like coughing and they’re like, just blow it out. And I’m like, no, I’m done.
[00:46:55.000] – Tamara Gruber
I’m out of here. So, Glenn, you know, he did a little bit more and I just, like, hung out in the boat. But, you know, the water is beautiful, is great.
[00:47:02.680] – Tamara Gruber
Then we went over on Paros.
[00:47:04.930] – Tamara Gruber
There’s like a sea cave that you can snorkel into, but the top of the cave has a big hole in it. So you had, like, the stream of light, like coming into this cave. So it’s like a really neat experience. So we pulled up to there. But because it’s like a fairly big sailboat, he couldn’t get super close.
[00:47:20.200] – Tamara Gruber
So you’d have to, like, swim over and he gives you like a noodle and stuff, you know, because, like, I’m not a super strong swimmer, but I, I was like climbing down to get into the water and I just looked at it and I’m like, no, I’m not doing it. I’m sorry. Like, I’m just not I don’t because I, I remember when we were in Italy, we I swam through this like grotto and like on the other side I had Hannah and stupidly, we didn’t have like life jackets or noodles with us.
[00:47:45.010] – Tamara Gruber
And we were both getting tired. And I pulled her up on to some rocks and some guy had to like, help me get her back to the boat. So I’m like, no, I just don’t think I can swim that far. Like, I don’t think I’m that, you know, I’m comfortable. So Glenn went with, like, the other guy on the boat and I just hung out on the boat and he loved it. He thought it was great, but it just wasn’t something like like, again, I’m just not a very good swimmer.
[00:48:06.370] – Tamara Gruber
So then from there went to like a small fishing village on Paros and we could stay in, like, hang out and have lunch there and go to a beach there. We’re going to be there for like three hours. So it gives you time to like explore Paros. That’s the reason I booked this particular tour, because I felt like, oh, this gives us a way to, like, see another island without having to, like, worry about the ferry schedule.
[00:48:29.860] – Tamara Gruber
So we decided to go and take a cab to the main town and I always mispronounce this one too. But it’s like Naoussa. We had to wait a really long time for a cab. So again, like if we had arranged it ahead of time, it would have worked much better because by the time we finally got there, we only had like a little over an hour and we needed to eat some lunch too.
[00:48:59.380] – Tamara Gruber
Like I would have I would have had lunch while I was waiting if I had known it was going to take that long. And they’re like, oh, it’s going to be ten minutes and it was going to be half an hour. And then suddenly, like an hour later, we’re still like waiting for the cab. But that town was gorgeous.
[00:49:12.490] – Tamara Gruber
It was so charming. I know again, Eric has posted some pictures from there in the past, but it was I fell in love with that town and I’m like, we have to come back and we have to stay on Pario so that we can explore more of this town.
[00:49:24.430] – Tamara Gruber
It just felt like there were just so many shops. There’s so many, like in the old town, like so many little alleyways and restaurants and things to explore. Just looks so cute. But we had kind of a quick lunch quick, a little walk through, and then we had to take the cab back.
[00:49:37.990] – Tamara Gruber
And then from there we sailed back to Naxos and I just kind of like chilled out. And it was it was a great day.
[00:49:46.420] – Tamara Gruber
So, you know, again, a really fun thing to do, whether you do it private or they do, you know, small groups, you know, and he has a bunch of different tours he does on sunset catamarans. So actually, he gives you a DVD with the photos because he has like an underwater camera. So he takes photos all throughout the trip. Then he gives you a DVD.
[00:50:04.990] – Tamara Gruber
So the next day when we were in town, we stopped by the boat to get the DVD and he was like, oh, someone like already reached out to me that said that, you know, they heard. About it from you, and they booked a trip with us. I’m like, oh, that’s amazing. You know, so because I don’t think he I mean, we paid for everything on this trip like nothing was sponsored or comped. So I didn’t even always even mention that to people.
[00:50:25.670] – Tamara Gruber
So I don’t even know if I don’t think he’s very savvy when it comes to Instagram. I don’t think he knew that I tagged, you know.
[00:50:32.000] – Tamara Gruber
Oh, yeah. He was probably just like, wow, this is great, you know? Yeah. So that was a great day. I’m sorry. I’m just like going on.
[00:50:41.600] – Kim Tate
What do you have one more day, though?We have one more days because for five days there. Yeah I do. I was thinking three days but three days with was Santorini and then. Yeah.
[00:50:49.820] – Tamara Gruber
OK, so if you guys want to stick with me I will tell you a couple other things to do in Naxos, which we just had such a great time with one of them.
[00:50:57.260] – Tamara Gruber
The next day we did a full day tour with Philema Food Tours. They do a lot more too and so it’s run by Eleni and she has a driver as well. So she does like Half-Day tours and Full-day tours. But it’s not like your typical walk around a town and do a food tour. This was very much like a full island experience, which is what I wanted.
[00:51:25.820] – Tamara Gruber
Like, we we decided not to rent a car and drive around. And so I thought, well, why not do a tour that kind of combines seeing some of the island with some of the other things that we love. So we booked it was a cheese, food, wine, an island tour. So the first thing we did was we went to do someone’s home that their cheesemakers. So it was and a couple that, you know, this is what they do.
[00:51:50.930] – Tamara Gruber
They make cheese in their kitchen. So Naxos is really well known for like a couple of different kinds of cheeses. So cheese is definitely something that you’ll hear a lot about in Naxos. And so it was like a hands on thing. Like first we met them, we saw the goats where they get their milk. You know, I like the whole thing. We went into their kitchen. They had this amazing spread of homemade food. So one thing, if you do this tour, do not have breakfast first.
[00:52:15.020] – Tamara Gruber
We made that mistake because she made all of these like homemade like zucchini things and tomato things and just fed and like, no, not feta. It would have been their cheese. So just so much food.
[00:52:26.960] – Tamara Gruber
And then we helped them make cheese. So they showed us how they make cheese. I helped stir it. I helped need it, you know, like put it through the thing like it was such a fun experience to get to do that, to get to like, learn about their cheeses, but then actually get hands on and do it and just meet this couple like, you know, they’ve you know, they’re kind of living out there with not a lot of people around.
[00:52:50.600] – Tamara Gruber
They were so excited to have us and host us.
[00:52:53.180] – Tamara Gruber
And it was just a really, really lovely experience.
[00:52:57.170] – Kim Tate
And then, yeah, I think it’s so cool how you you do a great job at finding these, you know, kind of unique experiences and figuring out what to book. So you’re not just going somewhere and then wandering in the town, which can be good too. But I mean, it’s nice that you kind of search for these unique things. Yeah.
[00:53:14.690] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it’s definitely what we love.
[00:53:16.670] – Tamara Gruber
And so then after that, we went to a little village. There’s apparently only seven people that live in this village full time. But there’s a potter there that’s like, I don’t know, fifth generation Potter or something like that. So we had a little demonstration from him of, you know, making some pottery look through his shop. He showed us all these different pieces. Of course, we ended up buying some. You didn’t have to, but, you know, but it was nice.
[00:53:39.590] – Tamara Gruber
And those are the kind of things, too, though, that, like, I do kind of love to buy because it’s like you’re really supporting this person, you know, like you’re supporting like that local economy. So much like it’s not just in a store. It’s like, you know, I’m going to remember the person that made this and the story behind it and all of that.
[00:53:57.560] – Tamara Gruber
So we did that. And then we went to a town where they’re famous for making these. There’s a distillery there for this alcohol that’s made from cetron leaves. So I thought it was going to taste a little bit like Limoncello. Yeah, but it is it is so strong and I am not like a spirits or alcohol person. So, like, we did a little Citron tasting there. And then I was I chose the one that was like the mild one, you know, the less strong.
[00:54:25.670] – Tamara Gruber
And then she’s like, do you want the other? I’m like, no, that’s OK. But in this town it’s called like Chalki. Ah, it’s, it’s everything also is spelled like so many different ways. And eventually I’ll get a blog post up with all of this and then I can link to that in the show notes.
[00:54:39.710] – Tamara Gruber
But it is known it was like a very it was like a lot of aristocrats, like way back in the day in the now has a lot of artisans. And so one thing I did buy, there was some place mats because I met this woman that she showed me like her loom where she and weaves everything. And so I bought these ones and like traditional Naxos colors for our kitchen. Oh, yeah. And they were only like ten euros. So it was good.
[00:55:03.260] – Tamara Gruber
But that town was just so lovely and cute. And then we went to this other town. I’m not going to pronounce it right either. It’s like Aperinthos or something like that. And it is all marble. So like all. The streets are like white stone marble because it’s Naxos is known for its marble quarries, and so this town is, you know, has that history and we had an amazing meal there. And our guide introduced us to a couple of the very local to that particular village dishes.
[00:55:32.890] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s interesting because like we learned, you know, it’s kind of like most countries when you travel around, like one region is known for this kind of food, that kind of food. And so here you have like a microcosm of that, because it’s like this one island has like different villages that are known for different things. And then we’re looking at a menu and Naxos town, we’re like, oh, that’s that dish that comes from this village, you know?
[00:55:54.550] – Tamara Gruber
So it was like it was just so nice, I think, to have that experience with the full day, like with a local guide. And she just told us so much about, like local culture and just, you know, it was just really great to kind of have that experience. And I will also say, like, so it can be kind of mountainous and we traveled around, you know, around the island. And so you’re going on a lot of, like, curvy kind of roads.
[00:56:19.870] – Tamara Gruber
Traditionally, I would get very carsick. So I was worried about that. And because even just going from our place to the ferry in Santorini, I got like super sick feeling so that on the whole way on the ferry, I was feeling like motion sickness because I already started that way.
[00:56:35.040] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, but she uses a driver. She has this nice van and she uses a driver that used to drive like big busses. And she knew that Glenn was scared of heights and she knows that I get motion sick. And so she asked him to, like, drive accordingly. And so he took like all those switchbacks and things like nice and slow.
[00:56:52.900] – Tamara Gruber
And it made such a huge difference on my because my brain wasn’t constantly being like, you know, bounced around in a way.
[00:57:00.400] – Tamara Gruber
So it it made it so much better. It was really like I was I was kind of amazed because I thought, oh, boy, what am I going to do? Like I have to take Dramamine and then I’m going to be, you know, knocked out.
[00:57:10.600] – Tamara Gruber
But we had then some time to kind of wander around this village and then we kept driving. We did a couple of like a little photo stops at different points, you know, like viewpoints and things. And then we finished at a vineyard. So it’s really funny because, like, Naxos has this history that goes up back like literally millennia, you know, of these vines that have been around for so long. But there’s no actually actual wineries on Naxos.
[00:57:38.680] – Tamara Gruber
So they tend to like take all of their grapes and combine it and then almost like let it ferment a little too long. And so they’re the wine they serve is like their house wine, like in their whole like people tend to use like their own little vineyards just for wine that they make for themselves and for friends. And then the restaurants have like their little house wine.
[00:57:58.510] – Tamara Gruber
And it it’s really strong.
[00:58:00.550] – Tamara Gruber
It tastes like almost like an alcohol, you know, like I mean. Yeah, I mean, it’s like maybe like a port or something like.
[00:58:06.090] – Tamara Gruber
[00:58:06.760] – Tamara Gruber
You know, it’s a little more and that’s definitely a high percentage alcohol and stuff. So it’s not the kind of wine that I would usually drink, but this one vineyard he’s trying to use like all these local grapes, but actually make like a refined, you know, nice wines from it.
[00:58:22.750] – Tamara Gruber
So we were able to do like but he takes all of his grapes, like in a refrigerator truck over to Santorini and uses one of their, like, wineries to make the wine. But he we did a vineyard tour and then a tasting with him.
[00:58:35.710] – Tamara Gruber
And it was just so great. Like, what a great way to end the day. Right. Like, we had this really fun, wonderful day. And then we’re ending, you know, in the vineyard, we’re having wine. We’re just getting into, like, the great conversations. And he owns a wine bar in town that we ended up like going to the next day. And he really focuses on these like small Greek wines. And so it’s just like one of these experiences where you just you’re learning a lot.
[00:58:58.660] – Tamara Gruber
We built on what we learned about Greek wine when we were in Santorini. You know, it was really nice. And then at the end, you know, then we come back and we’re like, ready for a nap. But it was such a great day. So I would really, really recommend, if you go to Naxos, like try to book her.She’s not like having multiple guides. And so I know our friend Kirsten had mentioned that when she went to Naxos, she had tried to book with them, but they were already full. So it’s something definitely to plan ahead if you are interested in doing that. But I’m happy for them like that. Tourism is coming back. She had kind of said like last year, you know, our last year is a bust. Obviously, this year she thought things are going to be bad.
[00:59:38.110] – Tamara Gruber
But then, like over the last couple of weeks, things had really picked up a lot.
[00:59:41.800] – Tamara Gruber
So, you know, it’s good to see that they’re making it. But she’s you know, everyone is also like, very thankful for us like that. Were there that when you book them, you know, so so it was it was really good. And then honestly, the next day, the next couple of days, we hung out at the beach, we walked around town, we went to get our covid tests.
[01:00:01.480] – Tamara Gruber
And then we, you know, explored town a bit. And I will say, like Naxos, town is not as charming as the main town on Paros, but it is fun to explore. It’s very easy to get lost in. This labyrinth of the old old town kind of streets and Glenn was like, we saw this before. It’s like, what kind of things? Or like, how do we find our way out? We felt like little, you know, like mice, you know, finding our way out.
[01:00:25.120] – Tamara Gruber
But it was nice. You know, we had another wonderful meal for our last meal. And one night we did walk out to one of the things that Naxos is known for is they have you see it right when you come into a port, it’s like a big it looks like a big doorway. It’s Apollo Temple or Portara.
[01:00:42.750] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s very well known that people go there. You know, you can go there for sunrise, you can go there for sunset. It’s really, really busy at sunset. But after a full day at the beach, I was actually having major issues with my eyes because they have such sensitive eyes and even they had like sunglasses and a hat on, like just the sun exposure and the wind and everything. Like, my eyes were terrible. Like I had to lie down for like an hour with my eyes closed.
[01:01:10.050] – Tamara Gruber
I use like half a bottle of drops, like it was just so much like pain in my eyes that I’m like, I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to go out tonight, you know? So we finally we ended up going out, Glenn, and I’m like, you have to kind of like lead me by hand. And then by the time we went to that wine bar and by the time we finished there, I was feeling like a little bit better.
[01:01:28.740] – Tamara Gruber
So we decided like last minute to walk over and see sunset there. So it’s not like there are people that get there early and set up with a great location and all that. We kind of like just walked up and I’m like holding my phone or camera, like above people’s heads to kind of take a picture. But it was it was beautiful and like, you know, yeah, it was crowded, but it was outside and honestly, like, the wind was going so strong.
[01:01:52.170] – Tamara Gruber
I’m like, well, it’s just blowing everything right past me, you know, like I’m not going to worry about about it being crowded or anything and and even like that kind of crowd, it’s it’s still it was manageable. Like there’s places to walk around and walk away, you know, it wasn’t it wasn’t like a crazy like packed in kind of crowd. And then we had dinner. So yeah, we had a wonderful stay.
[01:02:14.280] – Tamara Gruber
And then the last day we had we didn’t have to go to our ferry until like one thirty and our hotel agreed to let us do a late checkout. So we went to the beach in the morning. We hung out, came back, we took a shower.
[01:02:27.360] – Tamara Gruber
Then we get to the port, you know, like an hour early because they told us, oh, you don’t get there like fifteen minutes early. I’m like, oh, that makes me nervous, you know?
[01:02:34.320] – Tamara Gruber
So we got there, I think maybe like forty five minutes early. And as we’re going, the taxi driver, they have this really cool app where they’re able to look up like where the different ships are and they’re like, oh you’re your ship is is running about like forty five minutes late because it had been getting windier all throughout the week so that the Greek islands are known for this, the melting army winds and so that pushes back the ferries can’t go as fast, you know, things like that.
[01:03:00.030] – Tamara Gruber
So it definitely affects things.
[01:03:01.980] – Tamara Gruber
And that’s why we had to switch our sailing day to like the very first day that we arrived, because that was going to be the best day, you know, from a wind perspective. Like we didn’t want to be out there when it’s super, you know, choppy.
[01:03:14.040] – Tamara Gruber
So we get to the port and we’re like, OK, well, we’re already here. So we just like when we had a quick lunch, then we get over to the to line up for our ferry and we’re like the last ones in line, at least like this one was marked. So it was a little bit and we knew what to expect. So we’re like, OK, we’re just going to stand in this line and but we’re out there in the sun, you know, and we ended up standing there for an hour and a half because our ferry was so late.
[01:03:38.160] – Tamara Gruber
But we didn’t have that app to be able to look up and be like, when is it coming? And ferries come and go. So much so you see one on the horizon. You’re like, is that us? We’re like, no, it’s not us that’s going somewhere else, you know? So by the time we finally got to Athens, it was late. And my plan was to try to go to the Acropolis and see the end, like just not with a tour, but just like quickly it’d be like, hey, I saw it.
[01:03:59.790] – Tamara Gruber
But it was it was going to be close by the time I got there. But luckily, we stayed at a hotel called the Hotel Grand Bretagne.
[01:04:11.430] – Tamara Gruber
It is a Marriott property, though. Oh, nice. So it’s a luxury properties part of the luxury collection, but so we used points to book it. So we’re very happy about that. We had a little balcony where we could overlook the parliament building. We saw the changing of the guard that happens there and then their rooftop, which is where they do their breakfast.
[01:04:31.260] – Tamara Gruber
[01:04:32.940] – Tamara Gruber
You can see the the Acropolis Hill in the pantheon and things from the rooftop. And so I had booked us dinner there at the rooftop hotel. Just figured that would be a nice view, like Sunset View. And also we did that and it was you know, it was great view. But then I decided like afterwards, like, hey, let’s a little take a little walk through the Plaka neighborhood, which is like this bustling, like, you know, restaurants, bars, you kind of area.
[01:04:58.530] – Tamara Gruber
So we when we did a little like walk around that and then came back, you know, around midnight and the next day we flew home. And that was such a long flight because it’s like ten hours and forty five minutes, I think, on the way home.
[01:05:11.280] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s actually the longest flight I. I’ve ever been on, and then we got to New York and we had a quick dinner at this place that we love near JFK, but then we had to drive home. Yeah. And, you know, so by the time we got home, it was what was for us five o’clock in the morning. Yeah. So we had been up, you know, like almost twenty four hours. And I was like I, I was OK, but I just couldn’t sit still.
[01:05:38.620] – Tamara Gruber
Like I’m glad Glenn was driving home and I’m like twisting and turning in my seat. I’m like I just can’t sit it any longer.
[01:05:44.740] – Tamara Gruber
Like it was, it was a long travel day, but I think it was kind of good that we got home at like ten thirty at night or so because then, you know, we’re able to go to bed and go to bed and kind of get up and be on that regular schedule. Yeah. So, yes, the jet lag on the way back was about it. It wasn’t too bad. And actually I found myself for like the first time in my life being tired at like 10 p.m..
[01:06:06.030] – Kim Tate
[01:06:07.210] – Tamara Gruber
So yeah, that only lasted a week. Now I’m back to my normal but yeah.
[01:06:11.520] – Kim Tate
Yeah. So it’s it’s a great trip. That sounds like you guys had such a good time. And like I said, I had some really unique experiences that kind of let you get a real feel for Greece and what those islands are known for. So that’s exciting. Yeah, you can definitely see how people keep going back and back and back to other islands and stuff because, like, there’s so much so many islands. And even like on Naxos, there are some Greek temples or ruins or things that I would have liked to go see.
[01:06:37.470] – Tamara Gruber
But if we had one more day, like I would have either rented a car or gotten a guide to do that kind of stuff. But like I said, we didn’t want to be going, going, going so. Right. I know a lot of people will write like things to do. And I’m like, well, I can’t really write the things to do. But I, I feel like what we did was a really nice balance of of things.
[01:06:56.340] – Kim Tate
I think that’s important. I you know, we’ll talk about my recent trip and I purposely booked it to not be go, go, go. Because Paul does not enjoy those kind of vacations. And it really starts to get, you know, when we’re doing a job as a blogger and we have to get the things to do. And, you know, we’ve been on press trips that you go, oh, you’re here for an hour, and then you go somewhere else for an hour and you visit like four things during the day and you can’t really get a solid feel for anything, but you’ve got a long list of things to do.
[01:07:25.830] – Kim Tate
So, yeah, it’s it’s interesting. Like vacationing versus just getting information is different. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
[01:07:35.250] – Tamara Gruber
Well I guess if everyone stays tuned the next time we will get to talk about your trip. Yeah, definitely. And I know that you will be putting out articles so people can always go check We3travel.
[01:07:46.770] – Kim Tate
And of course the vacation mavens dotcom show notes for Tamara’s information about all about her trip and those some of those unique experiences I’m sure she’ll be sharing about and all those things that I couldn’t pronounce next time.