We flew from Rome into Athens and had a few days in Athens before we headed off to the Greek Islands. The nice weather from Rome continued in Athens making walking around seeing the sites tough work. We did a free walking tour in Athens to get our bearings and heard some of the history of the city along with seeing some of the main sites such as the original modern Olympics stadium and the Acropolis. Other highlights in Athens included an open air movie cinema and checking out some wine bars to try some Greek wines. For the open air movie cinema we had great views of the Acropolis all lit up at night and got to watch Gone Girl with some drinks under the stars. We visited a couple of wine bars with the very colourful Brettos bar being a favourite. We tried a good variety of Greek wines which despite past experience we found to be really nice.
After a few days in Athens we took a ferry to our first Greek Island - Paros. Paros is a quiet-ish island and we stayed at a villa which lived up to the islands reputation with a oasis like garden where we spent a bit of time playing cards with some wine. There wasn't a huge amount to do in Paros but we did manage to spend some time at the beach, see a lovely sunset and have a couple of meals with delicious fresh seafood.
We then moved onto Naxos which is the largest Greek island in the Cyclades (a grouping of islands). We stayed at another lovely place here but unfortunately the weather for the first few days wasn't the best with really strong winds. We therefore spent a bit of this time exploring the main city (Naxos) we were staying in and Halkia - a town in the middle of the island. We did get one nice day though so we hired some mountain bikes and biked to a long stretch of beach called Plaka. It is pretty obvious that in the high season this place gets very busy as there are lots of restaurants and resorts lining the beach. Outside of high season though it is pretty quiet. This was good news for us as we got a large stretch of beach basically to ourselves. We spent a good part of the afternoon lying on the golden sand, sunbathing and swimming before taking a leisurely bike ride back to our accommodation.
After a nice relaxing time in Naxos it was about to become a whole lot more relaxing at the next Island we visited - Ios. During the high season this is like a little Mykonos and is filled with party-goers. When we arrived we quickly found out that outside of peak season almost everything is closed. We had read that there were quite a few sports clubs here where we could rent bikes, kayaks, etc but these were all now closed. The weather was also against us which meant we couldn't even enjoy the deserted beaches. This left us with very little to do and we ended up having some very quiet days of which most were spent indoors. We were therefore very happy to leave the Island and move onto our most highly anticipated island - Santorini.
We got a nice welcome to Santorini with some very, very heavy rain. We were later told that Santorini only gets around 30 days of rain a year and unfortunately this was one of them! We had a few days in Santorini and after Ios we wanted to make the most of them. We spent one day visiting a couple of vineyards, trying some wines and hearing about the interesting process of grape growing on the island. Another day was spent visiting another city on the island called Ioa (where all the iconic white building and blue roofs are) and taking the three hour walk from Ioa back to our town (Fira). The weather warmed up a little on our third day on the island so we took a boat tour to the volcanic crater island and the hot springs (which were a bit cool that time of year). After a busy few days on Santorini (a nice change from the bleakness of Ios) we headed back to Athens.
We spent our first day back in Athens getting up early and visiting the Acropolis. It was definitely worth getting up early for as it was almost deserted when we arrived. We spent the rest of the morning exploring the other ancient sites around Athens such as the huge Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Roman Agora. We then managed to find a micro coffee roastery where Darin had his first flat white in a month or two! The next few days we spent watching another changing of the guards, walking up Lykavittos Hill for great views across Athens, walking up Filopappou hill for views across the Acropolis and seeing the amazing friezes (or more accurately what is left of them) at the Acropolis Museum.
Our Greece adventure over it was on a plane to Jordan.