To say Greece was a good time would be the understatement of the year.
Greece has easily become my most favourite country in Europe and a very possible contender for my most favourite country … ever. My time in Greece consisted of hanging out with almost all of the friends I have from back home, lying in the sun, driving quad bikes around the different islands, discovering volcanoes and black sand beaches, riding donkeys, many Malibu pineapple cocktails, a couple of wild nights out, more sun bathing in various fancy hotel pools, shopping my way through the tiny cobbled streets, eating 2.50 euro yeeros and endless amounts of bread with tzatziki, never feeling hungry but always equipped to eat, boat trips to go snorkelling and cave exploring, ferry trips between Greek islands on boats big enough to inhabit a small country, a few more cocktails from the hot Greek waiters, and then it was time for dessert.
It is clear to say that the Greek islands of Mykonos, Ios and Santorini knew very well how to do their desserts (just ask Maggie Byrne). It almost became a mission for us to try everything up for offer from Nutella Baklava to Kinder Bueno crepes, to nutella crème pie and enough icecream to give an eskimo a brain freeze … we were in heaven!
While having the pleasure of exploring this once again new country with Maggie and Josie, in Mykonos I was also lucky enough to catch Lenix, Kaitlin and Mish for a night which was very exciting as I haven't seen these girls for a really long time. We had a really nice dinner where our other friends David & Sinead from our Sail Croatia boat also joined us, and headed out that evening for a pretty big night.
It is such a strange feeling to be out at a club so far away from home and run into people that you are used to seeing back in the clubs in Sydney. Josie ran into her cousin Clarrie, we saw our friend Alex Jayes which was really fun, caught up with a couple of the Waverley boys, all while partying hard at this club that was big enough to hold a mini festival - which it did as we watched the 2 female djs Krewella spin their s***. It was an awesome night and the perfect way to cap off our first 5 amazing days spent in Mykonos but saying goodbye in the morning to my high school friends was made just that little bit harder as it's a long time until I'll see them again.
As we got on the high speed ferry to go to our next destination of Ios, feeling slightly hung over and sentimental about leaving those girls, Maggie and Josie reminded me about the next lot of friends I would be seeing in a few days. And they were right … a few days lying in the sun, trying to recover from a Sail Croatia cough, and enjoying the really really nice hotel the girls had chosen for our Ios accommodation, the next lot arrived.
On our last night in Ios we booked a table for 10 people … 9 of the girls from my group were having dinner with me… in Greece. I actually couldn't believe it. Alex Mccarthy my primary school partner in mischief was even there because having 8 friends from high school wasn't enough. So me, Mags, Jose, Alex, Mish, KP, Bianca, Madz, Nic and Ciara all were together for one night of Mexican joy, sharing memories over many jugs of Sangria and plates of nachos big enough to feed a small village. It was honestly amazing to have everyone together as it reminded me of us all sharing a friend's birthday or just heading out for a regular Wednesday night at The Sheaf. Even Josie's other crazy free-spirited cousin Tilly was there with one of our favourite Bridgo girls Beccy Wilson.
The next island coming up was Santorini, which I had heard was the most amazing place in the world (reference: Bianca Seale) so it was hard to contain my excitement. On the contrary nothing that amazing comes without some sort of sacrifice and the time had come where I was now splitting with my travel buddies of over 27 days. Saying goodbye to these two was rough. Rough because I was pretty hung over and had barely slept a wink. Rough because I knew the more sentimental and emotional I became, the harder it would be for us all. Rough because I was immediately thinking of the joy they would be experiencing when they arrived home to see their families and beloved animals and I was not going to see mine for another 7 months or so. Rough because we had all just gone through so much together and had learned how to adapt, change and pretty much live with each other for a whole straight month. To travel with anyone for that length of time is not always going to be easy but I am so glad I had that experience with them and it will forever be my first trip to Europe with the girls.
As I hopped on the next ferry to float over to Santorini, I was joined, or rather say, I joined Alex, Ciara and Nicola as they had a couple of days to check to island out and I was now just winging this part of Greece (nothing had been booked!) I checked myself into a small but very affordable and perfect-for-me hotel just outside of the town Fira while the others stayed in a really nice hotel a couple minutes on a quad bike away in town. I had my own room, aircon, tv, fridge, bed, bathroom, pool, quad bike, wifi, and friends a couple mins away. What more could you want … I was in heaven.
We spent the days eating at very nice restaurants overlooking the ocean, driving our bikes around the island exploring black sand beaches, checking out the famous Santorini sunset point in Oia, getting treatments at a day spa, and just loving life really.
Two days later Alex, Ciara and Nic flew out of Santorini, I moved hotels (to say upgraded for my last 2 nights in Greece would be fitting) and joined Madz, Bianca and KP in a really nice hotel overlooking the ocean. This hotel was the most beautiful, breath-taking, Grecian hotel I have ever seen in my life. This was the Mama Mia/Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants view that I was ever so anxious to see. And what better way to look at this view of hundreds of white, dome-topped restaurants, hotels and houses positioned on a cliff face overlooking the ocean, then with three of my closest friends in our private Jacuzzi.
It was the honestly dream-like and that was before we watched the sun set over amazing food and cocktails. However, the donkeys we rode the next day (also featured on the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants) were another story. This definitely woke me up from my dreamy vision of Santorini and brought me back to reality. There are some things you only need to do once in your life and this for me, was very much one of them. I'm glad I did it (thank you Bianca & Madz) but never again!! Turns out donkeys are quite small and there was a point in the ride up the 500 or so cobbled stairs where I felt like a slight contributor to animal cruelty. Not to mention the old, sweaty, Greek men in white singlet's with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth shouting and whipping at the donkeys to climb these never-ending, windy stairs faster - also making the donkeys quite competitive and constantly run into each other. Yep … it was an experience in the 35 degree heat while I was crossing my fingers hoping my donkey wouldn't pass out on me of exhaustion. I was exhausted stressing out about the stampede of donkeys and I wasn't even doing any exercise.
After that experience and a quick 20 minute hike up the remaining stairs we needed to climb to get to our hotel - let's just say the swim we had in our pool that afternoon was very well deserved.
The Greek islands I visited were absolutely incredible and the memories they gave me, especially with the friends I shared the time with will always make me smile.
Highly recommend going there to anyone who is thinking about it … Catch you on the flipside!