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Greece, Packing, Travel

What to Pack for a Greek Island Sailing Trip

February 27, 2017

What to Pack for a Greek Island Sailing Trip

Packing for a sailing trip around the Greek Islands seems like it should be easy, you just through a swimsuit, short and sunscreen and go right?! Well, that might be fine on a cruise, but reading the list provided by the sailing company I was unsure how to pack and what to pack it in.

Surprisingly I only found a few blog posts regarding packing for a sailing or boat trip. One was The Blonde Abroad’s post on packing for yacht week. The other was Her Packing List. Both are great lists but were not for a two-week trip, and only one was for a trip to Greece. My trip was for two weeks and included nights out for dinner almost every night.

I recommend only bringing cotton and linen items as you will feel much more comfortable in those fabrics, and they dry quickly. You may be able to get laundry done on one of the islands.

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Clothing

 

4-5 pairs of shorts – I only brought three and kicked myself for taking the 4th pair out at the last minute. Yes, I did laundry, but even linen takes time to dry in the humid air.

5-6 t-shirts and tank tops – I brought this many because I tend to spill on myself!

7-8 pairs of underwear- You can bring more or less depending on how much hand washing you want to do

3-4 bras – You will probably be in your swimsuit every day during the day

1 pair of pants – The nights can get chilly, and I was happy to have them

3-4 dresses – We went out to dinner every night, but one and I only brought 3 and wished I had one more for variety

Windbreaker – Preferably one that is waterproof. It rained one day and one rough sea day and mine kept me warm.

3-4 swimsuits – I brought too many! Probably isn’t a thing, but I wore my two bikinis the most.

1-2 coverups or sarongs – I wore my cover up when walking to beaches from the boat. You could also wear your shorts, but then they might be wet. I made sure mine were long enough to be comfortable to wear inside a shop or restaurant I might want to pop into along the way.

Hat – Make sure it has a strap to keep it on in the wind or attach it to your clothes with a clip.

Shoes

1 pair of flip flops – Essential for the beach.

1-2 pairs of sandals – Good for going out. Don’t bring heels. We walked far one some nights for dinner, and the streets are not even. If you must be high, bring wedges. The link I have included here are my favorite sandals from Aerosoles. They are comfortable and stylish. (I think I am on my third pair!)

1 pair of deck shoes with light colored soles – These are especially important if you plan on helping with the sailing of the boat. They will protect your toes from getting broken! These Nike ones had breathable mesh, and I loved them.

Toiletries

Sunscreen – Bring as much as you think you will need. You can buy it in Greece, but it will be very expensive. Don’t bring spray sunscreen as it can make everything slippery

Deodorant – It is hot!

Make-up – Most days I only applied this at night for dinner. For day, I either wore nothing or cc cream with sunscreen

Shampoo/Conditioner – For two weeks, I brought full sized bottles because I have long hair. You may be able to get away with less. The sea and the wind do take a toll on your hair, so conditioner is a must.

Hair texturizer – You will not be able to blow dry your hair on the boat, so bring something to style your hair (if you want). The link it so my favorite sea salt spray.

Bar of soap – I found this much easier and one less liquid to bring on onboard.

Lotion – The sea and the sun will dry your skin out. Bring something that doubles as after-sun (something with aloe vera).

Bug wipes – There are mosquitos in Greece. I prefer bug wipes as again, one less liquid and it doesn’t spray everywhere. Get the unscented ones!

Bags

Rolling duffle bag – There is nowhere to store a traditional rolling suitcase. You need a bag that can be squished flat for storage. The one I chose had a small hard bottom, which offered some protection for fragile things and liquids.

Day bag – You will want something to carry while sightseeing.

Beach bag – I didn’t bring one but was given a tote on arrival in Athens, and I was so glad as I brought it to the beach.

Evening bag – You may want something to carry to dinner instead of your day bag.

Dry bags – If you bring a camera or any other electronics, you should bring at least one dry bag. This will keep it protected if you have to take the dingy to shore.

Technology

Camera – This goes without saying, but you will want your camera.

E-reader  – If you are a big reader like me, then bringing several books was easier with an e-reader.

Other

Beach towel – The company I went with did not provide beach towels, so I brought a Turkish towel for the beach. They are thinner than a regular towel, are super absorbent and can act as a sarong in a pinch.

Clothes pins – You will want to hang your clothes to dry, and the boat may have some pins, but if everyone hangs up at the same time, the pins go quickly.

Earplugs  – Some harbors are loud at night, and wearing earplugs helped me to get to sleep and stay asleep.

Have you been sailing? What do you recommend to pack?

Europe, Greece, Travel

Why I Didn’t Love Santorini

January 30, 2017

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

I debated writing this post for a while. I went to Greece in September and almost everything I have to say about it so far as been good. Santorini is the exception to this. I didn’t fall in love with Santorini as so many people, and blog posts promised I would. Let me say this now before everyone tells me I am terrible, it is beautiful and it is romantic. However, it just wasn’t for me, but I am glad that I went.

Crowds

I expected it to be crowded, but this was beyond my expectations! Most of the crowds were in Oia, where I happened to be staying. Since I had never been to Santorini, I want to stay in the heart of it or so I thought. There was a constant stream of people walking past my hotel.

The first night I was there, I headed to watch the sunset like everyone else. It was crowded, but not too much as I had been told to head there early. The captain of my boat advised me to walk further down from the fort where everyone gathers to watch. I trudged down a set of steep donkey crap covered stairs and claimed my spot.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

After watching the sunset, I started the walk back to my car. I think it took 30 minutes when it should have taken 10! At some points along the way, I was stuck at a standstill because it was so crowded. The streets of Oia are just too narrow to handle the crowds.

Traffic and Driving

Santorini is a large island, larger than I expected. I had read up about getting around the island and decided that renting a car was the best way. Best decision in terms of time I could have made. However, the traffic on Santorini is terrible. Getting from the port to the main road was a winding road, and if you got stuck behind any bus or delivery truck, you could be stuck for a while. This was one of the main reasons I left my hotel two hours before my ferry was to depart.

Getting around was made easier by the car, but all the roads are winding! It makes getting around take much longer than expected. As a result, I didn’t get to see all the things I wanted to.

The roads in Oia were so narrow in some places; cars had to go one at a time. Granted, I probably should not have been driving in Oia, but I was suffering from land sickness and walking in the heat was not a good idea. The narrow roads led to the long waiting area, and you had no idea if the traffic was moving or if there had been an accident. Only at night did I see police out directing traffic. It also didn’t help that my hotel was right at the start of the really bad traffic spot.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

Parking in Oia can be done, but you have to find a parking space. The best spot I found was down the hill from the bus station parking lot. I was able to park my car along a wall that offered some shade.

Touristy

I am sure you are thinking, Tiffany it’s one of the most popular places on the planet to go and you didn’t expect it to be touristy!? I expected it to some degree, but some parts of it were over the top touristy. One of those places was Fira. Fira is the capital city of Santorini. I stopped here to buy an SD card for my camera and it was just one souvenir shop after another. It was also quite dirty. That is probably due to the overcrowding of Santorini during the season. It also one the cheaper areas to stay on Santorini, which probably contributes to the crowds.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

Oia had its touristy sections as well. Lots of shops along the walk to the sunset. Many of these shops offering souvenir and over priced designer beach wear. Slightly ironic since all the beaches are located elsewhere on the island.

The Heat

I live in Qatar, and I am from Texas, but the heat on Santorini was something I hadn’t experienced. The combination of the heat the white washed walls created an oven effect. There is no offer of shade because all the trees have been removed out to build hotels! I had on sunscreen and still felt a bit burned after only an hour in the sun. Hats and umbrellas are needed!

Let me say you will be hard pressed to find too many blog posts saying someone didn’t like Santorini. I tried! I managed to find a few. One is Suitcases and Sandcastles, and you can read about how she didn’t think it was worth the hype. The other is from Hannah Rose and how traveling there as a backpacker may not have been the best plan. Christina of Santorini Plus, who is also a Santorini tour guide, tells you want not to do on a visit to Santorini.

Of course, tons of people love Santorini. Here are some of the posts I have found about loving Santorini! Radha and Brook from On Flight Mode think Santorini should be at the top of your bucket list and give some great tips on what to see and do! Angela from the Sunday Chapter gives us 7 reasons to visit Santorini.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

How to Make Your Experience Better Than Mine

  • Go in the off-season, like October or April. The crowds will be less, and the weather will be cooler. Some hotels and restaurants will be open, but now that Greece is going to limit the amount of tourists that can arrive by cruise ship more places might stay open.
  • Give yourself more time. I was only there for two days. You probably need 3 to 5 days depending on what all you want to see.
  • Stay outside of Fira and Oia. Those places can be visited by car, and you can still have a great view of the caldera. If you really want to have a caldera view, stay in Oia one night for the experience and spend the rest of the time elsewhere.
  • Walk through Oia in the early morning to beat the heat and the crowds.

Maybe one day I will go back, and I will love it, but for now, I will visit the quieter Greek islands.

Have you been to Santorini? What did you think?

 

Suitcases and Sandcastles
Greece, Sailing, Travel

The Little Known Beautiful Greek Islands of Kythnos and Kea

January 16, 2017

Kythnos and Kea

During my Greek island sailing trip, I visited 12 islands and Athens. While I only spent about 24 hours or less on each island, it was enough to tell you which islands were my favorites. Believe it or not, Santorini was not my favorite. Kythnos and Kea are two islands I would like to consider spending significantly more time exploring.

Kythnos

The fourth Greek island we docked in was Kythnos. The first night we were on Kythnos, we slept in Kolona Bay. We anchored in the natural harbor between Kythnos and a smaller islet. The beach is a nice soft sand, which is not the norm in Greece.  There were not too many other people at Kolona Bay. I explored the surrounding hills. There is a small restaurant and bar on the Kythnos side if you want a meal or a beer. We had a sandpit barbecue.

Kythnos and Kea

The next day we sailed around the island and docked at the town of Loutra.  The captain recommended heading up to the hilltop Chora for lunch and to see the town. Several of us piled into one of the two taxis on this side of the island and headed up the winding road. Immediately saw the charm of the village. It is the more quiet, but equally beautiful version of Santorini. Not only that but I had the best meal of my life there.

Kythnos and Kea

Kythnos and Kea

After wandering the town, I decided to eat in the main square where the taxi had dropped us. The restaurant was called Messaria, which is the official name of the town. I ordered the fig salad with almonds and the baked eggplant. Both were divine despite their simplicity! The seasoning was just perfect.  I really want to try to recreate the eggplant dish myself. The eggplant is baked with tomato sauce, cheese and spices.

Kythnos and Kea

Kythnos and Kea

The astounding food didn’t stop with lunch. That evening we visited Sofrano Yachting Club Restaurant. Since having mussels last summer in Italy, I have become obsessed. I ordered the steamed mussels. The mussels had been steamed in a combination of ouzo, garlic, and possibly white wine, which made a sauce so good I dipped my bread in it after the mussels were all gone. Sadly, we sailed from Kythnos the next morning and didn’t get the chance to enjoy the natural hot springs.

Kythnos and Kea

Kea

Sailing into the small island of Kea, I was really happy for a quiet port. We docked in the small village of Vourkari, which is down the road from the larger port of Korissia where the ferries from Athens arrive. The second week of sailing was rougher than the first and I hadn’t been getting much sleep due to that and we had been on larger islands with busy ports. Vourkari is a small quaint Greek village.

We arrived late in the afternoon, allowing us just enough time to walk to down to the small beach before dinner. The beach was not as rocky as some Greek beaches and there is a beach bar with loungers available. After dinner, we walked around feeding the stray cats our leftover dinner scraps and enjoying exploring the island.

Kythnos and Kea

We headed up to the Chora of Kea the next morning. We walked (hiked, really) to the see the Lion of Kea. It’s a steep climb down to the lion, but worth getting a close up picture of it. Going back to the Chora make sure you take a look around at the amazing views down to the sea and the surrounding homes.

Kythnos and Kea

Kea also appealed to me because it was quiet, the people were nice and Vourkari had a nice vibe of everyone knowing each other. I wanted to rent an apartment and stay for a month or so.

Have you been to any Greek Islands? Which ones were your favorites?

Greece, Sailing, Travel

Sailing the Greek Islands – Itinerary

January 9, 2017

Since my objective was to be on a boat, I wasn’t focused on what islands we were on the itinerary. I just wanted to be on the water. I knew I want to go to Santorini and that was what prompted me to book two weeks as it allowed two days in Santorini. The guide I had purchased didn’t do most of the island’s justice and eventually, I decided just to learn on board the boat. That was part of the appeal of the charter company I chose; they provided information every day about the places we were going to visit. Several islands will get an individual post, but I want to give you an idea of each island.

Week One

The first stop was the small island of Aegina. Sailing to Aegina doesn’t take very long, and the captain said that this was because they hope to let passengers get their sea legs, so they don’t get seasick.

Aegina is known for the Temple of Aphaea as it is one of the best-preserved temples of ancient Greece. The temple is located at the top of the island, and you have to hike up to the top. I opted not to climb to the temple because I woke up with a migraine and it was still hot in Greece in September and would have made my migraine miserable. Since the island is also known for their pistachios, I went on a pistachio hunt! Later I decided to bring these back to Qatar for my coworkers, but they were some of the best pistachios I have ever had.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

After lunch and swim, we headed to Poros, which isn’t far from Aegina. We docked at the town of Poros (I discovered there are many duplications of names in Greece). This was to be our sleeping spot for the evening. First thing on everyone’s mind was a shower. The local beer pub offered showers for €3! So, yes, I showered in a bar. It wasn’t the nicest shower I have ever had, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. And I definitely think it was part of the experience.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

The next island was Hydra. Hydra was a happening place! The port was full, and we had a hard time finding a place to dock. There are no cars allowed on the island, and it is full of cats!

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

The captain wanted to head to Milos, but the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. Instead, we headed to Kythnos. Kythnos was one of my favorites. We slept in two nights in Kythnos in different places. (There will be more on Kythnos later.)

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

Next, we headed to Serifos for a short swim stop. The tricky part here is there is no harbor. We were given the option to swim to the beach or take the dingy. I was sure I could make it to shore, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it back the boat. I opted to take the dingy. The water was so clear here. It reminded me of the Caribbean.

The next and final stop for the first week was Ios. By this point, I was really tired and decided to stay on the boat that day knowing I still had to do Santorini and another week!  This turned out to be a good thing as I was struck down by the opposite of seasickness, land sickness (?) and was dizzy for several days. There are lots sights to see here, though, including Homer’s Tomb. We had dinner the last evening together at an amazing hotel overlooking the harbor and were treated to a spectacular sunset.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

 

Week Two

After two nights in Santorini, I returned by ferry to Ios to begin week two! The land sickness went away for a bit on Santorini but was totally gone once I was back on the boat. Schinoussa was the next island and had the smallest population of all the Greek Islands we visited. As of 2011, 256 people lived there, but it seemed like less than that. There wasn’t anything at the port, but the walk up to the town was magical as they have made a great stone path that is lit at night. I wish we had more time on this tiny island.

Next, we sailed to Paros. Paros was much larger than Schinoussa and some of the other islands we visited. I decided to strike out on my own for the day and the evening meal. The island had great shopping and restaurants. You could wander the streets for hours. My only regret was that I didn’t have more room in my suitcase. The harbor was not protected, and we had a rough night on the boat and eventually, I went to sleep in the lounge area to try to escape the noise of the water hitting the stern where my cabin was located.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

The ancient site of Delos was the next island. Delos is not an inhabited island due to the whole island being an archeological site. It is believed to have been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC. If you aren’t on a sailing cruise, you can get here by ferry from Mykonos. Bring your hiking shoes and some water as there is lots to see and the only snack shop on the island is a bit of a walk from the port as are the bathrooms!

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

Another big island was up next with Syros. Syros is very modern and looks a little Italian. It had a nice mix of sites to see and shopping. We had a wonderful dinner here in a building that wasn’t fully restored, and the ceiling was made of vines that hung down into the dining room. The food was modern Greek.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

 

Last, but not least was Kea. Kea was another favorite of mine. The harbor was small and quaint. The beach was a short walk from there. We slept at Kea and in the morning went to the hilltop Chora (village) to see the Lion of Kea. Kea has a wonderful museum in the village as well.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary

Are you tired yet? I was by this point and was glad and sad to be heading back to Athens. While I think I would have needed some serious naps, I would have loved to stay on the boat for the next two-week journey.

Sailing the Greek Islands-Itinerary
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