Category Archives: Greece

Greek Food and Beer

Greek Food

As this is our last port of call in Greece (for this trip) I thought that I should cover off on the food options that we have been served up during our month in Greece. The food here has surprised us greatly. We have had a pretty fair exposure to Greek food while living in Australia and it has been fantastic with a wide range and variety. While the food we have been given has been excellent, for the most part, the variety has been sorely lacking. It has been a world of meat and carbs and not a vegetable in sight.

Don’t get me wrong here, most of my life has been spent consuming meat and carbs, but this was even a bit much for me. Almost every meal is meat and chips. You can buy a gyros (a Greek kebab with chips inside) for about 3 euro and it will be delicious. But if you want to buy a salad it will cost you 250-400% more and you will get some lettuce leaves with balsamic vinegar on them.

The traditional Greek salad (Horiatiki) that we are used to back home, almost has not been seen (maybe it is a seasonal thing), and when it is seen the Feta is usually intact in a huge block. The chef’s salad is virtually identical everywhere, lettuce, boiled eggs, 2 or 3 cherry tomatoes, hard cheese and mayonnaise.

The meat plates are awesome, about 3-5 different meats charred and served. Add to this the Souvlaki Something very special happens when meat is introduced to flame. the Greeks have discovered and exploited this perfectly. But it will be served on a bed of chips (maybe with some pita bread too) and very little else. Jill has been craving vegetables and fruit as they have virtually been missing this whole month.

The seafood has been lacking greatly (my sense is that the Mediterranean is all but fished out) and the fish and octopus were either hard to find or brutally expensive. We did get to have the usual suspects (octopus, calamari, anchovies, prawns and sardines) during our time but not with anywhere near the ease or frequency that either of us imagined.

Eggplant– I have had some great eggplant over the years and I rate the Italian versions very highly, but the Greeks have taken eggplant to a whole other level. Whether the grilled eggplant or made into the Moussaka, these guys know how to cook an eggplant.

Moussaka we have had so many times, but having it here is so much better than back at home. The layers of potato and eggplant at the bottom, cooked minced meat (beef or lamb) in the middle, and béchamel cream on top.  How can you go wrong.

The Gemistá is the stuffed capsicum that were also really good.

Greek Pies – come in a range of versions, both sweet and savoury and based on the ones we tried they are all pretty good. I did find that the Spanakópita (filo with feta and spinach) came in sizes that were too big. By the time you had finished one, you were totally over the taste. The Tirópita was the local cheese mix version. The Bougatsa very quickly became my favourite, it is a sweet pie, stuffed with buttery custard cream and sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar.  Best eaten straight from the bakery, warm out of the oven. There is a very similar galaktoboureko but this filo is also soaked in honey.

Kotopoulo sto fourno me patates was a random stumble across that we found in Santorini, it is basically a chicken and vegetable roast/stew thing. Jill loved it.

On the random finds section we have a tendency to spray a menu and order anything that looks good, especially if we haven’t had it before. This leaves us eating a range of things that are especially local and probably may not be seen anywhere else. Some of these on this foray into Greece have included: stuffed mushrooms, goat stews, zucchini, and even pastas.


Baklava is the obvious dessert and one thing that Greece is famous for. The filo (phyllo) pastry, butter, chopped walnuts or pistachios, and a rich sugary syrup is universally known. I find this too sweet for my tastes but Jill sampled them and did not object. Loukoumádes are a form of Greek doughnut that are typically covered in honey but the place we found in Crete served them with fresh fruit and ice cream with a chocolate sauce and it was amazing. The Bougatsa and galaktoboureko fit the pie and dessert categories.

Revani is a syrup-soaked cake made with semolina and yoghurt, known for its lemony taste. Portokalopita is pretty similar but the lemon is replaced with oranges and cinnamon and is similarly syrup-drenched. And the cop out option is Greek yoghurt and honey, which is still pretty good. The important thing to remember is that even if you don’t order dessert, chances are that you will be served one for free.

And the winner is…Greek bakeries.

I love them fully. The quality and range of items (both sweet and savoury) that can be found at Greek bakeries is virtually impossible to fathom or match.

Greek Beer

Much like the food I thought I would give a quick overview of the Greek beers. The beers on offer are predominantly local with a few imports (mostly German or Dutch) thrown into the mix as well. They for the most part are lagers or pilsners and they have all been very drinkable and well worth the effort. The best bit is that most of them come in decent sized (500ml) bottles. The usual suspects include: Alpha, Fix, Hellas, Mamos, Mythos, Nisos, and Vergina.

In addition to the usual suspects, each island tends to have their own brew and the concept of microbreweries is kicking in. I tried the individual island brews on two of the islands and they did not appeal to my tastes at all. As for microbreweries, I have never been a fan. In my view, this is the realm of bearded hipsters with man buns, who busy themselves finding new and unusual ways to ruin beer.

The other thing that you need to know is, that after a meal (every meal), the owner will deliver you a glass of either ouzo or raki (Tsikoudia). It will be free, it will be strong and it will be very rude to turn it down (even if you think it tastes like armpits).

Smile, say thankyou (efcharisto) and move on.


Crete is the largest island in Greece by both area and population. It’s the size of a small country and doesn’t feel much like an island. It deserves around a week to visit to even scratch the surface and more like two weeks to circumnavigate and explore in any meaningful way, so our 3 days barely let us see anything.

We got off our ferry (another highly pleasant experience) and got delivered into the port of Heraklion. The waterfront here is absolutely lovely and is dominated by Venetian constructions, the most obvious of which was the Koules Fortress (Rocca a Mare).

Our hotel was fairly close (about 1.3km so we chose to walk, rather than fight the taxi queue. Dragging our big bags along cobblestones and on streets with little or no sidewalks was an interesting challenge. But it wasn’t that far and the trek was over soon enough. It was late enough that we just had a shower and did our favourite google search “cheap eats near me”.

The closest thing that came up was a place called Chagiati. We don’t usually name accommodation places or restaurants because they are mostly pretty interchangeable. But this one gets a special mention as it was amazing. A little place on a corner run by a guy who runs the front while his mother is in the back cooking traditional fare. It was cheap, friendly and delicious.

In fact, it was so good we came back again the next night. Having chatted to the guy at length he came up with a few suggestions for us to try, that were not even on the menu. He and his mum just made it up as they went along, and they were great too. The best thing that this restaurant did, was introduce us to Loukoumádes. These are a form of Greek doughnut that are typically covered in honey but this place served them with fresh fruit and ice cream with a chocolate sauce and it was amazing.

Heraklion is the largest city and capital of the island of Crete. It is the fourth largest city in Greece with a population of a little over 200,000. Looking at the tourist map there was a lot of stuff on the shoreline, a central old town area and a park running around the outside where the old walls and fortifications were.

So we decided to walk around the park to do the outer loop and finish down by the water, having wandered through the oldtown section. Surrounding the city there are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications. They were first built in the Middle Ages, but were rebuilt when the Venetians ran the place. Heraklion is one of the best fortified cities in the Mediterranean and the walls remain largely intact to this day. The blurb said that the fortifications managed to withstand the second longest siege in history (21 years), before the city finally fell to the Ottomans in 1669.

Keeping our walking tour going we saw the oldtown area. Now the main street in Oldtown (running down to the port) is a bit like any big city mall where the traffic is excluded and shops, cafes and restaurants line the street. For no reason that I could reasonably find (beyond some 1897 murder of a Christian), the street was called the 25th of August Street.

The walk continued and took in the Morosini Fountain, Eleftherias Square, Saint George and Sabionara Gates, the Archeological Museum, and the Heraklion Town Hall.

By now we had found ourselves down on the waterfront again (but this time without our big bags) and with time to explore. So the obvious starting place was the Koules Fortress (Rocca a Mare). They believe that the site was first fortified by the Arabs in the 9th or 10th centuries. In 1462, the Venetian Senate approved for the Castello a Mare to be built. Wiki tells me that old ships were filled with stone, and were sunk to form a breakwater and increase the area of the platform on which the fortress was built.

The fortress has walls that are up to 8.7m thick at some places and is in remarkable shape (and is well worth the 4 euro admission fee).

From the fort the rock wall continues for another 1.5 km into the sea. Jill found that half way out was a mermaid statue that looked like it was worth seeing.

The thing that we did not realise while starting the trek, was that the rock wall was also the home of some incredible artwork. So as we wandered, we photographed, and generally just had a good time in discovering things that we had not expected.

The Bronze Age Minoan Palace of Knossos, also known as the Palace of Minos, is outside the city but accessible by a local bus that will deliver you to the doorstep. It is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete. The blurb suggests that the palace was first built about 2000 BC, which would explain the high proportion of rocks to be found.

Crete is the home to many sites with evidence of Neolithic (10,000-4500BC) civilizations and there is evidence at Knossos of this too. The current site was discovered in 1878 with excavations starting in 1900. Many of the things that are there today have brought criticism from many archaeologists as acts of fantasy, while others defend it as a reasonable attempt.

Crete has it all and getting to see it all was more than our limited schedule would allow. There were beaches, seaside fishing villages and historical sites. The best we could manage was Heraklion and Knossos, but it was enough to know that we would happily come back.


After the tourist hell that was Mykonos, I have sort of been dreading coming to Santorini. From all I had seen in advance, it was the prettiest of all of the Greek Islands, the striking white villages perched high up on the cliffs, overlooking the sea. Yes it would be stunning, but these views have attracted steady streams of tourists for many many years. And this is the bit that was troubling me.

Santorini is the most visited of all of the Greek Islands and is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. It lies 200 km southeast of Athens. Pre-Covid Santorini was getting around 2 million tourists each year.

Santorini is shaped like a half-moon as it was originally formed in around 1650 BC after a huge volcano erupted and the island is the remains of the caldera. The five villages of Fira (the one we are in), Oia (the famous sunset one), Imerovigli, Firostefani, and Akrotiri all sit atop the caldera and offer spectacular views into the crater.

Having hopped the midday ferry from Naxos, we did the 2 hour journey to Santorini which was relatively calm until…It was time to get off. And almost everyone got off. Thousands of people, on one of the big ferries, all trying to get their bags and get off the ferry, it was bedlam. Add to this all the vehicles and trucks on the ferry that had to wait for the hordes to exit before they could move.

From here you spill out onto the docks to find almost the same amount of people trying to cram themselves onto the ferry to leave. Add to this the tour group operators (that Jill has come to despise) the busses, taxis and motor transports all trying to find their passengers. To say this was a debacle would be underselling it.

Once in your transport, you then get to watch the traffic and graffiti for the next 40 minutes or so. The road out is a series of ever-diminishing switchbacks (8 in all) to climb the incredibly steep cliffside. This climb is done by everyone, busses, trucks, cars, transports and motorbikes. The road is narrow and only just allows these vehicles to pass on the straights. So at every switchback, the bus or truck invariably spilled over into the other lane jamming up traffic. Did I mention the thousands of people? A full coach only holds around 50 people. So we are talking 60-70 buses, along with minivans, trucks, lorries and fuel tankers all inching their way up this cliff.

Fira (with a population of about 2000) is the capital of Santorini, it is the cultural and economic centre of the island. On the west side of the island, it sits at the centre of the caldera. Fira apparently got its name through the mispronunciation of the word “Thera” in the late 18th Century when piracy stopped existing in the Aegean. 

There are more than 1,000 beds per square km, more than any other isle after Kos and Rhodes, and in a destination of only 76 sq km, more than 700 restaurants, cafes, bars and bakeries – the vast majority concentrated in Fira, the main town.

There are two ports in Santorini, the old and the new. We got off at the new port. The old port is reserved for cruise ship tenders that drop their passengers at the bottom of the cliff (unless you have booked a day trip, then you get dropped at the new port to a waiting bus). Local laws were passed in 2015, limiting the number of cruise ship passengers allowed on the island each day to 8,000. But this was quickly thrown away and now up to 7 cruise ships (3000-5000 per boat) could be parked in the bay during peak times. Once you get off your cruise ship and have been dropped at the bottom of the hill you have 3 options:

  • Ride the cable car to the top (for 6 euro each way)
    • Walk the 587 steps and climb up to the town
  • Or hire a donkey to walk the stairs for you for 10 euro each way (25-35 mins)

Whichever way you get there, once up the cliff you are surrounded by the island’s iconic white-washed buildings and blue-domed churches. And there are tons of churches. We found this out at the crack of dawn the next morning when the bells went off, for about 20 mins, repeatedly.

The main show for the Catholics is the Cathedral of St John the Baptist which was was built in 1823 but restored in 1970 after an earthquake (1956).

The main show for the Greek Orthodox is the Candlemas Holy Orthodox Cathedral which was built in 1827 and was also renovated after the earthquake.

But it is the Three Bells of Fira that is the money shot that you see on all of the postcards and Instagram shots. Officially it is the Aghioi Theodoroi Church (Saint Theodoros Thira Holy Orthodox Church) in the village of Firostefani (which is really just part of Fira).

The biggest challenge that you get here is to find an angle where you can avoid the Instagrammers while also cutting out the the cruise ships from the photo. If you are patient enough this can happen.

Ignoring all of the hustle and bustle, the township is quite pretty and you can certainly see why it is such a popular tourist destination. The one thing missing was Greek people. The shops and bars were mainly staffed by foreigners and there were very few locals that we could find. Doing our research we found that unless you worked in the tourism sector, you could not afford to live here. This rang true on Jill’s booking experience, the first place she booked was closer to town. By changing our location to a bit further out we managed to save $500 on accommodation (we only stayed 2 nights).

Santorini has started its own beer brand and sells it everywhere it can. We figured that we should give it a try. They are predominantly IPAs which means they are too malty for my tastes. I tried the lager but it was too fruity. Talking to a barman (at another place) he said that there were no preservatives and therefore they must be kept cool or they go off. This may have been the case, as my lager was very ordinary.

Also in town were the Museum of Prehistoric Thera and the Archaeological Museum. We did not go in, but for those interested, they are options.

When googling what to see and do in Santorini the top things that come up are sailing cruises around the bays and a range of wineries. The number one thing that comes up is the hike from Fira to Oia. When you look a bit deeper, you find that this is a 10+ km journey along a pathway up and down, along the edge of the caldera. I looked at the images and the various photos were spectacular, but I’m not doing that, as long as my ass points towards the ground, I’m not doing that.


So instead of doing a ludicrous walk, we paid about 2 euros each and caught the local bus to Oia. Every evening the local buses, along with private coachloads of tourists, descend on Oia. The crowds push their way along the village’s packed central alleyway, they head past the shops selling luxury gear and trinkets. All with one goal to find their vantage point of choice (the eateries and bars that line the clifftop rim), so that they can settle in for sunset while they pay top dollar for cocktails and panoramic views.

Now this town is stunning. It is the sunset point that everybody craves and with good reason. It is set up perfectly for it too. The front strip is brand new (rebuilt after a major earthquake) and is full of cafes and restaurants, all facing west. And of course, the prices are obscene and every Instagrammer is dolled up and ready for their vanity shots.

Every now and then you pop up on a place that has not had a makeover, but for the most part, this place has been fully revamped. As terribly expensive as this place is, the good side is that the top thing to do is free. And that is to walk and just simply enjoy and admire the view, which is truly amazing.

A check of the accommodation sites shows you that a villa in prime position, built into the cliffside overlooking the volcanic caldera, can cost up to €15,000 ($25,000) a night. And with growing demand for the spectacular views as a backdrop for weddings, marriage proposals and vow renewals, everyone is booked solid.

Leaving Oia (before waiting for sunset) we headed back to the bus stop to return to Fira, only to find about 200 people in line waiting to do the same thing. Now, now only about 50 people fit on a bus and they only come every 30 mins. We were not waiting 2 hrs to get home. An opportunistic van driver was parked nearby offering immediate departure for €10 a head. So once his 11 seats were filled we went and he made €110 for a 20 minute drive.

Santorini Beaches. Due to the the volcanic nature of Santorini, the beaches have become their own attraction. The past volcanic eruptions not only shaped the island but also the beaches. There are distinct differences in the colours of the sand (red, white and black) as well as some covered in volcanic rocks and pebbles. The tourism blurb claims that “the dissimilar beaches will please everybody”. 

Perissa and Perivolos offer the best long beaches covered with black sand and pebbles. Kamari Beach is also a black sand beach but according to the locals, the beach itself is not the best, since it has pebbles and small rocks which hurt your feet. All of these come equipped with beach umbrellas and sunbeds with beach bars and restaurants nearby.

The White Beach in Santorini or Lefki Ammos, as called by the locals, is a beach of black pebbles and grey volcanic sand under high white cliffs. The sand on the beach is not white, as its name clearly indicates.

The Red Beach of Santorini is surrounded by volcanic cliffs and rocks, leaving the black and red pebbles and red sand

Ancient Thira

The Mount of Prophet Elias is the highest point of Santorini. From up here you can see the whole island! Most notably you see the huge difference between the tourist side on the cliffs to the west and the traditional side on the flat part of Santorini to the East. Our short time did not allow us to visit here but the photos look nice.

On our last day, we had a few hours to kill as we had a 4pm ferry out and had to be out of our room at 11am. So I settled in to write this, while Jill got into a long chat with the manager/receptionist of the hotel. In this chat, a whole lot of things came up that we had no idea about.

The number one for me was that this place did not run all year round. I knew that there was a tourism window from April to November, with peak times in July and August. What I did not realise is that from the end of November, everything shuts down. Apparently, there are only 2 restaurants open and virtually all hotels shut their doors. December and January everyone leaves, and in February/March the cobwebs get dusted off in preparation of the next run.

We are used to tourism in Australia where everything runs all the time. Sure there are peaks and troughs (school holidays etc) but it never just stops dead. Well, it does here.

As much as I dreaded coming to Santorini, both Jill and I enjoyed it. Yes, it was obscenely overpriced (especially in Oia), and it was full of Instagrammers and plastic people. And yes it was a tourism mecca and the crowds were crazy, but we still enjoyed it. We chatted and tried to work out why we liked this but disliked Mykonos so much. We don’t have an answer, but we really did not enjoy Mykonos but did Santorini.


Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades island group and it spans seaside ports, mountain villages, ancient ruins and stretches of beach. While Naxos is best known for its beaches and scenery, it also has some ancient sites to explore. Arriving at the port you find (yet another) charming little town set on the side of a hill. Jill’s phone has a range of functions in it that allows her to remove unwanted people and adjust the sky colour from what was really there…any guess which of the below photos had her magic done to it.

Of course, Jill got our accommodation up the damn hill, while all the sights and restaurants were down the damn hill. On the upside, this time it was only about a 700m walk each way (if you took the shortcut across the gravel hill) and without too many stairs. The route if we took the footpath was considerably longer, but we didn’t use that. Our room was fantastic and the view was pretty good so the 700m walk could be abided.

The Temple of Apollo Portara  (or the Great Door) is the first thing that you see on arrival and is the island’s emblem and main landmark. It is a massive marble doorway that was part of a temple commenced in 530 BC but that was never finished. The temple was supposed to be at least a hundred feet tall but all that remains is the great door and some foundations. The door is around 6 meters high, 3.5 meters wide and consists of separate monoliths. Each one weighing about 20 tons.

To get to the Islet you walk across a short causeway where the first thing that you come across is a statue of Aphrodite. The statue has no information about it, it just stands there overlooking the causeway to the islet. For those that love their Greek Myths – the islet of Palatia was where Ariadne, the Minoan princess, was abandoned by her lover Theseus after he killed Minotaur on the island of Crete.

Having walked the causeway there are some rough stairs to get you up to the site of the doorway. While there are many tourists who go here, it is large enough to get some pretty nice unobstructed views (and photographs). Unless of course, you want the sunset shot, then you will be one of hundreds.

Up the hill in the township is Kastro (Castle), this is the old Venetian quarter of the town, along with your usual collection of churches. It comprised the entire town of Naxos when the island was under Venetian rule but the modern town has since been built around it.

The township is yet another charming little place with an awesome seafront promenade, narrow streets, funky shops and restaurants, churches everywhere you look, and of course, lots of stairs. The fun bit here was the random paintings, signs and adages that you run across as you wander around the town.

The seafront walk was as expected, with cafes, restaurants and tourist shops aplenty. The thing that we had read about consistently but had not seen until here was the octopus drying in the sun. It has been mentioned in all of the tourist blurbs but not seen until Naxos.

Alas, our time in Naxos was the first time that our plans were impacted by rain (something we have hardly seen so far). We got a really good day hitting the main town area and all of the sights around there but the outer ones seemed like quite an effort, especially in the wet. The island itself is lovely and if time was not a factor we would happily have explored it more fully.

The Naxos Melanes Kouros Statue is located outside the village of Melanes,  it is 6 meters long and dates back to the 7th century. The Kouros of Apollonas dates from the 8th century BC. And the Kouros of Flerio, dates back to 570 BC. All of these statues are little more than rocks lying on the ground that have been left where they were found. As such we chose not to hire a vehicle in the wet and drive to see them, but rather grabbed some random pics from the web to show you what we did not miss.

Near the village of Sangri (about 10 km from Naxos Town) lies the sacred temple of Demeter. The weather unfortunately caused us to miss this one which was quite the pity. It is a magnificent temple that was made of the finest quality Naxos marble and dates back to the 6th century BC.

There was also the temple of Dionysus, but our research showed that these were little more than a few nubs of columns, so we passed on that one and stole this image from the tourism website.

While it seems like not too much happened here on Naxos, we really enjoyed our time here. It was laid back with enough to see and do to keep you amused. And the food options were amazing, although lacking in fruit and vegetable options (a usual thing here in Greece).


Getting here was a 50 minute ferry ride from Mykonos (which was delayed multiple times). The ferry itself was great, a speedy catamaran with comfortable seats.

A side note here is that virtually every ferry that we have booked has had numerous changes (of either ship or time). Because of this, the original seat allocation may as well be thrown in the bin before you even start. They will find you a couple of spare seats and sit you down. This is fine if there are just 2 of you, but becomes a nightmare for large groups who want to sit together.

Paros became famous for its white marble called ‘Parian marble’. This is a fine-grained semi translucent pure-white and entirely flawless marble and was mainly quarried here during the classical era (500-336BC).

This marble was used in both architecture and sculpture. Some of the masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture were made with this pure white, translucent material. Notably these include (L-R): The statues of Hermes by Praxiteles, Venus de Milo (i.e. Aphrodite of Milos), Nike [Winged Victory] of Samothrace, and the Caryatids, (the pillars holding up the patio of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis).

As soon as we arrived on Paros, I knew that I would love this place. It had all of the beauty of Mykonos (without the huge prices and plastic people) and Syros (without the stairs). We settled into our hotel and went for a late afternoon stroll, which turned into a few beers watching the sunset. And followed onto a dinner on the waterfront promenade.

Paros is one of the bigger of the Cycladic islands and it offers the same narrow streets, bougainvillea covered buildings, seaside promenades, cafes, restaurants and beaches as most of the other more famous islands of the region.

Parikia is the capital town and main port of Paros, as well as the centre of commercial and cultural life (and our home for the next few days).

There are no big resorts here. Your only option is staying at a smaller family-owned type hotel. We somehow managed to get the one that takes tour buses of 18-25 year olds doing the Greek islands tour. This meant that every 2 days a new busload of around 50  noisy millennials would turn up. On average about 30 of that 50 were Aussie girls. The early pool infestation was loud and noisy in the afternoons, but they all headed out to the promenade for sunset and partied into the evening. Our next real interaction was the next morning when we heard the moaning as they dealt with their hangovers.

Given the size of the island, the next day we chose to hire a car and see all the extra bits that were tough to reach. This was new for us as usually we just wander around or hire motorcycles or scooters. Add to this it was a left hand drive, driving on the right, mad-ass Greek drivers, a 1 litre Peugeot with no power, no ability to read Greek and no real idea where we were going. So that was us – and off we went.

Our first major stop was the town of Lefkes where we wandered the small narrow streets until we found ourselves at the main church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity), built in 1830. We did stop at a tiny (any guesses?) blue and white church along the way.

From here we found ourselves at a local winery where Jill proceeded to sample the wares. Given that I was driving and I had enough going on I chose not to partake. But the wines were nice and the setting was very nice indeed.

We saw the church of Agios Ioannis (Saint John) Detis (built in the 17th century). It was very nice, but when in Greece the sight of a whitewashed church with a blue domed roof is a dime a dozen and you pass one every 10 minutes or so on the road. A few more stops saw us checking in at Lageri Beach, Santa Maria Beach and driving through millionaires row (on the other side of the island) where there are some truly stunning villas (obviously holiday homes for the rich and famous). The most striking thing that we saw was the quality of the stonework that was in place all around the island. Masonry in Greece is not a dying art and is alive and well.

Just across the way from Paros is the island of Antiparos. This had me imagining some evil twin scenario where one had turned and had become evil. In fact, it is one of those Greek islands that had managed to stay off the radar. I say had because several years ago the actor Tom Hanks bought a block of land and built a villa. Since then, he and a range of other “A-listers” have been regularly visiting. According to locals, he has done a lot of good (improving hospitals etc) but the prices have gone up 400% since he arrived. So now many of the Antiparos locals live on Paros and catch the ferry over to run their businesses.

After a half day of driving (only about 120km), we had circumnavigated the island, including some off-roading (in our 1 litre monster) to the choice photo spots. And we had seen all the bits there was to see. Long story short, this place is amazing.

The next day we hopped on the local the bus and headed to the town of Naousa. This is the more popular town about 9km up the road. Well we soon worked out where all the vacuous people had gone to. This is a really pretty tourist town whose streets are awash with Instagrammers all posing for their shots. You could see why though, the streets were pristine and it was set up for the tourists. Oh, and there were ducks.

One of the more amusing sights was when two groups of Instagrammers met and everyone needed shots of the same location. Oh, the Mexican standoff that ensued. The other thing that I have learned on this trip is the VERY different demands that are placed on boyfriends in 2023. No longer is being a loving and supportive partner enough, now you must have done a photography course and be patient enough to take endless photos of your girlfriend’s back while she peers over her own shoulder back towards you.

On the tourism front, there is a small Venetian Castle that was built in the 15th century perched on the end of the old port and the blue-domed chapel of St. Nikolas. You can walk across a tiny causeway (about 60cm wide) to the castle, but must navigate the crashing waves and vicious winds in doing so.

From here we headed back to Parikia and figured that we had better check out the tourist spots where we were staying as all we had really done was enjoy the food, cafes, restaurants, and the promenade. So we saw the Monastery of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (the Virgin Mary of the Hundred Doors), the Pamegiston Taksiarxon (another blue-domed, whitewashed church), another windmill, and the (very unimpressive) Frankish castle (built in 1260 by the Venetians).

OK, so I think that this is our favourite of the Greek Islands so far. It is very scenic, well priced, relatively flat (so that you don’t have to kill yourself going up and down stairs) and has a nice local feel to it while still catering well to the tourists. If you want the super pretty and Instagram world head up the road to Naousa, for the more relaxed version, stay in Parikia, and if you want the private retreat, rent a villa.


Mykonos is one of the most famous Greek islands and has become widely known as the Ibiza of Greece. It gained a world reputation through the 1960s as a summer resort for hippies, artists, and the wealthy. Since then, it has also become a welcoming destination for the LGBTQ+ community. And this bit is clearly obvious.

Mykonos is full of traditional cube houses that have been whitewashed (typically with blue trim). Talking to the lady who ran our villas she advised that the island has a normal population of 11,500. During the day at least one cruise ship and any number of ferries arrive swelling this number to about 3 times that. She then told us that during peak season (July and August) that there are generally around 400,000 on the island each day.

Having taken a 40 minute ferry ride from Syros, we checked in and crashed for a bit as Jill was not feeling entirely well and after a nap we headed into the town. This involved about a 1200m walk downhill and we were right in the middle of everything. the first thing that you run across is a tiny beach in the heart of town (Chora) jammed with wildly inappropriately dressed people.

Probably a good time to pause and reflect upon some of the fashion choices that have become evident since our arrival in Greece. The first and most notable item is the track suit. Greek men happily sport these at every opportunity. The women however have taken it to another level with the revival of the velour tracksuit. These are worn with pride, usually 2 sizes smaller than they should be and in varying degrees of see through.

The next is the seemingly apparent lack of mirrors within houses anymore. Surely this is the case as there is no way some of these people would leave the house looking like they do, if they owned a mirror. Jill has now banned me from passing comment anymore.

Lastly, I am not sure where in the world has the highest concentration of botox and fillers, but this place must be a contender. The number of duck lipped women that we passed in an hour was simply astounding. Add to that the LGBTQ+ community of vain men and the place is awash with plastic people (as Jill likes to call them). And finally the current trend of having the biggest blackest eyelashes has left a whole generation with huge black caterpillars on their faces.

After the beach you hit the town centre proper. This is stunningly pretty but is a mass of tourist shops and (hugely) overpriced restaurants. They look amazing and are right on the water and certainly make the most of the beautiful weather with outdoor seating. But the prices are obscene for what you get. By way of example, the giros that we had been buying in Athens and Syros for 3.5 euro has now leapt to 15 euro. The real food was exorbitant.

The streets are narrow, the shops are funky and generally the vibe is good. Some of the tour groups off the cruise ships can be a bit ignorant but in shoulder season it was all still pretty manageable. Heading down and around past the old port you come to a quieter section which is the home of the Church of Panagia Paraportiani. It is located at the entrance of the Kastro neighborhood, right by the sea. The interesting thing about this is that it is actually five small churches, built on top of or next to the other.

From here you keep walking around the corner and hit a maze of restaurants running right along the water. Once you have zig-zagged your way to the other end you will find that you have just passed through the Little Venice of Mykonos. The tourist spiel tells you that it is one of the most romantic places on the island, replete with elegant and gorgeous old houses situated precariously on the edge of the land. All I found was a mass of humanity trying to squeeze past each other on a tiny alley between restaurant patrons. Once you get to the end, if you turn around, you do actually get to see the 6-8 houses on the water.

The construction of the Little Venice neighborhood is estimated to have taken place from the 13th to the mid-18th century. During that timeframe, the island was under Venetian rule.

As you pop out past the mass of people you come upon the island’s official trademark – the traditional windmills.  They stand on a hill overlooking the harbour and can be seen from most places around town. There are 16 windmills on Mykonos, seven of these are on the hill near town. For the most part, they were built in the 16th century by the Venetians.  

By this time you have ticked all of the tourist boxes (around town at least) and you are about an hour into your trip. There are a few other things around to see (such as the town Hall, and Museums – Agricultural, Archaeological, Folklore and Nautical) but from here on it is about wandering the streets or heading out of town to some of the beaches.

Having hit the main tourist spots, we stopped for a meal. Our last meal in Syros had been our most expensive in Greece so far. Our first meal in Mykonos blew that out of the water by adding about another 50% on top of that bill. And we had chosen one of the more reasonably priced restaurants in the back streets and not one of the ones on the water. The meal itself was lovely, but the tourist markup was massive.

Mykonos Beaches

The average water temperature on Mykonos ranges from 16C to 25C (60F to 77F), depending on the time of year, but reaches about 27C (80F) in August.

The majority of beaches on Mykonos are private. This does not mean that they are secluded but rather that you have to pay to use them. Being Australian the beaches pale by comparison to what we are used to (a common complaint) but they can still be nice nonetheless. We did not go beach hopping but for the sake of the blog I have included some of the more popular ones from the tourist spiels (most notably from

Agio Stefanos – the closest major beach to the port, it offers shallow waters and romantic sunset views. Because of its central and wind-protected location, it can often be crowded with people of all ages, who relax as the ships go by.

Elia – is the largest beach on the island and nudity is common. It’s known as Mykonos’ “gay beach,” but it attracts all kinds of people. Much of it is taken over by umbrellas and sunbeds, but there’s a small section for those who prefer to lie in the sand.

Kalafatis – Popular among windsurfers and families, this is the beach for you if you enjoy water sports or are traveling with the kids.

Ornos – the most family-friendly beach in Mykonos and one of the trendiest for young people and couples. It’s a frequent stop for boats and yachts, and has many places to eat and drink.

Paradise is the famous party beach, filled places to eat, drink, and shop. Once a popular gay destination, it’s now largely straight, as the gay crowds currently prefer Elia.

Paraga – a party atmosphere during the day, it’s relatively quiet at night. The right side is more secluded and tends to attract naturists.

Psarou – this small beach is known to have some of the clearest waters and best sand in Mykonos, and for being a spot for celebrity sightings!

And the beach that they rated the highest was Platys Gialos. The tourist spiel claims that is is: Beautiful and with crystal-clear waters, Platys Gialos (sometimes spelled Platis Yialos) is the best beach in Mykonos. It’s a convenient starting point to discover other beaches, on foot or on an hourly water taxi, and home to some of the best hotels on the island, located right by the sand and facing the sea. It has restaurants and bars serving meals and drinks throughout the day. This is not a party beach, but it has a lively atmosphere. Parasols and loungers cover most of the sand, and the shallow water is perfect for refreshing swims.

Mykonos is a world for the vacuous, those that want to see celebrities (who regularly visit) and be seen by all. It was too touristy, too expensive, too full of drunk teenagers and too plastic for us. If we are brutally honest, neither Jill nor I really enjoyed Mykonos. While it is nice to be able to say that we have been here, I do not see a time when either of us would choose to come back.

That said, we do see the attraction and if you wanted to kick back and chill out, our hotel was ideal. Stunning views, relatively quiet, super friendly. It was just the inevitable forays into the tourism central that would keep us away. Our last day in town was spent kicking back at the hotel and generally just enjoying the view and the laid-back lifestyle.