Qatar, Greece · 11 Days · 57 Moments · August 2017

Emily's tour through Greece

10 September 2017

Thank you Greece for an amazing trip! Outstanding islands, friendly people, delightful food and wines, and character at every turn. We will certainly be back. โค๏ธ

8 September 2017

Neighborhood: Koloniki (pronounced colon-Nike) Lunch @ Taqueria Maya After some great shopping at Yannis Sergakis (Greek jeweler designer) we had a few Budweisers at Volver. I know what you are thinking, but this was the original Czech beer and a night treat. We then headed back to a Mexican food restaurant spotted out first night. The food was outstanding and ordering at the counter took away the long Greek wait that often comes with settling the bill. This restaurant is a must visit in Athens and is surrounded by other great bars, cafes, and concept restaurants. Walking up the street we happen to notice a small. It turns out Macron, the French president was following us and took an impromptu walk down the street. He was surrounded by what appeared to be French models with amazing sunglasses and earpieces. I deduced they were his security. :) we were only about 3 feet away and able to take a few photos. Pretty cool and most notably not a thing that could happen in the US.
Back to the square right below A for Athens in the daylight to explore the side streets. Could have spent a good couple of hours wandering around. We didn't go into Little Kook but something tells me their milkshakes would have been epic.

7 September 2017

Dinner @ Kuzina We were looking for something more than traditional Greek food so decided to try out this more modern kitchen for our last dinner in Athens. We ordered many appetizers, think tapas approach, and it turned out they were all mostly fried. :( The dumplings were yummy and the wine was fantastic but not a meal to write home about. Perhaps if you try it, you will have better luck.
Walking around the historic Monastiraki neighborhood. Absolutely loved all the cafes and little street vendors. Could have walked around each and every little street.
A must visit, ideally around sunset: A is for Athens On a whim I was searching online for great Athens tips and ran across a blog post that shaped our night. It showed the most amazing view taken from the rooftop cocktail bar at A is for Athens. We quickly google mapped the location and saw it was a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We made it just in time for sunset! We're lucky enough to get two of the best seats at the bar without having a reservation. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ *Note: come early or make a reservation for this view. It was packed but sooooo worth it! As we left the queue was out the door so arriving pre-sunset seemed to be the best bet.
Similar to Rome, it seems like you can't walk far without seeing ruins.
Acropolis Time Since we arrived back in Athens around 10:30am we couldn't really go with the plan to visit early in the morning. After grabbing a not-so-quick lunch (as it is here in Greece) we made it to the Acropolis gates around 1pm. It turns out the French president was coming into town and planning a visit to this historic site as well so today only, it would close at 3pm. Not to worry we had plenty of time. After a very steep climb we were rewarded with the iconic view of the Parthenon: too bad it was covered with scaffolding on one side. While there are signs at different viewpoints we were very surprised there wasn't an audio guide. Luckily we were able to download Rick Steve's free podcast and listen to some key information. He has saved us many a times. It was hard to take any photos without a dozen people in them, but I guess that's what you get at one of the most visited places on Earth.
We were incredibly lucky to meet one of the nicest taxi drivers in Crete this past week. We quickly booked him for our airport pick up. Guess what? He brought us a traditional breakfast, koulouri, for our 7 am pick up! Why haven't I had one of these before? So yummy and cheap. ๐Ÿ“ทed: Apostolis the driver's contact info He is perfect for your next Crete adventure.

6 September 2017

Dinner @ The Well of the Turk in the Splantzia neighborhood This area is often frequented by locals and away from the harbor crowds. Outstanding atmosphere and decent prices! For starters we had the Mushroom Saganaki (warm cheese dip) My main: vegetarian mousaka (hard to find this veggie anywhere) Ryan's main: Shish Kabab Desert: Baklava with ice cream and of course a house bottle of Raki to end the meal accompanied by a fruit platter
Now trying the local 'pine wine' before dinner...
The Vegetarian Gyro!!!! From Delish
More pics from around the old city.
The Well of the Turk Deserving it's own post, the restaurant we discovered! Stay tuned to see how it turns out.
Breakfast @ Kudu Beers close to the Minaret suites Gyros @ Delish The day started off with a massive brunch at the Water's edge and we moseyed back to the Venetian harbor to see it in the daylight. We took some time to wander the backstreets past a great pottery shop and into a few cute stores. However, the cruise ship crowd was fierce and we needed to get outta there. After stumbling upon the public market we made our way back to our favorite street where we had dinner the first night. I needed a few beers to cheer me up because sadly I could not find the pitcher I wanted nor were the shoes I love available in my size. Tough life, I know. After drinks we decided to get lost in the Turkish quarter and discovered one of the cutest restaurants I've ever seen. We promptly made dinner reservations for tonight. We grabbed two gyros for a late lunch so excited they had a vegetarian option and headed home for a quick bite before a quick dip in the Mediterranean.

5 September 2017

Dinner @ Salis BEST FOOD OF THE TRIP (so far) Walking around the harbor there are many restaurants to choose from, those with picture menus, and those in which you are begged to visit. ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿฝ We choose a restaurant which was neither but right in the thick of all of that. We were immediately impressed with the wine cellar and the modern twist on local dishes and regional ingredients. The deconstructed Titiskikis (sp?) was a truffle and beฤ‡hamel style pasta with a local cheese gratin and freshly shaved truffle on top. Even the grilled octopus was great. And the ๐Ÿท, omg the wine! If you are in Chania this restaurant should be #1 on your list!!!!!
Walking around the Venetian Harbor at night and the neighborhood around our AirBNB love the local neighborhood we are in!
Lunch @ Machalas Excellent location right on the beach by our AirBNB and recommended by our host. Local draft beers and so many new Greek dishes. *Dolmades=stuffed grape leaves with rice (not new but a favorite) *Mediterranean dip=feta, beets, peppermint and more *Dakos= think bruscetta 2.0, local rusk, with tomatoes, feta, and dried thyme *Saganaki = fried or baked cheese AMAZING!!!! *Ouzo = distilled grapes with anise *Charma = local unfiltered beer from Chania ๐Ÿป If we lived here this would be our local joint!!!!
Beach: Seitan Limania Just a short 30 minute drive away from Chania is this paradise nestled between steep rocky cliffs. While it has become much more popular with tourists as of late, this beach is still very much Cretan and remote. In order to get there we had to drive on one of the scariest windy roads! Our larger than European rental car did not ease my mind. Thank god Ryan was driving because I did not want to put my manual driving to the test!!! After we parked there was about a 15 minute hike down the steep rocky cliffs in order to reach the pebbled and sandy beach. Luckily there was a couple in front of us leading the way, otherwise we would've never been able to find it. The nimble mountain goats made it look easy as they danced about overhead. Reaching the bottom give us the view we thought only post card worthy. There is no need to Photoshop any of these pictures of the crystal clear tourquiose waters. We arrived early for breakfast on the beach to beat the crowd.
Breakfast take away from Coffee and More Total for 2 frappes, a chocolate sesame ring, traditional cinnamon custard pastry, cheese pie with sesame seeds, and spinach pie with sesame seeds. ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝdeal of the trip and sadly I didn't take pictures of the food! Perfect for breakfast at the beach!

4 September 2017

Dinner @ Filira bistro-cafe *Perfect location (off the main streets). *Excellent ambience (we add in the adorable courtyard next to the restaurant) *Modern twists on classic Cretan dishes: we had the baked phyllo feta with local thyme honey, the traditional spicy cheese dip, and salmon pappardelle *A delicious local red wine in which we couldn't read any of the bottle *the friendliest waiter so far who gave us lots of great background about Crete *complimentary orange cake (Portokalopita) from the owners grandmother's recipe *the staple free bottle of Raki to end your meal Would go back here in a snap
Walking through the Chania old city walls. Super charming and can't wait to just wind around and get lost. So many 'empires' have ruled this island there are remnants of many religions scattered about. Absolutely loved the minaret as we first turned left so much we went back to that street for an outstanding dinner. Delicious cocktails at Blockchain โค๏ธ this city
Made it to our Airbnb in Chania and it has some major curb appeal. Check out that mural. We love the fact that the beach is two minutes away! (The sea is ๐Ÿ“ทed off of the balcony) Let's call this place home for a few days!
We were warned by many, the food could be our demise in Crete. Silly us decided to choose a three-course Cretan gastronomy tasting menu for lunch. I was full after my first appetizer... The food was good but the atmosphere was better. If you're looking for an open-air garden among lemons trees this is for you. Lemonokipos is located in the middle of the city in between the water and next to a very large park/playground. *not pictured: the main courses or dessert because we simply couldn't move enough to take a photo.
Cute streets within the old city of Rethymno.
Rented a car for the drive along the coast to Chania. While our reservation was at 10 AM we didn't get the car until noon. It seems this is simply a Greek thing. Navigating through the old windy streets which are mostly pedestrian or one way was also a great adventure. After a good amount of stress we found ourselves on the road headed to Rethymno about half way in between the two cities.

3 September 2017

Walking around the streets of Heraklion. Many amazing cafes and bars. Fourth largest city in Greece and the nightlife is hopping! Love the Mediterranean/Turkish cultural mix already. Shisha bars and Raki will give you that vibe. This place feels pretty great and everyone says just wait until you get to Chania. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐ŸผSounds fab!
Olive Green Hotel on Heraklion We have arrived on island number two for a quick overnight stay at an super modern and cute hotel. Looks like we have a corner suite (3 for 3) with a wrap around balcony and two seating areas. Gotta love the window in the shower but best of all the local Raki, olive oil, and bread waiting for us in our room. #hospitalitygoals
The moment we had taken off and sat down there was a man on the ferry carrying a tray of fresh beers. No, we were not at a baseball game, but this guy knew what was up. We quickly used our American instincts and flagged him down. 11 euros later and we had two ๐Ÿป in our hands. While I know you are thinking this is great, just wait, there is more. About 20 minutes into the trip it was announced there would be a wine tasting on the ferry and the tasting stand was right in front of us. Ryan was a good sport and gave it a go. Two things were affirmed at this moment: 1. Greece is amazing 2.This was apparently a #boozecruise. Crete here we come. *editors note: Emily was too 'tired' to wine taste, which may have been a first for her. Instead she chose to vigorously nap off the day-drinking.
Waiting for the ferry to Crete at the port. I had read online, it is rarely on time and even though there is a departure time on your tickets don't count on that. This was correct as we didn't leave for over an hour and a half past our scheduled time. Luckily there are a handful of restaurants right in the port area so we took it upon ourselves to try two. We tried local tomato balls, some draft beer, and Ryan got his first gyro of the trip. While we waited we researched the sinking of the Sea Diamond cruise ship which happened right in front of where we were getting ready to depart.
After the clouds cleared the temp really heated up. Not Doha hot of course, but still plenty of sweat. We set out to walk around the village, rescued this dragonfly from a pair of linen pants, and snapped a few picks. Only took us 30 minutes to realize we should take up the amazing offer of Alta Mare and relax by the pool until our ferry time. Forget that we had already checked out, Sofia and George (๐Ÿ“ทed) and Lucas made us feel right at home. This time no glasses were broken and we enjoyed THE BEST Santorinian Greek Salad. If you are headed to Santorini you must stay here!
A rare morning fog rolled in this am and I was so glad we didn't have to go anywhere on the land or the sea. We could just enjoy it from our balcony.

2 September 2017

Desperation at 11 pm means you'll eat most anywhere. Z's Pizza and Burgers it was. They had a vegan burger though! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฝ
Oia by night โค๏ธ
Arriving 'home' at Alta Mare to take a quick dip in the infinity pool then retire to our jacuzzi for the sunset. We taught Luca the bartender how to make an Aperol Spritz. They didn't disappoint so I guess my teaching extends past the classroom.
Views from the ATV as we headed back to Oia. Such a thrill as the sun was setting and we were cruising around the outer most parts of the island. Got a glimpse of day-to-day life and the continuous tourism boom. A great way to travel around the island. Thank you so much Lychelle for insisting we do so.
More pictures from Yalos because it is amazing.
Yalos is the best kept secret (but not really a secret) on the island. A not-too crowded black sand beach, amazing food with fresh local catch, and the perfect vibe for relaxing all day. So far my absolute favorite place on the island! If in Santorini you must come here!
Gavalas Winery Tasted all of the wines and learned a lot about Greek economics. Loved the off-beaten feel but great localish vibes. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ A must visit in Santorini.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sophia at our hotel who recommended this family vineyard Gavalas. Not on any map or website we found. Here is the area around the tasting and bottling room!
Google maps may have taken us down a pedestrian path...our apologies to those who lived down this street. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
Views before we broke down ๐Ÿ™ƒ
Venetsianos Winery Our first stop after refueling and many google maps mishaps. Loved the view and all the wines! A must stop off the regular path we think. (Read: not on the wine stop map=great rec) Side note: on the way to the winery we stopped to pick up our ferry tickets already to find our hotel already took care of that for us. Have I mentioned how amazing they have been?!
After taking Lychelle and Kelly's advice we rented an ATV this morning for island exploring and vineyard fun. Turns out we only made it a few km before breaking down on the side of the mountain road. We ran out of โ›ฝ๏ธ of course. Able to restart a few times but had to jump off as Ryan restarted after the third time to make it the final 100m to the petrol station. So much for our rental man that said we could make it to Fira and back. As I walked to meet Ryan at the station we found a guy in a similar situation but stranded even farther away. Being a Good Samaritan, Ryan offered him a ride to his four-wheeler while I stayed at the petrol station. All of the employees were very offended I was left behind. I had to remind them I was a strong woman and was just fine. Not sure they believed me or believed that a woman could be left alone...
We placed our breakfast order last night so it could be delivered this morning. Eating outside looking at this view-not a terrible way to get going. Alta Mare is doing everything right.

1 September 2017

First Santorini restaurant = Roka. It seems like locals love this place and even those traveling from Athens enjoy it (our taxi driver was very excited to hear we would be dining there). Love that this restaurant is not set on the caldera side. In fact, you have to wind through the charming old streets to get there which makes everything much more quiet. However, the restaurant was packed and it was a good thing we had made a reservation. Plus the price was just right. It seems finding good food for a good price can be tricky here. We tried a local soft cheese spread and their handmade pasta. (๐Ÿ“ทed here) I was not expecting so much pasta in Greece I think I should've gone to the gym more leading up to this trip. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
Chasing the sunset at the end of Oia. Crowded โœ”๏ธ over photographed โœ”๏ธ don't care โœ”๏ธ worth it โœ”๏ธ When in Oia, walk towards the end of the caldera and go left at the fork in the walkway. You should have passed both of the squares and the big church with many bells. Continue winding around the path and down stairs every so often. When you can finally see the windmills you are in the right place. We arrived about 30 minutes before sunset. Had a decent spot but should have gotten there early for an ideal sitting location. Must have been a good one though because everyone clapped when the sun had set. Trying to get back to the hotel was not so great. And then the donkeys had to get home too on the same walkway too. Just succumb to the fact there will be crowds and you will be fine.
Village views, even on the crowded Santorini streets the views are astounding. On the hunt for the perfect sunset photo. Will pin the spot once found!
Can't stop. Won't stop. Now to explore this village :)
Greeted with wine and fruits like the gods intended! #Greeceforthewin I โค๏ธ Alta Mare!
Arrived in Santorini and staying in the village of Oia! Absolutely blown away by the service and property of Alta Mare. Champagne on arrival and an upgrade. The second free upgrade of our trip. We are two for two. Now to make a tough decision. Do we watch the Santorini sunset from our private Jacuzzi or fight the well-worth it crowds at the castle... Jay DaCosta would say these are #yachtproblems
Trying a few more Greek beers. Blue one โญ๏ธโญ๏ธ Green one โญ๏ธโญ๏ธโญ๏ธ
Athens street sweets
Breakfast on the rooftop at the hotel. Loving the breeze as we try new foods. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝfor the Phyllo mushroom cup. And there is no yogurt on Earth like this. Wow!

31 August 2017

Isn't this little street cute? Had to stop at this ultra shabby chic joint for our first Greek dinner. Tazza is right on the corner and was immensely popular. Luckily we could get a drink at the bar while waiting for a table. Unluckily we were so tired we just got anted to order anything. Ryan ordered a Greek pizza and I ordered a traditional Greek pasta called kritharaki.
Free bottle of wine in the mini-bar, I think I'm going to like it here ๐Ÿท Cheers to the first sip of Greek wine and more to come. Lozenge Hotel is a great place to start.
An extra day of Eid break was announced so why not bump up our flights :) Greece I've been waiting for you forever. โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท