Date: June 16, 2015
Current location: London Heathrow Airport, UK
Current tunes: Belle & Sebastian, “The Everlasting Muse”
Guys, I think I am now about four shades darker and it all happened within the last few days of the tour. My skin is about as dry as California but I have gotten more sunshine than I have all year and I am absolutely loving it. Yay for Vitamin D! The weather is fantastic (well was fantastic, currently in London en route to Kenya. Londoners call this summer weather???) Greece is dry heat like home, but with a constant sea breeze since I am on the islands. I should have a taken a picture of my skin every day to watch the progression. I bet it would be comparable to those Crest White Strip color transformation commercials (except opposite of course…okay maybe not the best comparison).
Paros and Mykonos were the final two islands of the tour and are drastically different. Paros is quiet and inexpensive while Mykonos is like the Vegas of the cyclades. Pricey and club central. Mykonos has all those bro tanks and shirts that you’re embarrassed to see people actually wearing outside of travel life. Like “Donald Drunk” or “Good girls go to heaven, Bad girls go to Mykonos.” I did go out in Mykonos on one of the nights but I much preferred Paros as a whole.
Paros is one of the less travelled cyclades but I think it’s an underrated gem. It’s a little bigger with flatter terrain so Jaz and I decided to rent an ATV once we docked in Parikia and checked into our hotel, Sirocos. Sirocos is owned and operated by a lovely British woman named Dawn. The open courtyard is adorable and the staff is more than hospitable. With solid wifi and a short walk to the waterfront, I would definitely recommend it. We rented a small ATV from a cheery gentleman named Vasilios. He owns a company named European Car Rental and we got 50% off through our hotel- 25 euros for a 24 hour rental? Yes please!
***Just a note from the nurse in me: When renting motos and ATVs while traveling, your travel insurance (I recommend GeoBlu) probably does not cover you if you get in an accident. If you read the fine print you’ll find that you usually have to have a license for that type of vehicle in that country to be covered. So be careful!
With that being said, Jaz and I just decided we’d play it safe. No donuts or off-roading for us. As kids we had a quad that we drove through our family vineyard, so it was fairly easy to drive and this ATV got up to like 60 KPH with the speed limit being mostly between 30-50 KPH. After filling up with some petrol, we headed north on a 20 minute ride to the coastal town of Naoussa. The night before in Ios, we had a met a charming older couple from Zambia that were yachting around the cyclades. After some chatting about Africa and my next trip, we realized we both were leaving for Paros the next morning. The woman, Gale, invited us to sail to Paros on their boat (It’s name is Sable! How cute is that?) with them but warned us it would take several hours longer than the ferry. If we hadn’t already paid for our ferry I totally would have! Although I love the convenience of group travel, it sometimes cuts your adventure opportunities short. Oh well. Anyway, Gale insisted we find their boat docked in the Naoussa harbor and stop for a coffee the next day. Sadly, while we made it to Nausossa in one piece on our quad, we could not find Sable. To be honest I’m not even sure if we were looking in the right port. Fatty bummer.
We spent the next couple hours cruising around the northern beaches of the island and switched about halfway through to give Jasmine a spin. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. Don’t get me wrong, baby sis is a decent driver and my record is a little more sprinkled with fun than her record but I was still a bit uneasy. I found an empty lot and a less travelled road for her to cruise around for a bit. When she asked if I was coming I shouted “No!” a little too quickly…but really what’s the use of us both being injured? An injured nurse is a useless nurse. But she did great and it was kind of nice to chill on the back and snap photos as we took in the beautiful views. I swear that crystal blue never gets old for me. Lastly, we stopped at Santa Maria Beach, played in the tide pool, and read a devotional together on my mobile app. (I have a John Piper devo app that works without wifi but if anyone has a better recommendation, hit me up!)
That night our Med Experience crew had dinner at Nafuro’s Greek Food and Pizzeria. I love Greek food but it was nice to switch it up. After that, Sarah took us to her favorite cocktail place in Paros, Saloon D’Or. This bar has a relaxed vibe with a large front facing patio (like most of the restaurants/bars on the Greek Islands) and colorful pillows and a zillion couches. The music was a nice change, classic rock, reggae, and alternative. I don’t get Europe’s addiction to all things electronic. I mean it’s fun for dancing but it can be a bit much when you just want to chat over drinks in my opinion. Being MedEx, they gave us some really great discounts. Jasmine tried some coconut martini and I went with a fancy twist on my favorite vacay cocktail- a mojito but this one had gin and cucumber added. I usually like coconut flavored things but for some reason coconut liquer always tastes like soap to me. Whenever I try a pina colada it’s like I’m drinking a Bath and Body Shower Gel. Bleghh.
The next morning we were scheduled for an all day boat excursion around Paros. This was probably one of my most favorite experiences on my Greek trip. I just absolutely love love boating. Milia, Jasmine, Janna (aka my sissies if you’re new to TDD) If you’re reading this can we please all go in on a family boat?!? Anyways, we cruised around, stopping at little coves and lagoons, and cannonballed with GoPro’s off the top deck. I am determined to conquer my fear of heights so I make it a point to jump off tall things whenever I travel. On this day I think I jumped off the top deck eight or nine times. Our captain Mohammed, a skinny overly sun kissed man from Egypt, kept calling me a fish every time I would slip and slide back onto the boat from the side ladder as I scrambled back to the top to have another go. In the afternoon, Mohammed took us to the small island of Antiparos for a BBQ lunch. And oh my gosh. So much food. So much good. So much wine. Kebabs, sausage, potatoes, Greek salad, tzaikziki, and bread until I no longer felt comfortable eating in my swimsuit. That’s a lot of grub.
And last but not least, we headed to Mykonos.
If you prefer something a little more low key like me, then I would consider how much time you have in Greece and potentially think about another destination. But if you’re a lover of Miami clubbing or Vegas night life, please don’t be discouraged by my perspective because Mykonos may be somewhere you should add to your to do list depending on how you like to vacation.
In Mykonos we stayed at a world renowned resort called Paradise Beach Resort. It’s about a 15 minute drive from the port and is pretty secluded from everything without a car or ATV. But it’s meant to be an all inclusive sort of thing…except you have to pay for everything. Food, wifi, sun beds, club entry. I’m not meaning to complain, I just was a little bummed out by the exponentially increased prices here in comparison to the other islands, especially when this was the last stop when my cash flow started to run low. And like I said, you’re kind of stuck here so you suck it up and pay up. That night, Sarah got us tickets to their onsite club, Paradise Club, where world famous DJs like Tiesto usually make appearances during the peak season months. Apparently they say it doesn’t get hopping until about 2-3 am. When Jaz and I heard this the grandmas in us groaned…but I was determined to at least see the inside since I already paid for it. We started at GuapaLoca, the onsite bar which really has some good tunes and fruity cocktail choices up the wazoo. This night in particular was Paint Party Night and by the time the paint people were done with us we all looked like neon aliens. I actually really liked this part. Makes me want to have a black light at home just for kicks. Our crew killed some time by hanging on a terrace of some American U Penn graduates that we had met earlier before we finally went to Paradise Club. I really did have fun dancing and the music was intense and really kept an energetic vibe going, but I was kind of underwhelmed. It’s known as the best club in Greece with celebs like the Kardashians making appearances but I think when something is just not your normal scene you push yourself into thinking you’ll enjoy it more than you actually would. And again, this is coming from some one who prefers to spend her evenings chatting with random locals or sharing a second serving of gelato with her lil’ sis before crashing by midnight.
However, I will say the shops in town are fabulous. I couldn’t help but buy a few more bracelets (I have a bracelet addiction that only grows while traveling). The four famous windmills and area called Little Venice are perfect for some sunset photo ops. I also really liked the beachfront area of the resort. There’s a zillion sun beds (that cost 12-15 euro each! yikes) and there’s this huge sand bar/reef as you swim out towards the ocean that you can actually climb on. It’s pretty cool too because rom afar it makes it look like you are pulling a Jesus and walking on water! But beware because you can easily cut your feet. And of course, being the accident prone girl that I am, I sliced my foot open. I didn’t even notice at first. There’s something about the ocean that turns me into insta-mermaid and I was too preoccupied with getting my Ariel on. It was finally back on the sand that I realized my foot was throbbing and covered in blood. The staff tried to get me to the medic station in reception but I just pretended to wobble over and actually took care of it myself back in my room with what I call my mini “clinic to go.” Unfortunately, I am Clutzy Cathy so I have made it a point to travel with a small amount of medical supplies like gauze, tape, steri-strips, etc and always end up using it on myself or a friend. A little gauze, tape, and antibiotic cream and I am good as new.
After one more night in Athens, Jasmine and I parted ways at the Athens Airport. While we had our struggles being the oddballs on this party train, I am feeling beyond blessed to have been able to spend 10 straight days together. We have not had that much consecutive sister time together since I was in high school. And while I kept trying to take care of her on this trip, she has shown me how much she’s grown. She never ceases to amaze me. That girl is a gem.
Well my flight to Nairobi is boarding soon. I can;t believe that in 9 hours I will be in Africa. Unreal. I am excited for a change of atmosphere and to see what Jesus has waiting for us in Kenya. My team got delayed in LA, so I’ll be flying in solo. Prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts my way are appreciated. The next start of my adventure starts….NOW.
Cheers and keep on wishin’,