The final tale of our journey is indeed a wonderful one. In fact our merrymaking has been so intense in the last 2 weeks that our blog has suffered dearly. Who has time to write when you’re exploring an entire island by scooter? Why go online when dozens of beautiful beaches await us, lounge chairs and umbrellas galore? No time for pictures when there are so many gyros pita stands to try. Once Nick and Lisa landed in Santorini our travel brains seemed to turn off. These final two weeks were the only section of our 7 month adventure that was strategically planned. Hotels were reserved, ferries were booked, and budgets were thrown to the wind. This was the Greek islands in the summer, there where 4 of us, then 5, then 4 again, and we had more fun than can possibly fit into one of our Eagle Creek back packs. The alcohol was flowing and the mornings grew shorter and shorter as we partied our way closer to the finish line. And while time has erased so many details in my sun and beer soaked brain, I wish to stop with the generalities and fill in as many blanks as possible in the grand finale of Hablog Ingles.
Known as one of the most touristed islands of them all, Santorini, despite the throbbing crowds, did not disappoint. We visited the White beach, a beautiful outcrop of limestone that slid in the ocean creating a small beach of a beautiful color. We drove our scooters to the northern end of Oia to watch the sunset amongst hundreds of tourists. After the crowd applauded the sun’s final descent into night, a full moon made its glorious debut directly behind us. It was a memorable scene as we perched ourselves high in the bleached city that suspended itself on the edge of the cliffs, hundreds of feet above the sea. Thira is thought to be the site to the largest volcanic eruption in the history of the world. In 1500 BC the island’s entire center exploded into the atmosphere 30 km high creating a massive caldera that soon filled with sea water. It is one of nature’s masterpieces and the cause for all the crowds in Sanotrini. Yet, when the cruise ships depart and the sweet light arrives, this island is very romantic. The four of us relaxed, drank wine, and caught up on old times while staring off into the sea from our hotel.
After 4 hours on the slow boat, we arrived in the very un-touristed island of Amorgos. This island is basically a massive mountain protruding from the sea. We loved the contrast of its tranquility and serenity compared to Santorini. Again we rented two scooters because this is an amazing way to experience a Greek island. Here we went on a hike above the sea, and visited many beautiful classic white towns. We took the bus to a monastery that, because the Greeks love to do it, clung to the side of a cliff like the pickle from my quarter-pounder that now sticks to the window of McDonalds.
In Naxos, an old friend from France that Nick and I met in Costa Rica joined us. C’eline was happy to see us waiting for her at the port when she arrived. Now that the party had really started, the five of us rented an apartment near a very nice beach and lounged around all day. The five of us enjoyed the shallow waters as we tossed the Frisbee for hours. We had a wonderful seafood dinner that night and before we knew it we were off to …
As we stepped into the scorching heat of a bus parked in the sun, a fat sweaty man soon followed. He looked at his passengers – a rag tag bunch of independent travellers eager to see the island. “Welcome to Mykonos” he mumbled as his hand reached up for the stereo and the house music began pumping through the sound system. As our ride began and our heart beats assumed the rhythm of the music we knew that Mykonos would be intense. Mykonos, at least the part of Mykonos that the five of us experienced, is a never ending party. Our nights started at 11 and ended at 4 am. We sat at the beach among hundreds of party animals, a dance club party filled the background with all 3 genders joining in on the fun.
It is a beautiful island with some incredibly scenic towns and never ending white-washed buildings. But who cares when you’re gettin’ down at the night club SPACE or cruising the never-ending bars and restaurants that line every nook and cranny of this once sleepy place? We had lots of fun in Mykonos and though we had to say goodbye to C’eline, we were happy to be moving on.
This unknown was an added island as we decided three nights of Mykonos was too much for us. Turns out it was well worth the stop. This was old world Greece. Finally, we found towns with no tourist shops and only the occasional taverna. We took a drive at sunrise in our rented shoebox-of-a-car. It was a fitting farewell to our version of a 5 island tour.
Athens was the final stop of more than 100 for us. We made it. This is it. This is a dump. OK, so first impressions aren’t always accurate. Athens is a city that demands your attention to produce good results. While much of it is a ghetto, a little discovery will produce excellent eateries, wonderful gyros pitas, awesome bars, great vistas, nice beaches, and yes, the Acropolis. It’s too bad that so many tourists spend a whirlwind day at the Acropolis, Agora, and wonderful museum before boarding a ferry to the islands. It was a really nice city to spend our final three days. Since we had three full days, we did as Athenians do. We saw Mamma Mia at one of Athen’s outdoor movie theaters. Afterwards, we danced to some real music – none of the Mykonos house mixes here. The weather was perfect with a nice breeze for 3 straight days. We dined like kings and stayed out late. On the last night we climbed to the top of Lycabettus hill for a stunning 360 degree sunset over one the oldest cities of the world.
And then we flew home on four different flights. Just like that, the journey had ended. Seven months, thirteen countries, in the blink of an eye.