Every time we set expectations for a place we seem to regret it. With the route we were following over land through Europe, we wouldn’t have made it to the Greek Islands until sometime in late October or November. So, we flew out of our way to make it for the tail-end of high season before it got too cold to enjoy the beaches and because most of the restaurants and hotels shut down for winter. We wanted to experience the famous party scene on Mykonos and watch the sunsets in Santorini. Greece was the only spot we booked our plane tickets and accommodation in advance. We booked a room right on Paradise Beach on Mykonos to be at the party area and a more remote (cheaper) room on Santorini planning to rent a scooter for four days and explore the island. We were going to eat cheap and delicious Greek food daily, buy fresh olives, watch countless sunsets, lay out on the beach, get tanned, etc. etc.
And by now you can probably tell where I am going with all this… none of it worked out. Most notably we did not party on Mykonos and we did not rent a scooter on Santorini or even watch a decent sunset. I know right, huge fail.
We were aware that maybe the parties wouldn’t be as crazy on Paradise Beach in mid-September than in July/August, but we didn’t think it would be close to dead. Don’t get me wrong, the beach clubs still blasted music all day long and there was a few wasted teenagers and haggard middle agers stumbling around at all times of the day but the party scene really wasn’t there. Our last night on Mykonos we saw advertisements for some party at the club with “guaranteed 150 plus people” and our hopes rose ever so slightly. But when the time came, there was maybe thirty or forty people from a Contiki tour group. When did people in their late teens or early twenties get so young? Or when did I get so old and how the hell did this happen….
We did enjoy Mykonos, just not the way we planned to and not as much. Our location was great for the beach parties but not ideal for being close to town or good food. So we ended up with the worst of both worlds, but at least we got a good view? It was also the first time so far this trip we rented a place without a kitchen and thus we were left eating out every day. The cheapest thing to eat (by far) is gyros pita wraps which vary greatly in quality but always have the same basic ingredients: pork/chicken, tomato, lettuce, tzatziki, and fries. The fries were a shocker to me. Everything came with fries. Back home when you go to a Greek restaurant and order a souvlaki platter it is usually served with roasted potato slices, not fries. We never had a Greek salad and never tasted a fresh olive.
After paying an outrageous price of 60 EUR per person for a ferry to Santorini (the cheapest option) we still had our hopes set on a scooter rental. We arrived in the evening and after cooking a quick dinner (I so missed food I cooked, even though it had only been four days) we went to bed early excited to wake up and pick up our scooter. Dan left to go grab the scooter and then planned on coming back and getting me and we’d go get breakfast. He came back empty-handed explaining the lady had wanted to see a motorcycle license. Confused, and assuming it was just that him and this lady got off on the wrong foot, I grabbed our international driver’s licenses and we went to ask another shop. They too asked for a motorcycle license. Not phased, I handed over my international driver’s license which states on it “Restrictions: scooter rental under 50cc’s” and the scooter we asked for was under 50cc’s. The response I got was “this is only valid in the United States.” I pointed out I was Canadian and the document clearly stated “International” on it but he refused to rent us the scooter. Ironically, he would have rented us an ATV over 50cc’s which would have been against our license therefore voiding any insurance and travel insurance we had. After trying another three shops and having no luck we were damn near furious. We had two options: rent something we weren’t insured to drive and that cost more than a scooter or not rent anything at all and be stuck with the crappy public transport system on the island. Angrily, we returned back to our motel and asked if we could check out a day early. We saw no point in staying four days on the island when we had no means of self-transportation. Luckily our Airbnb host had an open night the day before we were supposed to arrive in Athens.
The main town of Thira was about a 20 minute walk from our motel, so we could still walk over and see the famous Santorini sunsets, right? The night we went to view the sunset must have been the worst sunset Santorini has ever had. My level of self-pity dropped a bit after seeing five separate brides waiting for their wedding photos to be taken backed with a beautiful sunset that never came. We did however get some amazing day time shots in both Thira and Oia:
The eight hour (that’s right, eight hour) ferry ride from Santorini to Athens was a mix of awesome and terrible. Terrible, because once on board I saw a couple next to us pull out their own bottle of wine, baguette and snacks and for some stupid reason we hadn’t thought to bring any of this and were stuck with horrible over-priced ferry food and drinks. Boy did I feel stupid, we’ve only been travelling for nine months now. And awesome because we saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen followed by a brilliantly bright moon.
And now we’re about to arrive in Athens, and we have four days (instead of three) to enjoy the famous sites. With no expectations, we’ll hopefully have a better time than on the majestic Greek Islands that sadly let us down.