Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Greece...Parties, Azure Waters and Tzatziki

The historical ruins around Athens, the party scene of Myknos, the beautiful views of the Calderas and a bountiful of sunshine remain a fond memory of my trip to Greece ! Ofcourse, while I sip chai in my Mumbai office in this mid-monsoon humidity, I remember fondly, the distinct taste of fresh crispy Greek Salad, the refreshing Ouzo ( Greek liquor ) and the delicious portions of Tzatziki with crisps which I have enjoyed.. I will remember Greece for not only its beautiful landscapes but also for the rich gourmet experience and hospitality. I have never before enjoyed Asian hospitality in a European country ! For this the Greek people have surprised my family !

The warm weather makes everything around it friendly in my opinion. Athens is a 2 day destination if you are not a big fan of history. But if you find yourself here – please advance book a local guide to understand the past – else you like me will be running around ruins in the unbearable heat and find yourself running back to the car. When in Athens, you have to visit the Pantheon, the Acropolis and the Acropolis Metropolitian Museum and short walk up the Lykavittos hill. I would highly recommend you take a toy train ride from outside the Museum to go upto the Acropolis. This takes you from some very interesting narrow streets of Plaka – which also happen to be a CafĂ© Paradise. My gestimate is about a 1000 small eateries and boutiques in this area are going to keep you busy.
Acropolis Museum
The little toy train around Plaka - ending at the Acropolis

 We also took a day trip outside the city of Athens to the Corinth Canal, Mycenae Tours and Nafplion Tours.. These can be easily avoidable ! Except for Nafplion which is a small city by the water front with some amazing Pizzas !!
Corith Canal

 We were just lazy travellers who couldn’t make it to Delphi – but then again we were a bunch of non-history lovers and Delphi offers exactly that – THE RUINS !! Ofcourse the night life is amazing ! Head to Akrotiri for the best party in town ! If you are lucky as we were you will reserve in time for a table by the edge which is almost on a small cliff handle. So while on one side you enjoy the sea – the other side you have some popular hits and people grooving to them !! MYKONOS – This party city is all about the best beach bars at Paradise and Super Paradise !! Keep a day each to go party at these water fronts… You will be lured by some amazing music and cocktails free flowing.. spend a day alternating between a dip in the blue sea and enjoying the sea breeze with your favourite concoctions.. !!
The properties in Mykonos are all breath-taking !!! We were staying at the Mykonian Imperial Villas – it is luxury beyond belief !! We were in a six bedroom Villa with a pool and a Jacuzzi all to ourselves. If that was not enough – the butler, the head chef and the F&B manager are at you beck and call. The General Manager is a jovial Greek guy who will push you to drink or two until this hotel property gets under your skin. Its private beach and the Thalasso Spa therapies are never going to be forgotten !! The hospitality is A1 – which explains why they find themselves in the list of Leading Hotels of the World !
Santorini – when we landed on this island – we thought 4 days are going to be difficult to pass. Little did we know that from the high paced Mykonos when we go to the amazing village life of Santorini – it will give the perfect sweet ending to our beautiful holiday. Santorini has 3 big villages – Oia, Fira and Akrotiri. We were in Akrotiri which is the smallest village amongst the 3. We were staying at the Santorini Princess – which is again a beautiful property with the suites offering a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi over looking the beautiful Caldera view.
You can go from one end of the island to the other in less than an hour which makes if a perfect holiday spot. Oia offers the most beautiful shopping experience – if you are a vintage inspired art lover. With hundreds of little shops bustling with art, jewellery and souvenirs – Oia grows under your skin till you long to go back there again and again. There is no INDIAN restaurant on this island – but I have had one of the best meals of my life here ! Ferdini with its amazing home style Pasta and Senor Zorba’s Mexican food still alert my taste buds.
In Fira is the world’s best located Winery – Santos Wine. We had a 6 wine tasting session. Assyrtica ( dry white wine) , Nykteri (Dry White Wine), Ageri Semi (Dry Rose Wine), Kameni (Dry Red Wine), Imiglikos (Medium Sweet White Wine), and Vinsanto (Naturally Sweet Wine from Sun Dried Grapes) .. with some dry goats cheese and the beautiful Volcanic Mountain of Nea Kameni – Cyclades.
From Thira/ Fira you can either take the rope way down to the old port / walk down about 600 HUGE STEPS.. we took the later to climb down and it was an amazing experience. The donkeys along the way can sometimes get scary and you might get motion sick – but is you hang in there the decent is worth the walk.
From there you take the half day cruise to Nea Kameni which is a hike up the volcanic mountain and then a dip in the Sulphur hot water springs and bring you back.
You will be tired on the way back – so you will have to take the rope way up to the Thira. So make sure you climb down… !! Once you are up you will want to shop the most amazing Italian / Greek Jewellery in 18k Gold. Gentlemen – please, pleasure your ladies. Follie Follie and Lalaounis are going to make you want to batter a few eye-lashes ;)
Greece !! What an amazing memory… I know I am going to be back there soon. Especially OIA, SANTORINI, GREECE – I’m going back there for its amazing wine, its breathtaking view, the fine jewellery and re-live the memories of 2012.

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