In early July I decided to book a trip to the Greek Islands for 2 weeks at the end of summer. I would go alone, with only the first few days planned and see where it took me. I wanted to feel it out a bit, listen to peoples suggestions and not worry about having to be anywhere. Of course I like to plan so I had a brief idea of what I would do and I did my research – but the way it unfolded carried a bit of magic to it. I’ll break my trip into five parts so I can go over things like what I learned (don’t ride the donkey) and what worked really well (french fries in sandwiches).
I wanted to plan the first few days and decided I would rather be jet lagged on an island than Athens. When I found an $11 flight from Athens to Rhodes my mind was made up. Granted I missed my flight to Athens which resulted in me missing my flight to Rhodes – but it was a nice intention. I loved the idea of starting in Rhodes because it incorporated all you can ask for – a medieval castle (with a moat!!), old cobblestone roads filled with spices and leather shoes, an aqua sea and a modern town.
In Rhodes I stayed in a hostel called STAY. It was my favorite hostel of the trip and possibly the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in. It opened just shy of a year ago which meant clean! Everyday they left the likes of a greek delight, olive oil soap or a free raki coupon on your pillow, creating an instant feeling of home. Breakfast was not free, but the food was cheap and delicious. It was also my favorite time of day. It usually included a freddo cappuccino, greek yogurt, honey and museli and a conversation with a greek man who would plan the day ahead for you. I thought everyone should have someone that will plan your day for you while you eat breakfast.
While in Rhodes I also visited a butterfly valley. It was a 45 minute bus ride from the hostel and wasn’t the most fun, but upon arrival, you are surrounded by thousands of butterflies so my complaints aren’t that valid. You climb through a forest with some small waterfalls and watch butterflies scatter around you until they find a tree or rock to rest. At the top there is a monastery built in 1780 and even a 2 Euro Souvlaki stand waiting for you. Beware if you go to the valley, the last bus leaves at 3pm.
I spent a lot of time at the beach in Rhodes – it was my favorite in all the islands. You can see your toes and the water temperature was just as much refreshing as it was warm. At night you can dine in the square – a mere 5 minute walk from the hostel. The hostel also has very cheap drinks and even a small cinema where they play the works of My Big Fat Greek Wedding – fitting. I didn’t go out while in Rhodes because I didn’t feel that great, but I heard Old Town is a lot of fun. A bonus about this hostel was that they had locked luggage storage and a shower that you could use later on in the day even after checkout. The shower was located up on the rooftop adjacent to the outdoor gym. I did yoga up there twice. Great views and fitted with a speaker for you to plug your iPod in.
I was sad to leave Rhodes. I instantly regretting booking my departure but knew I would regret not seeing Santorini more. What I thought was a simple 10 minute walk to the ferry, turned into a 45 minute jog filled with more curves to the road than meets the eye. I stepped onto the boat just as the doors were closing.
The ferries in Greece are extremely nice. The food was above average and they sell everything from espresso to wine. If you are on the economy ticket you’ll find plenty of options for seating. I made the mistake of ordering my ferry from go-ferry.com but if you go through the direct website, you get the best price. The third party sites up the charge. I’d ask the hostel or wherever you are staying what the ferry lines are out of the island. The ones I saw the most were Blue Star Ferries (I took this from Rhodes to Santorini), Minoan (I took this from Crete to Athens), and Anek (which I did not take). I think there are a few more too if you are taking a ferry from Piraeus – the port in Athens.
A mere 8 hours later, I would be in Santorini.