The Greek islands were our last stop in Europe before moving on to tackle Egypt and the Middle East, Nepal and south-east Asia. This was my third trip there, all within a year: the first was a much-needed and thoroughly enjoyed holiday in the form of a sailing jaunt with my parents, the second a long-anticipated birthday celebration for an Australian friend. Both of those occasions had been a blast, so I knew I was unlikely to find any way not to enjoy my time in the sun and the water and the whitewashed guesthouses and cafés and tavernas.
We had a week to relax and just enjoy where we were: no big-ticket tourist sites to navigate, no running around with careful plans to fit the most we could into each and every day. Just a nice spot to chill out. That’s not to say that we didn’t do anything: just that we didn’t have to. The most detailed plan that we had for each day was typically “where should we watch the sunset from tonight?”.
We divided our time on the islands between Paros and Santorini. For all our laziness, we actually explored each of them pretty thoroughly. We spent a day hopping on and off local buses, making our way around the small, quaint white-walled villages and quiet sandy beaches all over Paros. Through Lefkes, in the centre, with just enough time before the next bus came to walk a circle around town and fit in an iced coffee (or was it a milkshake?) and the most sugary-looking of the cakes in the bakery window. On to Piso Livadi, to enjoy a lunch of fried seafood by the beach, in a scene that’s just begging to be called ‘splendid’. On foot around the point to see what beaches we might find, before bussing a little farther around – again in search of beaches – and then back to Parikia for sunset.
And we followed that up by then ferrying across to Paros’s smaller sibling, Antiparos, to explore its (not especially interesting) cave, to wander around its sleepy harbour, and to amuse ourselves watching the kitesurfers flitting back and forth between Paros and Antiparos. (Note to self: must learn to kitesurf, it looks awesome. Note to self and everyone else: if you’re looking for somewhere to put your feet up in the Greek islands for a week or so of doing not much, it looks like you could do a lot worse than the small resort-like places on the northern tip of Antiparos. Not that we had any complaints about Parikia, which was also a great spot.)
Santorini we explored with quad bikes as our trusty steeds, roaming across the crater of an island, checking out the beaches (nothing special), the archaeological site at Akrotiri (pretty boring), and the various vantage points around the island (definitely worth hunting out). And in my case, at least, the survey of Santorini also featured a decent chunk of footwork: walking the trail from Fira to join my somewhat lazier comrades (they took the bus) at Oia for possibly the world’s most famous sunset.
(This was the second time I’ve been to Santorini, and the second time I’ve wandered my way along that trail: it’s a charming – and quiet – walk along the cliffs, through the towns, and over the hills, and it has easily the best views of the island, if you ask me. A welcome escape from the tourist crowds across much of the rest of the island. A few hours well spent, and I’ll happily do it again if I ever find myself back there.)
Other than that, all that really remained was to spend our evenings looking out across the sea, watching the sun disappear beneath the water, or behind the islands, or behind a town, depending on where we’d picked for our viewing spot that particular night. Not a bad way to spend a week.