We should not forget to mention that Oia is famous for the sunsets. Really cool, and everybody stops to watch, you can even hear the people hear clapping and cheering when the last glimpse of sunlight simply collapses red at the horizon !
Well, when you look around, there are some good value for money restaurants in Oia, you just have to look harder- but when you are on a budget- choose a smaller island and buy a postcard – those typical blue and white photographs are all taken on Santorini…
On recommendation of our host we did an early morning walk to famous Amoudi Bay, which happened to be only 1 km from our apartment ( studio they call it here on the islands). Our host said you only have these choices: ” You either go very early in the morning – or you go very early in the morning!” Get it?
So we went very early in the morning ( 9.30 am is very early in the morning, isn’t it….)
No, it was a good tip- the walk was not to hot- and of course only downhill ( the tricky thing with Santorini: they beautiful blue and white villages are all high up on the volcanic rocks and the beaches are- right – at sea level… So no easy strolls to the beach…) The restaurants down at Amoudi Bay were all just opening and cleaning their terraces and we asked: ” Where is the beach?” Got a few looks and the men said: ” No beach, just rocks, but good swimming – that way!” That way was past a huge sign saying: DANGER, falling rocks, do not enter!! Being a half German Family, we asked again and the locals said: “Ah, just ignore, nice way…” Ok- so we stumbled over fallen gigantic rocks, made very clear to our worried looking kids, that NO – there is no danger…., balanced over narrow paths and finally arrived at a dead end. Yes, nice view, clear water, but special ? Mmmmmmh…
Anyway, some of us jumped in (again just rocks) and yes, in the water it is great, you can swim to a little rock island, jump of cliffs and that is indeed cool. While we were in the water, many people arrived and did what we were doing, so that made it less special and we were so glad we took the early morning option !!
Walking back to the restaurants again we were of the first people there and got a table right on the water – and the boss of the Amoudi Grill loves children, so we were spoilt rotten and got great insights from a local ! Next time we would take a ferry boat from Amoudi. at 10.20 to the next island, where there is only one taverna and unspoilt beauty !
Nick and Thomas decided to hike up to go to the pool while the girls and parents continued our conversations with the grill master and enjoyed lunch. Instead of hiking up we did what tourists need to do: took the donkey up to Oia- that’s wobbly but great fun!
Did I ever say, staying in Greece is cheap, did I ???
Well, I meant everywhere in Greece, EXCEPT Santorini…
We had shock of a lifetime when we went for dinner to Oia town last night – first of all, quadrillionth of people are pushing themselves through the narrow streets and the menu cards all scream ” I am even more expensive than my neighbour “… It was late, we were so hungry and all restaurants were full, full, full… We ended up on the roof top terrace of a restaurant that offered reasonably priced pasta- the waiter did warn us about the wind, but we wouldn’t listen, just heard our tummies rumbling… After ordering 3 plates of pasta to share between the six of us, the female species in our family got all cold ( yes, it was extremely windy…) and we were begging for more tablecloth so we can cover ourselves up- thank god they also love big families on Santorini, so they provided us with what we asked for… So we shared our really yummy pasta in the darkness covered with our tablecloth and still had a good time !
Nicholas comment the next morning : ” I know why we are good travellers: because we can accept things!” And that pretty much brings it to the point!!
We were getting up early again – alarm clock rang at 5.30 am…
That’s the sacrifices you do on holiday when you want to see lots…
Taxi picked us up at 6.00 – had to miss breakfast- Athens backpackers start serving at 7.30…
Two taxis were ordered – of course officially we are too many people for one taxi – but like on other occasions, we just squeezed into one… The taxi driver said ” what you do – it’s FAMILY- you cannot divide FAAAAmily!! That is something we discovered and loved on the whole journey in the South- people just looooove a big family – and they treat us just this extra bit nicer. In the North of Europe we experienced often the contrary – like- well, it’s your fault isn’t it, having so many kids. Here grown ups actually do talk to children and acknowledge their existence . Well – to an extend that goes on their nerves sometimes- quite hard for them to understand while strangers start kissing and cuddling them on a bus… Anyway…
A the port bought super sized donuts with lots of sugar for breakfast on the ferry- kids are loving it!!!!
Took the 5 hour superfast 6 boat to Santorini, squeezes into the bus that took us to the islands capital, Fira and had a super good Greek lunch: lamb in wine, pork in tomato, homemade sausage and of course: souvlaki !!! Lots of wine, water and soft drinks – and we never pay more than 40-50 Euros for the lot!
Next bus takes us to Oia, our final destination for the the next 3 nights !!!!!!
Yes – now we will have a holiday!!!
We made most of our cheap hotel deal and went swimming again at the hotel pool before checking out. Mr B went and bought cereal and milk for breakfast ( did not want to spend the 15,00 Euros per head for hotel breakfast…). So we were all prepared for our bus trip to Athens.
We were lucky again and our hotel was just NEXT to the bus station – 30 seconds walk…
Got the 12.30 pm express bus ( train travel in Greece nearly non existent any more- even to their capital you would have had to change from train to bus to Metro and the Greek people we asked all just recommended to use the bus – even questioned why we even consider train rides as they are so unpredictable…)
Arrived in Athens and took bus 51 to the city and then Metro to Akropolis. Our Backpacker Hostel is just next to the Metro Station.
Last entrance to Akropolis is 18.30 – so we make our way up there – still so hot … All happy to finally see the Parthenon live- Thomas made a model out of a Kellogg’s pack for school this year – so when we asked everyone several months ago, where they would like to go, Thomas immediately said: “The Parthenon!” Tick! And luckily for the rest of us too, as it truly is remarkable !
Long walk back – just had our favourite Pita Gyros and went to bed- early rise tomorrow!
After 16 hours on the ferry we arrive in Greece.
Nicholas’ first comment: ” Oh, I thought Greece is all temples, columns and ruins…”
Well, we leave the ferry in Patra, Greece’s second largest city… Instead of taking busses and metro to Athens straight away, we decided for another “no commitments ” day to give the kids (and us!!!) some time out. We managed to get a special deal on booking.com (our most popular site this holiday…) 2 triple rooms in a four star hotel with roof top pool for 45,– Euros per room…. The local backpackers would have been more expensive! That is where we are hanging out right now and enjoy a piece of Feta Cheese- yes- tastes even better while you are in Greece !
Good to know:
We used our time in Patra to plan ahead – something we don’t particularly like but find it is essential while travelling with kids. If you ever go on a journey like we do ( which we really, really do recommend!) please always calculate an hour or two per day with wifi access to sort out your next steps. We actually had a hard time finding accommodation for the Greek islands because the 15th of August is a public holiday in Greece and everybody is going! We changed our plans from Naxos to Santorini and luckily found a kind lady in a travel agency to book the ferry to Santorini for us- the online booking site wanted us to book really expensive cabins because everything else is full – well: the travel agent could bring the cost considerably down (another learning on this trip: DO ask experts,do NOT always just rely on online booking sites. For example our 5 year old travelled free of charge and the other 3 half price – which was not possible online).
Talk about cliches! It’s amazing how many you see in the beautiful old town of Bari!
We have a one night stopover – to get the 15 hour (superfast) ferry to Patras in Greece. Incredible, that we had to travel from Dubrovnik to Italy, in order to get across to Greece! But hey…
Back to the cliches: very old ladies sitting out on their stools, talking to each other. The hand gestures from mama 1 to mama 2 across the balconies full of washing. Grandpas riding Vespas carrying the groceries. Amazing slices of pizza for 1 euro. A gargantuan pizza for the kids for 8.50! And an Osteria with an antipasti selection that makes you wonder how anyone can make it further to the 1st plate (pasta) or the 2nd plate (meat or fish), let alone the desert!
Bari – a place Mr. B remembers from 20 years earlier, but now the memories are refreshed and full of smiles!
If you ever want to stay the night in Bari : we HIGHLY recommend B&B La Muraglia- the owners Tommaso and Diana run a spotless place with apartments, including a roof top terrace, provide all the insider information you need for a great stay in the old part of Bari, just minutes walk from the ferries.
Our aim is to get to Greece. Unfortunately there is no direct connection by train or bus any more after the political changes in this area of the world. Best solution is to take a ferry from Dubrovnik to Italy – just to get on another ferry to Greece! And that is exactly what we are doing!
It is a daytime journey- from 1.00 pm – 8.00 pm and we occupied a nice bench in the bar, played Uno and read comics. We also took turns in having naps in a 2 bed cabin !
Bari really surprised us- the old town is lovely and worth visiting!
Early morning- our bus to Dubrovnik leaves at 7.45 am…. Especially hard as Mrs and Mr B very much enjoyed an unexpected local party last night- in favour of spinach… These Croatians just find any reason to have a reason to sing, dance, drink and eat!
We arrive at Dubrovnik bus station 5 hours later ( bus was overbooked and we were scared to all hop out at toilet breaks in case our seats get taken- some passengers had to sit on the stairs…).
Kindly the landlord of the appartment we rented for 20 hours picked us up from the station!
Location of the appartment was perfect- we can really recommend Beachfront Dubrovnik at Frana Supila 21 / Suncana, Dubrovnik (Sinisa mob:+385 91 55 77 196). Just a roll down the hill for the beach and 4 minute walk to the old town.
Stunning views – Dubrovnik is beautiful and comfortably small. The water was clear and refreshing to swim in. Lilly’s first real time swimming in the sea ( with floaties…) !
Today NO commitments!
Only plan that was turned into reality was taking the taxi boat over to the beach and chilling out with 2 litres of water!
Nicholas broke the record by sleeping in till 2.00 pm- and Gary woke him!
Lilly’s highlight of the day: Manuela allowed her to take Sigi, her one eyed miniature dog, out for a walk! Dog owner at last !
Mr and Mrs B also went out for a walk to reserve the ferry to Dubrovnik for the next day – and found Jerolim- or better- he found us just hopping out of his car while we were lingering in front of his house. Jerolim is also the name for the olive oil products his family produces. Jerolim and his wife Maritsa gave us a presentation about their 14 products- from just organically grown olive oil to ointments against mozzy bites and depression. Very inspiring and fantastic to meet people with the same attitude towards sustainable agriculture, family values and cherishing every moment, no matter what.