I am very aware that it’s getting colder and colder here in London, but I often think that this is the best time to start daydreaming about your next holiday in the sunshine…
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that in July this year I went island hopping with Celestyal Cruises and over four days we visited the Athens Riviera, Syros, Cosme, Kos, Ios and Santorini.
I hadn’t been island hopping since I was 17, when I took tiny midnight boats, ate chips every day because they were cheap and called my school from a beach hut somewhere on Paros, to get my A Level results… (but that’s a whole other story).
I’m a fair bit older than that now, and although hopping from boat to boat with a dusty rucksack on my back still holds some level of appeal for me, there is now a stronger pull for a home base – somewhere I can unpack, plug in my electric toothbrush and have constant access to wifi, while I hop from island to island to my little heart’s content.
THE ATHENS RIVIERA
We flew into Athens with Aegean Airlines and spent the night at Grand Resort Lagonissi – one of the most luxurious hotels I’ve ever stayed in… many an A-Lister have spent their Summer hols here and it’s no wonder – this exclusive luxury resort is set on 72 acres of a lush green private peninsula with idyllic sandy coves and encircled by the blue waters of the Aegean Sea… it’s absolutely breathtaking.
DAY 1: SYROS
After a delicious breakfast at the hotel we set off to board our ship – Celestyal Cruises are modest but really friendly – all the staff are smiley and warm and the room held everything we required. We spent very little time on the boat itself, so a warm and cosy cabin with a comfortable bed was all I needed…
We ate lunch on the ship as we sailed towards Syros – the port of Ermoupoli in Syros is the capital of the Cyclades and the island itself is full to the brim with cathedrals, museums, intricate architecture, winding marble streets, boutique shops and aromatic blooms, framing the windows and doors of this stunning Greek island….
Dinner was at Allou Yialou, where course after course of delicious Greek and Mediterranean cuisine was brought to our table. The restaurant is located right on the beach of Kini, one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, where we watched the sun dip like golden treacle into the waters, before heading back to our ship for cocktails and sleep….
DAY 2: CESME
We began our day with a visit to the Sole Mare Beach Club – a heavenly resort with enormous white cushions and beds, covering the length of the goes-on-forever-jetty which runs the length of the bar and beyond… the bar serves delicious drinks and treats, including frozen yoghurt, which was perhaps the best frozen yoghurt I’ve EVER had. Cesme locals love this resort for its turquoise waters and pristine sands… I don’t blame them…
We then had lunch at the Alacati Yacht Marina, where we gazed at the yachts, devoured the amazing straight-out-the-sea fresh fish and assessed our new suntans… After lunch we strolled the streets and discovered new boutiques. This is a place for the wealthy to frolic and shop… so my purse stayed well and truly in my bag and I window shopped like a pro.
DAY 3: KOS
The green isle of Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. Its people are part of an agrarian culture that reaches back to the 4th century B.C. – a LONG TIME AGO. We began our day with a tour of the island’s old town and were taken around by one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met. He was, at a guess, in is late 70s and knew everyone we passed by.
We walked through the’ Old Town and then saw the old agora, the East excavations ,the old conservatory and we stopped at the Plane (Platanos) tree of Hippocrates, near the Knights’ Castle on the harbor. Apparently Hippocrates instructed his students under this very tree more than 2500 years ago….
We finished the day on Bravo Beach, which was quite windy on the day we went, so I was nervous to get out my camera to snap it in case sand got into the lens! But it was spectacular and I would love to go back…
DAY 4: IOS & SANTORINI
We arrived at the port of Ios in the morning and then walked up the steep donkey path which took us all the way to the village, known as Chora. Chora is a white and very picturesque cycladic village, full of stairs and narrow paths that make it inaccessible for cars of any kind. Flowers billow onto the streets and I kept expecting the cast of Mamamia to come dancing around each corner… it was stunning.
We headed to Manganari beach for our last bit of sun bathing before getting back on our boat for our final hop to Santorini where we had just a couple of hours before we had to be back on our boat to sail through the night to Athens… We dined at the wonderful Selene restaurant – a real gastronomic highlight.
I wheeled my suitcase off the ship for the final time and as I contemplated my trip on the plane home, I really couldn’t believe that I’d seen so many places in such a short space of time.
It was a trip I’ll never forget and Greece and its islands has cemented itself further into my heart as a true love.
I can’t wait to go back.
This post was shot on my Leica D-LUX – dinky but powerful.