In a land where your order wine by the Kilo, it’s impossible not to have the best time.
When you think of going Greek Island hopping, you can’t help but gravitate towards places like Mykonos and Santorini, after all, it’s pretty much all you ever see on Instagram, right? Having been to both those islands half a lifetime ago and knowing that they are currently fully blown tourist traps, Elzaan and I chose instead to meet up with friends in a little place called Skopelos. Skopelos is one of several islands which comprise the Sporades Island group. Its claim to fame though is being the location for the movie Mama Mia – If you haven’t seen it, you’re lucky, I’ll never get those 2 hours back!
Skopelos was actually the final destination of a crazy ‘Amazing Race’ style 3-week journey with Aramis Voyager. Aramis Voyager is a fragrance for the modern man who loves to explore, so it was the perfect partner for this epic trip. We flew Emirates via Dubai with a mammoth 11-hour layover, so decided to make use of the Dubai connect offering of a visa, transfers and some time at a hotel to catch up on our sleep. If your stopover in Dubai is longer than 8 hours, look into this free service as a shower and a nap makes a massive difference to a long layover.
Our first destination was actually Croatia (blog post coming soon) but as we were flying via Athens, we decided to give ourselves a day in the city to do some exploring. This was my third time in Athens, and having already visited all the “must see’ sights, we decided to get a different taste of Athens – quite literally in fact by booking a 3.5-hour walking food tour! It ended up being the perfect way to experience the city! Baklava in one hand, souvlaki in the other and a Mythos in between. Little did we know that Greece would eventually become a culinary journey more than anything else.
Athens is however not the great city it once was. It’s a little run down and you’ll be hard pressed to find a building not covered in graffitti. What it is though is authentic! It is bright, colourful and buzzing and everywhere you look is a cool craft beer spot or coffee roastery. The people are friendly, welcoming, helpful and enjoying their life – it really is quite contagious.
We really wish we had more time in Athens, but with a late night flight, we were out and off to Dubrovnik only to return 10 days later to start another epic journey to the Island of Skopelos. Getting to Skopelos is not easy, there are no ferries from Athens only flights into a neighbouring island called Skiathos (don’t bother staying there, it’s not great) and then a 2-hour ferry ride to Skopelos. It’s a journey, but one worth taking.
Skopelos is everything you expect from a Greek island. White washed houses spread across a labyrinth of alley ways, crystal clear waters, incredible food and non-stop sunshine. What it isn’t, is a town filled with bars and clubs selling fruity cocktails and imported beers. This is where you go when you want to experience an authentic Greek Island.
To be honest, I thought we would be bored out of our minds by day 2 – There really is very little to do here. But that’s the charm really, it forces you to relax! Once you embrace that you will have the holiday you never knew you needed.
Get ready for what I call the blue series…
We were based in a little port called Agnontas, if you blink while driving through you will definitely miss it. Okay, blink and sneeze, but really, it’s tiny. There are a handful of accommodation options, 3 tavernas right next to each other and a little cafe selling essentials. All of the above are 2 minutes apart and all surrounding one pebble beach that would become our home for the next week. It was perfect.
In the summer, the sun comes up at about 5am and only sets at about 9:30pm, so your days never seem to end. We were travelling with 4 friends to celebrate a 4oth Birthday and so filled our days with adventures and our nights with fried calamari and wine – both served by the kilo. Even with 3 tavernas at hand we ate every meal at the same one, this kind of repetition is what activates holiday mode, it takes all the guesswork out of the trip and forces you to embrace a simpler way of life.
Exploring is easy and there are loads of ways to do it, we hired a scooter for a couple of days a speedboat on another or just all piled our lilos into a tiny jeep in search of the perfect swim spot. To say the water is perfect sounds lame, but it is. Not only is it perfectly clear but it’s the kind of temperature that lets you spend hours in it – none of that warm bath water stuff you get in the Indian Ocean Islands or that numbingly cold Atlantic water we get back home. If I was Goldilocks I would say “This water is JUST right!!”
The most memorable part of our trip though would have to be the food. Breakfast was a frappe (Greek iced coffee) Greek yoghurt and muesli with local honey – you haven’t had greek yogurt till you’ve had it in Greece trust me. Lunch was generally an ‘each to their own’ affair and going to town for a Gyro and beer (Mythos or Fix) became the staple. Gyro’s, are the Greeks gift to street food, shaved pork, fresh tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and french fries all wrapped in a pita bread is a work of true culinary genius! It’s worth going to Greece for one of these alone. In true Mediterranean style, no matter what any of us were doing, when the sun started setting at 9pm we would always come together for dinner and dinner was always a 3-hour affair! There is too much good food to mention, but a Skopelos cheese pie needs to be on your list, as does fried calamari, and mousaka and saganaki cheese – oh dear I’ve mentioned too much good food already!
At the risk of boring you, I’m gonna wrap it up. Every day was much the same, wake up, explore, eat, swim, tan repeat! I think it may have been the best holiday I’ve had in a long time! If you’re looking for an authentic Greek experience, the one you never see on the front of a postcard, then this is it! We’re already planning our next visit.
If you have any questions on what where or how, just drop me a comment below and I’ll get right back to you.
Okay. Travel safe and stay fancy.