Travel Diaries: Jumping Ship in the Aegean Sea
One of the main bits of advice during our fertility journey that we have heard time and time again has been ‘just relax’, ‘take a break’ and ‘try not to think about it’ – all easier said than done!
However, as with most people, a holiday does always appeal, so last year we tried to make good of a bad situation, got out ur bucket lists and started looking for places in the world we wanted to visit whilst were were ‘child free’. It turns out, now with the Zika Virus in full swing in many of the tropical religions of the world, this is now a more difficult, more stressful task to do that you first might think – thanks Zika!
Usually we choose to enjoy what we have of the english summer, and head to tropical, warmer waters later in the year around my birthday in November, however, now with Zika in play our tropical options were rather limited – in fact pretty much non-existent for a cheap, hot, escape in November. It became apparent we really needed to go away during the summer months, and probably somewhere in Europe as it is currently not affected (at time of publishing this article).
In our search for the ideal holiday, my husband threw in a wild card, he had seen an advert online for Anchored – a week long party cruise claiming to be the ‘Ibiza at sea’. Cruise holidays have never really appealed to us before, but many people rave about them, so we looked at the music line up and the destination itinerary and it all looked pretty amazing. Plus, this was definitely something we could not do in future with children in tow so we thought lets make the most of our young, child-free, adult years with no responsibilities and go crazy one last time!
In that moment of madness we booked it. You only live once, and I always live by the motto that you can’t say you don’t like something until you have tried it (within reason of course)!
So in June we packed our bags, and headed off to Rome where the ship was scheduled to start from, then we would venture out into the Mediterranean Sea, stopping at Santorini, Mykonos, Cannes, Montecarlo and finally back to Rome.
What have we done?!
Within a few hours of setting sail, it became apparent how far out of our comfort zone we had put ourselves. I did not fit in with the other girls, who were all very glamorously dressed, wearing sky high heals – I stood out like a sore thumb in my flip flops and makeup free face. Naively, I was ready to play in the pool, not party around the pool – doh! I rushed back to the room, threw on some dangly earrings (that I would usually wear out in the evenings to dress up) and dug out my waterproof mascara, then went back out and hit the bar – a glass dutch courage is what I needed now! That said, the music was great and we were having a great time drunk dancing by the pool until…
…my husband spun me round and caught me just right across the ear by accident – enough to create a suction and burst my ear drum. As a result we ended up heading to bed early after dinner, waking up the next morning with a hangover and ear ache!
The doctor on board the ship advised me that this was now not the best environment for me, I needed to keep my ear dry and try not to be around loud music/noises – pretty unavoidable on a party cruise!
The second day of the cruise was an all day pool party at sea. We would not reach Santorini until the 3rd morning. So we found a spot on the top deck where I could watch over the party and enjoy some of the music, and of course sured our hangover with the old fashioned hare-of the-dog!
That evening we went for dinner in one of the restaurants above deck with sea views (very nice) and hit the casino. I’m not really a gambler, I hate the thought of loosing/wasting money, I always loose any way – I’m just not that lucky! However my husband does enjoy it, so we agreed to play a few games, lost quite a few times, but then just as I was ready to leave, my husband flukily won big on the roulette table! Fantastic – now lets leave before we go out on a loss!
We watched a bit more live music, before heading to bed, ready to wake up in Santorini the next day.
A Day in Santorini
We only had a day in Santorini (our ship anchored at 12pm and was set to leave at 9pm), so we decided to make the most of it and hire a beach buggy so we could whip around the island! This was a good move as Santorini is a small island so you can easily make the most of a day if you have a buggy. Plus, if you are like us (not that in to culture or shopping) this is a good way to get the best of both; I was desperate to see Oia, but knew that it wasn’t really my husbands up of tea – he hates shopping and mooching round, so i knew my time would be limited here. We headed straight there before the heat set in, spend two hours or so wandering, grabbed a snack and an iced tea with the most amazing view before heading back to the buggy and setting out to explore the rest of the island.
Santorini is a volcanic island – it actually used to be a volcano years and years ago, so its moon-like, crescent, shape with a steep inner side comes from the formation of crater on the now dormant volcano. The outer (south) side of the island in contrast is much less steep and has black sand beaches (lava sand) so whilst exploring we stopped at a few hidden coves to sunbath, play in the see and check out the black sand – which looked very strange!
We then headed back to Thera to have dinner ashore before boarding our ship which was anchored there. On route though we saw the Santorini CrossFit box – unfortunately at this point we were too short on time to stop in though – maybe next time.
Once back aboard the ship, we watched the sun go down and enjoyed one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen!
My advise for anyone thinking about visiting Santorini – its beautiful, and you wont be disappointed, but if you are active beach lovers like this, perhaps stop there just for a weekend/few nights max, mixing it in with a few other greek islands to get he best of everything.
Other things that you could do, which we didn’t have time for, are:
- Stay somewhere in Oia or Thera with a private infinity pool – take in those amazing views day and night – the sunsets are incredible
- Visit a winery – Santorini has loads of vineyards to be explored – perhaps spend an afternoon there, learn how wine is made and become a wine connoisseur!
Next stop Mykonos where my friends were staying the same week and we had arranged to meet up with them for a beach party and a club night booked – so we planned to get an early night so we were fresh for the next day.
Mykonos is possibly my most favourite Greek island that I have ever visited – but I still have plenty more to explore yet! There just seems to be something for everyone – beautiful beaches, lively or chilled night life (whichever you prefer), delicious food, beautiful boutique hotels to stay in and a little bit of shopping too if you want it.
We docked early in the morning on the 4th day, so when we woke up we were already there (one of the best things about cruising).
Unfortunately though, our early night didn’t go as well as we had planned, and we should have foreseen with the nature of the cruise (remember we booked this in a moment of madness!). The parties (and the loud music) lasted all night, with people running up and down the corridors until the early hours, so after 3 sleepless nights (ok – two of which we were revellers in) we had both had enough, plus – I wasn’t supposed to be there with my ear anyway. So, remembering that we had won big in the casino the previous night, we decided to cut our losses and jump ship – all before we had even finished breakfast.
By 10am, we had checked in to a beautiful little boutique, couples retreat, bed and breakfast, called Apsenti in Agios Ioannis, a small outlet on the west side of the island. It was so quiet, so the opposite of the madness we had just abandoned. It was perfect.
We rang our friends to see where they were, we still planned to go to the beach party, but as a bonus we now had 4 extra days that we could spend with them too – so our originally planned flying visit was now a lot more chilled – a lot more us!
Mykonos, has all the charm and character of small island life, it’s far more relaxed law wise, but as a result you never see any trouble. There are plenty of nice places to go eat and visit, but equally they all seem to be chilled, not too pretentious or swanky – perfect for us! We soon learnt with the beach club, if they dont advertise their prices then we probably cant afford it – the cost of sun bed hire could be as much as €20K per day! For this reason you get loads of nice yachts visiting the island too – so if you are in to boats there a bit of eye candy for you!
After a 4th day of drinking and partying, we decided the next day we were going to relax. We took the quad out and explored the north coast of the island, where it was a bit more baron and rugged and all in all less touristy than the south. Places we stopped in at included Ftelia beach, Agios Sostis and Panormas – all of which are worth a visit for your typical, less fancy beach days.
On the Friday we hired a little fishing boat and found a secret beach which we spent a few hours on in the morning enjoying the present and appreciating how fortunate we were to be able to get to places like this. As lunch approached we set off further along the coast to find a little taverna for lunch, before making our way back via various refreshment and swimming stops at beaches and coves.
My top things to do in Mykonos:
- Explore Pirate Trap – The main town/city of Mykonos was designed to trap and confuse pirates give the locals time to escape before they got captured.
- Eat Chicken Gyros – A classic and very tasty greek dish – I am addicted to it!
- Party with Sasa – If you are up for a party day, head to Tropicana, Paradise Beach for a fun fuelled beach party with the famous Sasa, I will let you find out who he is, but you wont miss him!
- Take a boat trip – explore secret coves and hidden beaches
- Hire a Quad Bike – a fun, relaxed way to explore the island – most places are only a 40 min drive and there are no huge main roads to worry about.