Third time, still a charm.

Finding a reason to escape to Bali is never a problem for us so we used our first year anniversary as an excuse to escape our tiny little red dot. Our trip was a short 4 night trip booked on Airasia for SGD 125 per pax. Upon landing in Bali, we headed straight to Ubud for IDR 200k. Our stay in Ubud was along Graha Sandat street just a short walk from the Ubud centre. Our villa (SGD 150/night) had a private pool as well as a bathtub to soak. We spent our first 2 nights in Ubud and then headed to Kuta for our last 2 nights as we were catching a very early flight out of Bali.

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Ubud boasts so much richness and culture from within, each visit to Ubud triggers different emotions from within me. This trip was no different along with my amazing eats.

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Our first meal at Puspa’s Warung (IDR 105k for 2)

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Dinner at Nomad (IDR 335k for 2)

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Breakfast at Milk and Madu (IDR 221k for 2)

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Terrace Lunch Views from Sari Organik (IDR 30k for 2)

Another option for a lunch view apart from Sari Organik would be Cafe Pomegranate. Located on the same stretch either eateries offer you a clean and green meal with the terrace view to enjoy while taking shelter from the heat.

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Deco at Herb Library

 

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Poached Eggs with Watermelon Juice at Herb Library (IDR 205k for 2)

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Surprisingly awesome Nasi Campur at Folk Gardens (IDR 300k for 2)

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Escaped the heat soaking in the pool on our last day in Ubud

Apart from these, we spotted insane crowd at Warung Biah Biah and had to squeeze a meal there just before leaving Ubud on our last day. Warung Siam for some Thai cuisine if you’re craving spice.

Leaving Ubud late at night, we practically just had a day in Kuta before heading out of Bali the next day. Our stay in Kuta was somewhat near the airport at Vasanti Kuta Hotel (SGD 60/night).

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Highly recommend a meal at Mamasan if you can. An electric mix of quality South East Asian food despite it being on the slightly more expensive side. The meal costed the 2 of us IDR 530k.  Kafe Batan Waru as well as Made’s Warung are popular eateries to consider while travelling Indonesia as well.

Trips to Bali always have me feeling like I have so much more to see, taste and explore. I suppose Bali will be a destination I could make yearly trips to if my schedule permits. Hope to see you soon Bali.

 

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Go Vietnam!

Decided to explore another country with the husband to kickoff our travels for 2019 together. This time, it was Saigon calling! My husband’s first time and the last time I stepped into Vietnam was in 2014 so I thought it was high time for a revisit. We caught a Saturday early morning flight on Scoot to Ho Chi Minh City with a return on a Public Holiday, Labour Day for SGD 170 per person. We spent 2 nights in HCMC and thereafter headed to Phu Quoc to idle another 2 nights before returning home. Domestic flights to get us to Phu Quoc was steep as our travel dates coincided with Vietnam’s Independence Day. We flew Jetstar and Vietnam Airlines respectively for our 45 min domestic flight each way.

HCMC

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We stayed well within District 1 given we spent only 2 nights in HCMC. Silverland Sayko Hotel pleasantly surprised us with their warm welcome, great hospitality and excellent service rendered during our short stay with them. The minute you step into the hotel, you feel like you have stepped into a hotel in Japan. Everything feels homely and zen. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Silverland even despite the limited breakfast spread. 2 nights in the hotel costed us SGD 245.

Plenty of eateries to enjoy as well as cafes to spend quiet afternoons indoors away from the scorching sun. Some of our favourites during our time in HCMC was Workshop Coffee, Quan Bui, Pizza 4P’s as well as Propaganda Bistro. Pizza 4P’s pleasantly surprised us, as I had assumed it was one of those over-rated joints on Tripadvisor. Low behold it was definitely a meal not to be missed even though my time in HCMC was short. But, do note, reservations are needed despite the couple of different outlets they have around HCMC.

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Hearty first meal at Quan Bui after catching an early flight from SG to HCMC

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc is known to be the pearl island of Vietnam boasting it’s idyllic beaches and picturesque sunsets. Arriving in Phu Quoc Airport felt like a breeze. The air felt salty and my feet was itching to feel sand and the sea all at once. We picked a Deluxe Beach Bungalow with Pool at Novotel Resort for our 2 night stay despite the steep price. We had a private pool as well as our balcony views were greeted with a beach front view.

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It was a relaxing 2 nights stay at Novotel with plenty of time spent in the waters to escape the heat as well as throng of people who decided to have a getaway during the long weekend holiday in Vietnam. 3 restaurants to dine at as well as 3 different pools to choose from. There is definitely plenty to do while staying within the resort. Perfect time relax and wind down as well as for families travelling with kids!

Apart from the resort itself, Phu Quoc to be honest was a let down as there weren’t too much activities to do. The main town, Duong Dong, definitely paled in comparison to the many different towns we have visited in the region. We were recommended by the staff of Novotel to check out the Cable Car right at the south of the island. But, the lack of enough shuttle bus timings to facilitate us heading there deterred us. We ended up spending all our time within the resort and concluding our Vietnam trip by catching our International flight within a span of 40 minutes from arriving at HCMC’s domestic terminal. Was definitely a miracle we made it despite check in counter closing! Definitely a travel story for the road!

Relations(hips).

2018 ended far too quickly and we are already in the midst of the second quarter of 2019. Time is always a paradoxical phenomenon I try to come to terms with every now and then. Today was no different as I recollected the months leading up to the wedding. August 2017 feels just like it unfolded before my eyes yesterday as well as on same days it feels like it was a whole decade ago. It was the best friend’s wedding about two months ago and I don’t quite know if I have fully recovered from all the mayhem and chaos.

Indian weddings are such that the pre-events leading up to the big day feels like a wedding on its own scale. Depending on how elaborate you want things to be, you end up spending a hefty amount on all the pre-events when combined together compared to your wedding day itself. The pre-events are largely for your relations (both near and far) to gather under one roof and start ushering in the festivities with more festivities. It’s almost a week long affair the leads up to the big day!

Having felt like going through my best friend’s wedding, like it was my wedding all over again, I have realized relations are to be kept at arms, in this case, hips length. The closer you have them with you, the more the obligations pile upon your shoulders. And sooner or later, it feels like you an organizing a fiesta for them rather than you and your partner. The whole process leaves you tearing your head apart that you begin to wonder if the whole wedding process turned out to be what you had imagined it to be or along the way morphed into something so unrecognizable.

When I think back if I were to redo the process all over again, I shudder. I don’t think I can subject myself to the level of stress and detailed planning an Indian wedding entails. I can’t say much if these “traditions” would change ever, but I think I can take baby steps in ensuring to now get pulled into the wedding mania when the next generation comes along.

Always.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott

Pain is very much like grief.

First stage, denial. The inability to accept that this happened. Especially to you.

Second stage, anger. You spill your emotions with words that are sharper than the dagger.

Third stage, bargaining. You try to strike deals with yourself, God, your partner. You make far too many promises, of which none you are able to keep.

Fourth stage, depression. You lock yourself away from the outside world. You think you are healing, but actually, you are just hurting.

And finally, the fifth stage, acceptance.

We have arrived, hand in hand. We somehow lost our way while walking towards the same destination. But now, we feel renewed to take on the change that is to come in our lives. Sometimes, good things come to an end so that better things can arrive. I reckon, this was one of those waves that life threw upon us as we least expected. We will ride it together and emerge glorious. I’m sure of it. As sure, as the love you felt for me when you said “I love you” during our first phone conversation. 22956. Always, S.

 

One.

Simple joys when I think of our happy place.

The sound when your coin pouch and watch make when they drop them on the bowl on our shoe cabinet.

The tiny somersaults within me when I hear you pull our drawer while you change and come to see what I have cooked for us.

Running towards you when you get home, like I’m at the beach and you are my wave of happiness.

Your glee while opening the parcels that arrive that it feels like Christmas and I’m your Santa.

The childlike fun you have while washing our balcony.

Seeing you so settled on our sofa the minute you sit down and raise your legs on our footstool.

The long, sometimes over-exaggerated ummmm, you make after the first bite of food you have.

Coming to know, now, that our bed is your happy place. It is mine too.

Knowing you are sleeping so soundly beside me.

Finally, Milos!

We concluded our Grecian adventures at our last stop, Milos, for 3 nights before heading back home. After a packed 4 days in Santorini, Milos was definitely down time and to reflect back on the past 2 weeks of adventures in the Cyclades.

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Lovely accomodation at Venia’s Gueshouse

Our accomodation for Milos was in Pollonia at Venia’s Guesthouse (SGD 70/night). It is about a 15 min drive away from the port of Milos. Our guesthouse staff was helpful to come get us from the port and check us in when we arrived.

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Streets of Pollonia

We spent the rest of the day exploring Pollonia and planning our activities for  the upcoming days. We were advised that very strong northern winds were to be expected the next day. And as such, to book ourselves on the boat tour, the day after tomorrow. We were encouraged to explore the north and swim in the south as the waters would be calmer.

Walking into any travel agency or car rental shop would make you feel like a million bucks when a friendly staff greets you and dishes out ALL the information you need to conquer Milos for you. That was most definitely the case, for me at least. I have come to realise, the Greek are really friendly people and also, they are highly proud of their culture and history that they readily share information with people, especially to foreigners. Recalling back on my entire travel, I guess it was consistent all throughout the islands. Must be the Greek culture eh. I remember, in Naxos, the staff of the car rental shop was generous in helping us get around Naxos by pulling out the map and pinning down spots we must see. She even added an disclaimer, “you don’t even have to rent a car at my shop, but go enjoy Naxos” while she was at it. Wow!

Travel Tip: To explore Milos fully, a boat tour is a MUST! Only the eastern half of Milos is developed with roads suitable for driving with a car. 

Having said that, our only difficulty in Milos was getting ourselves a car on such notice. Based on my previous experience in Naxos and Paros, I assumed we could just come into the island and get ourselves a basic car for a day or so. But, boy, we were wrong. Because Milos is a rather small island, not many tour and car operators exist. As such, booking it in advance would save you a bit of hassle once you arrive in the island. After nearly 10 over phone calls, we got ourselves a car for a day for 33E.

Things to do

1. Papafragas Cave/Sarakiniko

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Gusty winds as we were at Papafragas Cave

2. Catacombs of Milos

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The Catacombs of Milos is situated in Tripiti is a charming traditional hilltop village 5 km from Adamas, the port. A 10-15 min activity that costs 4E for the audio guide that provides fascinating insight to life on this amazing island over the centuries.

3. Ancient Theater

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Just a stone’s throw away from the Catacombs, so if you’re in the vicinity, it’s worth having a look. Nothing like the theater in Athens of course, but a little history of Milos nonetheless. The Ancient Marble Theater offers great views of the Adamas bay.

4. Kilma Town

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Klima is a uniquely preserved little fishing village. As there is no direct bus you must take a bus to Tripiti and then walk down (and back up) 280 stairs. Otherwise, a private car or scooter can take you as far as the road goes to within about 50 meters.

5. Fyriplaka Beach

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Perfect dip to cool off the summer heat of Milos

6. Boat Tour (must!)

 

We paid 140E for 2 of us for a full day boat tour around Milos. A lot of time was given for snorkelling and swimming as well as friendly boat crew to take us through the sites of Milos that line the coast. As I mentioned before, the only way to explore Milos in full.

Travel Tip: Again, there aren’t many boat operators in Milos. So, if you are spending limited time on the island, you’d be better off getting yourself seats on the boat before you arrive in Milos. We were lucky, we got seats while we were there and weather was great while we set sail. 

Food

1. Navagio (Meal for 2 was 74E)

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Lobster and mussels for 2

2. Gialos (Meal for 2 was 73E)

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Another day, another lobster

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Sunset in Pollonia, on our final night in Milos

An island easily missed by tourists while choosing which islands to visit when in Greece. The barrenness of Milos and the scars of its immense amounts of quarrying and mining should not deter visitors from appreciating the natural beauties of the coast and the interesting historical sites to be found on Milos.

With that, I conclude my 18 days of travel in Greece. It was one helluva fun ride navigating our way through tzatikis, donkeys and throngs of people in the alleys of Fira. I definitely want/need to see more of you.

Thank you and efharisto.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Santorini Lovin’

Santorini was definitely my highlight while planning my Greece travel as well as post travel, looking back on all the islands. It was definitely a place I wished I had more than 3 nights in. But, we’ll be back for sunset sailing as well as Santo Winery definitely!

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True to it’s postcard images, the blue and white domes, really leave you in awe of the beauty of the island against the caldera at the background. Before, I take you through my amazing 3 days in Santorini, a few travel tips to note, while planning your days.

  1. Santorini is probably the most visited island in entire Greece. As such, prices for accommodation as well as food are expensive. We definitely felt the price hike even though we arrived early in the season. Especially, since we arrived from Naxos, where everything is relatively cheaper all year round.
  2. The entire island, sits at the top of the volcano. Apart from the old/new port, all the action happens above sea level (no pun intended there). As such, from any where you are in the island, you have a breathtaking view.
  3. Booking your accommodation as well car (if you are planning on renting) early helps in securing a good deal. Do not wait to arrive to book a hotel or car, because you definitely will be paying a higher price if something is available for you. Things get snapped up pretty quickly and way in advance especially during summer.
  4. We were told my locals there that people visit the island even during winter. That, was definitely news to me. Although, personally, summer travels are always the best (for me).
  5. The entire island was crowded (by my standards) although we were still early in the season. As such, restaurants (especially the ones with good food + a view), get booked up quite early. We were advised by fellow travellers we met along the way that making reservations would be the best to not get disappointed.

Disclaimer: We splurged on our Santorini leg with a fancy ride as well our accommodation, since we were gonna make this the highlight of our first Europe travel together. 

Our 5-star airbnb stay in Pyrgos (https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/16417609) featured above with a hot tub overlooking the island. A night was around SGD 400, but totally no regrets with our stay at Daniel’s place.

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Rented a Mini for the husband (50E per day)

Food

1. Metaxi Mas (Meal for 2 was 23E)

Recommended by our Airbnb since this place was very close to our home, we arrived for late lunch and it was packed with tourists.

2. The Cave of Nikolas (Meal for 2 was 60E)

Fish platter with amazing wine to end of our meal. Again, hospitality was top notch.

3. To Ouzeri (Meal for 2 was 43E)

 

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Amazing stuffed calarami! 10/10

4. The Athenian House (fancy!)

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No photos of our meal but fine dining. We were recommended to dine here by fellow travellers we met in Mykonos. Went early to catch sunset from the restaurant while enjoying each course of our dinner. Amazing experience. Indulge if you can, although we were 121E poorer after our dinner there.

5. Lolita’s Gelato 

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A refreshing stop for the summer heat.

 

6. Ammoudi Fish Tavern (Must visit!)

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Debone fish service included 🙂 (Meal for 2 with wine was 65E)

Things to do

1. Sunset at Profitis Ilias Monastery (the highest point of the island at 567 meters) 

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Sunset here was breathtaking as it felt like we were in the midst of the clouds. Was amazing to be greeted with such a beautiful sight on our arrival in Santorini, despite the cold winds.

2. Explore Prygos town

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3. Walk from Fira to Oia 

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We didn’t actually complete the entire stretch by foot because we kept halting for a photo moment as well as it was too crowded as were in the stretch mid-day. This 10km stretch would take you about half a day to complete depending on how fast your strides are.

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Travel Tip: Having visited Santorini, our recommendation would actually to do the reverse direction (i.e. Oia to Fira). Instead of catching sunset in Oia, as 99% of the tourists have planned, catching sunset in Fira instead, let’s you enjoy the peace and tranquility a bit more instead of thronging with the masses to get a good spot. As I mentioned before, because of the landscape of the island, from every angle you actually can witness the sunset. 

Also, while walking you can break up the walk by stopping for a drink or meal at Imerovigli. A quieter town that many skip stopping by at.

4. Skaros Rock

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Another spot to enjoy sunset away from the crowd would be Skaros Rock. Just be mindful, the path is not the best so covered shoes are a must. We ended up in the area in flip-flops so didn’t manage to scale to the top of the rock.

5. Ammoudi Bay (my favourite!)

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Ammoudi Bay is about 300 steps below Oia town. Set aside about an hour (maximum) and you should be ok, nothing too arduous. Since we had planned on lunching at Ammoudi Bay, we parked our car at the bottom and decided to hike up before the mid-day sun came scorching down on us. Was a good move by the husband so that we didn’t have to conquer the steps after a hearty meal. If you not keen on walking up/down the steps, there are donkeys you could ride on. But, it’s better to go up on the donkeys as downhill might be a tad bit scary.

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Cliff jumping at Agios Nikolaos (stone’s throw away from Ammoudi Bay)

6. Oia 

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You can easily spend half a day getting lost in the streets of Oia, the most picturesque village in Santorini. Plenty to do! Byzantine Castle Ruins for some photo moments (the hot spot for sunset), get lost within the oldest bookstore, Atlantis Books, wander the cobbled streets of the town.

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7. Beaches! – Kamari/Perissa/Red Beach

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Kamari Beach

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Red Beach

Like I mentioned when I begun my post, 3 nights in Santorini weren’t enough for me to explore all that the island offered. I would have wanted more time to spend some time at Megalochori as well as Akrotiri towns. There is always so much to do at some places. Santorini was definitely one of those islands for me. But, I will definitely return for boat tours, wine and donkey beer. 😉

Here’s a few options on other resources that helped me plan my time in Santorini. Hope it helps with yours too.

  1. https://santorinidave.com/best-things-to-do-santorini
  2. https://finduslost.com/complete-santorini-greece-travel-guide/
  3. https://santorinidave.com/best-restaurants-santorini
  4. https://handluggageonly.co.uk/2015/06/09/11-delicious-foods-you-have-to-eat-in-santorini-greece/

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

 

Naxos and/or Paros, for you?

While planning my island hopping adventures, the people I spoke to all had one (very) common thing to ask me. 4 different islands in Cyclades? How different can the islands be? Boy, do I now know, how different the islands can be. Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades region, is well known for its agriculture due to it’s fertile soil. A restaurant we dined at in Mykonos, told us their lamb actually comes from Naxos because it is tasty.

If you are looking for a party island/great beaches, skip Naxos. But, if you are looking to explore something apart from booze and beaches, Naxos will be your #1 choice. It’s mountainous regions offer a very different perspective stay to your typical image of what an island should be.

We had no complaints about our amazing stay at Ampelos Suites (SGD 60/night) located very near the square in Naxos (which is walkable from the port, about a 10-15 min, depending on how heavy your luggage is). We got a free upgrade to the suite as we indicated we were on our honeymoon. Reception staff was friendly and very helpful.

First order of business, after checking in, was to grab some lunch. We were recommended Maro Tavern (very close to the square), by the hotel staff. A very cozy and homely feel when you step foot in Maro. Food doesn’t disappoint either. After lunch, we picked up a rental car (40E, for 48 hours). We were recommended to take a FIAT panda so that the car won’t struggle when going up the mountain areas of Naxos.  We had no problems at all with the car when we drove the next day, so that was a very useful tip by our rental shop.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the western side of Naxos by driving along the coast. We stopped at Agios Prokopios Beach to catch sunset with some drinks. As we were in Naxos, early in the season, there weren’t too many restaurants that were open. But, the plus was, we had the beach all to ourselves. Not a bad trade off, eh.

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Prawn and fish with greek salad (always a staple) for 28E

We were recommended to dine at Flamingo Restaurant by our “non-greek” photographers-turned-friends. But, to be honest, unfortunately, our experience wasn’t fantastic. A lot of items were not available partly because we arrived for dinner quite late and also because, it wasn’t full season yes. But, nonetheless the Greek hospitality is something that blows you away each time you visit a restaurant even if the food doesn’t.

We begun our next day early for our real adventures! But, first a good brekkie and coffee before we hit the road. We started our morning at Padelis’ Coffee Shop on two of our three morning in Naxos. 🙂

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Breakfast spread for 20E

Stop #1: Dimitras Temple

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Stop #2: Drive through Halki and Filoti towns

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Church at Filoti

 

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Picturesque corner of Filoti

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Chanced upon this cute little store as we drove out of Filoti town

Stop #3: Lunch at Apiranthos

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Aperinthian Woman’s Association

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Interior of a supermarket to blow you away

Stop #4: Weavers at Moni (personal fav!)

A community of weavers nestled in this small village tucked away in the centre of the island.

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A lady kind enough to open up her workshop (i.e. home) up for us

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Unparalleled views while driving

Stop #5: Castro, Castle of Naxos

Stepping into 1207

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Chanced upon a royalty while walking into the castle who took us right into her shop (she lives right above the shop, holy cow! what are the odds!)

Stop #6: Sunset at Portara

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Ended the day with dinner at Duokato restaurant.

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Greek salad and octopus in tomato sauce and fried potatoes (20E)

Travel Tip: Another pitstop I would have loved to visit was Mount Zas Cave, the highest peak on the island. However, we were advised we wouldn’t have enough time to slot in a trip to the cave, if we were trying to get back to the town by sunset. 

Day trip to Paros

The following day, we did a day trip to Paros. Again, when planning our trip, some told us Paros is better island to be at than Naxos. But, to be honest, we choose to stay in Naxos solely because we couldn’t find an accommodation better or at least comparable to Ampelos Suites (at that price range). So, we told ourselves, a day-trip would work so we won’t miss out on the fun. And it surely was! Loved our day-trip out to Paros. Tickets costed us 42E for the 2 of us.

Paros is better known for their beaches and beach bars (Santa Maria and Punda Beach Club). It’s interesting to note that, despite both islands being so close to each other (under an hour ferry ride away), the feel of the island are very different.

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Picked up a smart car at Sardis Rentals to explore Paros for 20E

Plenty of beaches all around Paros for swimming as well as water sports even at Santa Maria Beach. But, our personal favourites were Kolympethres Beach as well as Faragas Beach. The waters were so crystal clear it’s impossible to resist jumping in.

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If this isn’t bliss, I don’t know what is [waters of Kolympethres Beach]

Both meals at Christiana’s as well as Alyki Restaurant were amazing! Highly recommend Alyki Restaurant especially. Also, while in Paros, be sure to stop by Lefkes Village just for a bit. Getting lost in the narrow alleys without crowd (think Mykonos) feels amazing.

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Calamari (not featured), crab salad and fish for 35E

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Amazing grilled fish (not featured) at Alyki Restaurant

Exploring Lefkes Village

We caught the 8.45pm ferry from Paros and reached Naxos in time for dessert before calling it a night. 3 nights in Naxos was just about right to get ready for the throng of people that awaited us at our next island. It’s time for Santorini, woohoo!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

 

Party it up in Mykonos!

2 things Mykonos is known for = strong winds and party!!

Due to our ferry delay, we arrived in Mykonos port way past noon. After much haggling with the driver, we arrived in Fabrica Bus Station in Mykonos town EUR 10 poorer. Our accomodation, Orpheas Rooms (SGD 100/night), was located strategically en route to Little Venice (the heart of Mykonos). Accommodation was pretty basic with the room size being quite small but service by the staff and the location definitely made our stay memorable. Highly recommend staying in Mykonos town otherwise another option to consider slightly away from town would be Platis Yialos to give you access some of the more popular beaches of Mykonos.

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Our accomodation – Orpheas Rooms

Mykonos is known for their white cobbled paths and blue houses. And, the reality wasn’t too far from what I had imagined it to look like. Except, walking through the town makes you feel like you are in a labyrinth. It is said though, the reason for the paths being designed such was that so people could keep themselves hidden from the eyes of pirates.

Things to do

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Sunset view from Boni’s Windmill

  1. Windmills! –  The windmills are among the most recognized landmarks of the island and one of the most famous Mykonos attractions. During the 17th and the 18th centuries the island had more than twenty windmills, which contributed to the wheat production, a fundamental element of the island’s economic development. Nowadays seven of them are maintained in decent condition. The most famous ones are the Kato Myloi ( Lower Windmills) that stand on a hill facing the sea. I highly recommend that you walk up the hill in Chora and visit the windmill of Boni that is now a museum. The view from up there is incredible, and it’s also one of the best places to watch the sunset. It’s the perfect location to bring a blanket to sit on and cozy up for the sunset.
  2. Little venice – One of the most famous and charming areas in Mykonos is called Alefkantra, or Little Venice, as its picturesque setting next to the sea is reminiscent of the Italian city. Sip a cocktail in one of the bars and restaurants in the area to enjoy one of the best sunset views. Kastro’s Bar is home to arguably the most photographed passageways overlooking the water (pictured above).
  3. Stroll around Mykonos town – Lose yourself in the winding alleys of Mykonos town with the white houses, blue doors and windows and colourful bougainvilleas is a must do in Mykonos.
  4. Rent an ATV and scoot around the island – ATV rental costed us EUR 25 but we saw so much of Mykonos and had so much fun exploring out of Mykonos town. Highly recommended!
  5. Take a boat trip to archaeological site of Delos – The island of Delos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most important Archaeological Sites in Greece. According to Mythology, it was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. The island is now uninhabited, but you can visit it by taking one of the many ships that depart daily from Mykonos. (except Monday when the site is closed) Tickets to the Archaeological site of Delos cost: Full 12€, Reduced 6€. (student cards do work, so bring them along!) While at Delos, it is highly recommended to do a guided tour. Another option to explore Delos would be to do a day cruise out of Mykonos. We booked our full day boat tour (Rhenia Islands + Delos) via Viator. (SGD 350 for 2 of us) Despite the price being quite steep, it was a memorable day out on a boat despite getting severely sun-burnt.
  6. Nightlife – Mykonos is a party island and has the best nightlife in Greece. You can start your evening by watching the sunset and sipping a cocktail in Little Venice and as the night progresses you can visit the legendary Scandinavian bar, the gay-friendly Jackie O, Cavo Paradiso or you can head in one of the famous beach bars like Nammos, Scorpios and Jackie O on the beach. The options are endless.
  7. Beaches – The beaches of Mykonos are famous for their golden sand and crystal clear waters. There is a beach for every mood. If you want to party, then Paradise beach and Super Paradise beach is for you. If you want a family-friendly beach, you can head to Kalo Livadi, Elia, Ornos, and Lia.  If you are looking for a secluded beach, then you can go to Kapari or Agios Sostis. Now if you are looking for a trendy beach, where all the celebrities go you should go to Psarou. There you will find one of the best beach bars worldwide, Nammos. Beware though it is expensive. If you are looking for a trendy place, then you should go to Paraga beach with the famous beach bar Scorpios or Ftelia beach with the Alemagou beach bar. My personal favourites – Agios Sostis and Kapari! Kapari beach felt like it was we were the only ones in the middle of nowhere (because it literally was that, there was no one else on the beach).

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Agios Sostis Beach with Kiki’s Tavern nearby (a good spot for lunch)

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Sitting perched on boulders stone’s throw away from Kapari beach (on the top left of picture)

Eat

1. Pepper

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Pepper salad with gyroz (EUR 12.50)

Our first meal on the island surely didn’t disappoint as it was recommended by the staff from our accommodation as well as the reviews we read online.

2. Captains

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Seafood platter for 2 (EUR 49)

Perched along the waterfront area in the Old port, dinner at Captain’s surely didn’t disappoint. It is an all-day restaurant that serves breakfast, snacks, and lovely Greek food.

3. Courtyard by Thodoris

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Lunch view

Dining at Thodori was my personal favourite in my 3 nights on the island. Perfect place for lunch as you can dine with the waves crashing the shore. It was a good mid-day break between hitting the beaches for a good lunch – quinoa salad and fresh fish.

4. Avra Restaurant 

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Lovely ambience at Avra

Recommended by fellow Singaporeans we met in Mykonos, Avra lived to it’s mark the minute we stepped foot into the restaurant. Their food spread as well as service was top notch. We ordered sesame feta (highly recommended!), roast lamb as well as asian curry chicken (for the asian deprived soul in me). However, meal for 2 costed us EUR 71.50 for the 3 dishes we ordered. Slightly steep but worth a visit before you leave Mykonos if you have some extra dollars to spare.

5. Gioras Wood Medieval Mykonian Bakery

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Didn’t have time to stop by as we went in after-hours. But, do check it out if you are around the area.

6. 180 Sunset Bar

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Definitely for drinks and not food! Again this was recommended by the staff from Orpheas. Minus the fact it is an uphill slope to conquer, these are notably the best (paid) seats for a view of the island as the sun sets. Be sure to get there as early as 6pm during summer for the better seats.

For more food options, this blog has some other recommendations! Here’s another blog with more details on what to expect on the different beaches in Mykonos as well as other information to help you plan your time in this party island!

After spending 3 nights in this crazy island, we were ready for some down time in Naxos before hitting Santorini and ending off our island adventure in Milos. Keep reading and party it up till then!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

A for Athens.

Back in November last year, Scoot had a really good deal for direct flights to Athens from Singapore. It was really too good to miss! We paid SGD 950 for the 2 of us (return included) with 20kg baggage for each of us, each way. HOLY MOLY?! Enduring the 11 hour flight was nothing with a deal as sweet as that. The timing of the departure flight from Changi Airport was at 2.45am which was perfect to knock out in the flight after some light meal. Our return flight was on Tuesday morning at 11.30am from Athens. Considering it was a weekday return, we were lucky for a really empty flight that we scored ourselves a full row to snooze and catch up on NETFLIX. Would I do it again? Definitely, when it works out to only SGD 425 per person!

Travel Dates: 

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Route Overview: Athens (4N) –> Mykonos (3N) –> Naxos (3N) –> Santorini (3N) –> Milos (3N) –> Athens (1N)

Commuted Via: 4 Ferries and a Domestic Flight from Milos to Athens

Arriving in Athens around 9am, we followed the suggestion of a fellow passenger on our flight to take the bus to get ourselves to the city centre instead of the metro (as suggested based on my online research). X95 bus (Airport to Syntagma) costed us 6E per person for the 45 minute journey. From what I gather, metro tickets cost around 9E and it’s said it be slightly faster. We were not in a rush to get to the city, so we didn’t mind the slightly longer route which let us sightsee Athens.

Travel Tip: X95 runs every 15-20 minutes depending on the season. The bus station is located between between Exit 4 and 5 at the arrivals level of Athens airport. Also, the bus route is available 24 hours a day – 7 days a week. If you are not staying in Syntagma (the heart of Athens), some other bus routes might possibly work for you. For more information, this website will be helpful. 

Eat

The food scene in Athens was so vibrant and bustling that each time we walked past a street in the city, at least one restaurant called out to us, me at least. Our first meal upon touch down in Athens was in Ta Karamanlidika Tou FaniOozing with tradition, style and old world charm, this meze/deli house has won the tick of approval from locals of where to eat in Athens. There is a well-priced menu including hot and cold meze plates, deli meats, aged Greek cheeses and more sizeable dishes too.

Based on recommendation from the waiter we tried their cold cut platter, aubergines & zucchini with feta cheese, greek salad as well as hand-made stuffed vine leaves. Evidently, we got carried away and ordered far too much. Lunch costed us 33.50E. To end of our first meal experience, we got served a complimentary dessert on the house.

During our time in Athens, we had dinner at Tzatziki twice. The exterior of this place was enough to lure me in each time. The bonus was, of course, really affordable and huge portions of gyroz. Refer to the below picture, I surely wasn’t kidding about the size. We brought our friends, the second time we visited Tzatziki, hence the 4 gryoz pictured. Dinner for 2 approximately was just 10E. Major win!

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Walking past Savvas turkish place, stone’s throw away from Monastiraki Station, we knew we had to check it out during our time in Athens especially when it was mentioned by our guide during the Athens free walking tour. Except for the fact, that again we over ordered, Savvas is definitely a must visit for some turkish cuisine while in Athens. This 3-storey building boasts an amazing roof garden with the view of the Acropolis that it is advantageous to visit for dinner with the sun setting at the background. Dinner for 2 was 31.50E.

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Dessert and Drinks

  1. Lukumades – Traditional greek home-made delight

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2. A for Athens – definitely the most popular bar in Athens since it was brimming with people when we dropped by and couldn’t get ourselves seats

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View of Monastiraki and Acropolis from A for Athens

3. Little Kook – very whimsical and quirky cafe, portions are definitely good for sharing

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4. Brettos – the oldest distillery in Greece since 1909 and boasts the world’s famous ouzo in 4 flavours

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Sightsee

If you have time for just one thing to do in Athens, I’d highly recommend signing up for Athens free walking tour! It would you be the best 2.5 hours you have spent. Trust me! The tour guide is usually a local who provides you with so much insight to the things you will be seeing around the city. Something, guide books definitely won’t be providing you with.

There are usually two timings for the tour during summer – 12 noon and 6pm. The 12 noon walking tour starts to give us time to catch the guard change at Syntagma Square which takes place every Sunday at 11am. There are changings every hour in the day, but on Sundays it is the official ceremony with the official costumes.

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The meeting point for walking tour begins at The National Library of Greece and covers the major archaeological sites. The walking route starts with The Academy, continues to The Parliament, Ermou Street (pedestrian only street), Monastiraki flea market, Hadrian Library, Roman Agora, Ancient Agora and concludes at the guide’s secret spot – Retaining wall of Pnyx.

Pnyx hill offers a panoramic view of Athens city with the Acropolis region in the background. Other more popular spots for good views of Athens, would be Filopappou Hill as well as Mt Lycabettus. From my experience, heading to Mt Lycabettus involves a lot of stairs. So, be prepared with comfortable shoes if you heading up to the summit. Also, if you are driving to the Mt, there is a huge open-air parking ground right at the top, before it’s stairs to conquer. Do not make the mistake we did, of being paranoid of not getting a parking lot and parking right at the bottom of the hill, because it really IS a long way up (hill)!

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Roman Agora in it’s full glory

Fun Fact: The literal meaning of the word agora is “gathering place” or “assembly”. The agora was the center of the athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city.

It is recommended to do the walking tour on your first day in the city, as it gives you a great overview on Athens. It also gives you an understanding on the background of the Greek culture and history. After that, exploring the city would be more enjoyable with the knowledge you have gathered. The tour guides usually expect a tip for their time spent but trust me, it is well worth your dollar. On average, a 10E tip per person would go a long way to covering their daily expenses.

We continued the rest of the day exploring the other sites that the walking tour did not cover i.e. Arch of Hadrian, Temple of Zeus and Panathenaic Stadium. We took a break exploring Plaka neighbourhood before we conquered the grounds of Acropolis grounds.

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Plaka neighbourhood – lined with restaurants along pedestrian streets

If you are planning your time to Athens, I would recommend splitting the bigger sites i.e. Acropolis to another day and also to hit the site early in the day before the crowd comes in. And before the mid day sun peeks, staying indoors in Acropolis Museum would be a good idea.

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Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Parthenon

The common misconception that occurs is that people often refer to the above image as Acropolis. In fact, the word Acropolis refers to the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon (pictured above). A spot good for a panaromic view of the city as well as admiring the Parthenon from afar would be Mars Hill. Not too far away from the steps of Parthenon.

Travel Tip: Depending on the time of the year you are in Athens, please check carefully the opening hours of each site if you are planning to enter them. Do note, entrance fees apply for the sites if you are planning to enter them. For students, even if you are not an European, do remember to bring your student card as it allows you entry into the site for half the ticket price. Goes a long way, for sites like Acropolis that cost 20E -30E to enter. For more information on fees as well as opening hours, this website would be helpful. There are also Acropolis combo tickets that cover you entry to 7 sites. 

Another neighbourhood sandwiched between Acropolis and Plaka is Anafiotika. This tiny village gets you incredible views of the city below without throngs of tourists.

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As we were in Athens on 1st of May (Labour Day), we were told the best thing to do is to head to beach as the city is shut due to protests. We, among with most of the locals, headed to the beach stretch in Athens starting from Voula Beach. If you are travelling to Athens, in the same period as I did, do note ferries DO NOT operate on 1st of May. So, planning your schedule accordingly would be beneficial.

Road trips

A very popular and common spot to explore out of Athens city is Cape Sounion. A relatively easy drive (approximately 80km), this site is worth a visit. We squeezed in a trip to Temple of Poseidon right before our flight to catch sunrise. It would be a good half a day trip out of Athens city and it is recommended to rent a car (around 20E-30E for a day) to explore the area outside the city centre.

Another option for a half day trip would be exploring Delphi, nearly 200km away. Delphi was our personal favourite throughout our entire 17 day Greece travel. Taking the route via Elefsina and Thebes (Thiva), would offer more scenic views as opposed to the quicker route of taking the freeway.

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Temple of Athena

In ancient times, Delphi was considered to be the center of the universe and was guarded by a python dragon that was killed by Apollo. The ruins of Temple of Apollo as well as the ancient theater that seated 5,000 spectators and hosted plays, poetry readings, and festivals will blow you away.

Another spot further away from Athens is Meteora. Meteora roughly translates to “suspended in the air” and is home to six active monasteries open to tourists year-round. We did our research before we set off for our travel and picked Delphi over Meteora for the sheer fact we didn’t want to spend about 5 hours (one-way) on the road. And, we couldn’t plan our days such that we could spend a night in Meteora as well. I would suggest staying a night in Meteora if you are planning on visiting this beautiful site otherwise 10 hours on the road to and fro doesn’t seem worthwhile at all. Further information to help you plan your trip to Meteora can be found here.

Stay

Thanks to our mishap in our first Airbnb accomodation (SGD 100/night) near Syntagma, we managed to explore Plaka when we stayed at an alternative apartment our host provided us with. Both neighbourhoods were really good as most sites are within walking distance. The metro system in Athens is quite easy to work around with. Tickets costs 1.40E for 60 minute of travel but do remember to validate them so that you don’t end up with hefty fines.

Ferries

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  1. There is no difference purchasing the tickets from ticket offices in Athens or online way in advance. So it’s better to secure your spots early depending on your preferred time of departure.
  2. Even if you have gotten an email confirmation of your ferry tickets, you have to head down to the ticket office to exchange it for physical tickets. Hence, it is advised for you to book all, if not most, of your ferries from a particular company so that it saves you time from running to multiple ticket offices.
  3. There are plenty of sites online you can use to purchase ferry tickets. Ferryhopper was my personal favourite. 3 of our 4 ferry tickets were bought via Ferryhopper and the last ferry ticket was purchased via Dolphin Hellas because the tickets were cheaper when compared. It is always good to do your homework before your purchase the tickets on any particular site as a 40 minute ferry ride can cost up to 50E.
  4. It is possible to change your timings or departure date as long as you head back down to the ticket office 24 hours before your original departure date and time. Knowing that was really a blessing as we contemplated delaying our arrival in Milos as Santorini blew us away we wanted to have 1 more night amidst the blue domes. But, it’s best to call or email to check if changes are allowed before heading down.
  5. Ferries, more often than not, get delayed, super-delayed some times. We had a really terrible experience while travelling to Mykonos from Athens. Our 2.5 hour ferry ride ended up to be 8 hour ride because the vessel made a turn back to the port due to some technical issues. Who would have thought! So while planning your commute to the islands, do not pack the day you are commuting with many activities and keep it a rather light day.
  6. Among the 2 ferry companies we commuted with, Sea Jets and Blue Star Ferries, I would recommend Blue Star Ferries for a more comfortable ride. Some ferries assign you seats, but when you enter the ferry, literally no one follows the seating number. Even the captains on board, usher you to sit at any sector to get everybody seated fast so that the vessel can take off as planned or without any further delay.
  7. Finally, DO NOT rule out domestic flights as an alternative when commuting between islands. The 4 ferries costed us a whooping 370E for the 2 of us, which averaged out to 46E per ferry ride. That was the amount we paid for our domestic flight to Athens from Milos per person. The only consideration with flights is to ensure your luggage allowance has been catered for.

After spending 4 days in Athens, we were ready to hit our first island – Mykonos! The 4 islands we picked to visit in our maiden trip to Greece were all within the Cyclades islands, which comprises of about 300 islands.

Stay tuned for my next post on Mykonos, the party island and the island of winds!

Till then, efharisto.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.