Unsure of what I was about to see on the 10 day excursion to the islands on Friday September 19, 2008, I quickly packed and headed for the metro station. Foolishly I had packed an extremely large suitcase with my roommate Lauren, where we figured we would share and save on bringing more luggage. Needless to say the entire time we regretted packing that way and dreaded any time we would have to travel anywhere because neither one of us wanted to lug the suitcase around.
First Stop: Paros Paros was absolutely beautiful in every way possible. It was a lot less touristy than most islands which made the experience that much more relaxing. Thanks to Shane we stayed at a great hotel that his family friends had owned which was right across the street from the Aegean Sea. Each day I had jumped into the water and just enjoyed floating around in the crystal clear water. For those of you (myself included) who do not enjoy swimming in water that you can't see what is swimming around you, this water was the place to be! The restaurants on the beach across the street from us were traditional Greek restaurants where they played loud music and people in the restaurant would sing along to the songs. I strongly suggest getting the Mousaka at these restaurants accompanied by the house wine. (red or white)
Second Stop: Delos and Mykonos Delos is the most different island I have ever been to due to the fact that it is uninhabbitted with humans but filled with ancient Greek ruins. Everywhere you turn their is something to see whether it was the sacred lake (which to our disappointment was dried out), stone lions guarding the area, the museam of artifacts of ancient statues, pottery and mosaics, or the highest point of Delos in which you can climb. The climb up to the highest point on Delos is not a stroll in the park by any means. Constantly you have to look down to watch where you are stepping so you do not lose your balance on a loose stone on the steep incline to the top. After the struggle to the top you can see every island that surrounds Delos perfectly and all of the ruins that stretch out across the entire island.
Mykonos is not an island you would go to for any type of historical reference but more of a place to go, eat, and shop around. The stores on Mykonos are incredible except for the fact that the prices are much higher than most other places I have been to. The food is probably the best part of Mykonos but still the prices are a bit high.
Third Stop: Santorini Santorini was by far my favorite place to go and at this point I feel as thought it will be extremely hard to beat the memories that have been created for me on that island. We hopped on lifts that took us all the way down the side of the cliff to the port where we approached our pirate-like type ship to get to the volcano. After about a 15-20 minute boat ride we reached the Volcano and hiked to the top. This was not as difficult as the hike to the highest point in Delos by any means. Once we got to the top we were able to see smoke coming from the side of the volcano and put our hands on little wholes we found in the ground letting out the heat from below. We then hiked down the volcano, got back on our boat and went off to the hot springs.
Once the boats were docked everyone stripped down to their bathing suits, stood on the side of the boat and jumped into the water. As I swam towards the hot springs I saw the yellow water getting closer and soon the temperature turned from cold to warm almost immediately. We all floated around in the water for a bit and then swam back to our boat. Once our boat docked we had a few options on how to get to the top of the cliff where the towns in Santorini were. 1. Walk up the steep cliff. 2. Get a taxi. 3. Take the lifts again. or 4. Ride a donkey up the cliff. I obviously opted for the donkey, not knowing what I was getting into. The people that you get the donkey from give you absolutely no instructions on how to control the donkey. They grab your arm bring you to the donkey, make you hop on, and then off you go. I was given the wonderful donkey that enjoyed stopping for long periods of time while the rest of the group was half way up the cliff. Then in order to catch up with the group the donkey would start running up the steep cobblestone path without a care in the world of people nearby or how close he was to the side of the cliff. Then the donkey stopped to pee which was quite the experience as well. The worst part of the ride up to the top of the cliff was when my donkey slipped and almost fell on the cobble stone. Although I was nervous the entire ride up, I was so glad I did it and when I wasn't occupied with worrying about what the donkey was doing, the view was incredible to see.
The next day we all spent the day at the black sanded beaches which was incredible. Eagerly I waited for the perfect wave to swim with and bring me all the way to shore for the entire time I was at that beach.
Last Stop: Crete When we arrived at Crete the first place on our list was the Minoan Archaeological site which so far was my favorite place to go because you were alowed to touch the buildings or walk inside of them as well. The best part of this site was the throne room which was richly painted in a deep red with a single throne in the middle of the room. After the archaeological site we went to the museum in which we were able to see all of the artifacts that went along with the Minoan civilization which made the "Minoan experience" all that more rich.
Overall the entire trip was a success and absolutely amazing and each island is memorable in their own different ways!! If you have the chance to go to any of the islands, the place I feel is most important to see is Santorini!