Thursday, 12 January 2012

Hidden Gem

After travelling to a few places in my gap YAH, I fell in love with the cultures of Asia and South America. But what I forgot is how lucky we are, in the UK, to be so close to some amazing places in Europe.

On booking my summer holiday last year to the Greek islands, my expectations were not particularly high. I wanted sun, sea, a tan and possibly some Ouzo thrown in for good measure. But what I got was an insight into a diverse culture, beautiful landscape and Ouzo - for good measure.

First stop admittedly was a little shabby - we flew in to Athens and got the train (it is a LONG way from the airport) to the main city where we stayed in a hotel where for some reason scantily clad girls liked to stand on street corners. Must be some kind of tradition.

Despite this, and the sheer amount of tourists around the monuments, you can't deny the spectacular sight of the Acropolis and the amazing view of the city.

After a few days we got the train and boat to Santorini. The island is basically the remnants of a huge volcano - which made the largest of all the Thira region/ cyclades islands - south east of the mainland. This was my favourite place. We went in September, so it was pretty quiet but this suited us and I recommend it if you don't like fighting for views. Staying in a little hotel near the beach we got a mo-ped most days and explored the rocky terrain, sampling meze treats and burning our shoulders. Bliss.

The 'red beach', Santorini

Next stop was Ios, a lot busier and more of a party town - but taking a boat trip led us to an untouched rocky hillside vilage.

Last, possibly least, was Mykonos. The apparent 'celeb hang-out' was over priced and over sold. But our guest house was lovely and there are some great restaurants.

I think you can tell there's a clear winner. But Europe and its delights should never be under estimated by the hardened traveller, even if India is next on my list...

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