Safe, value for money and on the 2016 holiday wish list. Those are the findings of a survey carried out for the SETE Institute, the research arm of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), on prospective British, German and US visitors to Greece this year.
Last summer we sent our contributor, Jane Tranter over to Greece (alright for some) for a spot of island hopping on a cruise ship with Celeystal Cruises and Discover Greece – an interactive digital marketing platform. Here’s how she got on…
A friend once told me you haven’t experienced Greece until you’ve been island hopping, and last summer we did just that! Spending five blissful days cruising around the Aegean sea visiting just some of the country’s seemingly endless beauty spots.
We started our trip flying into Athens (2016’s Berlin apparently). Flights were supported by Aegean who offer flights from London to Athens three times daily. Once there, we hopped into a cab to Grand Resort Lagonissi, our home for the night. I say home because I absolutely wish it could be! I woke up the following morning and watched from my bed as the automatic curtain slid back to reveal the most refreshing sea-view.
The resort is set on its own private peninsula, with lots of white sandy coves giving you the feeling that you’ve found your own secret corner of the world. Unfortunately our stay at the Grand Resort Lagonissi was only temporary, as we had a very big boat to catch!
My first trip to Greece was also combined with my first ever cruise, sailing with Celestyal Cruises, a company who focus on the authentic Greek experience (even the boat was called Odyssey). Cruising really is a great option if you’re short on time as nearly all of the sailing is done at night meaning you wake up every morning in a new place, rested and ready to explore.
The boats first port of call was Syros, where we took a guided tour through the island’s meandering marble-paved, narrow streets before heading away from the central tourist hub for dinner at the seaside restaurant Allou Yialou. Here we watched the sunset, with water lapping gently next to us, eating lots of fresh, tasty seafood.
Heading back to the boat, we settled into our cabins for the night, and I was slowly rocked to sleep as we sailed to our next destination, away from Greece, Cesme in Turkey. We spent the following day lazing in the sun at the Sole & Mer Beach Club, eating frozen yoghurt and drinking iced coffees.
Having zipped between Athens, Syros and Cesme, we were now headed to our fourth stop, Kos where our tour guide Kosta showed us around the old town, telling us anecdotes about his granddaughter Peggy, before taking us to two different beaches. I spent the rest of the day relaxing under a parasol, reading a book before having a much needed dip in the sea. We then rushed back to the boat to depart for our final two stops on the followig day.
Our final day on the cruise was a busy one; starting off on the island of Ios, where I really felt like I was experiencing the Greece I had seen in pictures, with the narrow winding walkways, white buildings and striking blue roofs. We spent time exploring the area and taking one too many photos before journeying to our last island stop.
Arguably saving the best till last, we arrived in Santorini in the late afternoon and headed to the village Pyrgos. Here we had dinner at Selene, a world-renowned restaurant serving traditionally Greek dishes made from locally-sourced products, I opted for mousaka. Although Selene is away from the main tourist area of Santorini, I would highly recommend a visit here, it was by far the best meal of my trip (so good I forgot to take any photos).
We walked back to the port area as the sun was beginning to set, making it back on board in time to grab a cocktail and get some great photos of the island from the back of the boat. A wonderful end to a lovely, lovely trip.