Prelude: I changed locations more than many on the forums would recommend, but I was happy with my trip. The Cyclades Islands/Athens part of the trip was booked with Aegean Thesaurus; the rest was arranged on my own. I'm a solo traveler, middle-aged American male.
Places I Visited: Western Cyclades (Santorini, Folegandros, Milos, Sifnos), Athens, Trikala/Kalambaka/Meteora, Sporades (Skopelos, Alonissos, Skiathos), Thessaloniki
Time Frame: Mid June to Early July, 2019
I’ll post a day or two at a time. WARNING: I’m quite snarky and irreverent, so if you don’t like that, avoid this thread.
I had flown to Amsterdam and spent the night at the Schiphol Yotel as my jet-lag day, then an early morning flight on Transavia Airlines direct to Santorini. The Rich Young Chinese Kids in front of me getting on the plane obviously hadn't read Transavia's rather strict rules (only 1 bag, with a 10kg limit). They each had 2 bags and weren't going to be able to combine them into 1, so they got pulled aside and I'm pretty sure they ended up paying the 40 Euro fee to check a bag, as they ended up being the last ones on the plane. I had combined my small day pack into my Rick Steves style soft convertible backpack, and they didn’t even bat an eye as I showed my boarding pass.
As we near Santorini, I try to identify islands that we are flying over based on my vast experience with Greek geography and looking at Google Map. I think I did identify a couple of other Cycladic islands that I will visit later.
We land and my shuttle has the requisite crazy driver, British couple, and me. The driver almost runs over someone on a scooter, drops off the British couple at their hotel, then gets to Firostefani (narrow streets! buses! cars! quads! scooters! pedestrians! chaos!) and he has no idea where my hotel is. After driving for a few minutes, I just have him drop me off, as my Google maps shows that I’m just a short walk away from my hotel. The roads are incredibly narrow and clearly the road network isn't adequate for summer season traffic. I'm very glad I'm not getting a vehicle here.
Check-in at hotel is fine (Hotel Margarita), room is already ready at 11:30 AM. My room is not in the main building, but a smaller building near the pool. I don't have an ocean view from my room (I can see the pool. The caldera is a quick walk, and I do walk up for the spectacular views (this place is very touristic but there's a reason why) and get lunch with a view. Lunch was a Yellow Donkey beer: Santorini has a craft brewery called Donkey Brewing, with Yellow Donkey, White Donkey, Red Donkey, Crazy Donkey, Slow Donkey, and Lazy Ass, and the Santorinian garlic pasta. Food OK, WHAT A VIEW!
I buy some supplies. Big 1.5 liter bottles of water are 1 Euro each (SPOILER: I learn that this is actually quite expensive by Greek standards), but they gouge you for the sunscreen (not surprised). Couldn't bring my own, as I don't check bags anymore. Since my heritage is 25% Greek and 75% Pasty Northern European, I need the sunscreen!
Go back to the hotel for a dip in the pool and a quick nap. I get up at about 5:30 PM and I've got just enough time to walk about 10km to Oia for the classic touristic sunset. I did get to chat with an American family making the same hike. There's some buff dude trail running on the trail so we can admire his superior conditioning.
Oia's way too crowded, but there's a reason why. Pretty epic views, and my smartphone photography posted on Instagram doesn't do it justice. I'm not walking back (it would be dangerous after dark, as you can't see on the trails and there are also spots you walk on the side of the road and I'm NO WAY not doing that after dark). There's a huge queue for the bus back to Fira, but it's more orderly than you would think. E1,80 back to Fira and a 15 minute walk to Firostefani. I stop for late dinner of fried fish and turn in.