President & CEO Stephanie Turner recently returned from a trip to Greece with Globus. She had a wonderful time revisiting places she loves as well as crossing a destination off of her bucket list. Keep reading to hear all of the details and see pictures from her amazing trip!
Arriving in Greece
Our flight arrived in Athens at 2:15 in the morning. As we left the baggage area, I was elated to see Kostas, our transfer driver holding a sign that said Globus Journeys. He greeted us warmly and escorted us to our private car to take us to our hotel. There was no traffic at that hour, so our ride was uneventful and smooth. When we arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel at 3:30 am, the young man at the front desk gave us a warm welcome. I had booked our hotel room for the night before so that it would be ready when we arrived. For some reason he had no reservation for us for that evening – though he did show us having a room for the next night. He was very professional and within a few minutes he had a room for us on a very nice floor.
A Relaxing Day in Athens
The next morning, we got up for our included breakfast with just 10 minutes to spare. Since it was just one floor above us, we zoomed up the stairs. They were starting to clean up, but when I told them we had arrived so late the night before, they told us to come on in and immediately took great care of us from freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh coffee to a variety of breakfast choices. They never pressured us to finish and could not have been more gracious. We decided to just relax that day and sat at the rooftop pool where we met some lovely people from our group. That evening we walked a few blocks and had dinner at a nearby local restaurant called Cross. Faye, our waitress was fantastic and she made our first dinner in Athens a special one. We had sea bream, a white fish, and it was amazing! The following evening our friends arrived and that night we had dinner at a local Greek restaurant with one of my Greek on location partners. Sonia, who is so delightful to be with, ordered an array of Greek dishes, and we got to taste many different local specialties. As she is an American-born woman of Greek descent it was interesting to hear her perspective on living in Athens for several months at a time.
Visiting Plaka and Dinner at Oroscopo
The next day the four of us went to the Plaka (old town) and had fun walking the narrow streets and treating ourselves to a cold beverage at a nice restaurant while people watching. We also managed to do a little local shopping. There was so much to choose from.
That evening we ended up at the Oroscopo restaurant located in a park not far from our hotel. That evening turned out to be spectacular! My friend asked if they served the Greek dish, saganaki. They said they did not but within a few minutes of being seated at our table in the park, a platter of saganaki arrived – compliments of the house. It was such a lovely gesture of welcome. We ordered dinner, which was delicious, and then a complimentary dessert arrived followed by limoncello for all and another after dinner liqueur. We felt like celebrities! Their staff was so kind and gracious. I never told them I was in the travel industry, but I did post how lovely everything was on Facebook and they quickly responded with a thank you. I guess it does pay to say nice things in today’s world where everyone is so quick to post negative comments.
Sightseeing with Globus
The following day our Globus tour began. We toured Athens, saw the changing of the guard – which is a beautiful ceremony – visited the site of the modern-day Olympics and climbed the Acropolis to the Parthenon. I had done this before 30 + years ago, but it was exciting to know I could still hike up the steps and hills. It was crowded as this is the height of their tourist season.
Traveling to Mykonos
The next morning, we met Beverly, who would be our tour host for the rest of our journey. She was warm, personable, and everyone immediately loved her. She was originally from South Africa, so her English was easy to understand. Our travel companions in the Globus group were very diverse in age, background, and where they lived, but everyone got along wonderfully, and it was really fun getting to know everyone. Ages ranged from 18 to 82, from a variety of couples to moms or dads with a daughter, to a darling family doing their youngest daughters high school graduation trip, to 3 fun women from California having a girlfriend’s getaway. People were of varying backgrounds and nationalities, which made the group so interesting for each of us. And best of all there were no jerks in the entire group of about 30 people!
Beverly led us with her colored dust mop held high in her hand – no umbrellas for this lady! We arrived at the pier for our jet ferry to Mykonos – just as it was ready to leave. Traffic was really bad that day. The ferry was very comfortable, and everyone had assigned seats, like on an airplane, but no one sits in their assigned seats – just in the general area. The ride was smooth and easy. When we got to Mykonos, it was like a herd of cattle getting off the ferry – but there was Bev and her bright dust mop to lead us to our motorcoach. It was too early to check into our rooms, so we went to the main town on the Island and had a wonderful tour and then had a fantastic lunch in the harbor area. I thought prices everywhere we ate were very reasonable, and the food was wonderful. This is also a fun place to shop.
A Couple Days in Mykonos
Back at the Manoulas Beach Hotel we pointed out our luggage and all checked in. We had a lovely room facing the pool and the Aegean Sea. That evening we had a great welcome dinner – another chance for the group to get to know each other. The next two days we were pretty lazy, hanging out at the pool. The sky was deep blue, the sea a bright blue and the white building with their blue trim make Mykonos so desirable to visit. We did take a tour of the island, away from the tourist areas. I had been to Mykonos 5 times before and had never seen this area. It was stark and lovely. We also visited the famous Paradise Beach, just as the party was about to get started. Needless to say, we did not stay for the evening – just enough to check it out.
I also went with my husband to visit the Santa Marina Resort, about 10 minutes from where we were staying. It is fabulous, nestled on a big hill with large rooms, junior suites and suites and 2 large 7 bedroom villas. It is a great resort for both families (with its own complete family area and pool) and those seeking romance. We had a fabulous dinner that evening in the Buddah Bar Beach restaurant with, Labrini, delightful young woman who is their Sales Coordinator. She showed us the entire resort. It is a remarkable luxury property.
Crossing Santorini off My Bucket List
After 3 nights in Mykonos we were off to Santorini, which I had never visited. This island has been on my bucket list and is what motivated me to go to Greece again. It is an island that was broken into pieces by several large volcanic eruptions about 2000 years BC. This is pretty recent in geologic terms. Our hotel, the El Greco, was across the street from the caldera and at night we stood and watched the sunset. Words cannot always express the magnitude of what you are seeing. Basically, a huge portion of the island just sank into the sea. On our first morning we did a walking tour into the town and explored the windy streets. We ended at a restaurant overlooking the area where the cable cars go up and down the mountain and you can see the donkeys climbing the steep hill with tourists on their backs. Some people even walk either up or down the 600 steps to the water. We saw several cruise ships siting in the area tendering their passengers to shore.
A couple of different tours were offered here, but I did not take them. We were going to another fabulous hotel in Oia, on the other side of the island for dinner and sunset one night, so we didn’t do that tour and the tour of ancient Santorini was the same day as our dinner – but I thought that sounded fascinating. Our dinner at the Santa Maria Oia was fantastic! It is one of our preferred properties, and we love sending clients there. We dined outside by the pool watching the sunset while being entertained by a wonderfully talented pianist. All the food is locally sourced and very fresh. I love the accommodations at this property, all junior suites and suites climbing up the hillside. Antigoni and Manos were the perfect hosts for us. We hated to leave, but our wonderful driver came to whisk us back to our hotel and the group.
Saying Goodbye to Greece
After 3 glorious days in Santorini and more walking around shopping, we flew back to Athens for our final night. We had an extraordinary farewell dinner by one of the beautiful marinas, and my husband got caught up in the moment and even did his own version of Greek dancing for the group. It was hard to say goodbye to all of our new friends, but we all knew we had created many memories together. Our special thanks to Bev, who mad this trip even more special. I have always said it is about the tour hosts/guides and that is so true. Special thanks also to Globus Journeys and their team who put together this quality but well priced tour. Everyone loved it.
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