Cruising Around Corfu, Greece 2021

View of the Old Fort in Corfu town.

To reach the island of Corfu we took a ferry from Igoumenitsa that takes an hour and a half and costs 10 euro. There is also an international airport from which we’ll be leaving after spending five days exploring this large island. There is also a cruise ship port, so there are plenty of ways to reach Corfu.

A half carafe of local white wine and saganaki (fried cheese with honey and sesame seeds) in Corfu town.
A cafe next to a Venetian well in Old Town.

We rented an apartment in Old Town Corfu for 60 euro per night and stayed 5 nights. It was a great home base. The Old Town is mostly a walking town with tight alleyways but there are definitely larger avenues full of touristy shops and plenty of tourists.

Shopping in Old Town.
A walk in dream time, Corfu.

There is an Old Fortress and a New Fortress in Corfu Town. We chose to visit the larger and slightly more impressive Old Fort. Built in the Byzantine era it had a revamping when the Venetians arrived and again when the British took over in 1814.

The impressive gate at the Old Fortress.

Corfu is a large island, 40 miles long and 17 miles at its widest spot. We rented a car for two days (70 euro total) and explored the Northern areas.

Paleokastitsa is a beautiful cove with clear water and two sandy beaches. You can rent a boat or take a tour to several other beaches nearby.

Paleokastitsa has gorgeous water!

The village of Sidari has a long beach with umbrellas and sun chairs in the sand. This is also the location of the canal d’amour, a limestone formation with a tunnel through it. Legend says if you swim through the tunnel with someone you will marry them, so be careful who you’re swimming with!

The dramatic white limestone cliffs and formations at Cape Drastis, near Sidari.

We drove to the highest peak of the island where a monastery was hidden in the clouds. Pantokrator Peak is 2,972 feet high and up a crazy hairpin road that looks like it only fits one car at a time. Add to that the extremely fast driving Greeks and you are in for an adventure.

The monastery at the top of cloud shrouded Pantokrator Peak.

My personal favorite cove is Kassiopi on the Northwest side of the island. It even has a castle that supposedly had a dragon in it so no one entered for a hundred years. There’s also a church where a statue of Mother Mary restored a blind boy’s sight when he spent the night there. Tons of famous people have visited Kassiopi, ranging from Cicero to Princess Margaret.

Kassiopi with its dragon castle on the hill.

We loved our time on Corfu and can easily imagine spending several months there because of all the different areas to explore. There are beaches everywhere, museums, mountains, kumquats (only in Corfu, no where else in Greece), great food, friendly people and of course, cats.

Ioannina and the Vikos Gorge, Greece

Passing through Saint George gate is like walking from the past into the future in Ioannina.

The fall colors are just beginning in Northern Greece in October. We saw the changing of the seasons through the bus window on our way to Ioannina from Meteora.

Sleepy streets in old Town Ioannina.

We stayed within the castle walls in old town Ioannina. Inside the walls are sleepy cobble stone streets. Once you pass through Saint George gate there’s a bustling, young hip area full of bars and restaurants crowded with university students.

A busy university city awaits outside the castle walls.

For culture buffs you can visit several museums and two mosques within the castle walls. Then take a ferry across Lake Pamvotida to the Island of Ioannina. There are quaint walking streets, monasteries, restaurants, tourist shops and a very impressive museum at the actual site of Ali Pasha’s assassination at his home in 1822. We were surprised by the amount of Eastern influence in this area and of it’s historical importance.

The mosque with rusty cannon balls.
An example of beautiful artistry and weaponry in the Ali Pasha museum.

We rented a car and drove an hour away to the Vikos Gorge in the Zagoria region. Tiny villages with houses made of stone are nestled against cloud frosted mountain sides. Centuries old stone bridges built by monks are set against the backdrop of fall colors.

One of the largest stone bridges in the gorge area. See Ian on top?
Ancient stone bridges among fall colors.

Vikos Canyon is considered the deepest for it’s width in the world. Due to rainy and foggy fall weather we could only imagine how dramatic it must be in the summer months.

The Stone Forest is an abstract rock formation near the gorge.
The fog filled Vikos Gorge.

We stayed in a two hundred year old limestone mansion that felt like a castle. I guess you need to build thick walls of stone if you live in a place that gets snow in the winter.

Our room in the two hundred year old stone mansion.
Beautiful blue water in the Vikos Gorge area.

We managed to see some beautiful sites even though it rained on us the entire time. The weather added a mystical quality to our experience of the gorge area.

Monasteries in the Sky, Meteora Greece

Monastery of The Holy Trinity seen in the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.

In central Greece on the plain of Thessaly is a remarkable rock formation. Giant pillars tower into the sky. Now imagine looking up and seeing monasteries built in the 14th century perched on top like eagle’s nests.

View of The Great Meteoron Monastery.

To escape persecution monks climbed these monoliths and built their monasteries on top using ladders, ropes and mesh nets. Many monks died just trying to climb up or when the rope broke that held their net. The Great Meteoron Monastery is the largest one and the first one built. You could only reach it by ladder or net until 1923 when they built 146 stairs.

Climbing the stairs to The Great Meteoron Monastery, with Varlaam Monastery in the distance.
Inside The Great Meteoron Monastery.
View from Varlaam Monastery.

We paid 25 euro each for a 4 hour tour that picked us up at our hotel. We visited three monasteries (one was run by nuns, so actually a nunnery) but also stopped at a few viewpoints and were able to see a few more crowning the tops of pillars in the distance. The story of how the monks built on top of these stone outcrops and even basic survival was astounding.

Tucked into caves are the remnants of habitation.
View from Varlaam Monastery.

Travel Tip: Women must wear skirts or a scarf tied around their waist if they’re wearing pants. There are free scarves at The Great Meteoron Monastery but you must pay 3 euro to buy one for entrance into Varlaam.

Saint Nicholas Monastery.

The next day we hiked to The Dragon Cave, located beneath Varlaam Monastery. There are hiking trails around the rocks and rock climbing is allowed in designated areas to protect the monasteries and the rock formations.

Inside The Dragon Cave.

Meteora is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. It’s a bit of an adventure to get there if you don’t have a car, but well worth it.

Center of The World, a Famous Oracle and The Pythian Games: Delphi, Greece

View from above the theater overlooking the temple of Apollo where the oracle made her prophecies.

We have been to The Center of The Universe in Wallace, Idaho USA. Now it’s time to visit the Center of The World in Delphi, Greece. According to legend Zeus sent two golden eagles free and where they met was the Center of The World. He threw down a stone on this magical spot. This stone is called the Omphalos and was supposedly covered in a woolen net topped with a pair of gold eagles. It was said to reside under the stone floor of Apollo’s temple with the Delphic Oracle.

The Omphalos on site in Delphi, navel of the world.
Resting in the Delphi Museum, a carved rendition of the Omphalos that some believe sat atop the pillar of Apollo’s three dancers (seen behind it).

Besides being the Center of The Earth, Delphi was home to the oracle whose prophesies helped shape history as we know it. The oracle, called The Pythia, would descend into a stone chamber below the stone floor of Apollo’s temple. There was a crack in the ground that emitted vapors. She would fall into a trance and Apollo would use her as an instrument to speak his prophesy, which would then be interpreted by the priests. The prophesies were scheduled for 9 times a year. Records show that some exceptions were made when self important rulers showed up and demanded a prophesy.

Painting of The Pythia, Delphi’s oracle.

Delphi also had a huge theater and further uphill a stadium where the Pythian Games were held every four years, only second in importance to the Olympic Games. The games included music and poetry as well as athletic sports and equestrian challenges.

The stadium at Delphi were the Pythian Games were held.

A short walk down the road are the ruins of a large gymnasium where the athletes trained. And just beyond that is the temple dedicated to Athena.

Temple dedicated to Athena in Delphi.

The price of your ticket includes entrance to the Delphi Museum. This museum houses the collection of findings that have been excavated at Delphi ranging from huge stone sculptures to tiny delicate offerings made from precious metals.

This sphinx topped a huge pillar near Apollo’s Temple.

We spent over 5 hours hiking around the sites and visiting the museum. Ian estimates that it was at least 4 miles. The valley views overlooked olive orchards stretching to the Gulf of Corinth. And of course we stopped to pet some of the famous Greek stray cats!

Gorgeous views of the valley below.
On the road to the ruins of Delphi.

Athens, Greece 2021

The Erechtheion,a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon in the Acropolis with vast view of Athens.

Athens is the capital of Greece and its largest city with a population over 3 million. There are records of human settlements here from over 7,000 years ago. Currently we find it to be a bustling metropolitan city with over 70 museums to see, international restaurants to try, old and new architecture and easily navagatable public transportation.

Traditional shoes for sale in the Plaka district.

A popular area to stroll through while shopping or to enjoy a meal while gazing up at The Acropolis is the Plaka district. We chose to stay nearby in the Koukaki district because it was more affordable, less touristy and had quiet walking streets with lots of green space.

Bouzouki, a traditional instrument in the lute family.
An enchanting alley in Plaka.


Our main reason for visiting Athens was to see the Acropolis. We were nervous when we read about 2 hour wait times for tickets. Ian did some research and discovered the smaller gate on the southeast side that supposedly had smaller lines. We also learned it’s less busy in the afternoon. When we arrived around 3 pm there were only a handful of people ahead of us so we practically walked right in! Of course Covid may have something to do with the smaller line.

The Theatre of Dionysus on the Acropolis hill.

The trek up was a bit sweaty with temperatures in the high 70’s and a steep climb with lots of steps. As you get closer to the top there is a lot of reflected light and heat from the white marble, so stay hydrated. We spent 2 hours exploring and taking pictures. The view from the top reaches the Aegean Sea.

The Parthenon, dedicated to Athena and constructed 447 BC-432 BC. Partially destroyed in 1687 and currently under reconstruction.


With so many museums to chose from and limited time we decided on a fun one (Museum of Illusions) and a cultural one (National Archeological Museum). Travel Tip: Currently (October 2021) museums require you to show proof of Covid vaccinations along with ID so be prepared.

Ian and I in the upside-down room at The Museum of Illusions.

The Museum of Illusions has a limited time frame of 50 minutes which was perfect for us. For 9 euro we had our minds tricked into seeing things in strange ways, had funny pictures taken and almost fell down in a vortex tunnel that seems to be spinning around but actually is not moving.

The National Archeological Museum with artifacts from all of Greece.

We decided on the National Archeological Museum because it’s the largest in the country and contains pieces from all over Greece. Tickets are 12 euro and we spent 3 1/2 hours. I could have stayed much longer but Ian was over it by then.

The Jockey of Artemision made of bronze in 150-140 BC. Rescued from an underwater ship wreck in 1926.
A statue of Athena that was the focal point of the Parthenon. Originally covered in gold sheets that were removed to pay troops in 296 BC.

Bus and Metro Tips

It’s very easy to get around Athens using public transportation. You need to head to a metro station (or use an automated kiosk which we couldn’t find) to get the ticket that works on both the city busses and the metro. There are several options from one stop to a 5 day pass. You cannot buy a bus ticket on the bus! You must get them from the metro station (or kiosk). There is also a tram but we didn’t try it.

Back to home base in the Koukaki district for fun cocktails after a busy day in Athens.

In conclusion, there is much more to Athens than ancient history and we barely scratched the surface. This is a thriving hip city with so much to offer. Cheers!

Nafplio, Greece 2021

The ancient land gate with Palamidi Fortress crowning the hill.

We reached Nafplio in the evening after an overnight ferry from Santorini and two bus rides. Our place for four nights (Dafni Pension) was situated at the back end of the old town, a 5 minute walk to Arvanitia Beach. From our balcony we could see the masts of ships in port, and Palamidi Fortress overlooking the town behind us.

Stunning view from Palamidi Fortress.

Nafplio is a walking town and cars and scooters are rarely seen on the narrow alleys except for those making deliveries. Mornings were quiet but the restaurants near the port were pretty hopping once the day tourists arrived from Athens.

A quiet alleyway in Nafplio.
Bougainvillea adds color to the charming streets.

Orange trees, olives, and eucalyptus trees are prevalent in back alley yards. Cats are found everywhere resting on benches and begging under tables. Wandering the streets we tasted gelato, greek salads, moussaka, and an orange cake made from phyllo dough, orange liquor and honey.

We learned that greek salad is comprised of vegetables, no salad greens!
Cocktail hour in Nafplio includes an artistic view.
A stormy sunset near the port.

We made Nafplio our destination but some visitors make it home base as they explore the many attractions in the area. We found plenty to do, such as visiting Palamidi Fortress and swimming at Arvanitia Beach.

We only had one hour to explore Palamidi Fortress but I recommend two if you want to see everything.

You can climb the 999 steps to Palamidi Fortress but I have a sprained ankle so we hired a taxi in the main square to take us and wait. It’s actually a large site to see between the views and touring the bastions. It was a prison after its life as a fortress and you can stand inside the cells and see the wooden beds with stones for pillows. The views over the beautiful town are spectacular.

The path that leads to warm and clear swimming waters at Arvanitia Beach.

We loved seeing canons dating from the 1300’s and stopping at a cafe to watch huge yachts sail by the Bourtzi Fortress built in 1473. A fabulous mix of old and new in a place we will return to.

One of ‘The Five Brothers’ canons that once defended the fortress.
Bourtzi Fortress
Goodnight Nafplio!

7 Great Things to do on a Long Weekend in Santorini, Greece 2021

Epic views from Oia on the Northern tip of the island.

We landed in Santorini jet lagged but bright eyed and happily met by the shuttle service at the airport. The quick ride was worth the 25 euro we paid not to deal with waiting for a bus that may or may not come. Our hotel, Argonaftes, has the most charming and helpful receptionist who gave us a map along with recommendations and a history of how Santorini was created. To briefly sum up, there was a giant volcano that blew up 4,000 years ago which created the caldera. Then a couple smaller volcanos grew inside the middle and those still go off once in awhile. Also, the lost city of Atlantis could be the Minoan civilization that was buried in that eruption. And you can see it (#4 Akrotiri)! Our first night was watching the tail end of sunset in Fira and having dinner.

Our balcony view at Argonaftes in the town of Fira.

1: Visit the cliffside village of Oia

The next morning we rented an ATV and headed north to Oia (pronounced Eee-ya). This is the most famous town with the white buildings cascading down the cliffside. There are cave hotels built into the limestone with aqua pools and sun bathers. Blue domed churches with charming bell towers dot the landscape and every tourist lines up for their Instagram photos on certain twisty corners.

Great photo opportunities in Oia.
Renting a scooter or ATV is a fun way to see the island.

2: Watch sunset from Fira

We could have done more on our first day but decided to take it easy and went back to Fira to watch the sunset over the caldera. Fira is the capital of Santorini and it’s very charming with lots of shops and restaurants and beautiful white buildings draped over the edge of the caldera.

Sunset in Fira.

3: Get a birds eye view of the entire island at The Monastery

The next morning we drove our ATV up, up and up to the highest point on the island. There is a monastery there with a small church you can visit. They sell pickled caper leaves, sun dried tomatoes, figs and other local treats. But the real draw is the 360 view of the island.

Enjoy the view of Santorini!

4: Visit 4,000 year old Akrotiri

Akrotiri was the site of the ancient Minoan civilization that was destroyed when the volcano erupted and it was covered with ash and mud. Some say this is the lost city of Atlantis. The mud helped preserve frescoes painted on the walls and there is pottery with the paint still visible. It’s fascinating and a bit eerie to walk through this site as you are mostly on the third level looking down into the homes and streets. It has only been 5% excavated.

Looking into the past at homes and storage vessels 4,000 years old.

5: Red Beach

Right around the corner from Akrotiri is Red Beach. A dramatic beach at the bottom of red lava cliffs with turquoise waters. We were too cold to swim in late September but there were plenty of swimmers and sunbathers enjoying themselves. You can take a boat to see White Beach and Black Beach from the dock nearby.

Dramatic volcanic Red Beach on the south end.

6: Wander the white alleyways of Pyrgos

Pyrgos is a traditional village with tight winding alleyways. Sometimes only wide enough for a donkey carrying someone’s luggage to their Air BNB! You’ll discover tavernas, restaurants and boutique stores tucked away and a few blue domed churches.

Medieval white alleys of Pyrgos
From this church in Pyrgos you have views over vineyards below.

7: Wine taste at Santo Wines

Our last stop was wine tasting at Santo Wines. You’ll pay 45 euro for the 12 tastes with cheese and nuts. But if you want the caldera sunset view and just a glass of their delicious wine its worth the wind. Try the island grown Assyrtiko that is indigenous to Santorini!

A windy and delicious toast to Santorini!