So we’re about to soon come full circle in this academic year abroad, and perhaps the biggest marker of it all is that NYU in France has just started spring break. For a lot of schools, spring break doesn’t hold any particular meaning, but for us here at NYU in France, it signifies an end of a semester. After all, our spring break happens in early April, leaving us only to resume school the week before May begins. My travel plans aren’t as elaborate this year as are those of my peers; I’m spending the week in Paris with perhaps a day trip to another region, and then heading off to Rome and Corsica.
Since I only started this blog last year, I thought I would take the opportunity to share my spring break travels from two years ago when I had studied abroad in Paris as a freshman. I went with several friends to Greece, mostly island hopping amongst the Cyclades island group. At first, I thought I would be able to pack all ten or so days of travel into one entry, but with the many pictures, I decided that it would be better to separate the posts by islands, with the exception of this one in which I cover our shortened (one night) stay in Athens and day trip to Delos (during our stay on Mykonos).
All the preparations for our trip, including hostel stays and ferry tickets had been made prior to our departure. If I do recall correctly, I do believe I used this particular website to book the ferries. With that said, you’ll have to head to an agency once you reach Greece in order to pick up your ferry tickets. You may opt to pick them up all at once or one at a time with each location you visit. You simply need the proof of purchase that is emailed to you to retrieve the tickets. I wound up booking for the most part with Blue Star Ferries, so it may also have been possible that I booked with them directly and used the other website to check for prices (my memory is a bit foggy about this).
My friends and I flew over to Athens from Paris’ main airport, Charles de Gaulle, via Olympic Air, landing in the late afternoon. Since we were only staying in Athens for the evening, we hastily headed on over to our hotel, Argo Anita Hotels, so as to drop off our bags and briefly explore the city.
After checking in, we hopped onto the Athens metro and headed on over to the Acropolis area. By the time we reached the historic area, however, we weren’t able to walk up the hill to view the Parthenon since it was “closing time.” There were still much to explore in the area in spite of being unable to see the monuments, along with a lovely walk descending upon the main streets of the city. The cliché of Greeks pouring into the streets in the late spring evening amidst the cafés was certainly true, as everywhere we looked, people were chatting and not caring about the time.
We, however, had to worry about the clock since we had to awaken early the next morning to catch our ferry to Mykonos. I had been expecting a ferry, much like the ones that you see crossing between Toronto and Center Island. So you can only imagine the look of astonishment when I realized how big our ferry actually was.
I’ve been told that Mykonos is perhaps one of the best islands if you want to party. Well, in April, that isn’t really the case, mostly because it just isn’t warm enough and barely the beginning of tourist season. Many of the stores were busy renovating during our time there; with that said, the locals certainly did frequent the bars. In comparison with the other islands visited, Mykonos is certainly one of the more expensive ones.
Accommodations wise, expect to pay at least 20€ during low season and more during busier seasons. All right, if you travel plenty, you’re probably thinking that this isn’t a lot of money, but when you take a look at the other islands, you’ll realize the difference soon enough. Also note that much of the time, you can arrange for pick-up from the ferry port to your hostel, which is exactly what we did with many of our hostels/hotels. During our three/four-day vacation on the island, we stayed at Mamas Pension, which is located 2 km from the Mykonos centre and is a family run hostel whose owner, Christina, speaks several languages and incredibly helpful and friendly.
You’ll soon realize, as we did, that you’re better off renting a car or ATV if you want to explore the island. Since we were a group of three (with others joining us along the way later on), and I was the only one with a driver’s license, we opted to rent a car. And perhaps the second realization you’ll come across is that getting from point A and point B isn’t as easy as it looks on the map. The roads are often winding, so as to co-operate with the islands’ landscapes, and sometimes, you’ll come across live stock – I wound up herding a pack of sheep at one point with my car.
If you’re looking to discover ancient Greece, you can do so with a day trip to the near by island of Delos. The short ferry ride, which should not cost more than 20€ (if memory serves me correctly) round-trip, transports you back thousands of years to the ruins of ancient Greek temples and residences. Even if you’re not a history buff, it is a great walk, especially when you climb up the noticeably grand hill, which offers a beautiful view of the island.
That’s the re-cap of our first real big stop in Greece; scroll down for pictures and I’ll post about the other islands soon.