It’s fine to read about my travels, but I like to hear where other people are going. I mentioned the “Where Are YOU Going?” Series awhile back, and I’m happy to feature my first feature. Please welcome Kimberly P. in her own words. I am currently in awe of her.
Looking for an international adventure but not quite ready for a solo trip, traveling with an organized group was an ideal choice for me. After a few Internet searches and a conversation, I decided to travel to Greece with Fleace Weaver of BlackGirlTravel.com and 26 other women of color. There are pros and cons to such trips, but overall I think it was a fantastic experience. I had a great time and have new travel-minded friends. So here’s what went down…
The group trip was May 16-24, 2012 covering Athens and two Greek Islands – Mykonos and Santorini. I arrived ahead of the group and made arrangements to stay at the Polis Grand Hotel, an economy hotel. The rest of the group arrived later and we checked into our standard hotel, the Titania Hotel. Athens is a city with an interesting mix of ruins and modern urban living. After a welcome lunch, we were off on a tour of the city by private coach with Greek guides. Highlights included the Acropolis, the Greek Parliament House (changing of the guards takes place every hour), the Parnanethen Stadium (home of the Olympic Games), and the shopping neighborhood of Plaka.
Next stop was the Greek island Mykonos by a 5-hr ferry operated by Blue Star Ferries. These ferries are huge and are used to transporting people, cars, semi-trucks, etc. I was amazed at the flurry of activity that took place at each island stop. Also the views of the different islands were breathtaking. Amazing how these towns were built on cliffs off the water.
Interior of Blue Star Ferries
View from ferry
A Mykonos Sunset
In Mykonos we stayed at the Royal Myconian, which was about a 20-minute (and 20 euro ride) from Chora (town). While the resort was lovely, we were experiencing cooler weather and even rain. I hadn’t bothered to check the weather ahead of time (epic fail), and I assumed it would be lovely weather EVERYDAY. I didn’t even pack a jacket (where they do that at?).
Royal Myconian Lobby
Royal Myconian Bedroom
The principal town of Mykonos is beautiful with whitewashed buildings, windmills, and winding pedestrian walkways lined with restaurants, galleries, and quaint local shops as well as worldwide brands such as Diesel, Lacoste, Sephora, and Swatch. Some other big attractions include Little Venice, Petros the Pelican (town mascot), and the Paraportiani Church. Mykonos is also known for its nightlife with a good variety of clubs and bars that stay open until the wee hours of the morning.
At Paraportiani Church
Third stop was Santorini on the Flying Cat 4 operated by Hellenic Seaways. We stayed at the El Greco in the popular town Fira. The location was great since the hotel was about a 10-minute walk to all the action (restaurants, shopping, grocery store, etc.). The hotel was also only a 15-minute cab ride or a 45-minute ride by public bus to a couple of black “sand” beaches. I used quotations, because it is not the grains of sand found on some American or Caribbean beaches; instead, it was varying sizes of rocks. We laid out at both Perissa and Kamari (the nicer beach of the two), which were separated by a huge rock called Mesa Vouno. (Tip: Till about 6pm a local 20-passenger boat runs regularly between the two beaches).
Bedroom in El Greco
El Greco Outdoor Lounge
Black Sand Beach
In Fira, you do the famous donkey rides up the 350+ stairs from the old harbor up to town for 5 euros. The donkeys are obviously professionals since they take the flights daily, but their fast pace along with how close they got to the edge was a tad scary. It was definitely an experience and I was nervous for a bit, but I made it without incident. If you’re not up for riding donkeys you can experience the journey by cable car (3 euros).
On the Cable Car
By far my favorite place of the entire trip was the village of Oia. Again with the classic whitewashed structures, blue domed chapels, breathtaking views and sunsets, and the most chic (and expensive) hotels. If you’re looking for an ultra romantic place, then consider Oia. It was among one of the most picturesque places I could ever imagine. We had a wonderful sunset reception that will always be memorable.
In the end, I’m so glad I was able to take this trip. While not having control over the trip details was a little challenging for a planner like myself, overall there was a good balance of structured activities and free time. I think the most significant factor for me was the company. I met some wonderful, beautiful, brown women who are excelling in varying industries all across the globe. The conversations covered the gamut of subjects from relationships to careers, to dreams and of course travel. I must admit that they were a pretty inspiring bunch. Plus, rolling with your own 28-person crew ensured every venue was going to be fun!
Are you jealous of Kimberly’s trip? I am. I’ve never been to Greece. If you’d like to participate in the “Where are YOU Going?” series, please click on the contact form and say hi.