Category Archive for Greece
Visiting the Acropolis of Athens in off-season! Parthenon of Athena, ancient Greece archaeology museum.
Flashback to Athens, Greece and pirouettes of joy… I’m on my way to the Parthenon, the iconic temple of Athena and symbol of the city.
Photographer Joey Wong and I visited Athens during the off-season, which we recommend for multiple reasons. Ticket prices are cheaper, the weather is not too hot, and there are fewer tourists around — meaning you can take your time to explore, and get marvellous photos without anyone in the frame.
We hope you enjoy these outfit photos, inspired by Greek goddesses and shot amidst ancient ruins.
The Acropolis looms over the city, and is impossible not to recognize. (This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the 5th century Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike.)
Get into an Uber or taxi (prices are cheap in Athens), and have the driver drop you off at the foot of the hill. Then, it’s a short walk up to the main entrance and ticket booth.
Monastiraki, the neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, is worth spending time in. This classic area has cobblestone paths with whitewashed houses, outdoor cafes, and pockets of nature.
As you walk up to the Acropolis, which means “highest point,” you get the sense that you are ascending Mount Olympus — mythical home of the Greek gods.
Athens is an ideal destination for those who love ancient culture, myths and art.
The capital has been inhabited for 2500 years, and archaeologists are continuing to uncover surprising artifacts.
(Click below for more from this Gothic designer):
We came in late March, which is right before the start of the tourist season. The timing was ideal: the sun was out but it wasn’t overly hot, and the attractions weren’t crowded.
Packing tip for Athens: bring sunglasses, wear layers (it gets chillier at night in the spring), and choose shoes that are great for walking (the Acropolis has a rocky ground).
Normally, the entrance fee to the Acropolis is 20 Euros — but from November 1st to March 31st, it’s half price! There is also a “multi-site ticket” for €30, which is valid for 5 days, and lets you visit this and six other archaeological sites.
It’s not possible to buy tickets online (unless you go with a guide), so give yourself plenty of time to line up at the main ticket office. Once again, we were glad we came in the off season, since the wait only took 10-15 minutes and the weather was pleasant.
My friends and I chose the 10 Euro entry, which let us access the Citadel, North and South slopes (and all the main structures). We loved walking slowly up to the Parthenon, taking in the sights along the way.
One of the first ruins we encountered was the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus. If we were here in the height of summer, it would be impossible to take photos without others in the background.
No need to hire a guide for the Acropolis, as there are many explanatory signs along the way. What a treat to view these two-thousand-year-old remains right up close, in their original environment.
My outfit of the day is inspired by the Greek goddesses. This Morph8ne long sleeve shirt and other items are available below (click to see):
I felt as if I were channeling Athena, as I looked over the grand theater.
For those who aren’t familiar with the mythology, she is the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. The calm-tempered Athena only fought for just causes, and helped out heroes including Odysseus, Jason, and Hercules.
Originally, there were several temples dedicated to Athena in this same location, lost and rebuilt throughout time.
During the Golden Age of Athens (460–430 BC), the Parthenon and other famous temples were built to honor Athena — and still remain standing, to this day. This project was led by Pericles and brought to life by the sculptor Phidias, and architects Ictinus and Callicrates.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre on the southwest slope, with a remarkable “ancient meets modern” look. It was completed in 161 AD, but damaged by east Germanic tribes in 267 AD.
The Odeon was renovated in 1950, and remains an active concert venue with a capacity of 5000 (the Tokyo Ballet and Maria Callas have performed here).
I’ve actually been to the Acropolis years ago — but it was during the peak of summer, and I felt stifled by the tourists and humidity. This time, I avoided the busy season, and the experience was a million times better.
Instead of being pressed along by the crowds and searching for shade, I was able to take my time to wander. I could stop to read the placards, take unobstructed photos, and truly enjoy the sights. Plus, as you can see, the weather was pure “nectar of the gods.”
So many epic viewpoints, as the elevation gets higher…
Almost at the top! I’m standing right below the Propylaia, or monumental entrance to the Acropolis. It is a majestic entryway, with colonnades in the Ionic and Doric styles.
(My faux python purple clutch is by Makeup Junkie Bags.)
Walk through the Propylaia, and there she is… The Parthenon! The symbol of ancient Greece, democracy, Western civilization and culture.
Obligatory photo in front of the Parthenon, on the Acropolis. It’s apparently one of the most Instagrammed travel destinations.
The Parthenon has been through a lot, to put it mildly. After the fall of Greece, it was used as a Byzantine church, a Cathedral under the Venetians, a mosque during the Ottoman Empire rule, and even a harem.
In 1687, it was significantly damaged by an explosion. In the early 1800s, Lord Elgin stripped most of the sculptures and put them in the British Museum, where they mostly remain today.
Despite all this, the pillars stand strong. The architects of the Acropolis were very much ahead of their time.
Next to the Parthenon, it’s easy to spot the Erechteion — a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The north side features the famous “Porch of the Caryatids,” or six Ionic columns carved to look like Greek maidens. (That’s quite the load they are carrying on their heads!)
These are actually plaster copies of the caryatid sculptures. A few of the originals are preserved in the Athens Acropolis Museum, while others are in the British Museum.
The Greek government is still trying to get the “Elgin marbles” returned to the Acropolis, but it is a slow process. Fortunately, many other museums and collectors worldwide have sent back pieces.
When you look out over the city from the cliff, it’s easy to understand why this has been a spiritual site for millennia.
I recommend coming to the Acropolis early in the day, so that you can catch the light and take your time to explore.
I grew up reading stories about the Greek gods, and enjoyed seeing how the mythology was woven into the landscape of Athens.
Above is the Areopagus, or Ares Rock. Ares (the god of War) was supposed to have been tried here for the murder of Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius.
In another story, Ares was fighting the local Greeks on the mountain. Athena felt he was being unjust, so she hurled a giant rock at him and knocked him out cold — which you can still see on the top of the hill today.
One of my favorite gods is Dionysus (I’m standing in his stadium). He represents wine, fertility and ritual madness.
The wild festivals that celebrated him also spurred the development of Greek theatre.
Outside the Acropolis, we stopped for ouzo and Greek snacks.
Then, we took a short walk to the new Acropolis Museum. (Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42)
This archaeological museum opened in 2009, and focuses on artifacts found during Acropolis excavations. From the Bronze Age to the Roman and Byzantine empires, the exhibitions show the many layers of history found in this important site.
The museum is beautifully designed, with lots of natural light. Visitors are encouraged to see the remains in chronological order, and learn about the works from multi-media displays (such as 3D renderings of “kouroi” statues of nude male youths).
On the right, I got to see the original Caryatids up close, and watch a video about how they restored the marble with laser technology.
We reached the top level at sunset, which let us take in this 360 view of the Acropolis and mountains.
This uppermost level re-creates the frieze of the Parthenon, with both plaster and original pieces. Visitors can walk around and see the carvings in their original position, which depict the Great Panathenaia festival for the Goddess Athena.
Talk about a perfect day in Athens! I’ll remember this trip for years to come.
The Acropolis is beautiful any time of the year, but I suggest that you come in late spring or late fall for a quieter, more leisurely experience.
You can find more Athens tips at DiscoverGreece.com, a great resource for planning a trip here.
I leave you with our Athens travel vlog, which features the Parthenon as well as the modern side of the city. Please also take a moment to watch — I hope it inspires you to come to Greece.
Hello from one of the world’s most fabulous beach destinations: Santorini, Greece! The Mediterranean breeze made me look like RuPaul for a moment…
(I’m dressed in this exact Iron Fist skeleton bones jacket. More items from this fun Gothic brand below).
In my first post from Santorini, I took you inside my luxurious villa overlooking the Mediterranean.
In addition to securing us the perfect stay, Blue Villas Collection helped us arrange activities on the island (they have a concierge service for all their guests).
Before and during the trip, our Blue Villas concierge gave us personalized advice to make the most of our Santorini sojourn.
Thanks to her tips, we went to postcard-perfect Oia (Ia) during the best time of day, and relaxed on all the major beaches on the island. (All photos by Joey Wong)
I told our concierge that I wanted to do a sunset sailing trip (when in Greece, one must spend time on the water!). She immediately recommended a half-day cruise with Sunset Oia, the leading company for yacht excursions in Santorini.
♡ Outfit Details ♡ I’m wearing cat-eye sunglasses by Moat House, and a unicorn fringe top by Irregular Choice (it is from the wardrobe of my friend Rose). While my shirt is no longer found online, it’s similar to this Carmen pom pom top and off-shoulder white dress with rainbow pom-poms.
Sunset Oia has a handy shuttle service included in tour packages, which makes it easy to get to the starting point. A driver picked us up right outside our private villa, and took us to Vlychada port. Quite a few colorful, traditional Greek boats were tethered to the pier.
Ahoy, mateys — here comes our Sunset Oia catamaran!
Sunset Oia is a local organizer of luxurious sailing tours, ranging from small group day-trips to romantic private cruises. Their fleet of modern, luxurious yachts brings guests to beautiful spots all around Santorini, including the beaches and therapeutic hot springs.
Joey and I had signed up for a 5-hour water excursion, which departs in the afternoon and stops in multiple locations. We got to dine on fresh Greek food on-board, then watch the sun set while drifting on the Aegean.
Sunset Oia’s friendly and professional crew welcomed us on board, and walked us through safety instructions. We had to remove our shoes and put them in a basket for the duration of the journey — hence the barefoot photos!
For those of you who worry about sea sickness: fear not. We had a smooth ride throughout, with no choppiness. (However, the crew has ginger chews available in case you feel nauseous).
Our Sunset Oia trip stopped in several locations, starting with Akrotiri or Red Beach, famous for its rust-colored cliffs. We weren’t able to get off the boat, but guests had the opportunity to jump overboard and swim or snorkel for about 15-20 minutes.
(As you might expect, I didn’t go into the water — but used this opportunity to sit in the corner seat and take photos!)
On a different day, I took the bus to Red Beach and took these snaps. (Give yourself at least 15 minutes to walk from the bus stop to the beach, and even longer if you go up the hill and down to the larger stretch of sand).
The peculiar rocks originate from volcanic lava, hence the reddish-brown hue.
Akrotiri is also an important archaeological site; starting in the late 19th century, excavators discovered the remains of a Minoan Bronze Age settlement. Above is a curving white church that currently sits near the beach.
I’m a pirate at heart, and love the feeling of sailing o’er the seas. But leave your tricorn hat at home, as it would blow off from the wind. Instead, I wore layers (as it can get chilly), sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen.
– My unicorns top is by Irregular Choice, who are best known for their wildly original shoes. They have heels that look like Cinderella, Snow White and Star Wars Darth Vader for example! Scroll more mind-blowing designs:
Sunset Oia took us to intriguing spots on Santorini that are only accessible by boat. One of my favorites was this little hideaway, which is inhabited by one hermit. Doesn’t this look like a scene from an alien movie?
The white church and yellow boats stand out starkly against the dark cliffs. It must feel like being on another planet, living here…
Sunset Oia pipes music out onto the deck, and makes drinks available at all times. This is my happy place: sitting on the tarp, sipping ouzo, watching the horizon…
High up above, we spotted the ancient lighthouse. A day cruise is well worth it, if you’re in Santorini — you can only see views like this here.
Yarr for pom-pom fashion. More designs from Irregular Choice here and below:
The ship’s crew prepared a spread of Greek food for us, including fresh BBQ. I filled my plate with dolmades, tzaziki, Greek salad, Mediterranean pasta… and washed it down with plenty of anise-flavored ouzo, the Greek aperatif that is similar to absinthe. Dessert was slices of green apples, drizzled in Greek honey and cinnamon — so good!
Santorini’s sunsets are infamous for their beauty. I can’t begin to describe the joy of watching the sky change color, from the vantage point of the sea…
As the light faded to black, the catamaran pulled up to the historic port of Ammoudi in the village of Oia. Time to disembark, and board the shuttle to return to our villa.
On another day, we traveled by bus to Oia / Ia (pronounced “Eee-yah”), the picturesque village at the top of the island. I suggest coming in the afternoon and making the most of golden hour, before enjoying the sunset.
We came right before the start of the spring tourist season, and turned out to be the right decision. The off-season meant we had the streets mainly to ourselves, and didn’t have to jostle with tour buses and tourists. At the same time, the sun was shining on the blue church domes (cupolas).
Oia’s pastel and white colored homes are layered onto the high cliffs, and connected by snaking stairs. It’s like gazing upon an MC Escher drawing that meets the laws of nature.
I’m sure you have seen photos of this village before, with classic blue and white Greek Orthodox churches, and an old Aegean sea windmill.
It’s a delight to explore Oia by foot — walking up and down the cobblestone steps, browsing Greek art stores, finding scenic points tucked around corners. Instead of following a map, simply wander and enjoy.
The cozy cave homes look out over the Aegean sea (Blue Villas has vacation rentals here as well). The Cycladic architecture is perfectly suited to its environment, and has lasted throughout the centuries.
I stopped by a cafe to eat a Greek salad, and watch the clouds pass over the caldera (volcanic crater sunk into the sea). The resident foofy sheepdog stole my heart!
Can you imagine living here, and having these views of the caldera and clear waters year-round?
Santorini’s other major village, Fira (Thira), has equally magnificent viewpoints. I shared photos and took you inside my accommodations, in Part 1 of Santorini.
Magic hour begins, as the sun begins to sink. (Photos by Joey Wong.)
The skies transform into pink, matching my hair.
Not bad, right?
Santorini layers archtecture, cliffs and waters great
No filter needed: the skies naturally turn into these rich, warm hues of pink. However, I suggest that you check the specific sunset time in advance, to avoid rushing and missing out.
Millennial pink and rose gold fans would feel right at home in Oia / Ia.
The best sunset viewing locations can get very crowded, especially during the high season. Try to avoid the pack of tour groups, which head to the same spot across from the windmill.
Joey and I found a side street that provided just as magnificent a view. There were only a handful of people next to us — hooray for unobstructed views and no chatterboxes to ruin the moment.
No wonder a Santorini sunset is on the bucket list of many a traveler. The light is radiant and dramatic, and one couldn’t have designed a better natural setting.
One final must-visit spot: Kamari beach, located 10km southeast of Fira and easily reachable by bus. Kamari is known for its black pebbled beach — how Gothic!
Kamari is next to a little village that is worth a stroll. I said hi to this cat outside Atlantis Books, and stocked up on tins of sardines at the neighborhood grocer.
Kamari has a long, black stretch of beach beneath the gloomy mountain of Mesa Vouno. The water is deep and blue, which gives the shore an unusual contrast.
In 2002, locals discovered an archaic sanctuary dedicated to Achilles. Kamari’s dark volcanic rocks, which range in size from minuscule to massive, are even older.
Doesn’t this look like a prehistoric dinosaur egg? The black rocks are polished by the waves into smooth circles and ovals.
A Goth beach requires a Goth outfit, don’t you agree? I’m wearing this exact Iron Fist jacket; find more styles below…
There’s something about being by the ocean that thoroughly rejuvenates me. Do you feel this way too?
The sun sets on Santorini — but there’s still one more post to come, from Greece.
I’ve saved the Acropolis for last... check back soon for photos from the ancient Athenian temple. And you can see previews of my Austin, Texas trip right now on Instagram @lacarmina.
What to wear in Greece: Silver Goth babydoll dress! Pi Athens Hotel Suites, Aegean Airlines, Iron Fist Clothing.
“It’s all Greek to me!” Ready for more from travel adventures from Athens?
In my first post, we went on an eye-opening underground, alternative walking tour. This time, I’ll show you where we stayed, and the intriguing architecture found all throughout the city.
There’s no substitute for coming here yourself — but to give you a sense of the experience, Joey Wong shot this travel video about our Athens trip.
Please take a moment to watch the short vlog above, or on @LaCarmina YouTube.
Joey took these images of me on the rooftop of Pi Athens Suites, a newly-opened luxury hotel. From up here, you can see the Acropolis — and the “golden hour” lighting conditions are perfect as the sun is setting.
(Shop my style with a click below:)
I know many of you dream of visiting Greece, and have it as a bucket-list destination. Fortunately, it’s easy to get to Athens by flying on Aegean Airlines. Joey flew here from London (where there are three direct flights daily on Aegean), while I came direct from Amsterdam (on their daily flight) — and it only took us a few hours.
Aegean Airlines uses the latest technology to make the journey smooth: if you download the smartphone app, you can check in, download, and access boarding passes even when offline.
I chose a window seat for incredible views during the entire flight. I watched the Mediterranean waters, ancient Athenian ruins, and tiny islands below me… it was better than any in-flight entertainment!
I had an excellent experience flying with Aegean, which goes to more than 30 destinations within Greece. They also serve 145 international destinations in 40 countries, and are an award-winning Star Alliance member.
I’m all about living like a local, and was glad to see that these suites were in a non-touristic neighborhood. Pi Suites is run by a family, which gives the stay a personal touch. The owner, Sokratis, greeted me warmly, shared his favorite restaurants, and showed me major sites on a map.
He took me up to the fourth floor, and we walked up to the π Terrace. From the hotel’s rooftop, I got a 360 degree, unobstructed view of the Panathenaic Stadium, Acropolis, the National Gardens, Filopapou Hill… a magic moment.
The hotel’s location is ideal — within walking distance of the landmarks, yet in a neighborhood with an authentic, residential feel.
(In the next post, I’ll take you right up to the Parthenon, the iconic temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.)
Sokratis is passionate about interior design, and did all the decor and furnishings himself. The result: Pi Athens’ interiors are modern and luxurious, with bursts of color.
(If you like my Goth metallic fashion, see more below:)
I particularly loved the interior courtyard of Pi Athens, which looks like a picture-window into a dollhouse. Such a cute place to sip coffee and bask in the sunlight, surrounded by greenery.
π Athens only has six rooms, which gives guests the personalized service of a boutique hotel. The rooms are large, and decorated with modernist minimal accents (my favorite type of interior design, as you’ll recall from my apartment tour).
I slept extremely well in this big, fluffy bed…
Every morning, I looked forward to the home-made breakfast downstairs. Fresh orange juice, Greek honey and orange marmalade with zest, and my beloved “dolmades” or seasoned rice wrapped in grape leaves.
Love the architecture of the suites, which take inspiration from pi. π is the Greek letter that symbolizes the ratio of the circle’s circumference to its diameter.
It’s impossible to square the circle (you get 3.1416… to infinity), but Pi Hotel Athens always aims to give guests a 5-star stay.
(My pink hair is by Stephanie Hoy at Sugar Skull Studio in Vancouver. There’s a buzzcut / undercut / hair tattoo in the back, but you can’t see it if my hair is down.)
Our hotel was right by the Panathenaic Stadium, or “Kallimarmaro” (which means “beautiful marble.”) This is the only stadium in the world built exclusively from marble, making it an architectural marvel as well as a historic monument.
You may recognize this Athenian stadium from TV — it’s where the Olympic flame is first lit, before it goes on a journey by foot, all the way to the hosting city.
● Outfit Details ● I’m wearing this Iron Fist Bone faux fur black coat, and metallic skeleton skirt (click the links to get these exact designs). My Ouija board shirt is from Long Clothing, and my fishnet stockings are similar to these.
This landmark dates back to 330 BC, when it was a racecourse established by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus. It was refurbished in the late 19th century, and became the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
The stadium became an Olympic venue again, when Athens hosted the games in 2004. Today, it remains a popular site for events, and is the finishing point for the yearly Athens Classic Marathon.
I posed like a champion in front of the marble stands. (Although in the days of ancient Greece, Olympic athletes were always male… and they competed nude!)
Classic, timeless architecture. The ancient Greeks were ahead of their time, in so many fields.
From certain angles, the Panathenaic Stadium reminds me of a stark, alien spaceship.
I stopped in front of the massive Greek columns of the Zappeion. Located by the National Gardens, it was built in the 1880s as a fencing hall, for the first modern Olympic games.
Vertical meets horizontal, light and shadow. For architecture buffs like myself, Athens is a joy to explore on foot.
The city’s neighborhoods have very different vibes, ranging from gritty industrial, to romantic Mediterranean. One of my favorite parts of Athens was Monastiraki, in the winding paths near the Acropolis.
Find a local cafe, bask in the sun, sip a coffee or ouzo (Greek anise-flavored liqueur), and dine on orange cake (made with layers of filo, orange zest, and Greek honey)… Zeus, this is heaven.
It’s rather obvious that I’m a fan of Greek food! I could wax on about the incredible dishes we tried in Athens.
I suggest asking locals for recommendations, and dining on traditional fare from the region. Two of my favorite restaurants were Fish Point (8 Archimidous St, Plastira Square, Pagrati) and Seychelles (Kerameikou 49, Athens 104 36). The grilled sardines with fresh lemon, sea bass, cabbage dolmades with herbs, spanokopita (spinach feta and filo pies)… take me back…
And needless to say, Greek olive oil is beyond compare. In addition to eating it with every meal, I found my new favorite bath product: olive oil soap from Korres. This company creates Greek beauty products with natural ingredients like honey and yogurt; I also picked up an avocado face mask that is a winner.
It’s fascinating to see layers of history in Athens, one of the world’s oldest cities. Above is Mitropolis, or Greece Metropolitan Cathedral, built in the late 19th century.
Walk a little more, and you’ll come across the Panaghia Kapnikarea: a Greek Orthodox church, and one of the oldest in the city. This structure dates back to the 11th century, and it was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to either the goddess Demeter or Athena. Today, it’s in the center of a busy, modern shopping area!
Ultra modern meets ancient… Athens is one fascinating city.
(All photography by Joey Wong.)
If you’re planning a visit to Greece, check out the Discover Greece portal for lots of helpful travel tips. You’ll find suggestions for every type of traveler, from family hotels to nature excursions to spas.
How are you enjoying my Athens stories and outfits of the day? Wait until you see what I wore to the Parthenon… you can see glimpses of this in our travel video – come watch!
We stayed in a Santorini cave with Blue Villas Collection! Ikastikies Suites, luxury villa vacation rentals in Greece.
Ah, take me back to Santorini!
Imagine waking up in a luxurious cave villa… walking out to a private patio with this view of the cliffs… and then digging into a hand-delivered local breakfast.
That was my life for a sweet moment in time, thanks to the outstanding team at Blue Villas Collection!
As you’ll see in this photo diary, they went above and beyond to ensure we had the best possible stay in gorgeous Santorini.
I’ve always wanted to stay in a classic Greek home, but wasn’t sure how to find the right accommodations. Thankfully, Blue Villas works with over 200 luxury rentals on four Greek islands, hand-picking only the best hosts.
My lovely concierge took the time to get to know my interests (modern design, young local culture, photography), and paired me with the perfect Santorini stay — the cave-like Ikastikies Elegant Suites!
The 5-star service began from the moment we arrived. Our concierge, Amanda, personally picked us up and took us to several insider locations on the island — including a Cretan bakery and scenic spots.
Then, she drove us to Firostefani (north of Fira), and helped us get settled into our dream vacation home. (All photos by Joey Wong).
Amanda introduced us to George, owner of Ikastikies Suites. He designed the four villas himself and runs them as a family operation.
As you can see, Blue Villas Collection is all about creating personalized, tailor-made holidays for clients. They gracefully take care of all the logistics, and offer the concierge services of a top hotel.
Ikastikies had everything I dreamed of. We had the home to ourselves, with our own private pool, and landing with a brilliant view of the water.
Every morning, I had “me-time” out on the edge, with my cup of coffee. I could look out at the Aegean Sea and cliffs for hours…
… but I loved spending time inside as well, lounging in the fluffy beds and soaking in the giant Jacuzzi bathtub.
The design is a modern take on the island’s traditional cave homes, which were carved into the caldera (volcanic cliffs).
Taking inspiration, Ikastikies Suites feels like a cozy white cave, filled with light. The rooms have elegant curving lines, highlighted with minimalist accents.
Natural accents like the seahorse statue and coffee table add to the Mediterranean island vibe.
I’ve stayed in a lot of unique boutique hotels worldwide — but this Santorini cave villa captured my imagination!
Every time I woke up and saw this glowing circle next to my bed, I imagined that aliens had transported me to outer space.
Our Ikastikes cave home had everything we needed for a relaxing holiday, including a full kitchen, two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
I felt utterly relaxed here, thanks to the kindness of George and Amanda. Booking with Blue Villas Collection made our stay far more special than if we had blindly chosen a rental, as their arrangements were tailored exactly to our needs.
Next time I’m in Greece, I’ll be sure to reach out again: BlueVillas has over 200 stunning properties on the Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, and Crete.
Our concierge, Amanda, took care of every detail so that we’d get the most out of our experience.
She knew we loved to shoot travel photos, so she drove us to Santo Winery.
Once again, I got a science-fiction feeling from this door that seems to open into space.
Amanda also suggested that we stop by Perissa Beach, and her recommendation was spot-on. I felt so tiny, standing next to the towering Mesa Vouno rock.
Located on southeast Santorini, Perissa beach features crystalline waters and black sand (quite fitting for a Goth!)
I like to wear outfits that match my destinations: hence the blue clothing, and a white ribbon in my ponytail.
We couldn’t have found a better spot for photos — such an interesting texture on the rock wall, contrasted with the clear waves and dark sand.
Perissa is also one of the best-protected beaches from the wild Aegean winds, as it lies right next to the Profitis Ilias mountain.
Anyone can come to Santorini’s major beaches for free, and chill on the sand or at the waterfront cafe.
In the distance, you can see the Church of Holy Cross, painted in the traditional Cycladic white with a blue dome.
– I’m wearing hand-crafted wooden sunglasses by Moat House. I get so many compliments on these, and the pink polarized cat-eye frames are made for my face.
– My studded blue leather jacket is one of my wardrobe staples (no, I’m not selling everything I own… only most of it!). It’s from the Bauhaus store in Hong Kong and no longer available, but similar to this Acne blue biker jacket.
Santorini has a bus system that lets you ride to and from the various beaches for less than 2 Euro. However, the locations can be quite spread out, and the public transport routes don’t connect (meaning you’d have to return to the main terminal, then hop onto a different one).
Thanks to Amanda, who guided us around by car, we were able to see several places within a few hours.
Between excursions, I loved the secluded feeling of our villa. Such a pleasing contrast to a large hotel and group buffet meals.
Every morning, we phoned the Ikatikies Suites staff — and they hand-carried over a tray laden with delights, fresh from the local market and bakery.
If only I could have breakfast like this every day, enjoying the sunshine and view from the patio.
Everything was prepared fresh for us. I ate up every last drop of the Greek yogurt, with local honey and orange marmalade.
Blue Villas can arrange for dinners to be delivered as well, and services such as wellness, gastronomy and sailing.
Joey and I came to Santorini right before the start of the tourist season (late March — most villas and restaurants don’t open til April 1st).
If you’re keen on avoiding the crowds, we recommend coming here in the off-season. The weather can still be a bit cool in late March, but we had clear skies and plenty of sunlight.
The conditions were great for photography; nice to feel as if we were alone on this beautiful Greek island.
When I first researched villas, I was dismayed to find that many were not open yet (as the season hadn’t started), and that our selection was limited.
Fortunately, Blue Villas Collection took care of us. They have personally vetted over a hundred properties in Santorini, and introduced us to Ikastikies Luxury Suites.
Our villa is located at one of the most beautiful spots on the isle: Firostefani. The quiet village lies between Fira and Imerovigli, and has magnificent views of the Caldera and sunset.
Talk about a picture-perfect patio. (I’m wearing a bleeding mummy bandage dress by Black Milk Clothing — a limited edition Halloween release.)
I loved being surrounded by the traditional architecture of Cyclades, characterised by narrow cobblestone paths, whitewashed houses and volcanic cliffs.
Ever wonder why Santorini homes are white, with touches of blue? Historically, locals added a bit of blue to the “sovas” (white layer of plaster) to avoid having it look too bright under the sun. The shades also mimic the Greek flag, and were compulsory during the rule of Metaxas (1936-41).
Although the architecture has a historic basis, the effect is ultra-modern, with echoes of the Avant Garde movement and architects like Le Corbusier.
The quality of light is beyond compare. When the sun sets over the Aegean and caldera… ahhh.
From our villa, it was a short and easy walk to the main village of Fira (or Thera). We often went there for dinner and snacks (try the spanakopita from Svoronos Bakery, and tsipouros anise liquor, sardines and risotto at Tsipouradiko Santorinis).
From Fira, you can also descend the Karavolades Stairs, which take you down the 400 meter high caldera cliffs.
Photographer Joey Wong trekked down the 588 stairs, which opens into the Old Port of Ormos Firon. There’s a cable car option, but it was closed by the time he reached the coast… so he had to walk all the way back up.
If you’re not keen on a “stairmaster” workout, you could also ride up and down the steps on a donkey.
As for me — I descended about halfway, then went back up to eat dark chocolate gelato.
Despite the futuristic feeling, Santorini’s earliest settlements trace back to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.
The islanders built their “yposkafos” houses right into the volcanic rock — creating villages nestled into the cliffs. When night falls, the view is mesmerizing.
Santorini has a long history with many different rulers through the ages, including the Phoenicians and Byzantine Empire. The Italians and Germans occupied the island during WWII, and it suffered a devastating earthquake in 1956.
However, from the 1970s onward, Santorini became known as a luxurious getaway spot — and is one of the most popular Greek islands for vacationers today.
Whether you’re here for a honeymoon, family trip, or Gothic adventures… this island has something for everyone to enjoy.
A million thank yous to Blue Villas Collection, for the sublime hospitality and memories!
Reach out to them if you’re traveling to Greece (Paros, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini), and looking for a perfectly tailored vacation. And check out Ikastikies Suites in Santorini, for a 5-star stay with a friendly owner.
I know I’ll be staying with them again, as I’m keen to see more of Greece. (You can find more info about Athens and other cities at DiscoverGreece.com.)
Is Santorini one of your dream destinations as well?
Coming up soon, I’ll share our sailing trip, and more photoshoots on the beaches!