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.