Mediterranean Travel

Traveling Through the Mediterranean: Greece and Turkey

July 8, 2015

The last part of our Europe trip was through the Mediterranean. We took a seven day cruise from Athens through the Greek Isles to Istanbul. This was the first time I have experienced a cruise – we booked our trip with Celebrity Cruises on the Equinox. We boarded the ship in Athens, spent a day at sea, and then had day stops in Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Kusadasi and Istanbul and were at sea each evening. The Equinox was an impressive ship – standing at the port and looking up it was hard to believe the entire structure was floating in the water (there were 16 decks). The ship was well maintained and the staff kept it extremely clean. It was nice to be able to relax and unwind each night after our day trips. I do think in terms of having time to explore, cruises can be limiting since your time in each city is limited from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Still it was a nice way to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. All the islands we stopped at were beautiful. The water was so bright and clear. Beaches were so beautiful – I loved how they were all organized. I wish I could be on a permanent vacation in Mykonos, I hope to visit again someday. My heart goes out to all who live in Greece due to the financial crisis!

We spent one day in Athens before we boarded our cruise which was enough time to walk around the city, visit the Acropolis and enjoy some delicious Greek food. I stopped in a few pharmacies to see how they compared to those in Paris and Rome. There are a lot of similarities in the setup, but the pharmacies in Athens carry different brands and sometimes items more similar to American drugstores rather than just health and beauty products. We took a hop-on-hop-off bus through Athens. A few photos from our day there.

Rhodes was our first stop. We didn’t plan anything in advance and taking any buses or tours to Lindos would take up a significant amount of time. We decided to walk around the port area and enjoy the beaches nearby. We stopped by the Palace of the Grand Master and walked around the streets. I wish we could have spent an extra day here to see more.

Above with my Longchamp Small Tote which I carried around with me for our vacation. It was the perfect size to carry essentials including my camera, wallet, tickets. It was lightweight but roomy. At times I was able to fit in a sweater, my husband’s jacket and a water bottle inside. The zip top closure was perfect to keep everything tucked away and safe. I didn’t have to worry about pickpockets with it zipped closed.

Mykonos was my favorite place out of all the islands we visited. We took a local bus to Elia Beach which was only 4 euros each for a round trip (compared to the cruise beach transfers priced at $50 each). It was approximately a 20 minute drive from the port to the beach. I hope to go back again to visit and spend more time here. We only had enough time to visit the beach for about 4 hours and have lunch before we had to head back to the ship.

Santorini was the place I was most excited to visit. My feelings about our trip were mixed though (scroll down and you will see why). The day we visited there were four other cruise ships in port at the same time making everything extremely packed and busy. We went to the Perivolos Beach which is a black sand beach. It was really hot and the sand felt like it burned the feet but the water was nice and warm. Santorini is such a beautiful place – one day is not enough to see much of anything but we had a lot of fun at the beach.

To reach the town, they ferried us to a dock where buses go up a steep,
windy and narrow road up the cliffs. To get back down to the ship, there
are cable cars and also steps down the cliff where they have donkeys.
By 3:45 pm, the lines for the cable cars were extremely long. After
waiting 30 minutes, the line didn’t seem like it was moving so my
husband decided we should just walk down. I read about the steps ahead
of time and insisted on waiting in line for the cars. My husband left
for a few minutes to check it out, came back and said “they aren’t bad at all and the steps are really wide” so I said ok. If you google “Santorini donkey steps” you will see that the steps are wide, but extremely steep, slippery and dangerous. We were almost run over by donkeys multiple times. My husband insists that he saw 3 year olds and 60+ year olds going down the hill with no problem. For me it was 500+ steps of pure terror as I have a fear of heights. It took us over an hour to walk down because I was so slow. We heard later from others on our ship that the cable car line was up to 3 hours for some people. If you visit Santorini – I do not recommend walking down the hill.

Above to the right, if you click on the image you might be able to see the cable cars. The arrow points to the steep zigzag cliff we walked down. I seriously thought I was going to die.

Our last stops were in Turkey. We stopped by Kusadasi, Ephesus and Istanbul. My husband is in love with Turkish Coffee. I was amazed to see wild cats and dogs everywhere. I wanted to take some of the cats home with me. At one of the restaurants there was a black kitten under our table. We fed him some of our kebabs.

Below: Kusadasi, Blue Mosque, Ephesus, Turkish Coffee + Cafe Latte

Sailing into the port at Istanbul

Hagia Sophia

 Parrots in the Topkapi Gardens

 Topkapi Palace Gardens

A few more shots from our cruise:

Above: Havaianas, Rayban Aviators, Marc by Marc Jacobs Rimless Aviators, Longchamp Small Tote, Gray Malin iPhone 5 case (discontinued, but 6 cases here), Dior Sundown, Korres Sunscreen

My favorite bronzer Edward Bess Daydream

I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to travel to Europe and visit so many beautiful places. I haven’t visited Europe since 2001 – this trip was long overdue. Out of all the places we visited, my top two favorites were Paris and Mykonos. I can’t wait to visit again – I am hoping we will be able to do another trip somewhere in Europe next spring.

Have you been to Greece or Turkey? What should I add to my travel wish list?

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  • I love Turkey.. The people were amazing.

    I desperately want to get to Greece too.

    Have you been to Argentina yet? It's my favorite destination by far, and worth a slow wander. From the crazy beautiful Iguazu Falls, to wine country, to the lighthouse at the end of the world, to Buenos Aires aka the New World's Paris… I loved it all.

    • I agree!

      I haven't been to Argentina yet – it sounds amazing! I need to find a way to be on a permanent travel vacation. So many places I want to see.

  • Sounds wonderful! Too bad you are frightened by heights – my absolute favourite memory of Santorini is walking along the crater, away from all the cruise ship crowds to the town of Oia at the end – I loved going down (and up!!!) the cliff. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    • LOL, I am the biggest chicken I know.

  • Beautiful, loved the pics !!

    • Thank you! So happy to hear you liked them πŸ™‚

  • Great pix, it looks like you had a lovely time. x

    • Thanks Christy – we did!

  • That trip looks amazing. I've always been curious about cruises but I think I'd be deathly afraid of them! Lol you got some great pictures to remember those beautiful places.

    • Thanks Julie – I'm not too keen on boats, I've been on some smaller ferry boats before and I get a bit antsy. With the horror stories you see, I understand being scared. I was surprised at how spacious everything was given the number of passengers on the ship. It was also fairly smooth on the sea.

  • Hi Sabrina! I've been a long time fan of your blog. Your trip seems fantastic and I love your FLP zipped daily battle bag (because I have the exact same one!!! πŸ˜‰

    I noticed you guys took the Celebrity Cruise and just wondering which tour this is? A few years ago we took the Mediterranean one which was pretty nice but I'm interested in the one you took if it also covers Istanbul.

    Thanks!

    Jen

    • Hi Jen, thanks for your sweet comments! Yay for FLP! I adore mine πŸ™‚

      We took the cruise on the Equinox ship. For some reason I can't click on the exact tour on the website. It's the one called Greece and Turkey – it starts in Athens, then goes to Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini, Kusadasi, Istanbul. It's a 7 day cruise.

      HTH!

  • It's nice read this post! Pics are great! I miss the holidaaaay:(
    Everyone loves turkish coffee <3
    But if you come to Turkey another time you should see Marmaris, Datça, Fethiye. Just google them:) Kuşadası is a place for me "mmhh so-so". I wonder Mykonos and Santorini too!

  • I hope you had fun ! you should come to malta it is in the middle of the Mediterranean and it is very beautiful. It's were I am from πŸ™‚

    • Ooh, Malta! Yes I want to go someday!!

  • Anonymous

    A nice post…..I am from Turkey , Thank you very much for your good rewiews about Turkey πŸ™‚

  • This must have been such an incredible trip! Beautiful, beautiful photos. xx

    champagnedaydream.blogspot.com

  • Ahhh, I need a holiday like, now! After seeing these beautiful pics! xx

    http://www.2matesandablog.com

  • Duffi McDermott

    I have traveled to both Greece and Turkey; there is much to recommend both. The island of Paros is off the beaten path and I recommend it. I hope you have a chance to visit Santorini again, since it's on my bucket list!
    I am really enjoying your stories and your pictures are divine!

    • Thank you Duffi πŸ™‚ I hope you can visit Santorini soon!

  • What a wonderful trip! I've never been to Greece or Turkey and so I loved another great "armchair tour" :-). Thanks yet again for sharing your adventures with us.

    • Thank you Eileen – glad you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚

  • Deb

    Sabrina, looks like you had a beautiful time. I've been to Greece and Turkey. Spent several days in Athens before embarking on a 15 day Med cruise. One of our first stops was Santorini. We lucked out, no crowds. I loved Greece so much I didn't want to leave. But the rest of our European stops were fantastic too. So much to see and do. Went to many of the places you have already covered. Would love to go back.

    • Sounds like your cruise was amazing! We should have planned for off-tourist season. I hope you are able to go back to Greece in the near future, I would love to visit again too.

  • Tequila Mockingbird

    Your photos of the Mediterranean make me want to be there right this second!

    What cuisines did you have there which aren't readily available in California?

    Also, regarding your Faure Le Page — do you know if French their retailers will take long-distance phone calls to place an order and ship their purses to the US? I've heard of trophy wives somehow getting a Harrods in Dubai or some Italian retailer unknown to the States making special deliveries to LA. Since they were once armorers, do you know if their purse gun holsters are merely decorative or functional? I need a home for my taser (sigh… such is city life; I enjoy being a girl) away from jingling with my keys, phone, and makeup….

    • Hi! The Faure Le Page store will take phone orders and ship from Paris to the US. There is more detail here:

      http://forum.purseblog.com/handbags-and-purses/official-faure-le-page-thread-795359.html

      I've been in touch with the store via e-mail about a couple things I'm waitlisted for – shoot me an e-mail sabrina@thebeautylookbook.com and I'll find the store e-mail. They are very friendly – some other members on TPF have done transactions all via e-mail, others by phone.

      As for the gun holsters – I have no idea, my husband thinks yes they are functional, but I didn't get a close look. There might be some insight on the forum. Otherwise the associates at the store can answer questions.

    • Oh, and food in general is just so much better. Gyros, kebabs, croissants, pizza, pasta – it's all so amazing in Europe!

  • I adore your blog for makeup purposes, but this post gave me butterflies in my tummy – it's by far my favorite! Your pictures are gorgeous and I give you a lot of credit for going down those stairs; I would've been shaking like a leaf! Thank you for blogging about your trip, I've never been out of the country and I feel like I get to like vicariously through your posts!!

  • I adore your blog for makeup purposes, but this post gave me butterflies in my tummy – it's by far my favorite! Your pictures are gorgeous and I give you a lot of credit for going down those stairs; I would've been shaking like a leaf! Thank you for blogging about your trip, I've never been out of the US before and I feel like I get to live vicariously through your posts!

  • Lovely photos — the donkey steps sound terrifying πŸ™ — but I hope the rest of your trip made up for it and you will have great memories to last a lifetime! Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

  • Being from Greece I can tell you that cruises are not the best way to explore the islands as you have only one day (roughly) to explore each one! Elia is one of my favorite beaches in Mykonos (the absolute favorite is Kalo Livadi). Mykonos has some amazing beaches and restaurants, just not visit between 15th of July-End of August because it's super crowded and windy! There are so many islands in Greece you can visit, I don't know where to start from! Milos has killer beaches as well! P.S. I've written a post titled "which Greek island is ideal for you" if you're interested!!

  • So beautiful! Greece is at the very top of my list of places to visit, it looks like such a dream πŸ™‚
    Beautyosaurus Lexο»Ώ

  • I'm so jealous! Greece has always been my dream place. I'd also love to go to Croatia!

    Madison | http://www.coldsideofthepillow.ca

  • "I seriously thought I was going to die."
    Must have been terrifying for you, but I can't help but chuckle. But 3yr-olds have no fear of anything!

    Your cruise sounds fantastic.

  • Absolutely stunning!

  • Gorgeous photos!!