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Stephanie-Johnson,-Athens,-No offense to Athens but when Marlien and I missed the connecting flight to New York and found out we were going to be stranded there for not one but two nights, we were anything but enthusiastic.  The good news is we loved it!

STAY

Marlien and I have been stranded before in cities that were never on the itinerary so we knew just what to do.  One collect call into Platinum American Express Travel Services and we were on our way to the King George Hotel.  A complimentary upgrade to a junior suite was the perfect remedy for a travel mishap, as was the complementary lunch complete with a view of the Acropolis.

We intended to check out The New Hotel and see what all the hype is about but somehow we missed it.  Where the King George is classical elegance with brocade and moldings, the New Hotel screams ‘it’ hotel and modern hipster with an artsy vibe.

DO

Duh.  Visit the ancient ruins that thankfully were walking distance from our hotel.  Climb the ascent to the Acropolis and take in views of a very dense yet sprawling Athens.  Make sure to pack your parasol to protect from the blistering sun!

We loved walking everywhere and generally getting lost.  There are tons of shops and classical tavernas in the neighboring areas of Plaka and Monastiraki.  The graffiti is mind blowing as it is absolutely everywhere, wrapping subway cars and any available surface.  It brought back memories of Keith Haring and New York City in the early 1980’s – in short, I liked it.

EAT

Marlien and I both agreed that Athens brought the best meals of our trip (read more about it on Marlien’s blog, Le Catch).  We loved Kuzina for dinner, feasting on zucchini balls in a spearmint sauce and crab cakes in a spicy aioli.  A fresh take on classical Greek fare.

Prosopa is in a former glass factory and considering our cab driver couldn’t even find it, it’s a bit off the beaten path.  We ate outdoors across the street from the actual restaurant and I suppose it’s good that the street is not a busy one, making all that server back and forth a bit safer!  The menu had a contemporary Italian vibe (and a Damien Hirst style homage) and we ate the most delicious mushroom ravioli ever.  Ever.

The best afternoon snack ever can be found at the fresh Greek yogurt shops that serve yogurt with toppings.  We are not talking Pinkberry here.  I’m talking full fat Greek Yogurt served with gorgeous nuts and dried fruit options.  I savored mine simply with honey and will miss this most about our Greek getaway!  Yum.

To read about my other Greek adventures, visit Destination Greece, Part I:  Santorini, and Destination Greece, Part II:  Mykonos!

cashews,-athens,-Stephanie-

Stephanie-Johnson,-Mykonos,

Nothing like a trip to the Greek islands to jump-start your summer.  I’d never been so when a friend asked me to celebrate her 40th birthday on the island of Mykonos, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  After a quick overnight stop in Santorini (read about it here), my friend Marlien and I headed straight for party central:  Mykonos.  And what a party it was.  Think swimming in the sea to the thump of the DJ on the sand, never ending magnums of Domain Ott Rosé, Greek salads for every meal, dancing on your table post dinner, and nonstop fun.  In fact, such fun that four members of team birthday were sent to the hospital in the first 24 hours with injuries that included a broken foot and tooth.  Ah, the good life.

STAY

Santa Marina – my fellow revelers and I camped at this beachfront Starwood property.  Our room was simple (and small) with a balcony boasting views of the sea.  It’s a hike up a hill to the rooms, so be sure to pack a bag for the day.  Great beach with paddle-boards and kayaks for rent and a seaside restaurant.

Stephanie-Johnson,-Marlien-

EAT

We hopped a ten minute boat ride from our hotel to Kalua on Paraga Beach for a 2pm lunch.  We had a festive meal (for 80) with delicious salads, fried calamari and whole fish.  The rosé flowed liked water.  Our meal rolled into three hours of afternoon table dancing and l joined the DJ to spin some tunes.  Such fun that our hostess proclaimed herself to have had a ‘life realization’ that she is a ‘day’ party person.  I’m right with you girl!

At night we watched the sunset from the most incredible vantage from the deck at Capri in Little Venice.  Canvas deck chairs lined the wall facing the sea and the water would sometimes lap over the wall getting our feet wet.  Sublime.

Dinner followed at Caprice a few steps away with views of the sea so close you catch the spray on your face.  A gorgeous Mediterranean meal under those famous windmills and surrounded by the sea.  We got the party started when my friend Marlien dared me to dance on the table after dessert (read about that and more on Marlien’s blog, Le Catch).  Why not?  An hour later the entire restaurant was prancing from table top to table top shaking whatever they got.  Memories in the making.   Supreme fun.

Stephanie-Johnson,-Flat-Pou

LISTEN

Daft Punk’s Get Lucky was the anthem for the weekend and let’s face it, also for the summer of 2013.

DO

Do NOT wear heels unless you’ve got a pair of flats in your clutch.  This island is so rocky and steep that flat sandals are the only way to go.

DO rent a car or a scooter or a four wheel ATV if you are sober enough to operate one.  The island only has 30 taxis and we found ourselves stranded on more than one occasion.

Thank you to sweet Annie for including me in your birthday bash and introducing me to this beautiful island and to the most incredible new friends.  I look forward to sharing more good times!

What would a Greek getaway be without a little Athens (mis)adventure?  Read about it in my upcoming post, Destination Greece:  Part Three!

Stephanie-Johnson,-Mykonos,

Stephanie-Johnson,-Marlien-

I rang in our country’s independence this past July 4th weekend in Greece.  Traveling for a friend’s big birthday celebration in Mykonos, my friend Marlien (yep, THAT Marlien of Le Catch) and I decided to make a trip out of it and spend a speedy 24 hours on Santorini en route to the party isle.

STAY

Tablet Hotels hooked us up at a lovely hotel that oozed old warm charm and happens to be the oldest building on the island.  Comprised of sixteen different buildings and built in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Aigialos was a perfect home for the night.  Boasting sparkling Mediterranean views and close proximity to restaurants and shopping in the town Fira, we enjoyed breakfast on our terrace with a spectacular vista.

Although we didn’t get to check it out ourselves, there seemed to be a buzz around Mystique, a new hotel that seems anything but old world.  Think earthy modernism, driftwood and adobe, and straight up sexy complete with an infinity pool.

EAT

Hard to go wrong with a Greek salad and we didn’t.  Try Argo in Fira for lunch and 1800 in Oia for a rooftop sunset dinner.  And don’t forget the rosé!

Stephanie-Johnson,-Nassau-M

SHOP

When traveling with a shopping professional you do not mess around.  Marlien and I got started the minute we hit the ground and didn’t stop until dinner, finding classic Greek embroidered tunics and leather sandals, and I picked up a flute and a Greek key dress for my daughter.  For more contemporary fare, shop Spicy for the cutest swimsuits around.

DO

Ok we didn’t do it (Mar wouldn’t have it), but donkeys make the trek up from the port miles easier.  Give the black sand beaches a look and sample Greek yogurt with honey from neighboring isle Crete.  It’s amazing!

Next stop, Mykonos!  Stay tuned for Destination, Greece:  Part Two!

Stephanie-Johnson,-Marlien-

 

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