Dates Visited: April 24 and April 25, 2023

Cities Visited: Athens, Santorini (Oia)

Sites Visited: The Parthenon, volcano, Santorini

Accommodations: This magical Airbnb called “Sunset villa in Oia – Cycladic house”. For two nights, this Airbnb was $1032.21 and worth every penny. It was our favorite airbnb, both because of the view (!!) and because of the service (!!)

My sister wanted to visit Athens to see the Parthenon so, on the morning of April 24, she and Alight caught a super early flight from Switzerland to Athens. They would have half the day to explore the Parthenon, eat lunch and then catch an evening flight to meet the rest of us at the Santorini airport. Both Mandi and Alight say Athens was crowded with people, they had an amazing cab driver, the people in general were wonderful and the Parthenon wasn’t quite what they expected (kind of like the Sistine Chapel failed to live up to the expectations).

Mandi and Alight in Athens, Greece, April 2023

There were an insane amount of stairs to get to the top, but they could see several sites from the top of the Acropolis. Mandi said that, since we hail from Nashville, Tennessee and she’d seen the Parthenon there, which is an exact replica of what the real thing looked like once upon a time, the ruins weren’t as impressive. There was also construction machinery over part of it that took away from the impressiveness. Still, seeing Athens was on Mandi’s bucket list, so she was glad she went — and Alight soaked in every experience offered to her (her Fitbit told her she was an overachiever).

Santorini, however, exceeded all expectations.

Mandi and Alight landed at the airport two hours before the rest of us did. The airport is super small, so they didn’t have much to do but wait. I’d previously asked our Airbnb host to arrange a driver to meet us at the airport — Mandi found him before we arrived, holding, as promised, a sign that read the name of the Airbnb. The driver immediately took our luggage from us and led us to the comfortable van. It was about a twenty-five minute drive from the airport to the town. Our flight landed near sunset and it was amazing even from the air.

The roads end before the homes with the best views, so the driver stopped near the Post Office, which meant we still had a ten minute walk to the Airbnb. The host of the place was waiting for us, though, at the Post Office with a helper. The helper loaded all of our luggage up on a cart and took off: this was invaluable service because it meant that we did not have to carry our luggage through unfamiliar, narrow cobblestone alleys. When we arrived at the Poseidon’s Place, which is one of only two large homes remaining on the cliffside, the host gave us a thorough tour before leaving. We were delighted to find that they’d thoughtfully provided water bottles, juice, fresh eggs, cereal, milk and some other spices; we were also pleasantly surprised that this Airbnb included daily housekeeping services.

We didn’t wait to enjoy the rooftop, heated pool, either:

Arriving in the evening, we were in for a serious treat the next day.

When we woke the following morning, we didn’t have much time before heading off to the one activity planned in Santorini: the all day boat cruise. The catamaran cruise we took was originally scheduled for a sunset cruise, but the night before, the company emailed me to say that the winds were too strong the next evening for a sunset cruise. They could, however, sail in the morning. We took that and, in retrospect, I am glad the sunset cruise was changed to the day cruise. Our sunset viewing was altogether perfect from the airbnb and I can’t imagine it being any better. The boat cruise, however, was probably one of the most awesome experiences of the entire trip. It was five hours long, with a thoughtful and attentive crew, and an absolutely delicious lunch that we all devoured and returned for seconds. Stops included the active volcano, Thira, hot springs, and a place where we could snorkel. As we were there in late April, the water was freezing, no lie, but I jumped in, as did Alight and Alissia. I loved swimming in the sea. The boat ride was an expensive excursion — about $640 — but worth every penny. It was so relaxing laying on the catamaran, soaking in views of the island. It was also a really good way to see some of parts of the island that we didn’t have time for otherwise.

Alight, me and Alissia on the boat ride Santorini Greece 2023

As soon as we got back to the Airbnb, Alight jumped into the heated pool to further soak in the views (and to warm up!)

We relaxed and enjoyed these unbelievable views of the island until hunger kicked in. We opted for an early dinner to try and return to the Airbnb in time for the famous Santorini sunset, which, we were promised, we had a prime seat for on the rooftop of our Airbnb. For dinner, we walked into town, passing an accordion player and open shops, where we found a sweatshirt and keychains for souvenirs. Soon, we came to a restaurant that had a rooftop, which sounded like spectacular views waiting to happen. Sure enough, our table had prime ocean views on either side of us.

Dinner was amazing, just as the rest of the Greek food and experience had been thus far. We ordered the octopus for mine and Breathe’s app, while Mandi and Alight opted for a different, spicy one. Our meals were fresh, flavorable and all together delicious. We mentioned, more than once, that the Greek food was of our favorite from the European trip. Just as in the rest of Europe, no one rushed us. We waited awhile for our check, but enjoyed the ocean views in the meantime, and returned back to the Airbnb in time to shower and rest for a bit more before it was time to go outside for the sunset.

I’d read about strangers trying to break into the airbnb, especially during the sunset time, so I locked the rooftop door to prevent anyone from getting inside. This meant that no one bothered us and we had the entire space to enjoy. The girls took up seats on the balcony while Mandi and Alissia enjoyed the bed that’s on the rooftop. Words don’t do this sunset justice; pictures don’t, either, but they come closer to showing how perfect it was:

While the sunset was perfect, and the boat ride was perfect, the other big news in Greece was that Alissia learned how to blow bubble gum bubbles!

Greece was a time of priceless memories, and we cannot wait to go back!