Babymoon in Greece-Part III-Naxos

We got up early enough to watch the sunrise on Santorini before taking a cab to the port to head to Naxos. It was a beautiful sunrise and a short cab ride before we arrived back at the hectic port. Thankfully, we quickly boarded our Ferry which was another Hellenic Seaways called Nissos Samos. The ferry ride was 2.5 hours and it was super smooth. We were so shocked at how empty the ferries were throughout our travels. Literally HUNDREDS of empty seats. The ferry was very clean and beautiful with multi-levels. The only disadvantage of the high speed ferries is that you can only go while leaving and pulling back into port, as it is dangerous to be outside while traveling at full speed. All of the ferries had excellent Wi-fi and served food and drinks (some things were included in the VIP section but others were not.)

We decided to stay at an Airbnb in Naxos and chose a small Sea view apartment and couldn’t have been happier. It was very homey feeling but was very updated and was located literally STEPS from the the St. George Beach! It was such a beautiful spot; walking distance to the main town area and so many wonderful restaurants! A special thanks to our hosts Tony and Angelika for a great experience with Airbnb.

Naxos is quiet and very authentic feeling. While it doesn’t have the same highly photographed areas that you get in Mykonos and Santorini, you also don’t get the crowds or the higher prices. Naxos in general, was very affordable and significantly cheaper than the other two islands we visited. We enjoyed Nutella crepes every night after our supper for less than 2 euros as well as yummy cappuccinos. There were so many wonderful restaurants to choose from with our favourite being Su e Giu where the Italian food was delicious but the service was hit-and-miss. We also ate at Barozzi, Nissaki, and Mythodea. Barozzi had just opened a few nights before and it was a 3 minute walk from our AirBnb so we decided to try it out. The decor was very modern and the restaurant had two open air walls. The prices here were higher but it was so incredibly beautiful as well as delicious! The service was also impeccable. The next night we went to Nissaki which is a beautiful beachside restaurant. We watched the sunset from our table and enjoyed very tasty pastas. Our Last evening we went to Mythodea which has since permanently closed where the sunset was to die for however, the food was not fantastic.

Something that was unique to Naxos compared to the other islands is that the area where we stayed in Saint George was right at the Marina/Port area. We weren’t doing lots of stairs and instead were walking right beside the water and boats rather than looking down 600 stairs or so to see them.

We “made” breakfast in our room each day that we bought from the market just down the road. Greek coffee, Greek yogurt, honey, and fresh fruit. It wasn’t a lot but it was perfect and helped save a bit of money! We also bought water and snacks to bring to the beach. It was on the beach in Naxos at about 19 weeks pregnant that I felt Sullivan kick for the first time, it was so special!

Naxos is home to some beautiful ruins, we visited the Apollo Temple which is pictured below and is walking distance from Naxos town. It was so beautiful and not nearly as busy as the ruins we visited in Athens.

If you’re looking for excellent or high end shopping Naxos is not the place to go and unlike the other Greek islands we found most places closed for siesta. Naxos provided a very authentic Greek experience, while laying on the beach each morning we watched as an elderly Greek man who carried a small stool would go way out and sit on his stool in waist deep water and stare out towards the horizon while a group of Greek women would swim, dance and sing Greek music together, it truly felt like a European experience. There were also much less tourists here in fact I would say we saw few tourists. You would want to pick your time of year carefully while visiting Naxos though because we learned that most stores and restaurants close at the beginning of October because of the lack of tourism during October to May.

https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/12783254?guests=1&adults=1

We loved our time in beautiful Naxos and feel like we barely scraped the surface, next time we will hopefully delve deeper into the history and explore more of this large island in Greece!

Packing Tips for a Family Beach Vacation (With a toddler)

The task of packing for our trip to Punta Cana with a 1 year old was seemingly more overwhelming than packing had been in the past sans kids. Not only was it hard to picture everything that we could possibly need but also the added problem of how-in-the-world would we fit it into two suitcases.

We upgraded our flight package to allow for more checked baggage weight which was helpful and as it turned out, completely necessary. I started packing about two+ weeks in advance as I pulled all of our Spring/Summer clothes out of storage and washed it all. Sullivan only had a few pieces from last summer that he still fit which meant only one thing… shopping! ūüėÄ

We ordered him a heap of summer clothes from H&M, Carters, Hudsons’ Bay and Baby Gap as well as both Grandma’s found several items for him. We traveled with water shoes which turned out to be amazing for Sullivan in helping him keep sure-footed en-route to the pool/beach as well as on pool tile and in the sand.

Sullivan’s Navigator Babiators are from West Coast Kids and his swim set is from H&M Kids (sold out now)

We purchased our matching family swimsuits from Patpat. I was totally unsure of the quality based on the price when I ordered but was pleasantly surprised! Other than a strong smell when they arrived (which washed out perfectly), I couldn’t have been happier with how they turned out! Also, you can’t beat the price. I ordered mine in my regular size (Small) Travis’ in his regular size (Large) and for Sullivan, the smallest size they carried was a 2 Years so I ordered that for him and it fit great.

We packed a small first aid bag with a baby thermometer, Baby Tempera, band aids, and other assorted medicines that we thought we might need. We were thankful we did when Sullivan had a low grade fever the first morning after arriving.

We brought a full sleeve of diapers as well as about 20 swim diapers. We came home with several of each left but didn’t feel we overpacked.

Food was tough, not knowing how Sullivan would react to their food (and especially their milk) so we brought heaps. We packed 8 yogurt drinks, several small greek yogurt, 15 pouches, puffs, cheerios, crackers, animal crackers, Gerber baby cookies and Baby Mum mums. He ate pretty much everything we brought. We also packed four bottles for the plane rides. FOUR. 2 of milk and two of juice and water to help those little ears pop. We also brought Earplanes to help with this as well and although I have nothing else to compare it to, while all other babies on the plane were crying, Sully was all smiles. *We bought a pack of three which I would highly recommend as they are *very* easy to lose.

I love my Mossio packing cubes, I find that you can fit SO much more in your suitcase and it helps me stay organized while traveling. Normally, I use the merlot coloured cubes for me, navy for Travis and grey for Sullivan however this trip I used most of them in a different way. Once all of our clothes were washed and folded I laid them all out on the bed and started choosing coordinating outfits; one for Travis, one for Sullivan and one for myself (including accessories) and would put it all into one cube. I did this for most days as well as separate one cubes that included our dinner outfits. I love wearing coordinating outfits as a family so found this to be the most efficient way rather than sorting through our clothes each day and night tying to pick outfits. This way, I simply chose a cube based on whether we were doing a dress-up or dress-down day/dinner and everything was already chosen for me. Ahhhh, simplicity. (aka extreme organization) The ones we use are linked below.

https://www.amazon.ca/Mossio-Set-Packing-Cubes-Shoe/dp/B01M03O1QE

https://www.earplanes.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw7YblBRDFARIsAKkK-dKTAh1_joadN3SOZ5rpbFMrWnzneJRXUuNOTve9pv392PnIFmbMr5EaAsQpEALw_wcB

https://www.patpat.com/product/Ruffle-Striped-Family-Swimsuits.html?is_new_category=0

https://www.theshoecompany.ca/en/ca/product/elements-youth-boys-aqua-sock/871101077

https://www.westcoastkids.ca/original-sunglasses-navigator-mirror

Babymoon in Greece-Part II-Santorini

We woke up early to take our high-speed ferry from Piraeus to Santorini.  We made a reservation on Hellenic Seaways and booked a VIP table for extra comfort being this was a fairly long ferry ride (4 hours and 45 minutes) and we weren’t sure what to expect or how busy the rest of the ferry would be.  We found navigating our way to the Ferry Terminal to be simple however finding our exact port proved to be slightly more difficult!  We found it with time to spare and found it to be a seamless process to board however we were a little nervous to leave our luggage unattended but apparently it’s common and less of a big deal than we thought it would be.  We found our table and enjoyed our departure from the Piraeus port out on the deck while the sun rose.  The journey was relatively smooth with two stops at Sifnos and Ios before our arrival at the Athinios Santorini Port.

Two words come to mind when describing the Santorini new port… Absolute Chaos.  It was nothing like we expected whatsoever.  We were anticipating a clean and picturesque welcome, similar to pictures we had seen without realizing that those pictures showed the Old Port, not the new one.  It was loud, dirty and hectic.  There were solicitors every five feet trying to get the business of tourists whether it be purchasing souvenirs or using their taxi to get to their hotel.  We quickly haggled with a cab driver for a reasonable price to get a ride to our resort.

Now, the reviews on the El Greco Resort in Fira were somewhat mixed at the time of booking but it was where we wanted to stay and was “resort style” which was something that we wanted for this part of the trip being we would be here for 4 nights. ¬†We had one of the few Junior Suites at the resort (totally worth it) with a large balcony on the second level. This resort was very special because it is located on a very narrow part of the island and from the balcony you could watch the sun rise out of the Aegean Sea in the morning and watch it set on the west side at night. ¬†These sunrises and romantic sunsets ¬†will forever be a part of our fondest memories of Greece.

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*Image taken from Google.

The pools here are lovely. There are 3 of them and although cold, were perfect and never busy.  The breakfast buffet was included in our stay and was very impressive.  Greek coffee with an expansive hot breakfast complete with Spanakopita, croissants and real Greek Yogurt were enjoyed tremendously during our stay.

The Suites are large, with a massive 2-head shower area, kitchenette, large cave-style bathroom, living room area, and bedroom.  As I already mentioned, there is also a large balcony.  Be warned, the beds are not comfortable, (this was conclusive throughout our trip) they are extremely hard and there were springs sticking in my ribs all night long.   The concierge at the resort were very helpful in making our dinner reservations for us ahead of time and making suggestions with regards to the best places to eat and with the best view of the caldera and sunset.

This resort is a pleasant 5 minute walk into the very authentic town of Fira but you have the added bonus of complete quiet at night because it isn’t located right amidst the action. ¬†This was perfect for us as we would enjoy a morning by the pool and then head into town for lunch, exploring, and shopping for the afternoon and then return to our room to get ready for our 7:00-8:00 dinner reservation back in Fira. ¬†There is also a grocery story between the resort and Fira where we purchased lots of bottled water and snacks, etc. ¬†Buying water gets expensive so we found it best to buy large bottles in cases at grocery stores and bring it with us during the day rather then buying it while we were out and about. ¬†That being said, we added up what we spent on water during our two weeks in Greece and it ended up being upwards of $500.00CAD. ¬†Staying hydrated isn’t cheap! ¬†Lunches ranged from 7-30 euros for both of us. ¬†7 euros would get you takeaway style gyros and 30 euros would get you a traditional greek salad, cappuccino, water, and personal style pizza or pasta. ¬†Dinner ranged between 50-80 euros on Santorini which would include water, bread to start, two main courses, and a dessert to share. ¬†These dinner restaurants were all on the hillside with a sunset and ocean view. ¬†Something to remember in Greece is that most restaurants bring items to the table that you have not ordered and leave them for you. ¬†If you leave them untouched you will not be charged for them but if you accept and consume the items they will add the items to the bill. ¬†These items are NOT complimentary unless they tell you that they are. ¬†We did have complimentary bread, a dessert tray and drinks brought to us on a few occasions but typically they are not complimentary. ¬† We enjoyed two excellent dinners at Volcano Blue where the service and food were wonderful as well as dinner at Rastoni where we had the best Baklava of our entire trip.

We spend some time at a coffee shop called Seasons in Fira where the Barista showed us how to make a proper greek coffee.  It was an educational experience and was a lot of fun for both of us! Here, they give you a tiny piece of dark chocolate when you buy a coffee or cappuccino.  Greek coffee is different than the coffee we are used to because they never put cream or milk in it. Also, it is such a fine grind that the grinds are not strained out of the coffee before drinking, rather they sit in the bottom of your cup when you are finished.  38315A70-823C-495E-A0F8-469CFCF1A752

Our last day in Santorini we decided to make the trip to Oia. ¬†As we looked into our chosen mode of transportation for the 15km journey we realized that taxis were few and far between on Santorini with the exception of at the port so we decided to take the bus. ¬†We walked into Fira where the {very busy} bus station was and joined the masses hoping to board one of the busses to Oia. ¬†The bus ride was less than 2 euros each however it was not a direct bus and took us all over the countryside (literally) before arriving in Oia. ¬†This was a less than pleasant ride and I ended up quite car-sick (winding roads, no air conditioning, lots of stop-and-go, no water and being five months pregnant likely didn’t help matters either). ¬†Once we arrived we were quite hungry so we found a spot to sit and relax and have a snack while my stomach settled. ¬†Our dinner reservation was at 7:30PM at Catch. ¬†We had a lovely table with a beautiful view of the sunset but to be quite honest, we were underwhelmed. ¬†There is a lot of hype surrounding Oia and while it is perfectly picturesque we found it to be so overly touristy that we didn’t get the same authentic Greek feel that we did in Fira. ¬†Perhaps this is because Fira is home to the old port so it has remained more authentic while Oia has become a tourist hotzone. ¬†That in mind, we did get some beautiful pictures in Oia with the stereotypical white buildings with their blue roofs and enjoyed the very high end main shopping street.

Our bus ride back thankfully, was a direct bus and was a great deal smoother (it was dark by now which helped I think).

Below is a photo of the stairs that lead to the Old Port. ¬†You can take a donkey or walk them if you choose, we did neither. Because…588 stairs.C806F06F-D76F-4B52-8DF2-33E7DFF2886E.JPG

The next morning we were up early to watch the sunrise before our taxi arrived to take us back to the Port Athinios to board our ferry to Naxos. A perfect end to our time in beautiful Santorini.

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Thanks for reading! Happy Travelling.

-Julie

Babymoon in Greece-Part I-Athens

Day 1-Toronto-Athens
Day 2-Athens/Piraeus
Days 3-7-Santorini
Days 7-11-Naxos
Days 11-14-Mykonos
Day 15-Athens
Day 1 & 2
It was a very drizzly and cool day leaving Toronto September 3rd and we couldn‚Äôt wait! We went out for breakfast with Travis‚Äô mom who then drove us to the airport. Our flight was with Air Canada who for whatever reason thought it was acceptable to not have TVs installed on the plane and ‚Äúnot have enough iPads for everyone.‚ÄĚ So we slept, and slept and slept. ¬†As much as one can sleep on a tiny airplane seat anyways. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise though as with a +7 hour time change, when we arrived at 9:20AM it actually felt like the middle of the night to us and we had been up since 6AM the day before with much anticipation and excitement so sleep was probably a wise decision on the plane! September 4th, when we arrived was actually my 24th Birthday although we kind of forgot for a good portion of the day because we were so busy and had a big day ahead of us! When we arrived it was a bit of an unsettling feeling to not know the language, not know where you‚Äôre going, and to not have someone waiting to pick you up! We navigated our way to the Taxi stand and took a Taxi to our Hotel located in Piraeus.
Piraeus Dream was conveniently located near the Ferry terminal and was a 45 minute cab ride from the airport (50 euros). When we arrived at the Hotel we were pleasantly surprised by how centrally located it was to a multitude of things including the port, a boardwalk, shopping and heaps of restaurants. We felt very overwhelmed by the culture, the language, and by how beautiful everything. We showered and got ready quickly, eager to begin our exploration of Piraeus and Athens and ignored the very strong urge to climb into the bed and take a loooong nap. We left the hotel and began searching for a spot to eat, we were starving and weren’t sure how safe it was to eat wherever (we needed to be especially conscious of this considering I was 5 nearly 5 months pregnant). We finally settled in at a spot with excellent reviews from travellers called Street Souvlaki and enjoyed a Gyro, Greek Salad and lots of bottled water!
After lunch we went back to the hotel who found us a cab and we headed to the Acropolis. I should mention that it was HOT, as in 39 degrees Celsius hot! We arrived at the Acropolis, purchased tickets (30 euros per person for 6 sites) and began the many stairs to the top. We toured the Acropolis including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena, and the Temple of Zeus.
After we were finished our afternoon of wandering, a latte or two and 10+ bottles of water, we took another cab back to our hotel and succumbed to the temptation of that nap. It was glorious! Once we woke up we walked to the pier and found a restaurant called Parmigiani Restaurant Italiano that had excellent reviews for an Italian Restaurant! Perhaps it was because we were so hungry but this was one of, if not my favourite meal in Greece! I would happily fly 11 hours for another plate of that Fettuccine Alfredo. After sharing two small gelato we headed for bed with an early morning ahead of us.
Happy Traveling!
-Julie