I said YES to a facebook status and ended up in the Greek Islands
By Ola Endress
Yep you heard correct… it had been over 7 years that I last spoke or seen my friend Gen. I had just left my full time stable job and saw a status on Facebook that read “I’m going to be in Europe in July, does anyone want to come to the Greek Islands with me?”.
It took me about a whole 2 seconds to think about it before I typed “YES”.
I didn’t really think to be honest. I didn’t think that I just quit my job and now have no stable income coming through and that I would need to spend a lot of money for this trip. I didn’t think what would happen after I got back from holiday knowing that I had just spent all this money and what I would do next. I had no plans to go back to full time work or at least go back to a working environment where I felt like I was wasting away. Anyway I’m at a stage in my life where I think fuck it, why not? after all, half the reason I left my job was to live life the way that it should be lived – to its fullest.
I let Gen do all the planning, she organized everything. The dates, the costs, what we would be doing etc. I just went with whatever, I trusted her even though I hadn’t seen her in over 7 years.
She decided to go with a Contiki trip around Greece. To be honest, no word of a lie … I thought that going on a Contiki trip would mean that I was going to get on a big white coach, with old foreign people that want to learn about the history and culture of the country.
Something like this..
Little did I know that I was actually dead wrong and I had no idea until it was a little too late.
Before we left Australia to make our way over to Greece, we received a Contiki pack. Everything we needed was in this pack.
An international sim card, a daily planner of what we would be doing and where we would be going, a luggage tag with all our details incase our stuff went missing and information about the hashtags we should use when traveling throughout Greece.
#noregrets #onelifemakeitcount….what I loved about these hash tags was that these were the words that I say everyday and even the name of my blog. I couldn’t wait to start my Greek adventure!
Day 1 – Athens
After landing in Athens the heart of Greece, I was so happy to go to the hotel and chill out. Especially after the flight to Greece. I spent over 8 hours at the airport in Qatar, sitting in an uncomfortable chair trying to sleep. I was transiting and waiting to get on my next flight to Greece and I couldn’t handle the chair anymore so I ended up finding a little comfortable space, right next to the public toilets. Yep I ended up lying on the floor next to the toilets so I could try and sleep and it was much more comfortable than the chair =)
I got to the hotel in Athens and met up with my friend Gen. We then went to the top floor where there was a pool and met some of the people that would be on the Contiki trip with us. There were only around 7 girls that had arrived early. They were really friendly and all mostly Australian. I thought that there would only be max 20 people on our trip turns out that there were actually close to 40 people and I had met them all later that day.
We were greeted by our Tour Guide Kevin for the trip (he was from Liverpool and had a strong accent) who would tell us what would be happening over the next 10 days. This process took over an hour as we had to fill out forms, and select the additional activities we wanted to do. Gen and I selected all of them except 2. It was a very full room with a lot of travelers and a majority of them were all Australian from the ages of 19-29. Also important for the guys out there to note that a majority of these people were girls. On this trip there were around 10 guys and 30 girls.
We all learned very quickly on the first day that you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet. Greece’s sewage systems are not as advanced as ours and could easily block the toilets if paper was flushed down. The only option was to throw toilet paper in the bin next to the toilets. Jacqui ( A beautiful & crazy American girl kept forgetting to do this).
Day 1 in Athens was all about getting to know the people you would be on tour with and getting to know your room mates.
There would generally always be 4 people in a room and boys and girls separated. I was so lucky to stay in a room with Gen and 2 other nice Australian girls called Stevie and Rikki-lee, both of them sisters.
The next day we headed off to the party Island called Mykonos. We had a buffet breakfast in the early hours of the morning and off we went.
The only way to travel around Greece from island to island are by massive ferries that you would be in for hours just to get to your next destination.
There is Wifi on the ferry so no one really complained except for our new friend Brooke who complained every second because her wifi didn’t work on this entire trip and wasn’t happy when everyone else was on theirs (love you Brooke =p)
When getting to and from ferries, we got on a Contiki coach. Every time we got on this coach our tour manager would put on the same song that would be the song of our trip. This song was “when I met you in the summer”. Before I even came to Greece I already hated that song and now it was about to kill my brain cells.
Day 2 in Mykonos – This is a very beautiful place, the hotel we stayed in was incredible however the only way to get to your rooms was to walk up a lot of stoney steps (5 flights of stairs, massive stairs, over 300 of them) with your suitcase. It was a workout trying to carry my massive pink suitcase up those stairs in crazy hot weather but in the end I did it =) However you could always pay some of the hotel staff to do it for you.
Once we got settled in we headed off to a popular club called “Tropicana/Paradise Beach”. The beach was paradise, the waters were clear blue and there were beds and chairs set up right along the beach. You would have table service, where waiters would come up to you to order your food and drinks.
The drinks were unbelievable, cocktails for around 10 euro and they were that strong that even if you had just eaten a full meal you would still get drunk.
There are tables where you can dance to the DJ playing right in front of you. There are girls with the most perfect asses that dance on podiums in basically no clothes. Champagne (Moet) showers every 10 minutes. Free drinks and shots. This place was party central and I was soon to realize what Contiki actually meant.
What did it mean? it meant that this place was every young persons dream. To be in a place and to feel young where you can just hook up with whoever you wanted to. People getting wasted and hooking up left right and centre – on the tables, on the beach, in the ocean and god knows where else toilets?! wouldn’t be surprised. Pretty much everyone in my Contiki group all hooked up with each other and this was just the second day of Contiki !….Girls crying over boys, boys loving the attention and me just realizing then and there “what the fu*# have I gotten myself into?!?!”
Definitely no old tour group learning about history, drinking the finest wines and going to bed by 9pm that’s for sure!
Just to put this all into perspective there is a guy called the “Elephant Man” who pretty much walks around the place in nothing but an elephant trunk covering his dick (photo below).
When we finished up at the club we got back on the bus to make our way home listening to “When I met you in the summer”
Mykynos is the perfect place in Greece to party, if your single or are having a mid life crisis and you just want to get messy this is the place to go! We spent 2 days here and the next day we visited the local town and famous windmills. There is so much to explore and all the restaurants are right on the water, pretty epic! This was absolutely breathtaking and there is a photo below.
Day 3 Paros – people still continued to hook up with the same people and occasionally felt like mixing it up by hooking up with different people, you know how it is young love <3.
This town was little and cute. This was more of a relaxing town and was needed after the crazy 2 days we had previously. Not that it was going to get less crazy after all we were on Contiki!
I set out to find an inflatable duck at the local shops because we had booked a sailing trip the next day and I found one (picture below – his name was Ducky). We spent the day at a beach bar similar to Tropicana in Mykonos however 100 times less crazy. You could go paddle boarding, donuting on the back of the boat, swimming in the ocean or the two pools that were there, drink and eat. It was a really good day chilling out in the sun.
Later that evening we were going to a restaurant (the food was amazing) where you can learn how to dance the traditional Greek dancing and smash plates! This restaurant was located right on the sand with waterfront views and it was stunning! There was a swing that you could go on that was attached to a tree (see video below). After we had our meal, we were moved to the bar area to prepare us for plate smashing and Greek dancing. At this stage 2 of the guys were no where to be seen. After we smashed plates and danced we realized that the guys got a little drunk (understatement) and all of a sudden all of their clothes were in the middle of the bar area floor (all of them, including their underwear). We hear screaming coming from the ocean and there they were…..completely naked (photo below on youtube video). Our tour manager was not impressed but it was the funniest thing. Here we were at a 5 star restaurant and there they were butt naked! Nice one Alex and Jo #nameandshame
Every night in Paros we would go to the bar for drinks and sheesha. Every night in Paros I would come home hours before everyone else around 1 am.The rooms were away from reception and I was too scared to sleep on my own without my room mates. So I did the only thing that I thought best in that situation and for both nights in Paros, I passed out on the reception lobby couch. Every hour I would have the receptionist wake me up and beg me to go to my room, most likely because he was embarrassed that there was some girl passed out and sprawled over the couch for everyone who walked by or came into the hotel to see. Every time I would reply with the same response “I’m too scared”. He ended up just putting up with me and at the end of the Paros trip I tipped him some money for looking after me.
Some of the girls (Stevie & Jacqui) got drunk and ended up skinning dipping in the ocean outside the bar. Once Stevie was in the water she stepped on a sea urchin and got the barbs from it stuck in her foot(ouchhhhhh). She had a lot of soaking in white vinegar to do over the next few days to try and get it out. They ended up bribing a local 14 year old greek boy on a scooter to take both the girls back to the hotel. What a night!
The next day was fun, we went sailing on a boat and visited different parts of the island where the water was clear bright blue. We jumped from the boat into the water and we were served with a Greek bbq after which meant lamb souvlaki. I LOVE souvlaki! most beautiful thing I have ever eaten.
Paros was nice and relaxing and I was ready to take on the next and last island but not before getting on a bus and listening to WHEN I MET YOU IN THE SUMMER.
Day 4 Santorini – This is by far my most favorite place in this world. They say Paris is the city of love and Rome is the city of romance, they have nothing on this little island. I cant start to describe to you how romantic and beautiful this place is. White stone building with blue roofs overlooking nothing but a blanket of beautiful blue ocean. I have put some photos below to show you how incredible Santorini is.
You can ride donkeys, you can eat at restaurants on cliffs over looking the ocean, you can visit volcano’s and step on sand that is black in colour. We went to a place called Oia in Santorini. We ate a a restaurant that had a big pool on a cliff, it was pretty much like an infinity pool and we watched the sun set across the big landscape sky set out in front of us. It didn’t even look real, it looked like we were in a post card. When the sun set, everyone in the place applauded because it was just that beautiful.
My favorite moment in Santorini was when this bride came up to us who just got married, asking us to be in her wedding photo (below)
The next day we were able to explore the town by ourselves. I went shopping and had lunch with Gen. I didn’t feel well so I told Gen I was going to go back to the hotel. This town is crazy its like a maze and every side street looks the same. Gen stayed behind and 2 hours later I was still in town, lost, figuring out how to get to the buses but every new side street I was on, looked exactly like the last one. It was getting late and I had given up. I didn’t know what to do except keep wandering. In the end I bumped into Brooke and Jacqui (thank god otherwise I would still be there to this day wandering around). When we went back to the bus stop I saw Gen who was also waiting for the bus to go home and surprised to see me. I don’t like to admit it but sometimes a girl just needs a map!
That night we would go out, get drunk and celebrate our last night. This night had a different feel to it because we all bonded over the the last week, we all got to know each other, we all became friends and we all became a family. We sung our heart out to every song, we all hugged eachother as we danced, we bought drinks for each other and we just got drunk.
When we caught the contiki bus back home that night and I ended up loving “When I met you in the summer” for the whole 10 seconds before I got sick of it.
We finished the trip by heading back to Athens, to party one last time and to say our goodbyes.
Its crazy to think how quickly you can bond with complete strangers in a foreign place over a short period time. We all became lifelong friends and we would all soon be continuing on with our lives. We would either go back home or continue traveling but the one thing we all knew is that wherever in the world we go that maybe one day we would bump into each other again.
I have met the most amazing people on this trip, I still talk closely with the people that I connected with and we are now planning our next trip together.
Contiki – what I originally thought would be a historical and cultural learning experience with people in their 80s, turned out to be the most eye opening, jaw dropping, what the hell am I doing here holiday however it was fun!!!, crazy, messy, hilarious, and very drunken. It turned out to be a holiday that I will never forget.
Thank you contiki for showing me all Greece has to offer, for letting me meet the most interesting and beautiful people, for letting me smash plates, greek dance, drink the cheapest but purest wines, eat the most incredible food, staying in nice hotels but most of all thank you for letting me remember this trip for the rest of my life.
Now when I hear “when I met you in the summer” by Calvin Harris on the radio, I just smile to myself and turn straight to another station (I still hate it)
I highly recommend for anyone to do this trip. You will NOT regret it. I spent around $1500 for this trip (not inc flights) but it was worth it. Contiki do trips everywhere and more info can be found here http://www.contiki.com/
Name of hotels I stayed at (decent hotels)
Athens – Dorian Inn
Mykynos – Alkistis
Paros – Aegeon Hotel (lovely receptionist)
Santorini – Family Vassalos
Please watch the video I created from this trip below and let me know what you think =)
Until my next adventure (coming up soon)…see you next time xx Ola