Travel Memories – Greek Island Hopping

Backpacking Greece Paros

“Somewhere…I once found a list of diseases… and among these occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of spirit.  These are people…who somehow find islands irresistible.  A little world surrounded by the sea, fills them with indescribable intoxication. – Lawrence Durrell – ‘Reflections on a Marine Venus’

Island hopping with a bulging rucksack strapped to my back was an immediately brilliant idea when Sally mentioned it in May and invited me to bring my credit cards along and join her for a week or two in the Greek islands.

Sun drenched beaches, friendly tavernas, Mythos and ouzo, I knew immediately that I would take up the offer but at first I was slightly wary of committing to a holiday with two girls addicted to the internet and who sleep with their mobile phones but I have always wanted to be more imaginative about my holidays and to take control and make my own arrangements rather than rely upon a holiday rep from Thomsons or Airtours and those tedious welcome meetings that seem to go on for ever in a dingy hotel lounge when all you want to do is get outside in the sun.

So the chance to do things my way was a real opportunity and I signed up.

Naxos Back street Cyclades Greece

Preparation involved booking the flights and finding suitable hotels on line. This, I later had to concede, turned out to be a bit of a cheat because proper back-packers, I am told, take their lodgings chances when arriving in port, but I just wanted to be certain of a basic level of accommodation.  I was fifty-two years old and had certain standards to maintain! I wanted Olympic size swimming pools, air conditioning as fresh as the mountain air and at the very least a minimum standard of bathroom facility.  Most people go backpacking in their teens or in their twenties – I had left it all a bit late!

Packing the rucksack was quite a challenge! There wasn’t a lot of room in there and it took a number of clothing/essentials trial runs before I achieved the perfect combination of items. I needed my snorkel and essential bathroom items and some books of course and after that I had room for some clothes. It was like doing the hokey-cokey, in, out, in, out and shake it all about until I got it right.

Blue Star Ferry Athens to Naxos

Like most people I always take too many clothes on holiday, that extra pair of shorts, another shirt just in case, and usually some items just go for the ride there and back and never get worn, this time I was sure I had got it about right but for some unexplained reason I took some socks along for the trip. I didn’t wear them of course because all I had for foot attire was two pairs of sandals including my favourite gladiators.

I had the gladiator sandals since 1999 when I went to Rhodes and they accompanied me abroad on every single beach holiday after that – always the first item in the bag.  They were showing signs of wear and not expected to see through this adventure. I  made it my mission to see how long I could make them last.

Gladiator Sandals Naxos Greece

Footnote (please excuse the pun):

The Gladiators made it through the holiday and lasted another two years when an important part of the shoe infrastructure failed (one of the straps snapped) and they had to be thrown away soon after.  I left them in Greece, I thought that was appropriate – a little bit of me is in a landfill site in Athens!

Have you been to the Greek Islands?  Which is your favourite?

Oia Santorini

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22 responses to “Travel Memories – Greek Island Hopping

  1. Greek island hopping? Sign me up for a few months of that.

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  2. I know you recommend islands without airports, but I loved Kalami in Corfu (great recommendation, cheers!). So quiet there in what must be the busiest Greek island?

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  3. My favourite has to be Crete. I love the fierceness of the mountain men who remember the days of the partisans and for whom the enemy is still within sight, and I admire their love of national hero Venizelos who, in March 1905, declared the Union of Crete with Greece. Despite this unity, they still have a passionate independence of spirit that makes them insist they are “Cretan” before they are Greek. And I love them for the slow-cooking movement that has taken hold on most of the island. It’s the most untouched by tourism island that I know.

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  4. There’s a question, Andrew! You want a single island choice? Too hard! And there are still some I always thought I’d get to 😦 Big soft spot for Paros and landing on a rubble strip with a garden shed for customs. 🙂 Oh, those were the days… I need to find me a skipper.

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  5. Years ago, went to Leros and Kos, then to Crete the following year….loved Crete! One day I must return, but then again perhaps not – I would probably be disappointed

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  6. Now THAT sounds like the kind of travel I’d enjoy. If I could only avoid that flight to the other side of the planet. Think I’ll stick to heading up to Vancouver on my next outing; stay closer to the ground… 😉

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  7. Corfu is great, and there is that sense of Lawrence Durrell there… One of my favorite authors. As a teenager, I got lost in the Alexandria Quartet. It was one of the things that turned me into a wanderer. –Curt

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    • I have stayed a couple of times in Kalami right next to the White House of Durrell. A complex man but a great writer.

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      • I was 16 when I read the Quartet, Andrew, and a country boy. I think the farthest I’d ever travelled had been 300 miles. I remember the bookstore owner, who was something of a mentor, telling me not to tell my mom he had recommended the books. They had just come out in the US. I was introduced to a whole new world. –Curt

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