A Travellerspoint blog

Pyrgos, Santorini


Pyrgos is a picturesque village with iconic Greek views.
Of course, there are stunning views everywhere on Santorini, but Pyrgos has no clear view of the mystical caldera which means it's less crowded than some other towns such as Oia. In Pyrgos you can wander the streets and wind your way through the narrow paths to the top of the town to the medieval Kasteli (castle) and the historic Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. All roads lead up and it's impossible to get lost. Even if you do, you are surrounded by blue sky, white limestone buildings, and charming doorways.
A benefit of getting lost is finding a Ben & Jerry's where you can stop for a baklava or some ice cream.
The view of the Aegean surrounds you and you can find a place to sit at rooftop restaurant, eat wonderful food, drink lovely Santorini Assyrtiko wine, and watch a spectacular sunset.
Thanks to our lovely concierge Evelyn from our villa Soil of Sun, we ate at Cava Alta. The meal, the view, the service, and the sunset were perfect.
A big part of travel is discovering new dishes. At Cava Alta we were introduced to fava, a Santorini specialty. Fava is served as a side dish or an appetizer. It has no relationship to fava beans as I thought at first.
There are many ways to make it and I experimented once I got home. Here is the recipe I came up with. Enjoy!


1/2 lb split yellow peas
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and sliced into thin slices
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 small lemons, juiced
4-5 tablespoons good tomato paste
extra-virgin olive oil

Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Heat, then add the onions. Cook over medium heat until translucent. Add the fresh herbs, the bay leaf and the garlic.
Wash the peas and add to the pot. Cover generously with water. Cook over low heat. Stir from time to time. Cook for at least an hour. The peas should be mushy but not too soft. Add more water if the peas absorb too much before they soften. Remove from heat when the peas are smooth and creamy. Remove stems and bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, slowly add 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, tomato paste, and the lemon juice and blend. Fava should be the texture of hummus or very thick pea soup. Add more olive oil or tomato paste to taste.

Serve warm or room temperature with pita bread on the side. Add a drizzle of olive oil just before serving.

Posted by teethetrav 17:40 Archived in Greece Tagged greece oia pyrgos soil_of_sun fava cava_alta Comments (0)

From Mykonos to Santorini via Ferry

Megalochori , Santorini

No wonder Santorini is featured in travel ads. It is spectacular and photos do not do it justice. Located in the Cyclades, Santorini is also known as Thera which is sometimes spelled Thira. Greek locations seem to all have multiple names and/or spellings.

Since Santorini is a little over an hour away from Mykonos by ferry, travel by sea seemed like an adventurous alternative to flying. Arriving at the port with hundreds of other travelers was way more adventure than we bargained for. We had already printed our boardings passes, our Passenger Locator Forms, and a lengthy document asking every including your father's first name. Many of the other passengers did not have boarding passes and the ticket office was closed. No one knew what dock we were leaving from. The ferry instructions told passengers to arrive at the port an hour before leaving, which made sense if they were going to check all of our documents. About 15 minutes before we were supposed to leave, the ticket office still hadn't opened and people were getting frantic about getting their boarding passes. The office finally opened and two minutes before we were supposed to depart, an enormous ferry arrived, a gigantic ramp was lowered, cars, motorcycles, and dozens of people came down the ramp and someone shouted at those of us on the dock and told us to hurry up and board. We entered a cavernous basement where we were instructed to drop our bags and board in the midst of complete chaos. With much anxiety, we did as we were told. We were sure we would never see our luggage again.
It would be negligent not to mention that we went in September, 2021 and Covid 19 was still a major issue. Although we had to carry vaccine cards and fill out all that paperwork, no one checked any paperwork before we boarded the ferry. There was no social distancing on the dock or as we boarded and disembarked. You did have to wear a mask on board, however. The ferry was the only time throughout our Greek trip I felt somewhat at risk.

The trip itself was an easy ride on a comfortable, very large ferry with a few quick stops at the islands of Naxos and Ios. The seats were large and comfortable. There was a coffee bar on board and, although we ran about a half hour late, the trip was a comfortable, scenic alternative to flying. If we knew what to expect, it would have been much less stressful. We were amazed to find our luggage with minimal searching and quickly disembarked
Our hotel had provided us with transportation. We found our driver and had a quick look around the Athinios Port. A moment of despair ensued. The port was tacky and was at the bottom of a straight drop. I'd been warned Santorini was hilly, but as I stared straight up a cliff, I feared for what I had gotten myself into.
We arrived at our villa Soil of Sun in Megalochori on the southwest side of the island and were greeted by our concierge Evelyn.
She showed us our villa, our private pool, our rooms, and presented us with a bottle of wine. Later, she gave us an orientation to the island and made recommendations for activities, beaches, restaurants and even made suggestions about what to eat. From the minute we arrived to the minute we reluctantly left, our stay in Santorini was the magical experience travel dreams are made of. Nothing is better than your first time in a destination. Especially one that exceeds your expectations.

Posted by teethetrav 15:22 Archived in Greece Tagged mykonos santorini ferry thira megalochori thera mykonos_to_santorini soil_of_sun Comments (1)

Mykonos: Old Town

Windmills, Gyros, & Donkeys

September is considered the end of the season in Mykonos, yet the town is still fairly crowded with cars, four-wheelers, scooters, and an occasional bus. The bustle is part of the fun as you wander this small, picturesque place. A short ride from Ornos, where we were staying, the first place we wanted to see was the famous windmills. Mykonos is nicknamed the windy island and is part of the Cyclades group in the Aegean. The windmills were built in the 16th century and were used to mill wheat. Now they serve as backdrops for photos. Sitting on a small hill, they overlook the small area of town known as Little Venice.
Mykonos Town is also known as Chora-everything in Greece has more than one name-and has a reputation as a party town. It is also a shopping town. Shops range from touristy trinket traps to the high end glamour of Louis Vuitton and everything in between. Wandering the pretty tile and cobblestone streets and window shopping (lèche vitrine as the French say) is a great way to spend an afternoon.
There are endless places to snack, have a cool drink, or a full meal at a church turned pizza place.
And what trip in Greece would be complete without a gyro?
If you get too tired to walk and don't want to take your chances on a scooter or a motorcycle, you could always try a donkey ride.

Posted by teethetrav 14:19 Archived in Greece Tagged mykonos town_chora_windmills_greece_orn Comments (0)

Mykonos: Ornos Beach

Return to Travel

We dreamed about visiting Greece for a long time before we went. The pandemic made that dream seem as though it would never happen, but in September 2021 we left the US armed with a folder full of documents (vaccinations, Covid 19 tests, PLCs, and more) and headed to Greece. After a long flight from NJ to Athens, we boarded a 30 minute flight to Mykonos, found a taxi and headed to our apartment in Ornos. We picked Ornos because reviews said it had the best beach on the island. The reviews were right.
Mykonos is crowded and hot in July and August. By September, Ornos Beach is perfect. The weather is warm and breezy and you can have your pick of beach lounges if you are willing to pay 30 euros for two chairs and an umbrella. If you're not, there is section of beach where you are free to park your towel and enjoy the same gorgeous views for free.
The beach itself was family friendly and there were ample restaurants at every price point. After scrutinizing menus, we opted for the seafood temptations of Kostantis. With seats overlooking the water, we spent the late afternoon into the evening enjoying appetizers, sharing main dishes, and delicious Greek wine. We sampled grilled octopus, sea urchin salad (which isn't really salad), fried zucchini, and grilled vegetables with cheese. Everything was fresh and delicious.
The water was calm and the views of the harbor kept changing as boats came and went. You could hop on a charter which would take you to one or more nearby islands. We chose to relax and swim or work on our tans on our lounges and order cool drinks with friendly wait staff happy to deliver them.
Ornos Beach is popular with locals, as well. Right after we left this appeared in the local papers. A famous Greek singer performed at a local wedding and decided to hang around for a few days. It wasn't the last time we just missed a celebrity on this trip. After we left Athens, none other than Sting showed up with Eric Burden! So close!!!

Posted by teethetrav 19:28 Archived in Greece Tagged mykonos_ornos_ornos beach_kostantis_konstantinos argyros Comments (0)

Greece! Return to Travel

Hoops & Hospitality

Any visitor to this site loves travel and has been affected by Covid19. Whether we were kept from visit family and friends, or couldn't scratch the wanderlust itch, the pandemic has touched us all. If staying put was the worst of it, that was a small price to pay since the pandemic has taken a much greater toll on millions of lives and businesses.

Citizens of the US were not permitted in most countries until recently. My daughter and I began to plan a trip to Greece more than six months before the ban was lifted without knowing if we would be able to travel. I was careful to only make refundable reservations since I was burned by an airline booking company and a tour company (Bamboo Tours--see previous blog). Both cancelled in 2019 and I have yet to receive a refund from either one. However, I am thrilled to report that we did not have to cancel Greece and that we had an amazing trip in September 2021 which included Mykonos, Santorini, and a final stop in Athens. There were, however, a lot of hoops and enough paperwork to make it feel like I was taking a course for credit. We took four flights and a ferry each with complicated requirements. Or so they said.

The US State Department had Greece on its high risk list of places it did not recommend visiting. We decided to ignore the warning since we were going in shoulder season after most of the tourists and tour groups had left. The weather was still warm so we would be able to eat our meals outdoors. After six months of planning, until a week before we left we still weren't sure our trip was going to happen.

A week before we left, the European Schengen recommended closing the doors to US citizens again due to the high rate of Covid 19. Happily, Greece did not impose the ban on US citizens. We did, however, need to provide proof of vaccination. We also received multiple, conflicting emails from United about whether or not we needed a Covid test to enter. We got one to be sure we could get on the plane. I'm still not sure we needed the test. Greece also required a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before flying to show where we would be staying in case we needed to be contact traced. Further research showed that any time we flew or took public transport within Greece, we could be randomly tested. That never happened. We did need to test negative before returning to the US. Athens airport has a testing facility that we booked online while still in the US. There were a few more hoops, such as a lengthy form to fill out and bring on the ferry. No one ever asked to see it, but we had it ready. The were many hoops we jumped through in order to travel again were worth it. Greece is as beautiful as it is hospitable. The people, the scenery, and the food are well worth the extra travel precautions.

We flew out of Newark Airport which was fairly uneventful. Everyone is required to be masked in the airport and on board. However, no social distancing is enforced in the airport or going through security. Fortunately, it wasn't very crowded and since all international flights require passengers to be vaccinated, we felt safe.

After we landed in Athens, we waited to board our next flight to Mykonos, our first destination. We booked a small apartment in Ornos with a kitchenette. We did not want to rent a car and I checked with the hotel to see if we could manage without one and he assured me we could. We couldn't.
It was an adventure. Our place was at the top of a hill and there was no way to get anywhere without a vehicle. The place had a beautiful pool and a view of the windsurfing beach. The helpful hotel manager gave us a few rides and we planned our days so we didn't have to move from place to place often. Taxis took us wherever we wanted to go. Taxis in Mykonos run on island time so there was usually a wait. Also, there are not many taxi services available which is a good thing to know if you do not want to rent a car. Here are some views from our place in Ornos. It was the start of an amazing, long-awaited trip.

Posted by teethetrav 13:33 Archived in Greece Tagged greece_mykonos_ornos_travel restrictions_covid19_plf_ Comments (0)

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