Greecetopia: My Cheat Sheet on What to Pack, Where To Stay and Where To Eat in Santorini and Mykonos!

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

Over the summer, I visited two of the most iconic Greek islands, Santorini and Mykonos with Kat and Gala. During the week I split between the two, I took notes on some travel basics that will hopefully be helpful if you’re planning a trip!


Overall Island Notes

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• Since both Santorini and Mykonos rely heavily on tourism, everyone we interacted with at restaurants, on boats and in taxis spoke at least basic English. We had no trouble at all getting directions, ordering or booking tickets.

• Both islands are on the Euro. If you do need cash, there are ATMs but they’re few and far between. At one point, I had to use one from Alpha Bank that was mostly in Greek. That was fun!

• All the shops and restaurants we visited, no matter how small, accepted credit cards.

• You can’t drink tap water on either island! When you sit down at a restaurant, they automatically bring you bottled water. And grocery stores everywhere sell it for dirt cheap.

• Wifi can be very spotty. Most restaurants do advertise free wifi on their outside menus but still, it was pretty hit or miss at half of the places we dined at. Depending on how you look at it, this can either be a blessing or a curse! Our villa in Santorini had a super weak signal and we quickly realized that we could only upload images on Instagram at around 5 am. Every morning, I would roll out of bed in the darkness, walk out to our front steps, hold my phone to the heavens and hope for the best! On the flip side, our luxury hotel in Mykonos had blazing fast internet.

• The one thing you’re not told until you arrive is that you can’t flush toilet paper. At all. If you’re staying in a luxury hotel, that’s one story but at villas and regular places, don’t even try. As you can imagine, the pipes snaking through the islands are quite old and this leaves you with only one option. There’s a garbage can next to most toilets and after you wipe, you drop it in. Yep. Honestly, it takes some time to get used to but it’s just part of the deal. As a side note, our handsome villa host in Santorini, Nicholas came by nearly every day to collect our…trash. He was so gracious about it that it wasn’t even a big deal!

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia


Packing Tips

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

Both islands are hot with extreme sun, though Mykonos is definitely much breezier. Here’s what I recommend packing:

• A wide-brimmed hat is a must, especially if you’re taking a boat tour. Pack one that easily rolls up.

• Sunglasses are a must as well, though if you forget yours, there are plenty of shops on both islands that sell them. Expect to pay a premium, though!

• Roll up an extra tote bag in your suitcase in case packing woes strike! When we went to catch our Easyjet flight back to London, Kat’s luggage was over the weight limit but we were able to save on outrageous overage fees by loading one up with her extra belongings.

• Bring more than one swimsuit. There are plenty of opportunities to swim, from hotel pools to the Aegean Sea (many of the boat tours let you hop off and swim). Nobody wants to slither into a wet swimsuit so keep two on rotation.

• Flat sandals or shoes are necessary. Absolutely DO NOT pack heels, unless you’re spending the entire time prancing around a luxury hotel or clubbing. There are hundreds of uneven stone steps everywhere and a lot of them curve along the side of steep mountains. I brought some low-heeled leather lace-up sandals with ankle support that I ended up wearing nearly every day. Remember, the islands are full of tourists and there’s nobody to impress!

• Stick with lightly colored cotton or linen layers. The heat during the day can be unrelenting. I packed mostly sundresses, wrap skirts and plain t-shirts and tanks. Both islands are extremely casual.


Travel

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• Since we were flying from London to Santorini, Easyjet was the best choice. Flights are cheap and direct. The whole process was completely painless. Just make sure you have your boarding passes printed in advance and follow the strict weight guidelines for packing, otherwise you’ll get gouged!

• We had a taxi arranged for us by our Air bnb hosts (most will set up any cars and tickets you may need) but if you google “santorini taxi” there are quite a few companies that can hook you up.

• The roads throughout both Santorini and Mykonos are windy, steep, ridiculously narrow and more than a little scary. Tourists on scooters and 4-wheelers will cut you off. People stroll into the street. Yet, our drivers expertly zoomed around them with barely a second glance! Amazing.

• To travel between Santorini and Mykonos, we used a boat company called Sea Jets. It’s about 3 hours by boat between the two islands and the most affordable way to island hop.

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia


Eat

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia width=

At every restaurant we dined at, it didn’t matter whether we were ordering breakfast, lunch or dinner — a bread basket and butter automatically arrived. Starting off three square meals a day with a pile of bread was fine by me since I was on vacation but if you’re on a diet, be prepared!

When you’re on an island, everything that’s note raised or grown has to be shipped in so we definitely noticed that the food choices were limited. Everything was delicious but most restaurants had very similar menus. The menus went something like this: 10 pasta dishes, 10 meat dishes, 10 appetizers, 5 salads and a whole lot of wine!

Interestingly, most of the salads we ordered came with an ENTIRE block of feta placed on top. It was pretty intense. I’ve never eaten that much cheese at once in my entire life! Another day, another salad…and another block of cheese!

On Santorini, we loved our dinners at King Neptune, which has been around since the 1950s. It had one of the largest menus on the island we’d seen (our table went crazy for the zucchini balls) and beautiful views.

For breakfast and lunch, our near-daily hangout was at Pelekanos. With a climb of three flights of stairs to the rooftop, it had some of the best views in town, free wifi, awesome food and amazing service. Even better, our bartender resembled a shipwrecked John Galliano (imagine a lot of braids, beads, feathers, eccentric outfits and a British accent!)

For dessert, we couldn’t get enough of Lolita’s, the cutest gelato shop we’d ever seen. I gorged myself on the cookie flavor while Gala went for lemon and Kat bravely tried a flavor labeled Greek Viagra (and no, she didn’t attack me when we went to bed!)

There are grocery stores for when you just need a snack. We overdosed on chocolate, thanks to ever-present canisters of Caprice Wafers. Five cans later, we were still jonesin’ for our next fix. It’s a downward spiral, I tell you. I also LOVED the Greek version of Oreos.

For Mykonos, after a few sub-par meals, we mostly stuck around our digs at the Grace Mykonos which served food on par with a five star restaurant the entire time. Even better, they made us breakfasts on request with anything we could dream up and it was all included with the room. Being served poolside every morning was pretty amazing. Did I mention that there were bottomless mimosas, too?!


Stay

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

Gala is a research junkie and picked out two completely opposite yet equally amazing spots for our stay. Santorini is known for its beautiful white buildings that cover the mountainsides so we chose the Marble Sun Villa in Oia which had jaw-dropping views of the Aegean Sea.

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

The place was white-walled and spotless with tons of space. The four of us were completely comfortable — we could have easily been a group of six and been fine.

Our villa was about 30 steps from the shops and restaurants and definitely forced us to burn off all the bread, chocolate and cheese we ate! 30 steps is A LOT though when you’re lugging around insanely heavy suitcases! Luckily, our porter Versilius hauled them at record speed for us. What a guy!

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

The best part of staying at Marble Sun was our private balcony — we spent most nights there, listening to terrible music, drinking wine, eating entire canisters of Caprices and laughing until we cried! Waking up to this view every morning and watching the sun rise is something I’ll never forget.

For our stay in Mykonos, we booked the Grace Mykonos which has the most impeccable service I’ve ever witnessed. The staff is amazing — we quickly befriended our hostess Christina, who gave us ample free shots poolside! Our bartender, Dijan was was full of the most entertaining stories and mixed some of the best drinks I’ve ever had.

If you want a truly relaxing vacation and to be completely waited on, this is your place. It was so awesome that we barely left the pool for three days!


Fun

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• One of our favorite shops ended up being an independent bookstore in Santorini called Atlantis Books…which rented cats as well!

• Both islands are full of maze-like paths of shops. After awhile, it feels like each shop sells similar things but it’s still super fun to explore since they seem to go on forever. We bought piles of questionable items including a beach towel emblazoned with a donkey and a bottle of Greek Superiority.

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• If you’re staying on Santorini, the sunsets in Oia are legendary.

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• The most fun we had during our entire time in Santorini was taking a five hour sailboat tour around the island that concluded with watching the sunset. There are dozens of companies that offer a variety of options including fancy dinners on catamarans but we kept things simple and did a 25 euro trip. Since we were staying in Oia, it was a bit of a trek to the boat which was docked on the other side of the island at the Old Port in Fira but a travel agent (there’s a row of them in the center of town) can direct you on what to do and where to go.

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• To get to Old Port for your boat tour, a very, very steep cable car ride down the side of the mountain takes place. Well, you can actually choose between the cable car…or a donkey ride!

• In Mykonos, there are many beachside clubs and it’s known as the place to party in the Greek Islands. Honestly though, we had a great time spending our nights relaxing poolside at the Grace Mykonos bar so I can’t give any firsthand advice in that department!

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia

• For most of our island days, we were just happy weaving through the streets, peeking into stores and snapping hundreds of photos. Both islands are so beautiful that there’s a photo opp around every corner.

Well, that concludes my Greecetopia recap! Let me know if you have any questions. Even as recently as a year ago, I never imagined that I would be visiting Santorini or Mykonos but now I can honestly say that they’ve been the highlight of all my travels.

Nubby Twiglet | Greeceoptia


All photos: Shell de Mar.
More photos and fun: The Week in Pictures Santorini and The Week in Pictures Mykonos.
Videos of our island adventures: Easy Breezy Santorini and Oh, Mykonos.

Take Your Blogging to the Next Level in 2014 with The Blogcademy!

The Blogcademy 2014 World Tour

In August 2012, we launched The Blogcademy with a single date in New York, not knowing what to expect. Six days later, the class sold out and we’ve been traveling the world ever since, teaching women the strategy behind blogging. Our last few classes of the year are quickly approaching so we’ve been dreaming big for 2014 and listening to your city suggestions.

The Blogcademy 2014 World Tour

We’ve added quite a few new cities that we’ve never been to before and can’t wait to hit the road once again and meet all of you!

San Francisco
May 10th and 11th
Makeshift Society

Chicago
May 17th and 18th
We Are The Barkers

Vancouver
June 7th and 8th
Location TBC

Calgary
Proudly presented by Calgary Fashion
June 14th and 15th
Hotel Le Germain

London
July 22nd and 23rd
Curtain Road Studios

Berlin
July 26th and 27th
Agora Collective

Amsterdam
August 2nd and 3rd
The Thinking Hut

New York City
September 27th and 28th
Location TBC

Miami
October 4th and 5th
Location TBC

Sydney
November 29th and 30th
Studio 2204

Melbourne
December 3rd and 4th
The Establishment Studios

Auckland
December 6th and 7th
Location TBC


We hope to see you on the road! If you have any questions, our FAQ is here or you can reach us at headmistresses @ theblogcademy.com.

P.S. We’re always on the lookout for independent businesses to sponsor our goodie bags as well as photographers and videographers for each class. Think you’re a good fit? Check out our sponsorship info here and get in touch!

I Found The Holy Grail Of Black Boots at Zara

Nubby Twiglet | Zara Black Boots

Why does it seem like the most basic staples in our wardrobe end up being the most elusive to find? I’d been on the lookout for a nearly flat pair of stylish black boots for awhile but kept coming up empty-handed. I have plenty of black boots but they were all a little too dressy — none of them were ideal for long walks with Rocky or rainy days.

Nubby Twiglet | Zara Black Boots

Then, for my birthday I got a Zara gift certificate so I figured I’d start there. And after a little digging, I found the holy grail of black boots: black leather, low heel height, great traction, cool hardware, a comfortable rounded toe and priced under $200.00. I ordered them and waited, not expecting much. These basics always seem to look better in their online photographs than in real life, right?

Nubby Twiglet | Zara Black Boots

But when they finally arrived and I slipped them on, they had a nice, roomy fit and were ridiculously comfortable. They’re now the pair of shoes I leave by the door to slip on and go.

Nubby Twiglet | Zara Black Boots

For Fall and Winter, I’m definitely leaning towards well-made, simple monochromatic basics. I’m at the point where my beloved staples including the coat and purse I use every day are wearing out after a few years of nonstop wear. I want things that can easily be dressed up or down and will last me a long time.

Nubby Twiglet | Zara Black Boots

These are some basics I’ve got my eye on: Saturday Buckle-over Dress, Kate Spade Literary Glasses Scarf and the Proenza Schouler PS11 Bag which would all go perfectly with the Zara Zip Ankle Boots.

Are there any attire basics that you’re currently on the hunt for?

The Week In Pictures: 10.11.13 | Beaches and Bigfoot

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Last Saturday, my brother threw around the idea of heading to the Oregon Coast and asked me if I wanted to go bright and early Sunday morning. We’ve lived together for most of our lives and I know how quickly he changes his mind so honestly, I didn’t take him too seriously. “Sure, sounds like fun.”

I awoke early Sunday and got ready, just in case. And, I’m glad I did; he was serious. We hit the road by 9 am but we weren’t just idly heading to the beach — we were also on the lookout for Bigfoot. Yes, Bigfoot. Recently, one of his friends had taken a snapshot of a Bigfoot statue in a tiny coastal town and we were determined to find it (more on that later).

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

I visit Cannon Beach every year for vacation and it’s easy to see why I love it so much from these photos. Everyone else in the state thinks it’s as beautiful and picturesque as I do and every time we head there, it’s completely packed. The thing is, the main beach next to all the shops and stores is packed but I was let in on a secret over the weekend — if you head down the highway another mile, to the large rest stop, the beach is nearly vacant. Peaceful. Pristine.

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

This is the part of Cannon Beach that I’d somehow never seen. I couldn’t quite believe it.

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

The trees along the path down to the beach have such a cool look with branches jutting out in every direction.

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

We walked for what felt like forever on the empty beach, but it was probably more like a half hour. The wind whipped around like crazy and the waves crashed but we didn’t care.

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

I felt a little cliche taking the same shot what felt like 10 times in a row but I couldn’t stop. I’ve done a lot of traveling but I’ve never seen a beach as cool as this.

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Seriously, those waves. I want this made into a print for my wall to remind me of what life is like outside of my office!

Nubby Twiglet | Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast

Our time at the beach was fun but we still had some business to take care of; finding the elusive Bigfoot statue. Finally, as we rounded some tight corners on the highway that cut through what felt like miles of trees and farmland, there he was. We hit the brakes and excitedly hopped out with our cameras. The older guy living in the house Bigfoot is placed in front of came out and chatted us up — he’d carved him himself last winter and was pretty proud of his creation. We told him that if he was ever in the mood for carving more, we’d love one for our backyard. Because really, who can deny a magnificent beast like that?!

What a day. I ended up blowing all the deadlines I’d set for myself to get caught up over the weekend and I definitely paid the price this week. But you know what? It was completely worth it. Days like this remind me of why it’s important to break free, no matter how much work is piling up and just get out and see the world. I need to remind myself that this beautiful beach is less than two hours from my front door and take advantage of it more often.

Have an awesome weekend, everyone. I hope you have a great adventure, even if it’s nearby.

Link Love: 10.10.13

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• If you’re stuck in a funk about growing your business’s social media presence, read this! Everyone started with 50 fans.

• What does your Twitter bio really say about you?

• If you’re on the lookout for some new design books, check out the Online Book Fair!

• Hand-Sketching: Things you didn’t know your doodles could accomplish.

• Darren Rowse talks about 5 first year posts that led to over 6 million page views on Digital Photography School.

• The top 100 things you honestly don’t need to do before you die!

• San Francisco’s entrepreneurial culture is changing the country.

• 30 renter friendly ideas to spruce up your space!

• Here’s the real story of how Twitter came to be.

• Vanessa just shared a great site for free, non-cheesy stock photos!

• Here’s 10 tips to make sure your property is a good investment.

• 7 reasons to use responsive design.

• Here’s how to take a blog break without losing momentum.

• Are you a vintage shopping fanatic? Here are some mistakes to avoid.

• In case you were wondering: the daily habits of highly productive philosophers!


Image: Mert & Marcus for W Magazine.
Check out even more Link Love columns here.

The Typofiles #128: Esquire Big Black Book

Esquire Big Black Book

I have no interest in menswear but these days, a lot of the men’s style magazines are killin’ it in the design department. I’ve picked up the last few issues of Esquire’s Big Black Book because they’re full of design done right.

Esquire Big Black Book

The editorial design style of Esquire is all class — it touches on current design trends but still comes across as timeless with its layouts and type choices. Most surprising are its covers for these special issues. It takes a certain amount of confidence to go all big and bold with the type and not feature any images.

Esquire Big Black Book

If you’re on the hunt for a copy of your own, I picked this up at Barnes and Noble.


Photos and scans by me.
View even more Typofiles here.