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Hammams, Island-Hopping and ABBA

Updated: Jun 9


Image by Pexels


So I'm just back from Greece, again. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel back to the motherland this spring, and...I miss it already. It seems I'm either in Greece, planning to go to Greece, or missing Greece. I have no other factory settings.


As I mentioned in my last blog post, this trip was more island-hoppy than the previous one last fall, which seemed to involve more medieval walled towns and castles. This trip was islands, beaches, lots of blue and white, and all the classic "hits" of a Greek vacation.


I was happy to have planned more time in Athens this time around. There ALWAYS so much to do in Athens - visiting new places, revisiting places I already know and love...plus day trips from the city. Not to mention catching up with family and friends there. There's SO much to do and never quite enough time in my favorite city in the world.


One such day trip this time was revisiting Delphi, where I hadn't been since I was a teenager. What can you say about Delphi? How can you adequately describe such a physically beautiful and metaphysically powerful place?





After my first week in Athens, I was off to the islands of Paros and Skiathos, neither of which I'd been to before. Paros is your basic beautiful Cycladic island, full of white sugar-cube houses with painted shutters of bright blue, bright pink or turquoise, with bougainvillea trailing here and there. Paros is the sister island of Naxos, which you may know I'm already a big fan of.


I split my time between the main town of Parikia, where I stayed at an adorable little apartment near the Frankish Castle, and Naoussa, the often-Instagrammed fishing village in the north. Both towns were picturesque and utterly loveable.




Can you have too many blue dome photos? No, you cannot.


Ditto for fishing boats.


After a week or so in Paros, I flew back to Athens, waited around in the airport for about three hours nursing a bottled water and eating an overpriced turkey sandwich, and then flew back out to Skiathos, in the Sporades island group.


Skiathos was in many ways a comedy of errors for me. There was a late-night arrival and confusion about my pick-up as the tiny airport started closing up for the night around me, many more steep hills and stairs than I had anticipated having to climb, along with cancelled day trips and a gorgeous but deceptively perilous tiny house that was creatively trying to kill me the entire time I was there. But it was very green and very beautiful and delightful in many ways, and the water was so spectacular, so all is forgiven.


From there I took a day cruise to the neighboring islands of Skopelos, best-known for the place "Mamma Mia" was filmed, and Alonissos, notable for it's marine park full of monk seals and dolphins (None of whom wanted to be seen that day, apparently. *sigh* Stupid wildlife doing stupid wildlife stuff when people want to see them...)


Skiathos


Skopelos. I'm sorry, but how is that blue even possible?



Alonissos. Again with the crazy water color...


I am going to make myself deeply unpopular now and tell you I hated the "Mamma Mia" movie.


I know, I know - who doesn't love ABBA? ABBA is fine, under the right circumstances (like if margaritas are involved), but holy cow, that movie just hurts. I had to watch it on mute. I wanted to see the Greek scenery, but everything else about it made me want to round up everyone involved in the film and shoot them all into the sun. Spare me the angry emails - I know it's got a big fan base, but no, thank you.


That said - when we sailed past tiny Agios Ioannis church where the final wedding scene of movie was filmed and the crew predictably blasted "Mamma Mia" from the speakers, and everyone sprang up out of their seats to sing and dance, including Pat and Effie from Manchester, England, who sat at my table and were a bit older than me and had more moxie than the average 30-year-old - did I join in?


OH YES I DID. I'm a complicated person. Don't judge me. :^)


Besides, no one wants to be out-partied by a couple of British octogenarians.


The place with the thing and the song. Agios Ioannis is barely visible at the very top.

Imagine this view with about 200 or so cheery, mostly retiree-aged British tourists convulsing wildly and gleefully to the thumping 70s sounds emanating from every speaker on the boat.



After my last week in Athens, I spent my final three days in Greece on the island of Evia (sometimes spelled "Euboia") to stay at my cousin's exohiko, or country house. Evia is an under-the-radar island for tourists, and is an easy drive from Athens, since it's so close to Attica that it's connected by both a bridge and a ferry. Between beach days and just hanging out under her lemon, pomegranate and mousmoula fruit trees, it was an utterly relaxing way to wind up my trip.

When life gives you lemons...wait, HOW BIG IS THAT LEMON???

One of the beautiful beaches of Evia, on the Aegean side of the island.

An astonishing and un-Photoshopped sunset taken from the ferry across to Evia.


(Look for articles and photo galleries about Evia, Skiathos, Paros and Delphi in coming months.)


Okay, so we got the "island hopping" and "ABBA" part of the blog title out of the way - what about the "hammam" part?


Dear readers, I went to my first hammam! And it was SOOOO GOOD.


Read all about it here - Hammam for Beginners. Don't know what a hammam is? Well, then definitely read here.




This trip generated a lot of new ideas for articles and photo galleries, so stay tuned. Lots more to come in the coming weeks and months!


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Thanks for stopping by. You are the cinnamon on my loukoumades, and I appreciate you!


Filakia,

Barbara


Taken on Paros from the Agios Konstantinos church, as the sun was going down.





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