I have always been inspired to go island hopping around Greece ever since I first saw the blockbuster film Mamma Mia! (I’m sure it’s one you’ve heard of…). The culture, the weather, the overall vibe just made it look so attractive and it was this that made me want to go unlike any other person my age who would usually just trot on over there for the clubbing, drinking and partying scene, but that’s not my kind of scene.
This was a totally different kind of trip to what I am used to so 3 days was enough for me to get a taste of what it was like to be what I would call a pirate. Although, having said that, I could have easily spent a little longer on this part of my Europe trip because it was nice to just sit back, enjoy the sun and the sea breeze whilst being fed, watered and chauffeured from one island to the next. Total VIP lifestyle.
There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of things to see on each island that we stopped at, the layout of them all were very similar and mostly consisted of residential houses, beaches, taverns and shops but gave the overall sense of a very homely community and a great atmosphere to be in. There were lots of narrow streets and alleys, lots of cliffs with magnificent coastal views and many, many boats.
We spent the days at sea, often stopping for a swim on the overload of lilos that were taking up more than a necessary amount of space on the top deck of the boat and diving off into the crystal clear water beneath us and then spending the evenings docked in the marina of a new island which we went on to explore (which didn’t really take up much time as they’re really only the size of a small town) before heading to one of the beautiful Greek taverns to stuff our faces with the finest local dishes on the menu.
My favourite had to be the Moussaka or the Pastitsio; they taste so different to the recipes made back home as its part of their national cuisine (so they must have some sort of secret to making them so delicious) but I must say the Baklava pastries were also a great discovery!
Full of food and alcohol, after reminiscing over the day and admiring the gorgeous starlit sky, we got the chance to camp out on the top deck of the boat (in my opinion a much better option than the stuffy cabins down below; don’t get me wrong they were very spacious and had a lovely layout and I was amazed to see how much room there was because of how small the boat looked in comparison but I guess as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover).
It was a totally amazing experience. There were just pillows, cushions and lilos everywhere to make one massive mattress for us all to collapse onto which was convenient for those of us stumbling back in the early hours after a few too many drinks singing about a waddling duck (very random I know but it makes for some good story telling). Wandering around the deck wrapped in sheets to look like togas and hearing all the Greek music blurting out from the restaurants along the seafront made it a lovely scene and surprisingly, it was extremely comfy so I got the best nights sleep I had in a long time! As a bonus, we got to wake up to the gorgeous sunrise every morning whilst inhaling the scent of eggs cooking down below.
The Greeks are very passionate about their culture and take no nonsense from any tourists so you must always be kind, respectful and obey the regional laws so in return you receive some very welcoming treatment and are classed as family which gives you a feeling of honour. This is what made eating out such a different yet great experience as all the staff couldn’t do enough for you and also why living temporarily on a sail boat was so fun; we were treated as the crew’s family and felt like one of their own as we were included in some of their traditional day to day activities and traditions. We would start each day with a freshly prepared breakfast buffet made by the crew and also a similar style lunch of cooked and cold food and we constantly had drinks served to us which in a way made it feel like 5* luxury.
We stopped at some of the smaller, less well known islands including Lefkada, Kefalonia and Ithaca and not the bigger, more popular ones such as Kos, Corfu and Rhodes. This was such a bonus because, even though they didn’t have much to offer, they weren’t overrun with tourists, youngsters out partying and souvenir shops everywhere you turn. They all had a similar layout and aura to them. Everything, even streets and buildings were bright colours and it felt just like the setting of Mamma Mia! so I was wandering around in anticipation waiting for ABBA music to suddenly start playing and people to randomly jump out singing and dancing to make a great musical scene. Unfortunately it didn’t happen and I was slightly disappointed but realistically I knew it was never going to happen. If it did happen I feel like it would have turned into some sort of massive flash mob with plates being smashed, everyone jumping into the water and creating news headlines.
If you are thinking about taking a Greek Island hopping holiday I would definitely say take some time to explore the smaller islands as it gives you a better chance to relax and dive deep into the Greek culture plus you haven’t got the crazy clubbing scene full of drunk, partying youngsters (unless of course this is your reason for going then by all means go wild!). There is so much more to Greek life then you would think and it’s great to discover all of the hidden little beauty spots that aren’t really heard of as they hold all of the charm and really can hold a place in your heart.