WSJ Presents Greece 2021 Travel Tips

"As sun-worshippers stream back to Santorini, Mykonos and other Greek islands” – thus begins writer Alexander Lobrano in the Wall Street Journal article, which is described as “our guide to hopping back into vacation mode and avoiding potential pitfalls.”

The article conveniently lists the key COVID-era requirements, and Lobrano’s opening does justice to our lingering COVID travel anxiety: “My first night in Mykonos, a few weeks ago, the whitewashed hillside windmills overlooking the port were still, but I had all the fresh air I craved merely by being on the island. I was sitting on the stone steps of a seaside bar sipping a sundowner with a friend who had just arrived from New York City. I felt giddy, despite the occasional pang of doubt about abandoning over a year’s worth of deeply drilled-in safety precautions.”

He then noted that, “I devised an island-hopping trip that would let me check out a handful of new hotels well off the tourist path. A few were too pricey for my budget so instead of booking a room, I toured the properties and dined in their restaurants … I zeroed in on four new properties sprinkled around the Cyclades archipelago and one in Athens. At a comfortable remove from popular tourist spots, they all seemed like ideal places for hesitant travelers like me to tiptoe back into the world. Aside from a few hitches along the way, each lived up to its promise.”

Sharing a view held by many travelers who try to avoid places one “must go to,” Lobrano explains, “I’ve traveled to Greece many times from my home in Paris, but I’d never been to Mykonos, writing it off as an island better suited to the party crowd. Though the party is still much smaller than usual, I sampled the infectiously convivial mood that first night as my friend and I sat at a waterfront bar in the Little Venice quarter of Mykonos town.”

He described “a 15-minute drive from this habitual revelry sits the two-month-old Kalesma [hotel], on a peaceful peninsula overlooking Ornos Bay. All 25 sizable suites and two villas are set in bougainvillea-blazed and jasmine-scented gardens, and come with an outdoor shower, a private terrace and a plunge pool with views of the Aegean Sea. The stylish bar and outstanding restaurant, which serves contemporary Greek food, offer similar vistas and a serene scene, which the hotel’s co-owner, Greek native Aby Saltiel, says won’t change even after tourism picks up.”

“The island of Syros was my next stop,” he writes, “I bedded down in the jewel-toned and art-focused Hotel Aristide in Hermoupolis, the island’s port and largest town. This nine-room inn, which opened in May 2020, occupies a neoclassical 19th-century mansion with a rooftop bar and an art gallery. The suite to snag is the high-ceilinged Naxos, which has views over the sea to the neighboring islands of Hotel Aristide, on the island of Syros, occupies a 19th-century mansion in the port town of Hermoupolis.”

He noted that, “though Syros has some very pretty beaches, the island’s real draws are its art galleries, cafes and architecture, including St. Nicholas Church, a magnificent Byzantine-style structure. Best of all for the crowd-averse, Syros sees a fraction of the visitors who frequent nearby Mykonos.”

His hotel on Antiparos awaited, which he says is “the most talked-about newcomer in the Cyclades, the Rooster hotel, opened on Antiparos in June.” He noted that “to reach Antiparos, most tourists have to ferry over to its bigger sibling, neighboring Paros, then drive across the island and catch another ferry from the port of Pounda” – but the can help with transportation.

“Among guided hikes, mountain bike rides, scuba diving or – my choice – a day trip to the ruins of Despotiko, the 5th century BC white marble sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and Artemis,” he said.

The article concludes with the night he spend in in Athens before returning to Paris. “I opted to book a room at the year-old Modernist hotel in the leafy Kolanki neighborhood, rather than cling to the Acropolis hill the way many travelers do. The Modernist is housed in the former Canadian embassy, intelligently transformed into a stylish but unfussy hotel. As a bonus, the rooftop terrace grants views of the Acropolis. I also had one of the best meals of my trip at Stimul, a restaurant just down the street from the hotel, including a starter of shrimp tartare with cuttlefish ink and pickled mussels and slow-roasted lamb with artichokes, peas and cured yolk. A garland of Edison bulbs lit the sidewalk where I was seated and the scent of orange blossoms hung in the air – a reminder that true pleasures are ephemeral. I once took my vacations to Greece for granted. No longer.”

(Material from the Wall Street Journal was used for this article)


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