It is Monday 8th June.
Jamie is at work, I am at work.
He sends me a text – ‘lets book a holiday, NOW!’
Now of all the things you can say to me, this is not something I can ignore. In fact this is the equivalent of a red rag to the proverbial bull.
Sixteen hours later, following a swift resignation with immediate effect from my underprivileged position of Finance and Admin assistant and hasty flight search and subsequent booking, we were arriving in the Greek island of Mykonos and making our way to the new port to book a ferry to Naxos.
Sometimes you really have to just drop everything and go!
Some background on our situation:
We have decided to exit the life in the fast lane, the rat race, the daily grind and take a year out to travel with our two boys, home educating en route. We are in the fortunate position of being able to fund our travels through the sale of a business.
We plan to leave in September to coincide with the academic year, enabling our two children to return to the first year of junior and secondary schools respectively.
There really could be no better time.
In anticipation of the sale and following working together as husband and wife, I took a position with a local school to avoid eating into our capital on completion of the sale. (In hindsight, this was a premature move – the business sale has been dragging on, J has been left to run the business single handedly and stress levels have been rising).
We arrived in Naxos with nowhere to stay, but this is Greece and you’ll always find something – whether this will meet your exact requirements is largely dependent on how fussy you are.
Now there are 3 ways to book accommodation, last minute in Greece:
- Use a booking site and choose a hotel that suits
- Turn up at the port and haggle with one of the people with placards advertising their accommodation
- Find a hotel/pension/studio/guest house that you like the look of and haggle directly.
We hadn’t yet used any of these options.
Initially, we opted to go with a port haggler, however, we weren’t impressed with his offerings, having got more fussy in my old age – so instead of accepting a lift back to port to renegotiate, we went for a drink at our favourite beach bar on St Georges Beach – Finikas. Easy come, easy go. No hard feelings.
Whilst catching up with one of the owners, Lefteris, we learnt they had a room free for two nights above the bar at Diogenis studios, right on the beach. Our next two nights were sorted, the boys were already in the sea and we were already starting to relax.
Following two days of our kind of r&r (not the all inclusive, not leave the resort, kind of r&r), knowing we had to find alternative accommodation in Naxos if we wanted to extend our stay, we headed for the ticket office in the main square in Naxos and booked to go to Paros that evening.
Booking ferries is as simple as stating where you want to head, on which day and at which time. During busier periods, you may find less availability of fares and be forced to purchase business class tickets at a higher price if you don’t have the flexibility in your itinerary. As we usually travel outside of school holiday periods, we have never encountered a problem.
Once on Paros, we hopped onto the bus to Pounda to embark the car ferry to beautiful island of Antiparos.
Here again, we went with a port haggler and secured a massive two bed apartment just off the main drag.
Even though we have been to Antiparos on many occasions, we spent a good two days exploring the island, taking two quads down to the south of the island, with views over Despotiko, trekking down the hundreds of steps in the cave of Antiparos and stripping off at the local nudist beach.
We headed to Kouros Village, the boys were eyeing up the swimming pool (one of few on Antiparos), so we booked to stay the following night.
It was the best decision we made.
One night turned to three having met another like minded family. We went on to rent a day boat to explore around the island, eating at Captain Pipinos in San Giorgio and jumping off the boat into the stunning lagoons and mooring up on desolate beaches.
We basked in the fantastic hospitality of Iliada and her family, soaking up the sun, eating out at some beautiful Greek (I have to mention Argo, which is off the main drag behind Kouros Village!) and Italian restaurants before being forced to return to Paros for our ferry connection to Mykonos for our flight home.
This break is just what we needed and has reaffirmed our decision to travel – travel really is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.