I really liked Athens, in contrast to pretty much everyone else I know. The advice I'd gotten from other people who'd traveled to Greece was: spend as little time in Athens as possible. Hannes also wasn't the biggest fan - he found Athens kind of ugly (think concrete, not cobblestones). But I really liked it. For me it had a South American flair - warm, a bit unstructured, with lots of white houses packed onto the hillside. We ate some really yummy food and found some cool bars - I guess that's all I need. Maybe my time in Berlin has led me to develop a fondness for cities that can't rely on their good looks to charm people. Or is it that I've been in the flat lands of Berlin for too long and I get really excited when there are hills?
I already posted pictures of our kayaking-around-Milos adventure, but we also had a couple of days to explore Milos "overland" - and mostly by foot. The hillside villages are ridiculously picturesque. Seriously, I felt like I was living in the Mamma Mia movie, and who doesn't want to do that?! We stayed in the tiny village of Triovasolos, which is walking distance from the super cute village of Plaka, which is great for tourists. I would recommend anyone visiting Milos to stay in this area or in another hill town rather than in the port towns (which are fine, just far more generic).
As our last hurrah of summer, we spent 5 days kayaking around the island of Milos, Greece. The rhythm of our days went like this: paddle, stop at a beach, go for a swim/snorkel, have something to eat, maybe take a little nap on the beach, repeat. Sun, water, waves, sand. Not a bad deal, really.
The original plan was to kayak around the whole island of Milos in 5 days, about 100 km in total. When we arrived, however, there were extremely high winds that were predicted to last the whole week. So our 5-day, 4-night trip got turned into into a 4-day, 3-night trip, plus a day trip at the beginning. This also meant we stayed on the east and southern sides of the island, where we had more protection from the wind. It was disappointing when we heard this would be the revised plan, but in the end I didn't feel like I missed out at all - we stopped at so many beautiful beaches, paddled through so many cave, past so many cliffs.
Because we paddled only 60 km instead of 100, we had more time to lounge on the beach and play around in the water. We also used our extra time to practice new paddling strokes and skills - like how to paddle in high wind conditions (hint - don't stop paddling). Even though we stayed on the "sheltered" sides of the island, I have never before experienced such extreme paddling conditions. We'd paddle around a headland and boom - the wind would be directly in our face, and we'd be fighting it. We also got to experience the wind at our backs, where the paddling part wasn't even necessary - we'd hold the paddle up in the air and get pushed as if we were sailing. I hope I'm not giving the wrong impression - there were times when I felt resentful of the wind but a lot of the time it was FUN.
Hannes and I were among the most casual of the kayakers on the trip - most of the others logged hundreds of kayak-kilometers a year - but I think we still managed to fit in quite nicely. The trip, which we did through Sea Kayak Milos, is considered an expedition, and did involve sleeping in tents and using nature as our toilet. But for an expedition, it was pretty cushy, I have to say. For instance, our guides did all of the cooking for us. This means we'd land at our camping spot around 4pm, set up tents, and then spend a couple of hours swimming/snorkeling/walking around/having a beer while dinner was prepared for us. (Dinner, by the way, always included an appetizer, main course, and dessert.) Such a luxury compared to my self-organized camping trips! Milos is a populated island with a mining industry, so it's not like we were in the wilderness, but often it still felt very wild...but then every so often one of the beaches we'd land on would have a bar - the perfect combination of nature and civilization.