We were pretty sure early on that we wanted to spend some time in Greece, but picking a specific location was a struggle. Athens is rich with history and culture, but the islands are all idyllic and quaint. We couldn’t choose just one.
So we chose both.
We’ll be splitting the month of October between Athens and the nearby island Tinos, Greece. We’re thrilled to be visiting both locations and wish we could spread out each one to a full month, but other places are calling, so we’ll be spending 2 weeks each place.
The appeal of Athens, if you paid any attention in school whatsoever, should need no explaining. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, is more saturated with history and culture than any place we’ve ever been, and will give us a look at city life in Greece.
Our apartment is just southwest of the city center in the Nea Smirni neighborhood. A bus and train station are less than a five-minute walk away, as well as several cafes, restaurants, parks, oand a grocery store. The area is known to be safe and quaint.
Only a 10-minute bus ride away is the Acropolis, the city’s center for history and culture. The Citadel, Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nika, and several other key historical and cultural landmarks are here. Visiting these places we learned about a decade ago in school will be incredible. A dream come true.
Since we won’t be staying a full month, we weren’t able to book an apartment at a local rate. To stick to our budget, we opted for a smaller studio, though it does have a large rooftop porch and a view of the city. It’s not as large as we would like, but we have a feeling we won’t want to spend much time there anyway.
There are hundreds of islands to choose from, each with its own culture, quirks, and costs. The overwhelming number of options nearly caused us to look somewhere other than Greece, but this one AirBnb listing kept popping up over and over again. The 2 bedroom apartment’s layout and bright blue shutters drew us in. It’s not huge, but it’s more than enough for the two of us. And it’s just a minute’s walk from the sea.
Unfortunately, it’ll be on the cold side for swimming when we’re there, so we probably won’t do much in the water. Still, the ability to wake up and take a beachside walk is something we’ve never had – and we couldn’t be more excited.
Tinos Town has less than 10,000 residents. It’s a peaceful town with 2 ports, dozens of restaurants and cafes, a few museums, and a cathedral that sees thousands of Greeks arrive every year on pilgrimage. Compared to the party island of Mykonos a small boat ride away, Tinos is a saintly paradise.
This Greek island is going to feel a lot different than the lively city of Athens, but we’re no less excited. Staying in a small town for two weeks may provide the rest we need after two full weeks of working and sightseeing in the capital.
November and December
We realize November and December are still pretty far away, but we’re already thinking ahead. Many of Europe’s countries are part of a border agreement that enables us to travel on the “Schengen Visa”. This visa makes going between countries very easy but only gives us 90 days out of every 180.
After Greece, we’ll only have 18 days left in the Schengen Zone until we fly out on December 8th, which keeps us from booking a month in Spain like we had originally wanted. Instead, we are looking at spending 2-3 weeks in Morocco, then 2 weeks in Spain. This will keep us in the legal stay limit and give us a chance to spend some quality time in Morocco, rather than simply visiting for a few days.
Other non-Schengen countries nearby are Croatia, Albania, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia. We’re thinking about not visiting any of these balkan nations and proceeding straight West, but nothing is certain yet. What do you think?
Should we make a stop for a few days in one of these non-Schengen Balkan nations or head straight to Morocco/Spain?