From there, it was off to the islands. We flew from Athens to Paros, which is part of the Cyclades island chain and known for its beaches and charming port town. Here we stayed at Parilio, a Design Hotel, which was about a five-minute drive outside the port town of Naousa and comprises 33 suites. We arrived on opening day at Parilio, and the staff and team on the property were enthusiastic and welcoming.
The island of Paros is easy to navigate, and with a car rental for our three nights there, we did some shopping in town, explored the beaches (our favorite was Kolymbithres, a unique beach surrounded by granite rock formations), and enjoyed the pool and Elios Spa in Parilio.
From Paros, we took a short ferry ride to the neighboring island of Naxos. Not only known for its historic Venetian Castle and Temple of Apollo, Naxos is also the most self-sufficient island in the Cyclades in terms of agriculture. Another highlight is Naxian marble, which is still quarried today. We even tried a new activity: marble carving. It’s a lot harder than it looks, but was so much fun. (Maybe a new day job?)
Next, we made our way to Santorini, arriving via a two-hour ferry ride from Naxos. It’s a really unique time to be in Santorini: There were no crowds, whether you are walking around the shops in Oia or waiting at a sunset hotspot. We split up our time between the villages of Oia and Imerovigli in order to see different parts of the island.
In addition to enjoying the resort facilities, like the pools and spa, we also did a sunset cruise as well as a private tour to some of the historical sites and traditional villages. Even if you don’t do a private tour, most groups are smaller by nature. The sunset cruise, for instance, allowed 20 guests, and on our trip, there were only 12. On our last day in Santorini, through our advisor, we arranged for in-room COVID testing, and our results were emailed to us later that evening.
We ended our Greek adventure back in Athens, with two days in the city center, as a way to transition back to city living. While the historic sites were less crowded than usual, the streets and, in particular, the restaurants were alive in the evening. That’s in part because Greece only allowed restaurants and bars to reopen at the beginning of May—and you could feel the residents enjoying being out and about after six months of lockdown. As with Santorini, small group tours were even smaller, and we enjoyed a guided walk up the Acropolis, a food tour of hidden taverns in Psyri, and an electric scooter ride around the city.
Our journey ended where it started—on a plane ride with Delta—and by the time of our return, the nonstop from Athens to JFK was available. Our negative COVID tests were verified and we boarded and returned home smoothly. Upon landing, we also took the opportunity to renew our Global Entry, taking advantage of their Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) program.