A friend from Los Angeles wrote to me asking for  some advice and sharing a piece of news I loved:

“Hey Pilar, I read your blog. Congratulations! Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago I was checking out your Greek photos and got really inspired by them. I have an unexpected trip to Europe coming up and decided to use some miles to go to Greece! I haven´t planned anything and it´s a complete adventure! 

My question is: I´ll be in Greece for 7 days at the end of November. Where should I go? What do I do in Athens? What were your favorite activities? Hotels vs Hostels? Economy vs Confort…or if you are too busy to answer, where do I find out?

Thanks a bunch!


I love the fact that my blog and my pictures inspired someone to take a Greek trip. I think it rocks! I am certainly not a Greece expert but I can share what I saw and what I experienced. I hope my ideas help you and others if they find themselves headed to Greece at some point in the future.

Because you have only one week, I wouldn´t go too far away from Athens, but stay in and around the city and if you want to take a day trip to a nearby Island, you can go to the island of Hydra, which is close by ferry (only an hour and a haf) and spend the day or stay overnight. All the other islands are way too far for a short stay, unless you fly. Check out the weather in the area, end of November is almost winter and the islands are supposed to be windy and chilly, but you never know, Greek weather is similar to California, or so they say.

In terms of accommodations I recommend you look up AIRBNB , there are a great number of options, including whole apartments, rooms in people´s homes and even rooms in hostels. When I made my decision about where to stay my initial impulse was to find an apartment for myself but as I was traveling alone I decided to stay in a private room in a hostel. This is the place that I will recommend for you because I love the place, it´s centrally located and the people that run it are the best: friendly, helpful and honest.   If you are alone, there´s nothing better than to stay in a place with other travelers, so you can exchange tips and make friends, and to have people to advise you on where to go, how to get around and provide you maps and a nice cup of tea or coffee if you want one. Please say hi to Simela, Stavroula and Eva if you meet them. Love the girls.  The beautiful house is walking distance to Metro, in a bohemian part of town that I´m sure you will enjoy being an artistic spirit. It´s also close to the Arqueological Museum, and incredible place you must visit.

If you want other alternatives, or want more privacy, just do a search on Airbnb or and get yourself a whole apartment or a hotel room. Greece is not expensive, you can get a place for a reasonable amount of money. Stay near Syntagma Square or near the very practical Athens Metro with 3 lines that take you pretty much everywhere you need. Check out my post about Transportation and take advantage of the buses that take you straight from the airport to Syntagma Square, the main quare of Athens. You can also take Metro or a Taxi, but that will set you back 35 Euros (fixed price).

In Athens I recommend visiting:

Syntagma Square and the neighborhood of PLAKA (the oldest neighborhood of Athens, quaint, adorable, walkable, touristy). If you eat here, make sure you don´t go to the most obvious places where there´s a guy outside pulling you in. Those are expensive and probably not as good as the prices.

The Acropolis and Anafiótika. See here. If you can, download Rick Steves Audio Europe App on your phone and download the audio guides for guided walks around Athens, I used them and found them incredibly valuable to walk around town and appreciate the monuments, ruins and corners of the city.

For the same ticket you use to visit the Acropolis (12 euros) you can visit several other historical places in Athens. Don´t miss the Temple of Olympian Zeus, one of my favorites but there´s plenty of other places to visit, all with the same ticket . Look here .

The Acropolis Museum

The Ancient Agora. The ancient “center of Athens”.

As stated above, you must check out the Archaeological museum and walk the streets of the Exarcheia neighborhood, close to the Hostel where I stayed. Check out Strefi Hill and eat around the area. This is a center for youth, anarchists and political activism, a very charming and interesting area.

If you are there on a Sunday be sure to check out the Monastiraki Flea Market and maybe eat in one of the restaurants for the locals who get together to sing old Greek songs and eat traditional food and ouzo on the rocks.  If it´s not Sunday, you can still shop around this area for souvenirs, jewelry or beautiful alabaster figurines of Athena, the patroness of the city.

I hope you have a wonderful time. I recommend checking out this website for more information.

Enjoy the people of Athens and don´t forget to eat frozen greek yogurt or just plain yogurt with honey, fruits and nuts. It´s to die for.

Say hi to Greece for me and tell her I will be coming back next year.




How I planned my Greek trip: Find the best and cheapest flight

Lots of friends have asked me how to plan a trip like the one I recently completed.

How did you find the best flight?

How much did you spend on hotels and food?

How did you pick places to stay and get the best deal?

What islands to go to when there are so many? etc.

I decided to write a few posts in the next few days sharing with you some of the practical stuff: what I did, what I learned from what I experienced, and what are some of the websites and other resources I used and that might be helpful to you if you decide to take a similar trip.


Either you are one of those amazingly organized people who travel a lot and accumulate miles to redeem in exchange for a free trip, or you are like me: I sometimes can manage to get some miles in the same membership but never enough to do anything of great value with them. Or if I think I do, then the airline changes the rules and my miles are worthless or less valuable anyway (this is about to happen with Delta so, watch out).

If you are like me, then, you use a thing called “money” to pay for your flight and therefore you try to find the best deal possible: this is probably the most expensive part of your adventure so it pays to make plans and research a little.

Here´s some tips that I know from experience.

THE TRAVEL SEASON: When are you going on vacation?

This is probably the single most important decision you will make -if you can choose- and it can make a HUGE difference in the price of your plane ticket.  It´s very simple: if you travel anywhere in high season, you will pay more. Traveling to Europe from the United States that means July and August will generally be more expensive in general because it´s “summer” and lots of people are vacationing and traveling. That is known as “HIGH SEASON”.

Also within Europe, those 2 months are the busiest as Europeans also tend to travel in those 2 months, so deals in plan tickets are harder to come by.

I did a lot of research before I bought my tickets to Greece and there was a huge difference between the cost in high season and what they call “shoulder season”: May and September.

Tickets in High season run as high as 1500 dollars or more. Tickets in “shoulder season” were as low as 950 to 1200 dollars. I decided to travel in mid September, so I paid 1065 dollars because I didn´t want to fly Russian airline Aeroflot, which was offering cheaper deals. I don´t know whether Aeroflot is good or not, but I didn´t want to find out in my one yearly vacation. Besides, I don´t like Vladimir.

WHAT I CONSIDER WHEN PICKING A FLIGHT:  Personally, I like to avoid too many stops (more than one, zero is better, but more expensive).  I always look at the duration of the flight combined with the price. Very cheap alternatives can have one or 2 stops and long layovers that really don´t interest me .  Also, sometimes you can find a cheaper flight by flying in the middle of a week, like a Tuesday or Wednesday and not a Friday, Saturday or Sunday


I ALWAYS start by checking out the FLIGHT SEARCH ENGINES that can search for the different options and compare between airlines. After researching and reading the advice of several travel experts I decided to use KAYAK, Vayama and Skyscanner and search on all of them till I found exactly the flight I wanted .   Also, here´s a handy guide that compares the different flight engines and what they can do to help you pick the best flight for you.

ONE TIP: use an incognito window in your browser every time you search, apparently, if you keep searching for the same route from the same computer, they know you are very interested in that ticket and the prices goes up. If you use an incognito window, you can start fresh everytime.

Also, after you find the flight you want, check out the airline page for deals, sometimes they have better ones.  I also make sure to pick my seats when I buy the ticket: I want to avoid ending up in the middle seat if I can.


photo 4 (3)

La mer….the sea…

Greece is the sea, the reflection of the blue, its history and its beauty. Not much can be said that wouldn´t be better seen by one´s own eyes. I will leave the talking to the best song ever written about the sea, by Charles Trenet, La mer…. (Scroll down for VIDEO below)

The sea,
We see dancing along the shores of clear bays,
Shimmers with silver
The sea
Changing shimmers
Under the rain

The sea
With the summer sky
Mix up her white horses
With the angels so pure
The infinite azure shepherdess

By the ponds
Those big wet reeds
Those white birds
And those rusty houses

The sea
Has cradled them
Along the shores of clear bays
And with a love song
The sea
Has rocked my heart for life


Food, food, Greek food everywhere!

This post is self explanatory. You will be hungry when you finish going thru all the photos but it will be worth it. This is a sample of what I ate in Greece (not even all of it). Forget what you know about Greek food in the States, there´s a lot more variety, freshness and diversity that we know and of course, they have the local seafood (incredible) and incredible fresh veggies, fruits, cheeses, olives and olive oil, the basic staples. The greek yoghurt is truly out of this world and the frozen one, it´s even better: creamy, milky, natural.

Just start by clicking on the first picture and you will get a gallery with an explanation of every picture at the bottom. I managed to pause for a minute to take the pictures before attacking all this amazing food. In my defense, I often ate in somebody´s company so I did not scarf the whole thing by myself. But sometimes I did.

Enjoy….Kalí órexi (Bon Appetit)


Anafiotika and the Acropolis: the wonder of Athens



Athens is a wonder. It is also a chaotic, busy city, with bad traffic and crazy drivers. But it has a beauty that someone that grew up in another chaotic but beautiful (and tough) city, Caracas, can appreciate.

It also has something no other place in the world has: the Acropolis, the tallest point in the city, which presides the metropolis with a presence that cannot be avoided and it’s a marvel to behold. You may be walking on a busy street in the middle of Athens and suddenly you look up and there it is: The Acropolis, the most characteristic monument of the ancient Greek civilization.

I must admit I was not expecting to feel the emotions I felt when I visited the complex of ruins of the Acropolis, of which the Parthenon is the crown jewel, the universally known symbol of Greek architectural achievements. It was thrilling and deeply moving.

I climbed up to the Acropolis thru an adorable  neighborhood called Anafiotika. It resembles the buildings and houses in the Greek Islands because it was built by immigrants from the islands who came to Athens to find jobs in construction. It is now a haven for moneyed Athenians to spend a weekend, no longer a working class neighborhood, but a tiny museum of the white beauty of Cycladic style buildings.

Of that experience I took a video, which I am sharing with you here. Sorry about the amateurish quality…I made this only to share with friends and family…all of you.



I don´t do tours or cruises…transportation in Greece


Personally, I like to travel at my own pace and I have never taken a formal group tour or any other kind in any of my travels.  But when I was thinking about going to Greece I thought about doing it: the size of the country, the large number of islands (there are 1000´s of islands of all sizes in Greece but about 200 are inhabited), were a bit intimidating and I didn´t even know where to start or how I was going to get there.  (Selfie above was taken during a ferry trip from Paros to Santorini).

But I knew people who had traveled there and told me that worrying about how to get to the islands was completely unnecessary: transportation in Greece is not a problem.  The islands are connected to the mainland and to each other (not all to each other, more on that later) with different kinds of marine and air transport that are very easy to access. Athens is a cosmopolitan city with a very good subway and bus system plus an incredible number of taxis that offer very good service at an affordable price.  Car rental is available and not expensive.


I did not rent a car in Athens, there is no point in doing so. Traffic is bad and people drive just like in Tijuana, México (have you been there? yeah, crazy. I could say Caracas too).  The city is also very walkable and safe. I went in an out at all hours of the day and night and never felt unsafe or had a problem.

Ferries and fast boats are the most popular way to get to the islands and it´s easy to get tickets: you can buy them in Athens in travel agencies or at the port or Piraeus.  In the islands, I would rent a car for a day or two and then just walk the rest, except in very touristy Santorini, where I stayed in Fira near the caldera and took the bus to other parts or the island.

Car rental is hassle free, at least in low season. I rented a car twice in two different islands and was never asked for a credit card deposit or even a credit card. I signed a form, paid cash and off I went . Just make sure you check the card with the rental company and record all dents etc.



Boats at the harbor in Naoussa, Paros Island.

Greece, lovely Greece

Greece feels good. The country is beautiful, people are sweet and helpful, the food is fresh and delicious, the drinks are strong and cats are everywhere. My kind of place!

It is very easy to go to Greece, and less expensive than other places in Europe. It´s a little farther than the usual places: Spain, Britain, France, Italy. Greece is next door to Turkey, surrounded by the Ionian, Mediterranean and Aegean Seas.

To get the best weather, I´m told, you can go anywhere from April-May thru early or mid October, with the highest season being July and August. I went in mid-September, which may have been a little late in the season as I ended up catching “bad” weather in the islands: winds and some rain in Santorini.

But ask me if I cared. I didn´t. I was in the Greek Islands!  But for the most part, weather was sunny, clear and beautiful.  July and August are hot, hot, hot and September is less so. I´ve heard June is pretty nice too. A friend told me that Easter in Greece is “like a dream”.

The options on places to visit are endless, though it seems visitors always do the same thing: Mykonos and Santorini, after running thru Athens for a day or two. Don´t fall into that trap: it´s so easy to travel in Greece that you can go to the port or to a local travel agency in Athens and get your tickets to the islands a few days or hours before. Generally (more on that later).  So you can really choose other less obvious islands and find a real treasure. I went to Paros, Santorini and Milos and my favorite were not the most famous. Just the opposite.

To learn a little bit more about how easy it is to travel within Greece, read here

In this blog I plan on giving you tips based on what I did, heard, saw and read about traveling in Greece, share photos, videos and stories from my trip and just have fun. Maybe it will inspire you to give this beautiful place a try.

Note: Greece can be very inexpensive if you play your cards well and plan a little, improvise a little. I will explain more in another post, but I spent much less in this 3 week trip than I have spent in less time in other European destinations: a grand total of 2800 dollars, including the plane ticket. And you can probably spend less if you put your mind to it.

Stay tuned for more!