This is post fifteen of sixteen of our summer trip to Greece. Check out our other posts in the series here:
- Greece Lightning: Heading to Greece
- Acropolis for Breakfast: Staying at the Hilton Athens
- Starting at the Top: The Acropolis
- Oompa! Eating Athens
- Taking it Indoors: Athen’s Museums
- Athen’s Other Sites
- Room with a View: Staying in Santorini
- Santorini’s Spectacular Sights: Part 1
- Santorini’s Spectacular Sights: Part 2
- Looking for Santorini’s Best Eats
- It’s All Greek to Me: Heading to Naxos
- There’s a Meat Town in Naxos!
- Shots! Shots! ShotsShotsShots! Heading to Mykonos
- A Delightful Day Trip to Delos
- The Trashy Side of the Greek Islands
- Bling Bling y’all! Upgraded at the Hyatt Regency Montreal
Visiting the Greek Islands was a dream for Mrs. Selfish and I, and they certainly are beautiful. This is not to say that the trip was perfect, however. Our trips frequently aren’t, and we tend to gloss over some of the crappier parts of traveling: food poisoning, scams, mediocre foods, gross hotels, etc.
I have often found, however, that our experiences are tinged by our expectations and for better or worse my expectations usually match the pictures I see online: a solitary monk visiting Angkor Wat in the morning omitting the tourist hordes just off camera, the perfectly framed cafe in Paris minus the next door McDonald’s, the Great Wall of China at sunset with the silhouetted screaming hawkers pushing their wares.
Stunning… so what’s the catch?
So here, in no particular order, are the many downsides of visiting Santorini and Mykonos. Hopefully they help you make your own informed decisions when traveling to these high profile hot spots.
The crappier side of Donkeys
Donkeys are everywhere in Santorini. Thanks to Oia’s narrow streets, it’s nearly impossible for a car to maneuver, so donkeys are used to haul trash and tourists around.
Unfortunately that also means there is copious amounts of donkey crap around, which can make walking a tad tricky. Especially walking down a bunch of already slippery steps at night.
Yeah, that’s not dust on those stairs. Hooray, old poop.
Not a big deal you say? Who cares about a little donkey dung, right? I came for the view! Well, prepare for…
Cruise ships full of Tourist Hordes
I knew there were tons of Mediterranean cruises that went to Santorini before we planned the trip. Yet somehow I didn’t picture them coming every single day or bringing thousands of people.
Or also the ferries, which come several times a day and also bring several thousand people.
Accordingly, there are tons of people visiting the islands and the streets are narrow. Be prepared for long lines and flaring tempers (especially if going during the summer).
More people means more problems, but also means…
Tons of Photographers! So many…. cameras… so… much… Flash
This shot was awesome – look at that sunset. Not a person in sight right? I mean, I can totally picture myself sipping a glass of Greek wine and watching it sink from the comfort of my balcony. Well… maybe… if you’re really rich, but for the rest of us the reality involves something a little more like this.
Pretty much everyone and their mum is packing DSLRs & tripods these days and they are all waiting for the same shot. So much so that they’ve been there for hours already, staking out a good place to get it.
Our solution was twofold: 1) be really aggressive (you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Mrs. Selfish yell at someone in a movie theatre for using their cell phone), 2) walk to places other people didn’t want to go.
In the case of the Santorini sunset shot I ended up climbing up an abandoned cliff in order to get a people-free shot. It worked out pretty well, but we still had to push our way through the crowds to get back to our hotel.
Mykonos is pretty… trashy
Like Santorini, Mykonos is renowned for its beauty. This is why we decided to go there in the first place:
Unfortunately, it does have the reputation of being a party city. I assumed (because we actually don’t do as much research when choosing locations) that there would be tons of clubs, and that Mrs. Selfish and I would be unaffected since we primarily stay in at night.
Well there are tons of clubs, but if you’re an old fuddy-duddy like me, you will still be affected. There are parties everywhere, all day, every day.
If you’re young and single, hey, that’s cool. There are parties at the club. There are parties on the ships. There are parties at the beach – not only Paradise Beach or Super Paradise Beach, but almost all of the other beaches as well. Parties, parties, parties.
Since the partying culture is so huge, it is also immediately reflected in the rest of the town. Not just in the drunken 20-somethings you see strewn about, but in the type of stores you see on the streets (and type of trash you see on the ground).
I’m not sure what’s better, honestly. Ugh.
While I’m glad we visited Santorini and Mykonos, I wish I had known the general vibe of each island before we had planned the trip. Crowded, dirty, trashy (Mykonos more so than Santorini) – yet still very, very beautiful.
Would I still go if I knew then what I knew now? To Santorini? Absolutely. To Mykonos? It’s hard to say. At the very least I probably would have cut back our stay at Mykonos to one night instead of two.
Anyway, for those of you who are considering a trip to these two islands I hope this perspective will help inform your own journey. Or that you at least enjoyed the rant.
Join us tomorrow when we board a plane for Montreal and get upgraded to an obscenely large suite at the Hyatt Regency!