FTC: This post is not sponsored. All thoughts and weird opinions are my own.
I went to Greece a few weeks ago and had quite the experience. I didn't share much of my travel experience while I was experiencing it, but this is definitely a journey I think everyone (especially black women) should make theirselves familiar with before booking or taking a trip to Greece.
What's The Vibe Like: Though geographically Greece is located in Eastern Europe, they do not consider themselves to be Eastern European. Instead they are considered Mediterranean and follow Mediterranean culture. This was my first visit to a Mediterranean country, and to a country that doesn't speak a romance language (languages derived from Latin like Spanish, French, Italian...) This made the trip a little more difficult for me because there was an immense language barrier.
Though I did have my Google translator to help when absolutely necessary, I did feel way more precautious because I didn't know what was being said around me. It made things a little more suspicious (I'm extremely paranoid so it could've just been me). What I will say is that each island you visit in Greece will give off a different vibe. I found that Athens had pretty good customer service as far as restaurants, hotels, and shops were concerned. Mykonos had far less satisfying customer service, so prepare to figure out most things out on your own, or be faced with some attitude when you ask questions. Santorini also had decent customer service.
Overall I found that the people in Greece don't particularly enjoy interacting with many tourists. No one was out right rude or mean, but most didn't go out of their way to be particularly friendly either. As a New Yorker I can't fault for them that, since I am not the friendliest to tourists either. I didn't face any overt out of pocket racism (with people saying anything out of line), but we did get many many stares/looks in every area we went.
Where should you visit: Greece has many islands that you can visit to see different sites and have different types of experiences. Prior to visiting Greece I asked many people about their experiences and where were the best places to visit. After my poll, I chose to go to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. After my visit here's my thoughts on each.
Athens: I spent 2 days in Athens. First things first, it is not the most beautiful city as often pictured. There is graffiti everywhere (signs in the airport said it's a major part of their culture). If you are lucky you will see some pretty good/cool street art as well. You really don't need more than a day to visit Athens, and I wish I had known that in advance. All of the historical stuff is pretty much in walking distance to each other. I stayed at a hotel in the center of the city so I took a 4 dollar Uber to the area where the Acropolis and other historical sites are located. (Oh... Uber is different out there. The Uber app hails a cab for you essentially which is what Uber started out as over here in the states) Athens also has many beggars in the tourist areas, and though I'm used to homelessness and poverty, they will invade your space and come up directly to you. That was different
Mykonos: I spent 1.5 days in Mykonos and enjoyed it the most. That's because Mykonos is known as the "party" island with a lot younger crowd. I took a half hour plane ride from Athens to Mykonos and checked in at a pretty quaint hotel. Shakira and I got there at 12 and had to wait until 2:00pm to finally get our rooms, so you can imagine I was quite annoyed and tired AF. But we put on our big girl pants, and took at transport taxi to Paradise Beach. This was one of the highest recommended beaches to visit in Mykonos and I can see why. We were there for close to 7 hours and had a ton of fun on the beach and at the party. There is no Uber in Mykonos as it is a much smaller island. They are experiencing their high tourist time, and a high influx in tourism since they are currently becoming more popular.
Santorini: I took a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini and it was the worst decision I've ever made. My Seajets ferry was supposed to leave at 1:30 and get to santorini at 4:20. Instead the ferry was delayed without reason and we ended up leaving at 3:40 and arriving in Santorini at 8:00pm. So you can imagine I was extremely annoyed, aggy, and hungry. I did get to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever experienced, of which Santorini is not in short supply.
If you plan on traveling between islands I suggest you work airline price into it and fly instead. Though the airlines and airports are pretty small, it will still be a better experience for you than taking the ferry. Some islands don't have an airport and you'll have to take a ferry. If that is the case work that in to your time/travel before hand as you will likely experience delays. Santorini is definitely a place for lovers. The sunsets are glorious, and most things are romantic. Because I only spent about 10 active hours in Santorini, everything was rushed. I got lost on the side of a mountain (got some great pics though) and didn't get to find the blue domed buildings that everyone takes pictures in front of in Santorini.
What Should You Eat: I am not a huge fan of Greek or mediterranean food, and I found most of the places I went to had subpar/ average food options. I do think you should eat the food that is culturally aligned with wherever you are visiting. So we had our fair share of baklava and gyros (Shakira mostly... I just mostly binged on ice cream instead). I'd try and avoid foods that are recreations of American foods as you will highly be disappointed. I did however have a pretty decent burger in Mykonos on my drunken return to my hotel. Not sure if it was really that good, or if I was just too drunk to know better. Food in Greece is generally pretty pricey so pick wisely and google the restaurants before hand.
Where Should you Stay: I'm always a fan of Air BNB to save money, but I am happy that we chose more hotels this time than Air BNBs. What I recommend when staying in Greece especially in smaller islands, is to stay in a hotel that will give you shuttles to and from the airport, or to major areas in the city. This will save you the money and frustration with having to find transportation. Most importantly if there is no Uber available, this will help eliminate having to find a taxi (I'm always suspicious of random taxis... especially when unmarked)
We did stay in an Air BNB in Santorini that provided service from the ferry and to the airport.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I do think Greece is a great place to visit. There were a few micro racial aggressions, but nothing too crazy to make me extremely uncomfortable. When deciding if you should visit Greece you should research what it is that you like, and are interested in to see if that will match. Though I did have a good time, I probably should have done a bit more research and prepared better.
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