Ode to a Grecian Holiday

After six months on the road, the last bit of which we’d spent working on a Japanese farm, we were craving a proper timeout to recharge our batteries and ready ourselves for the next chapter of our journey—exploring Europe. It seemed obvious to us that our first stop when arriving to the Old Continent would be to one that we both adore, Greece, but this time, we had a new destination in mind, the less trodden island of Sifnos. Knowing that we would need time to rest and recover but also wanting to discover someplace new, under-the-radar Sifnos stuck out to us in our research for its rustic, unspoiled Grecian charm. The island’s claim to fame is its culinary prowess, formerly home of Chef Nikolaos Tselementes whose 1910 charting of traditional Greek cuisine can still be found on kitchen shelves and countertops of nearly every home throughout the country.  A laid back Greek island promising bright sunshine and cool Mediterranean waters, Sifnos, the originator of modern Greek fare, sounded like the dreamy holiday spot we were craving!

And the island did little to let us down; in fact, it far exceeded expectations. But let's back up. In early July, we left Beijing for the second time on this journey, and after more than 24-hours of travel, we arrived late at night in the Greek capital where we were graciously picked up by our Athenian Airbnb host. After a short drive to the central Koukaki neighborhood, we settled in for a much needed rest, allowing our spirits to catch up with us after hopping across so many time zones.

Up early with jet lag, we used the time until our ferry departed for Sifnos to check out our second ‘World Wonder’ in as many days, the ancient Acropolis, which neither of us had managed to visit in our several previous stops here. Like the Great Wall, which we’d marveled at the day before, we were in awe of mankind’s abilities and creation (and also pinching ourselves for our great fortune to see such masterpieces back-to-back). We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon strolling the streets of this historic world city and savoring the local cuisine we’d been craving—fresh tomato and olives, just-out-of-the-oven bread, and creamy feta cheese!

As we met our four o’clock ferry to Sifnos, we realized as we stood under the blazing southern sun, crowded by hundreds of pushy tourists also waiting to board, that the absence of an airstrip must have been what has kept the island off radar for so long. Several hours later, as we disembarked in Sifnos port, we also realized just how very much we’d missed the Mediterranean—the hot, dry air, the salty sea breeze, the rugged landscape of greens, yellows and browns dotted with white.

It was soon very obvious how much we had needed this respite from the journey as five days had suddenly passed, and we hadn’t once left the line we’d drawn between our beachfront bungalow in the tiny fishing village of Vathi to the sun beds at the nearby beach club and string of waterfront tavernas that lined the bay. It wasn’t until our last full day on Sifnos that we finally considered exploring beyond the heavenly haven of the harbor.

From our research and talking with both locals and fellow vacationers, we knew that Sifnos boasted several idyllic white-washed towns with only a few winding roads that would take us across the island and around the coast. With the promise of soaring hills offering panoramic views of the dramatic coastline, sand-swept beaches, and quintessential blue-domed churches, we excitedly jumped in our rental car to take it all in. From hiking down to take a dip in the rocky cove of Dialiskari beach to strolling the twisting alleyways of the cliff-perched village of Kastro – where we gorged ourselves at the famous Astro restaurant – to swimming around the beautiful bay of Fassoulou beach, Sifnos once again did not disappoint in its charm and its beauty, although our home in sweet Vathi still had our hearts.

As tends to happen when we find ourselves in moments of stillness, our time in Greece reminded us once again that as we attempt to take in the wonders of this enchanting world, we also need to take time out to rest, relax, and repair so that we can continue to make the most of our journey rejuvenated and ready!