Honeymoon planning @ Greece – A tale of trial and speculations

Whether it is arranged or love marriage in case of Indians or just marriage for the other parts, the biggest challenge for a groom is to get the honeymoon right. Presumably so!! It usually has a lots of firsts but most importantly for most of us lot, it is the first time you spend a stretch of 10 – 15 days with your better half only. This probably is the time you mold your relationship and give it a direction. There is lots to discover about each other and that probably should be on the mind more than accommodating an extra city or going for an adventure. The basis of a honeymoon should be a relaxing trip where you have lots of time for your ‘honey’ and probably under the
moon’.

With the thought process firmly established, I went on to explore the views of my wife on the same. Ours was a very nascent relationship as mine was an arranged marriage and we knew each other for only about 2 months. To understand her desires was equally important in finalizing the locations and an itinerary. From what I gathered, she wanted an International trip as she hadn’t been outside the country before. The second condition was that she did wanted to wear short clothes, as in short in the Indian sense. (To be honest I did not understand this demand, but the reason was something personal and something I respected). And finally from within our conversations I gathered that subscribed to my theory of the relaxing trip.


So my parameter for planning or rather the concept as we call it in architecture

  1. Getting married in May – honeymoon right after.
  2. Relaxing trip
  3. International trip – outside India
  4. Warn place  – Not burning hot weather like in India. – for the short clothes.
The comes the process of the destination selection which was as follows.
  • Reducing the number of options
When you want to go for a vacation in May, the tropical countries is most definetely a no go!. This reduces almost half of the possible destinations. The southern hemisphere has the winter season, so the possibility of wearing short clothes goes for a toss. Plus any mildly warm place in India in and around the Himalayas close their doors because of the international trip parameter.
United states is an option, but that is more like visiting family! Lots of first cousins, friends and family to knock the doors of. And if you don’t they would mind. Even though you are on a honeymoon, a dinner with family can’t make that much of a difference right? This thought only gave me the jitters and the states went right of the window.
UAE, China, Korea don’t go down well as honey moon destinations. UAE would be too hot, China and Korea for a vegetarian traveler on the first International trip would be a deterrent because of the language and food.

The only destination, that was left, EUROPE! It sounds very cliched but it does provide the climate, variety in terms of cultures, geography, food etc.

  • Consultation and research
Well, having traveled ample number of times to Europe, I was fairly comfortable with the planning. But friends and advisers are a plenty when it comes to advising on the Honeymoon. Be it in jest or sharing of the experience, the topic usually comes up in every casual conversation. At this time I was considering options like Switzerland, Iceland, Italy and Greece. I did want to put up a show in front of my bride.
During one such conversations, a friend showed me the photographs of a mutual friend who had visited Zakynthos, Greece recently! And that was about it.. It was decided.. Greece it is.
Greece which is still reeling from its debt crisis and the civil unrest had not reached its peak when we went. The banks had not yet imposed withdrawal limits. But, it was a matter of concern and on further research I was convinced that tourists and tourism industry is not affected.
I finalized 4 islands that I wanted to visit and shared them with the wife to be which I have detailed in the itinerary section.
  • Budget
With an in principle approval of the location, I detailed out the itinerary. At this point I was relieved and sure that we were going to Greece. This probably is the most important step. Europe caters to backpackers to the elite private jet travelers. So it usually is not a problem if you have been to Europe before. Otherwise this is the basic skeleton I follow
    • 25 euros for stay / person (twin sharing in a hotel / BB or service apartment)
    • 25 euros for food / person
    • 50 euros a day travel + sightseeing
    • Reaching Europe as per the country you stay in
    • Shopping as per who all I want to shop for.

Usually worked for me without any hassles.

Our trip map
  • Itinerary 
Day 1: Mumbai – Zakynthos
    • It takes 3 flights i.e. 2 stopovers to reach Zakynthos. This includes checking out and checking in as Aegan Air doesnt have codeshare with airlines from Mumbai or the tickets were too expensive.
    • Turkish Air, so the 3 legs – Mumbai – Istanbul – Athens – Zakynthos
    • You could stop in Athens and then fly but I wanted to wear off all the travel fatigue at a ago.
Shipwreck beach – Zakynthos – A tourist attraction
Day 2: Zakynthos Local
    • Our day to relax. Walk around the market, go to the beach
    • Take an ATV ride around the island.
Day 3: Zakynthos Local
    • Take the cruise around the island – the best activity around the island.
Natural weathering of the stone – A picture from the cruise around the island
Individual blog post for Zakynthos can be found here 

Day 4: Zakynthos – Milos
    • Flight times make this stop over mandatory. Only small ATR aircrafts can land in Milos.
    • Aegan Air operates only early morning flights to the destination so connecting flights is not a possibility.
    • Go to a famous pub and spent the night  – part of the plan from the beginning
Day 5: Milos
      • Reach Milos early in the morning and check in to the hotel
      • The day to relax and walk around Plaka. It is the capital of the island of Milos.
The typology of houses at Plaka, Milos
Day 6: Milos
    • This time around a tour around the island was planned in a Catamaran with a fabulous captain and food cooked by him on board!
    • Beautiful fishing villages and  and geographic landscaped are scattered around the island
One of the fishing villages around Milos
Day 6: Milos
    • Go to the other side of the island towards Pollonia, just to pass away some time.
    • The images on the internet show some interesting opportunities to keep the camera shutter busy
Individual blog post for Milos can be found here 
One of the pictures taken in Milos
Day 7: Milos – Foleganrdos
    • Moving on to the 3rd destination on the trip which only has a description on the internet as a romantic island.
    • Took a chance. With no activity around the island. This small but beautiful island will captivate you and simultaneously allow enough freedom to be romantic.
    • Trek to the highest point on the island. It is a church that will give you stunning panoramas of the island.
    • Explore the cafes and restaurants in this closely knit town.
Individual blog post for Folegandros can be found here 
A view from the church  – Folegandros
Day 9: Folegandros – Santorini
    • The final destination was the most famous and commercial. destination of the Greek islands.
    • Akrotiri and wineyards to be explored on the first day.
    • The rest of the day was spent admiring the beauty of the architecture on slopes
Santorini at night
Day 10: Santorini
    • Trek to the top of the volcano which is still active with some Sulphur erupting out of the crater.
    • Then the boat ride takes ahead for a swim in the hot water springs
Day 11: Santorini
    • Leisure filled day with water sports on the black beach.
Individual blog post for Santorini can be found here (
 
Day 12: Santorini – Athens & Athens Local
    • Take the early morning flight to Athens
    • Book the hop – in hop off bus and squeezed in as much of Greek history as possible with the Pantheon, Zeus temple and other such historic sights
Individual blog post for Athens can be found here (to be added soon)
 
Day 13: Athens – Mumbai
    • Back to Mumbai via Istanbul.
  • Suggestions for the Alternate Itinerary
    • If you noticed the map Zakynthos is on one side of the main land while the other three islands are on the other. It is a bit of a travel hassle but I would very highly recommend going to Zakynthos as explained in the blog post. The only reason I would not include it is if I was planing on coming again.
    • You can keep about two days in Milos if you are on a tight schedule. Otherwise three days can be well spent in Milos exploring the various parts of the island. 
    • You could shave off a day in Milos and add it to Athens. It has a lot of history and sights that can be absorbed. We completely missed the port part of Athens.
The fun of traveling is that at the planing stage there is excitement, largely built in by the images and stories that go around the internet.The real question at the end of the planning is, did Greece pack a PUUNCH?!@
The pictures might have given you a idea of what was on offer there. Keep following the posts for the intricate details of our sojourn.

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