Greece: With EF Ultimate

 Exploring Athens with Nick and Amanda.

Exploring Athens with Nick and Amanda.

One of the destinations that has always called my name was Greece. After all, we always see posting photos of the beautiful white buildings, blue doors, and ocean from their own trips to Greece. What they dont tell you is just how amazing Greece actually is even in the cities, or just how much there is to do. I had the pleasure of traveling to Greece in September of 2017 with EF Ultimate Break. (At the time of the trip it was EF College Break, but there was a name change about a week after the trip).

The first day of my trip is the travel day. I started off in Boston, flew to JFK (New York), and then from JFK to Athens where I was able to meet my tour director, and the rest of the group I would be traveling with, since I had met eight others from my trip on my fights, and later found out that many more were also on the trip. So once we arrived (Day 2 of the trip) we met our amazing tour director Georgios, who then brought us to the hotel in Athens. On the drive from the airport to the hotel, you could already tell that this was going to be a great tour, with another amazing tour director, who was very excited to be able to show us the beautiful country that he calls home. After arriving at the hotel, which was way better than expected and even had a rooftop pool and bar, we were able to shower, change, and meet more people from the group while grabbing a bite to eat, before we met in the lobby to sign up for extra excursions and hear what the evenings plans would be. As with all EF Ultimate Break trips, there is a welcome dinner so that the group can all meet eachother on the first night. Later that night we were off to the restaurant, and then off to a local bar. The great things about these trips with EF Ultimate Break is just how fast it feels like you know most of the people in your group, maybe thats what happens when you throw 30+ young adults into a foreign country.

 The Parthenon

The Parthenon

On the third day of our trip, we would be exploring Athens on a walking tour that brought us to a bunch of the major sights that you would want to see. We were able to see ruins, learn about Greece from our local guide, see the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and we were able to go see the Acropolis and Parthenon. All of which were only places I had heard of through travel magazines, social media, history class, and stories from people who had been, three years ago I probably never imagined that I would be in Athens seeing these places with my own eyes. The walking tour ended a little before noon, which left us able to explore Athens on our own. While some people decided to continue exploring, some of us departed in search of food for lunch, and then planned on lounging by the pool, and soaking in the amazing views the hotel pool had. The group planned on going out later that night, so we wanted to be rested, plus we left early the next morning to fly to Santorini. Thats right, I would be going to Santorini (insert excited child screaming here), just another place I never dreamed I would be going.

The next morning we were up early, as we had a 7:15am departure for the airport where we would be leaving for the beautiful island of Santorini. Our flight would get us to Santorini around 11:00am, and from there we would take a transfer to our hotel, another amazing hotel and it was close to the beach. Todays itinerary would be taking us to a cliffside wine tasting, and then onto Oia where we would be able to watch the sunset.

 View from our wine tasting.

View from our wine tasting.

 Oia at sunset

Oia at sunset

After enjoying the sunset views and having a bite to eat, we were able to choose between heading to Fira to go to the club, or to go find a place to enjoy along the beach near our hotel. Myself and about half the group choose to head to the beach area to explore, a few of us ended up grabbing drinks at a lounge near the beach. Other than a slight mix up with the bill, everything was awesome even though the place was empty, after all the major tourist season was over. The rest of the group decided to hit the clubs in Fira where they were able to find my past tour director Tysons group (Read about my trip with Tyson here!)

 The area we stayed in in Santorini. Taken with GoPro Karma Drone

The area we stayed in in Santorini. Taken with GoPro Karma Drone

[My biggest regret and the one thing that I wish didn’t happen in Santorini was not being able to fly the drone to capture the sunset in Oia. While the tourist season may have been over(ish) there were still a ton of bus tours, and Oia is a magnet for people wanting that picture perfect sunset, so there was no where for me to launch the drone in Oia, purely due to the amount of people that there were. I was able to capture a few photos while testing the drone out near my hotel though earlier in the day (seen here)]

The next day, day five already, was where we hit the seven seas and became pirates for the first time. Todays plan was to go on an excursion where we would be swimming in a natural sulfur spring and then hiking up a volcano. While our guide warned us that it was a thirty minute hike each way at the volcano, I don’t think that we really connected the dots in our heads that volcano and thirty minutes means there will be an uphill climb. We very quickly realized that. Jumping from a ship to the sulfur springs and then hiking up a volcano would only be the first part of our day, as we would then be able to go relax on the beach (pictured above) near our hotel before we would be going on a sunset dinner cruise. So after the morning excursion it was time for food by the beach, and then off to our sunset cruise for the evening. After the sunset cruise, there were two options, beach again or head into Fira. We chose to go to the beach again where we played games and enjoyed the night.

 Dinner view in Paros.

Dinner view in Paros.

 Sulfur Spring

Sulfur Spring

 Climbed the mast while exploring Antiparos

Climbed the mast while exploring Antiparos

 Sunset Cruise

Sunset Cruise

Onto day six now, and we were off to a new destination. We were off to Paros! From the second we got to Paros it was a fun island. We were on the ferry with Tysons group, so I spent the majority of the time talking to Tyson and Georgios about different trips and what they each liked about the different trips. When we got to Paros, we dropped our bags at the hotel and then headed off to Santa Maria Beach. This was where the fun began. From the bars and food, to tubing where I was violently shaken while holding my GoPro (anything for the shot!), and where a foot was broken (Tysons group, and she was capturing a video of us tubing sadly, anything for the shot?) The group was divided between tubing, wind surfing, paddle boarding, scuba diving, and impromptu photoshoots along the beach.

After the fun of the day we were off to explore Paros at night. After grabbing dinner at some of the recommended spots along the water of course, and maybe some gelato. After finishing dinner, exploring the town along the water, getting lost, and then finding our way we were off to find where the party was. A few tips from local experts and we were at a small club to start, and then went to a bar called the Dubliner. A place highly recommended to me by friends who had been to Greece before, and told me of a legendary challenge called the Three Hammer Slammer. Which I am proud to say most of the group completed. After a late night we were off to bed, but had plans to grab breakfast that would not be missed.

On the seventh day, I lived out my dream of (pretending to) live a pirates life. On my boat I sailed the sea around the island of Antiparos. The waters were blue, we swam at a secluded beach, stopped for lunch on a private beach, climbed the mast, ate lunch, and cliff dove. To say today was perfect might have been an understatement, and if it wasn’t for the sunburn I ended up with for neglecting sunscreen, I would have never wanted the day to end. Today was the day that I was finally able to take my drone up in the air, capture some amazing shots that I never thought I would, and swim in amazingly clear blue waters that I never thought I would see. This was probably my favorite day on the trip to Greece, because it was just the perfect weather, perfect views, and an all around amazing time to be able to enjoy with a ton of new friends. (Pictures below) After the time spent out on the boat we were able to further explore the waterside for more dining options, and then I took a trip out on the jetty (in the picture above) with Brianna from When I Get Where I’m Going. We ended up with a unique view of Paros from the water, I guess thats what happens when you end up exploring in the dark and see a random trail down towards the water though. After our excursion to the end of the jetty we returned to the Dubliner where a few of the people on our group were enjoying the night.

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Now is when the party really begins. Day 8 was when we headed off to Mykonos! We arrived in Mykonos in the early afternoon after a ferry ride. Once we arrived we checked in fast to the hotel, and then we were onto our private transfer and off to Paradise Beach. If you are planning on going to Mykonos anytime in the summer I would highly suggest heading to Paradise Beach. There are tons of bars, dancing, food, drinks, everything you could need to have a blast for a week or more all right there. From shots to 5 liter cocktails (50-80 euros for a 5 liter cocktail!) they have anything you could possibly want. We missed the “party season” by a few weeks, but Paradise beach is still amazing. We danced, squatted, and enjoyed the awesome weather on Mykonos until about 7pm before we headed back to the hotel, and to climb the seemingly never ending staircase back to our rooms before we would shower, change, eat and head back out to explore Mykonos some more.

After drinking more than enough at Paradise Beach, the one thing I had on my mind as we headed off to Mykonos was grabbing a gyro, after all they were like 3 euro and they were magical. After a quick walking tour I was off to find a gyro with Jenn, Kelly, Angie, and Brianna before the group would head out to a couple different clubs that had been recommended to us by our guide. The party in Mykonos was on until about 2am, while some of the group decided to stay out later and have a little more fun while the rest of us crawled into our beds to sleep.

Day 9 was another day in Mykonos!!!! While this was super exciting, it was also supposed to be the day that we took a boat ride around Mykonos. As much as I love the water and adventure, a few of us were not feeling like the boat was the best idea, especially in the winds and waves that we could see from the hotel. While some of the group headed off to explore Mykonos by sea, a few of us decided to head into town for breakfast and then to explore and get some photos at the windmills. After all we are tourists right, you have to get this classic photo even if it is cloudy.

We spent the day exploring Mykonos and embracing the “get lost” mentality. We tried to explore as much of the city without having a set plan, and just tried to get lost, after all thats how you see the best stuff. Maybe we were secretly hungry but we kept finding the same gyro place. While I would be concerned, there was no way we could get made at a 3 euro gyro or at how good it all smelled. With some shopping to do for presents for the people back home, and some time to kill, we continued our adventure into the night. We finally headed back to the hotel to grab a bite to eat, climb some stairs, and then get ready to go out for the night. After all it was our last night in Mykonos (sad) and the last big night on the trip for us.

Day 10 was the last full day in Greece. After a group breakfast near the beach with some of my new friends, where we were watching the waves crash up onto the shore, we would be headed to the port to catch a ferry back to Athens. We wouldn’t be arriving in Athens until about 6pm, but a delay with the ferry got us back around 7. We quickly checked into the hotel and then headed off to our farewell dinner, while some of the group headed off to get tattoos. Our farewell dinner was amazing, with a bunch off different classic greek foods for us as a final reminder of our time spent in such a amazing country.

The group dinner is really where you see just how great the tour with EF Ultimate Break really was. Its when you realize that all of these people you are traveling with, who you feel like you’ve known for years, you’ve really only known for a little more than a week. You realize that your tour director is more than that, he’s a friend, and that he’s about to make you do some Greek dancing when you really are a horrible dancer. (As seen at the end of my video from this trip, linked here) It was this night where we received some parting gifts from our tour director. Some greek snacks for when we are missing Greece, and a bracelet with Hermes wing, the Greek God that protected travelers, on it. After all, we would be boarding a bus to the airport at 3am the next day to make our flights.

 Myself, Georgios, and. Brianna (From When I Get Where I’m Going)

Myself, Georgios, and. Brianna (From When I Get Where I’m Going)


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Special Thanks To…

     I would like to take a second to give a very big thank you to our tour director from this trip. Georgios you shared your amazing country with us and you left us all wanting to come back. I don’t think we ever saw you without a smile on your face, and the little things you did made this trip amazing.  You’re not just a tour director to any of us, I think we all consider you a friend, and we all hope to see you again.


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Interested in other EF Ultimate Break trips?

If you are interested in other EF Ultimate Break trips, check out our blog post about The New Years European Roadtrip with Tyson! Another great trip for people looking to see more of Europe.

Click Here to Read.

Joseph Hallgren

Boston, MA

Full time student, adrenaline junkie, and traveller.