You Feta Work, Beach – We’re Cruising the Aegean

Trip Region: Western Europe
Country(ies): Greece
Partners Trek? Yes
Trip Cost: $2500
Airfare Estimate: $1000
Nightlife: 6   •   Activity: 6

Quit your job? Check. Did your partner quit their job? Eh…hopefully not. Signed your lease? Check. Ready to act like you are in college but you’re now older and wiser and know not to drink fireball on an empty stomach? Maybe. Well then, YOU ARE READY for the best 10 days of your life! First step is easy, just hop on a quick 5,229 mile flight to beautiful, gorgeous, Lindsay Lohan inspired….GREECE!  And, oh Mamma Mia, do we have a trip for you.

 

Travel Day — Saturday, Aug 17

Welcome to Santorini! What kind of partners trek would we be if we didn’t go to the honeymoon island? Santorini is known for its majestic views, whitewashed villages, and stunning sunsets. Once settled in, we will plan to meet in the early evening as a group in the hotel lobby and head to an easy, breezy dinner. And as you fall asleep on your first night in Greece, be sure to listen very carefully and you might just be able to hear the locals singing a familiar song….“You can dance. You can jive. Having the time of your life.” May your dreams be filled with Meryl Streep.

Day 1 — Sunday, Aug 18

We’ll start our day with a scrumptious breakfast, followed by our main activity of the day. Do you like beer? Liquor? Maybe tequila like Steve? Well, we won’t be drinking any of those. Get your noses ready and your palates cleansed because today we sample the best of Greece’s wines at Santos Winery, a co-operative and the largest winery on the island with marvelous views over the island and the sea. The Insta-worthy vines in Santorini are cultivated in a very unusual way, with the plants being pruned to form a low basket shape that sits on top of the volcanic soil to protect the grapes from strong winds. We’ll end the day with dinner (and more wine! Opa!).

Day 2 — Monday, Aug 19

In 1500 BC, a volcanic eruption sank the center of Santorini, forming one of the most significant geological formations on the planet – the awe-inspiring caldera. Rumor has it, the caldera served as the single inspiration for another of the most significant formations on the planet, the Big House. The spectacular natural beauty of this caldera is what makes Santorini such a special place. Today, we’ll take an excursion along the crater rim, starting in Thira town and walking through little villages all the way to Oia, passing steep cliff faces and taking in breathtaking views along the way. We’ll spend the rest of the day cooling off on Perissa beach, one of the island’s black sand beaches.

Day 3 — Tuesday, Aug 20

After breakfast, enjoy some free time in Santorini before we board our boat transfer to our next destination, the island of Crete. Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest in the Mediterranean Sea. Here, you can admire the remnants of brilliant civilizations, explore glorious beaches, impressive mountainscapes, fertile valleys and steep gorges. It’s essentially the wild west with fewer cowboys and more incredible food. On arrival, we’ll take an evening stroll to the Venetian Harbor, touring the old port and narrow shopping streets, and then grab dinner at a local waterfront restaurant before exploring the nightlife. Pro Tip: Before getting on the boat, take a moment to pray to the Greek god of the seas, Poseidon. Some fun facts about Poseidon; His brothers were Zeus and Hades. His primary means of transportation was a chariot pulled by horses, which I’m sure was an issue when traveling under the sea. He had a palace made of Gems and Coral located on the ocean floor. He lost his father once and traveled great distances to find him, befriending a forgetful fish along the way. His journey took a dangerous turn after he barely escaped from a dentists’ fish tank to finally reunite with his father.

Day 4 — Wednesday, Aug 21

Today, enjoy your morning at sea on this fantastic swimming and snorkeling tour. Admire the views of Chania's mountain tops and surrounding beaches as we sail to Theodorou Island. Listen to the history of Chania from a local tour guide while keeping an eye out for sea turtles! You’ll have plenty of instagram opportunities to snap photos of the old Venetian fortress, beautiful open caves, and the nationally protected Kri-Kri (a Cretan goat). We’ll swim and snorkel at the first of three stops in a small, protected bay with crystal clear waters and a sandy ocean floor. Keep hold of your snorkeling equipment on the quick sail to the second stop - the wreck of a German aircraft shot down during WW2. At just five meters deep, the wreck is completely visible for even beginner snorkelers. After a relaxing journey to Lazaretta Island, enjoy the third and final stop with a beautiful sandy beach and volcanic island waiting to be explored. We’ll then return back to Chania for dinner and a chance to get a little Kri-Kri ourselves with some local nightlife.

Day 5 — Thursday, Aug 22

After waking up early and grabbing breakfast our tour will commence with a wonderful scenic ride to a tiny village set in rolling hillsides. On this fun pact day, we will be stopping to see the famous Monastery of Arkadi. From here on, our next mission will be to learn how to make some traditional Cretan dishes. That’s right, we are going to take a cooking class with a picturesque mountaintop village as our backdrop. We will then head out and explore the area including a tour of a 11 th century Byzantine church, a nature walk showcasing wild herbs and flowers used by Cretans and a visit to a historic abandoned monastery. At this point you’ll probably be starving. But worry not, our bus will take us back to the village, where we’ll get to taste not only fresh-baked breads (which you may have made), but other products from the farm we are visiting. Get ready for an amazing three-course meal and a million-dollar view — your friends will all be jealous of your Instagram story. With our bellies stuffed and our hearts content, we’ll end our night off with a walk through one of the most beautiful gorges in Crete. We’ll venture and explore through lush, green scenery and along running waters — to make room and cap the day with some traditional Cretan sweets and raki, of course!

Day 6 — Friday, Aug 23

This morning, we’ll return to the airport for our onward *flight to Athens. Named after the goddess of wisdom and the birthplace of Western civilization, Athens has an amazing array of historic sites to explore; a weighty history that spills out over the modern city, represented most dramatically by the ancient Acropolis. There's much to be seen in the ancient capital of Greece, vibrant and refreshed following the 2004 Olympics, yet still retaining so much visible history. We’ll head to one of the newest hip neighborhoods for dinner. *Please Note - The Crete to Athens flight is not included. Travelers will be responsible for purchasing the ticket. We will provide exact flight details once group is set. Current flight cost ~$50 per person as of 3/25/19

Day 7 — Saturday, Aug 24

After breakfast, we’ll take a guided tour of the Acropolis. Stop at the Dionysus Sanctuary, dedicated to the Greek god of wine and fertility. Once inside the Acropolis, get up-close to important sights, such as the Propylaea gateway, Erechtheion, Temple of Athena Nike, and Parthenon. Once at the summit of the sacred hill, we’ll be able to in the sweeping panoramas of Athens and learn more about surrounding monuments like Mars Hill, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and the ancient Agora, once the heart of Athens. The remainder of the day will be yours to relax or explore. After dinner, we’ll head out on the town to enjoy the best nightlife Athens has to offer (Lohan Nightclub anyone? JK. Kinda).

Day 8 — Sunday, Aug 25

Enjoy a free day in the city. If you haven’t already, check out the Temple of Olympian Zeus or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the changing of the guard. While in the neighborhood, explore the excellent Museum of Athens, Syntagma square with the Parliament building, and the Panathinaiko Stadium, which housed the first Olympic games in 1896. We’ll celebrate the last night of our odyssey with a feast of mezethes and ouzo, in an Athens taverna.

Departure Day — Monday, Aug 26

That’s it. Today, you’ll head back to the mystical land of Ann Arbor, Michigan to begin your and your partner’s own two’-year odyssey (plus a painful two-minute odyssey for yourself). Luckily, you’ve made new friends to help you along your journey.

Steve & Justin

Justin

The Basics: I was born and raised in Michigan and actually lived in Ann Arbor for 3 years before moving to New York; so yes, I can be your Michigan sherpa. Most recently, I was working in human resources at a startup in New York City where I discovered my true passion: Marketing (at least for now). My favorite hobbies include watching musicals, singing karaoke, running, eating everything, and binging on Bravo and the Bachelor.

How my partner would describe me: Because I shout, “Where are my keys!?” on a daily basis, he would probably describe me as disorganized and occasionally impatient. Basically the perfect MTrek leader! Don’t worry, he’ll bring the organization and I’m pretty sure he’d say I’ll bring laughter, sarcasm, and fun wherever I can add it.

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Thailand – I basically turned green from the gallons of green curry I consumed.

Would you rather take every bath in feta cheese water or sweat hummus? Obviously the feta water baths. Did you read the name of our trek? There has to be some leftover snacks in there and at least it wouldn’t ruin every shirt I ever wear.

 

Steve

The Basics: I’m originally from the “mean streets” of Roslyn, Long Island which is a suburb of New York City. I lived in NYC until moving to Ann Arbor with Justin. My background is planning political, non-profit, corporate and entertainment events. I started a side hustle several years ago that grew into my company CheckIn Tech. We provide software, technology and staffing at events. My favorite hobbies include playing poker, tennis, basketball, watching Harry Potter or Iron Man movies on TV (which are on way way too much), running outdoors when it’s warm enough and playing with our dog Maggie…aka Mags…aka Magster…aka Margaret

How my partner would describe me: Probably as the logical planned out person. I always need to make sure everything is prepared and ready to go. That being noted, Justin would say I’m open to go along as a wingman on any last minute adventure. He’d also say I’m pretty sarcastic and we both can bring a healthy dose of dry humor to any situation.

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Buenos Aires – great food, beautiful architecture and a strong dollar makes this city such a great place to visit.

Would you rather have to prepare and eat every meal using one of those gyro meat spinning cookers or add tzatziki to every food that currently requires ketchup, mustard or bbq sauce? I love to cook so I would go with the spinner and be the first person to successfully cook eggs benedict sideways.

Kerry & Conor

Conor

The Basics: I grew up in Alexandria, VA and graduated from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!). After starting my career in Washington D.C., I moved to New York City, where I spent the next three years in cloud consulting. In my free time, I love staying active (running / hiking / rollerblading), attending live sporting events, eating new foods, and enjoying a craft pilsner.

How my partner would describe me: She’d most likely say I’m always down to try new things and explore new places but have a hard time understanding that we don’t always have to be early to everything; including the standard two hours for every airport departure! She also may or may not say that over the past 7 years I’ve learned that she needs 8 hours of sleep per night (and based on this statement she might also say I’m a slow learner).

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Tongariro National Park in New Zealand. It’s an amazing day hike with Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings in the background!

If you could be a Greek God of anything, what would it be? Great question. I would have to be the god of cheesesteaks and wings – both would go great with my (imaginary) svelt Greek God body!

 

Kerry

The Basics: Proudly hailing from the Jersey Shore, I’ve come to Michigan by way of NYC and Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!). While in NYC, I was a technology consultant for companies across the US. Now, I consult for Michigan companies and live in Ann Arbor full time! In my free time, I enjoy doing sporty competitive things, pairing a pastry with a cup of coffee, and swimming in the ocean.

How my partner would describe me: Always manages to get free food or drinks randomly. Enjoys cutting it close at the airport (aka optimizing). Doesn’t like to pump gas. He probably says that my desire to sleep a healthy amount gets in the way of his fun. He would also say I enjoy fun times and traveling.

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Grand Canyon. It’s amazing.

If you could be a Greek Goddess of anything, what would it be? Probably the Greek Goddess of rainbow cookies. Is it weird that Conor and I both choose to be food deities?

Casey & Owen

Casey

The Basics: Before coming to Ross, I spent six years in D.C. bouncing among startups and nonprofits. I love to cook and eat and talk and read about cooking and eating, and my superhuman skill is recommending the perfect restaurant in any city (even the ones I’ve never been to). Also, I do crossword puzzles in pen.

How my partner would describe me: Always right. (Most of the time.)

Favorite place I’ve traveled: The Galapagos, where I snorkeled every day (a newly discovered obsession!), saw evolution up close (sea iguanas!), and lived on fresh fish and $3 beers.

Would you rather be Lindsay Lohan’s personal assistant or third stew on the next season of Below Deck Med?

Definitely third stew. I’d run that yacht by the end of the charter season.

 

Owen

The Basics: Grew up in Chicago, went to college in Michigan, and spent 9 years working in education in Washington, DC. Things I’m always happy to talk about include soccer (especially Premier League), pop culture (any and everything), and procedural TV dramas .

How my partner would describe me: Fortunately Casey recently had to describe me on a survey for her internship, so I actually know the answer: guiding. I’m always walking with a purpose because I always seem to know where I’m going, even in an entirely new city. If Casey is Yelp, then I’m Google Maps.

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Tromso, Norway (above the Arctic Circle) in the middle of winter. It was 23 hours a day of darkness and 24 hours a day of cozy cafes, beautiful scenery, and expeditions into the Finnish tundra.

Would you rather be Lindsay Lohan’s personal assistant or third stew on the next season of Below Deck Med? LiLo’s PA–I feel like I could whip things into shape at the Lohan Beach House.

Marissa and Ayton

Marissa

The Basics: While a Southerner at heart (Texas forever) I most recently was living in New York City and working as a strategy consultant. My hobbies include running, sports, picking up men at the gym (ask my partner for the story), and cooking

How my partner would describe me: Adventurous.  By the end of the trip, I’ll have planned my next international adventure

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Vietnam. $1 beers and overnight trains was my 23 year old peak moment

Would you rather replace every glass of water with ouzo or eat every breakfast out of a gyro? Gyro for sure. As a messy eater, having an edible plate is clutch

 

Ayton

The Basics:  While Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, I was living in NYC before moving to Ann Arbor where I was working as a dentist. When not pulling teeth, I enjoy running, getting picked up at the gym (ask Marissa for the story), video games, a good scotch, and reading

How my partner would describe me: Karaoke king. While I’m shy at first, give me some whiskey and I’ll be belting out I want it that way for the entire crowd. Between me and Justin, it’s likely we’ll have one of those nights in Greece

Favorite place I’ve traveled: Spain – Ibiza as a 31 year old: not the same as Ibiza as a 23 year old. Just as fun though

Would you rather live full time in today’s Parthenon or Lindsay Lohan’s Mykonos club? Keep in mind you are never able to leave the premises. Let’s get weird: Mykonos. Only question is do I have to wear pink on Wednesdays?