Europe city hopping: Zakynthos, Greece (Day 1 & 2)

I’m finally writing about my Greece trip! It is planned to be our second honeymoon and rightfully so because our first honeymoon was a whirlwind trip to Hong Kong and Macau where we just indulged in the glorious food they had to offer.

I had always wanted to go Greece for our honeymoon but with the move to Germany planned soon after the wedding, it didn’t materialize until now. The desire to go Greece was even stronger after we watched the Korean drama and we both wanted to go to Navagio beach. //Digressing from my trip, I’m still in shock that SJK and SHG are married. //

We had planned a 10 day trip, covering the islands of Zakynthos and Santorini and then ending up in Athens. We had to fly out from Hamburg airport for cheaper flights and more flight availability but alas, our outbound flight to Athens was cancelled by EasyJet the night before we were supposed to fly due to a transportation strike in Greece. We were already in Hamburg airport when we received the news and we were scrambling to book ourselves on an alternative flight (we ended up paying more than 4x the price of EasyJet on SAS) and praying really hard that the ‘new’ flight could take off.

Anyhow, we managed to get into Athens at close to 5pm after a 7 hour delay and then had to catch our next flight to Zakynthos via Olympic Air. Unfortunately there was no end to the amount of ‘things that could go wrong’ this day, and our Zakynthos flight was yet delayed by another hour. Not quite sure of the reason of the delay because the strike hours were over and all passengers received a photocopy of a letter apologizing for the delay and a ‘voucher’ for a complementary (future) flight. Again, not exactly sure if the company is going to honour the ‘voucher’ since it’s just a photocopy and there’s no mention of any date or customer name or booking reference. I could jolly well make 50 copies of this ‘voucher’!

We were picked up by the hotel via a complimentary shuttle at Zakynthos airport. I had chosen to book ourselves into Avalon hotel as it has a no-children policy (yay to no screaming children at 7am, or baby elephants running along the hallways).  On the night we arrived, there was a ‘Greek night’ party going on in the restaurant and you could hear the live music loud and clear even in the corner room. I was ready to go crazy by this time since we did not have proper sleep since the night before (Hamburg airport wasn’t the best airport to stay overnight). It ended past 11pm and all I can say is, I’m glad that the shitty day was almost over.

Despite our horrible long Day 1 in Greece, we woke up early on Day 2 because we had to collect our car and head out to the viewing platform of Navagio beach. But first, we had breakfast at the hotel. Avalon hotel includes breakfast in its room rate and you could also order a packed breakfast if you had to leave early.

We rented our car from Anadyon Rentals and I couldn’t recommend it more. Their service was amazing and the price was unbeatable. We rented an automatic car for 2 days for just 85 euro (full damage waiver and GPS included). They also deliver and pick up the car to your hotel, free of charge. I initially rented a manual car as I didn’t know they had automatics, but after 10 minutes of trying to drive the car, we gave up and requested to exchange the manual for an automatic. I’m not willing to practice my rusty manual driving skills (it’s been 10 years!) on windy and steep roads along the cliffs of Zakynthos. This is not the place.

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It was almost a 2.5 hour drive from our hotel to Navagio viewing platform. We had read online that it is best to walk the trail, right of the viewing platform, for a better view of the beach. Though located at the top of the cliff, it is pretty safe if you follow the path walked by many others. You could get a really nice, unobstructed view if you’re daring enough to go to the edge though. I’m happy to stay safe and just see nice photos on Instagram #navagiobeach.

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After spending an hour at the viewing platform (I left reluctantly… I could easily spend the whole day there), we headed off to see a 2000 year old olive tree in the village of Exo Hora. By the way, olive trees are really EVERYWHERE on the island. You can easily identify olive trees by their ash-green leaves.

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Our lunch was at a random taverna we came across when we followed some road signs. It felt like we were driving to somewhere very isolated because at some point, we drove close to a cliff and alongside the sea. But we were rewarded by a lagoon with beautiful crystal blue water and a restaurant by the side. We managed to get a table outside and enjoyed the view while we ate authentic Greek food.

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As the drive from the Navagio viewing point back into the city centre was quite a long and windy one, sometimes alongside the cliff, sometimes through the hilly areas, there were quite a number of spots where you can just stop the car and take a short hike for some postcard-worthy photos.

On the way back to the hotel, we followed the directions of a signboard advertisement for an Aristeon Olive Press & Museum – it turned out to be one of the highlights of our entire trip. There was a free guided tour of the factory, introducing the process of cold-pressed olive oil extraction and the products they produce. It was interesting as well as eye-opening. We bought quite a few bottles of olive oil because the prices were affordable. I had wanted to bring the smaller bottles back as souvenirs for our family, but we’ve used them up already in Germany! Oops.

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