Greece

Greece, Travel

A Food Journal – What To Eat In Athens And Santorini


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Greek food culture is an interesting mix between European and Mediterranean cuisines. I had the opportunity to try a number of Greek dishes and simply love the range of different foods very much. Here are my top favourites!

Greek Yogurt

Sold in supermarkets all over the world, Greek Yogurt is a must-try in Greece! If you are looking for a cafe in Athens, it would be the one at Meliartos. The other mention-worthy is Vitrin Cafe Creperie in Oia, Santorini. My preferred way of eating it is with honey and fruits, this is easily achieved with a quick supermarket trip.

Perfect way to start the morning

Here’s what you get at supermarkets if you DIY

Vitrin Cafe Creperie

Can’t miss their crepes if you are at Vitrin Cafe Creperie

Greek BBQ Meat

When it comes to barbecued meat, the Greeks are 100% superb. More often than not, their portion for 1 is actually big enough for 2. The trick to getting a good meal involves avoiding the touristy areas where prices can be really high while the quality may not be quite up to par.

Their seafood is super fresh thanks to Athens’ proximity to the sea

And nothing beats having a bottle of white wine to complement

This BBQ platter from All That Jatz only cost us EUR 10 though it was stated for one, it certainly fed two people very generously

Batter-fried Zucchini

Their traditional dessert on the house, a great way to finish our meal!

Greek Salad

This can be served as a side to a main dish.  Greek salad is made with pieces of tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and olives, typically seasoned with salt and oregano, and dressed with olive oil. The tomatoes in Santorini are known for their sweet taste due to the volcanic soil, don’t miss it in Santorini!

Gyros

Street eats in Greece are the norm for your average citizen. They are delicious and can be as cheap as EUR 2-3 for one serving of Gyros.

Moussaka

This is a Mediterranean dish that is very popular in Greece. Not my favourite but everyone should try it at least once! The taste is akin to a very cheesy lasagne combined with a sauce that has many interesting spices (not chilli spicy, not to worry!), coupled with a side of fries and a coleslaw look-alike.

Drinking places

There are plenty of bars around Athens but check out Brettos, one of the oldest bars around. Another place to check out for a good view of the Acropolis is the roof top restaurant/bar of Byron Hotel.

Brettos is famous among the locals

View from the top of Byron Hotel in the day

View at night

Europe, Greece, Photography, Travel

This Is Unbelievable! Wedding Photoshoot In Santorini For $1000


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Santorini is one of the most romantic places in the world to have your wedding photoshoot at. Contrary to popular belief, it can also be one of the world’s greatest bargain for a wedding photoshoot. Our impromptu trip because of a great flight deal gave us the perfect opportunity to consider this beautiful Greek island as the perfect destination for our pre-wedding shoot. Read about my Santorini travel guide here.

While it is more common for Asians to have their photoshoot dubbed as a ‘pre-wedding photoshoot’, Western couples tend to call it their ‘engagement photoshoot’. With the internet revolution and our relationship with Google, bargains can be found with ease. I have heard of pre-wedding photoshoots in Japan or Korea costing in excess of SGD5000 and SGD2000 respectively, which I find overpriced. Wedding photography packages available in Santorini have quotations between the range of EUR3000 – EUR5000 from various agencies. Independent freelance photographers that are not based in Santorini will usually request to be covered for their flights and accommodation on top of their service fees. On a side note, they are usually based in Europe, which makes the cost of flights manageable.

As always, I believe that good things do not always have to come with a hefty price tag, so the hunt for an affordable yet high-quality photoshoot at an exotic location began.

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Photo credits: Eva Rendl

Tips to getting a good deal

  • Engage someone local

This means that your photographer should ideally live near to where you want your shoot to take place. In this case, he/she needs to live in Santorini. Some of these photographers do not stay on the island throughout the year, so do plan ahead of time and consult them prior especially if you choose to go during off-peak months. Engaging a local photographer means that you do not need to cover their transportation and accommodation cost. We were blessed that our photographer kindly offered to drive us to each of our photoshoot locations.

  • Go direct

Cut out the middleman and you will save yourself hundreds. If you are ready to take up the challenge, engage someone directly. Agencies are commercialised, and most of the time it is all about the money. They have running costs to pay so you can’t really blame them for charging higher prices but you can certainly avoid them by going straight to the source. Generally, freelance photographers are able to charge a lower price because they do not have overhead costs like rental and the hiring of staff. Included in the price you pay is purely their service and talent.

  • Do not be afraid to ask for discounts from freelance photographers

If you genuinely wish to engage your photographer for their services, try asking if they can offer you a better rate. If you are traveling during off-peak seasons, you have greater bargaining power. This has been personally tried and tested. The usual discount is between 10-20%. On the other hand, one potential drawback of traveling during off-peak months is that your photographer may travel out of Santorini for other assignments since, traditionally, more travelers visit the island during the summer and hence there will be fewer requests for photographers outside of summer.

  • It is not about the price all the time

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your photos must appeal to you since you will be looking back on these moments decades on, so be sure to look through your photographers’ portfolio with much care. The composure and editing styles are some areas to focus on. Although price may be a big factor in your decision, it is pertinent to choose someone whom you feel comfortable with in your initial conversations and not completely place your focus on getting the biggest bang for your buck. Something else to consider is the number of edited or non-edited photos you will be receiving as this varies largely from photographer to photographer. Moreover, the number of locations and the option to split the photography session into day and night to capture different looks were crucial in our decision.

  • Do not take up photoshoot packages

Numerous couples we have encountered have mentioned that their pre-wedding shoot was part of the actual wedding day photoshoot package. The fact is that all photographers have their different specialities. The requirements of a destination wedding photoshoot (i.e Santorini) might be totally different from an actual day photoshoot, which is usually in a hotel or restaurant. Trust me, being a photographer myself, experience in the outdoors and the ability to compose a shot nicely with regard to larger surroundings play a big part in deciding how your photos turn out.

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Photo credits: Eva Rendl

So what makes up the $1000?

We were flying to Athens and onwards to Santorini anyway. Adding flights and accommodation on top of that would not be a fair judgement because we need to compare apple to apple. Most wedding photoshoot packages exclude the cost of your air tickets and accommodation. Click here you are interested in how much it costs to have a vacation in Santorini.

  • 3 hours of photography services at two locations (Oia and Imerovigli) – EUR 500
  • Hair styling (for the bride-to-be, we did a quick Google search and walked in to one of the local salons) – EUR 80
  • Dress and accessories –  SGD 150 (most guys will already own a suit)
  • Make-up – DIY

Using an exchange rate of EUR1 to SGD1.6 (exchange rate as of Nov 2017), we are looking at SGD1078 for the photoshoot. That’s it. Now you must be wondering: then why are photoshoot packages so expensive? To name a few reasons – rental of multiple gowns, make-up artist, hair styling, transportation in between shoots and up-sell bundles.

If you are not fussed about having multiple outfit changes and your bride-to-be has practiced her make-up skills (hint: YouTube videos), or simply because you have always dreamed of the postcard-worthy blue domes adorning your pre-wedding photos, then doing your wedding photography this way is an excellent choice to consider.

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A good job done, I reckon

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It may get uncomfortable in heels as there will be some climbing up and down steep stairs 

Things to note

The price paid is purely for the photoshoot only, excluding transportation, make up artist/assistant to tag-along and carry your change of outfits. Consider the time of the year. The weather will likely be very hot and humid during summer, which can be slightly torturous if you are in full suit. Not to mention time may be of the essence since there will be hoards of tourists, so these things must be taken into consideration before deciding on the time of travel. Note for the ladies, you may want to consider bringing a pair of sneakers to change in between shooting locations as there are heaps of tiny steps in Santorini.

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Photo credits: Eva Rendl

Looking to plan a Santorini photoshoot? You can fill up the following form or drop me an email @ themoreitravel@gmail.com for an exclusive discount code with Eva.

Greece, Travel

On A Budget? The Ultimate Guide To Santorini


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Traveling to Santorini can be very expensive, especially in the summer. However, it gets cheaper for off-peak season. The bulk of the savings comes from air tickets and accommodation as they are priced significantly higher during peak period. Booking your Santorini vacation early helps in getting good deals well ahead of others.

Oia

Time to go

Summer months run from June till September, shoulder seasons (May and October) are good for avoiding the crowds. Personally, I went on my trip during November and found it to be my liking though activities are more restrictive compared to summer months. A minimum of 3 days is needed to cover Fira, Imerovigli and Oia comfortably. I recommend about 4-5 days if you are not hopping to another Greek island so that there will be time to soak in the sun and to enjoy the vacation life.

Three Bells of Fira

 

Accommodation

The two major hotspots in Santorini are Fira and Oia. Fira is cheaper and more options are available when it comes to accommodation and entertainment. In winter, most establishments are closed or closes early. Most people get to Oia for the million-dollar views but check out Imerovigli for the superb sunset views. Accommodations perched on top of the cliffs are much more expensive than those located inland because of the magnificent views right outside their doorsteps.

Personally, I have stayed in 3 different accommodations in Santorini. I wrote a detailed review of Loizos Stylish Residences because of my awesome stay there, do consider if you are looking for a wallet-friendly yet family oriented experience in Fira. Otherwise, Keti Hotel offers cliff side views with greek breakfast included. Try out the luxury cave house experience at Oia Collection, the location and views are top notched. If you want to get a feel of how much I spent on accommodation in Greece, you might want to refer to the following. However do take note that these are off-peak season prices. Prices are based on 2 pax.

2 nights in Airbnb Athens – EUR85

2 nights in Loizos Stylish Residences – EUR82

1 night in Keti Hotel – EUR87

2 nights in Oia Collection – EUR270

Oia Collection Suites

The truly authentic cave house bathroom

A private sunbed with gorgeous views

Right outside our cave house in Oia

Plenty of luxurious cave houses all around

The private balcony area is perfect for photography moments

A good choice in Fira

Keti Hotel breakfast area with a view

 

Traveling to Santorini and moving around the island

There are two main modes of transport to get to Santorini, by sea or by land. If you are departing from Athens, you can consider taking the ferries. There are a few ferry companies and the dominant one is Blue Star Ferries. During summer, there are plenty of options to fly from many European countries to Santorini on top of Athens. However, do take note that flights usually only depart from Athens when it is off-season. Consider Aegean air over Ryanair, it is better when it comes to comfort and baggage allowance. Ryanair is known for frequent cancellation and delay. If you are flying from Singapore, Scoot is a good option because it flies directly to Athens and you can catch a connecting flight to Santorini at the same airport. My flight was about 1/3 and 1/2 filled for both legs and there were opportunities to get the whole row to myself.

Check out my flight ticket prices here. Prices are based on one pax.

Scoot SIN – ATH return – SGD426

Aegean Air ATH – JTR – SGD134

There are various transportation options in Santorini. Check with your hotel if they provide shuttle or private hire services to and fro the airport. Taxi between Fira and Oia costs about EUR 20-25. It is the best option for groups of 3-4 people to maximum the capacity in the car. Buses are cheap and run more frequently in summer but there are heaps of people in line for it. Renting a car might be another feasible option to see the whole of Santorini for a group of travellers.

The unique underground bookstore in Oia

Sure, I will

Price, WHAT!

Food

There are many restaurants and take-out places in Santorini. Like any other places, they cater to different service and quality standard. Price wise, it is cheaper to eat out in Athens . Ask Mr Google and you will get food reviews from TripAdvisor and other blogs. You can find Gyros at about 3 euros if you are going budget. If you are a fan of wine, visit Santos Wine for a relaxing wine tasting session. The views are gorgeous from the winery.

Santos wine is located right above the ferry terminal. 

A couple right outside Santos wine doing their photoshoot

Moussaka

Aquarius restaurant is a good choice for food and drinks at Perissa Beach

Fresh fish from the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas is a must try in Santorini.

If you are looking for crepes, check out Vitrin Cafe Creperie in Oia. Prices are affordable for European standard.

Greek coffee and yogurt combo is a good way to start the day

Photography

Santorini is a photography paradise. Oia is a very scenic village, especially good for portraits and sunsets. Our wedding photography brought us to ‘secret’ photographer hot spots in Oia and Imerovigli. Drones are not allowed in Santorini so be sure to seek regulatory approval before launching your flight. You can check out my drone footage in the last part of this post.

Stay tuned for our wedding photoshoot!

View of the Caldera in Fira

Oia Castle

From Oia Castle

Drone shot towards Oia Castle, a very popular sunset spot.

Eye from the sky

Hope you guys enjoyed!