Culture, clubs and chilling out: Why Greece always repays in full
Chalkmarks Athens

HELLO sun how are you today? No answer. It just shines.

This is Greece.

No terms or conditions apply. It’s like this across the country.

Yes it’s hitting the headlines. It’s been that way for 2,000 years. More recently it’s the news of the migrant crisis but the islands affected are those a few miles from the Turkish coast such as Kos, Rhodes, Leros and Lesbos. And the situation is easing.

But if that still puts you off, as always there are plenty of others to enjoy and interest in Mykonos and Skiathos in the west of the Aegean Sea have even risen this summer. Some said the crisis would sink the tourist industry into oblivion.

It never will of course for this is a country of beginnings – the land that of the ancient, classical and civilised world.

So I leave them to their drama and roll up my holiday sleeves. The hotels are booked and I’m ready to hop from Athens to Mykonos and Skiathos – that’s three tours in one trip taking in the culture, the clubs and the chilling.

The best way to start is in the capital – The oldest city in Europe, Athens is on the country’s south coast with a breathtaking backdrop of mountains.

I lose no time heading for the famous landmark the Acropolis built in honour of the goddess Athena. If you don’t know all the history as to why these early movers and shakers built the “city on the heights”, you can pick it up at a slow pace as you walk around with a guide or by reading the plaques.

No terms or conditions apply. The sun shines across the country!

The citadel served as a royal residence and political, religious and military centre. Up close, the history leaps out at you when you. There’s the Parthenon with its controversial replica castings of the lost stone art work – the originals known as the infamous Elgin Marbles are holed up in the British Museum.

And there’s the Erechtheion (burial ground), the Propylaea (gateway), and the Temple of Athena Nike.

All that evaporates once you see the panoramic view of Athens below. You can go on spotting ruins until sundown searching for the first Olympic Stadium, the National and the Theatre of Herod Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysious. I sit for an hour staring down at the sprawling white city with all the other pilgrims lined up against the walls jostling for a tourist-clear photo.

The sun’s still shining when my stomach howls with hunger so I head back to the Grand Resort in Lagonissi – half an hour taxi drive from the centre.

Here they don’t do mere hotel food but restaurants where the dining rooms are sleek and dressy serving stylish food – fantastic for celebrations all with unbroken views out to the horizon.

It was mind-blowing enough though to feast in my bubbly hot-tub watching the sunset. Built on a private peninsula, all the hotel’s bungalows and suites face the sea. I can see why the entire cast of Mamma Mia including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth checked in to this hideaway after filming on nearby island Skopelos.

It must have been after 10pm when I realised I had to pack up to start my big adventure on those little Greek islands tomorrow. Pity though, I could have spent a fortnight in that spa.

Next morning, I catch a plane to Mykonos.

Less than an hour in the air and I land in a picture book perfect Greek island. The first thing you notice are the half-asleep white painted villages, the clear blue Aegean sea and the bright yellow sun.

But I’ve not come here to sunbathe. This is where I’ve come to party. Eating out and drinking is good value so you don’t need to spend a bucket full of cash on good food.

I eat a late lunch at Kalamaki in Mykonos Town in the area referred to as Little Venice as the bars and restaurants line are stood on the shore where the fishing boats bob up and down.

There a chicken wrap cost 2.50euro (£1.80), a kebab skewer 1.70euros (£1.20) and a Greek salad 7.50euros (£5.40). The prices were so hard to believe, I had to check with the waiter and even took a photo.

My plan is to eat, rest up in my room at Hotel Petinos on Platis Beach then hit the biggest club on the island Cavo Paradiso – listed at Number 20 in the top 100 clubs in the world. Its partly the reputation of this club that is giving Mykonos the name, the new Ibiza.

Half the island seem to be on the dance floor when I arrive at midnight and the other half is in the queue outside.

The night is led by resident DJ Terry with enough music to play until midday. The openair venue operates everyday of the week hosting the biggest names in the clubbing world.

I run out of energy at 5am so have to apologise to as I nudge my way out. I think I fulfilled the clubbers’ criteria though having danced enough to ward off a hangover.

I wake around lunchtime to eat in the hotel’s super-cool dining room Blue Myth. I tuck into a huge plate of spaghetti marinara with squid, prawns and mussels to soak up the excess of the night before. Set on the waterfront, the beach was buzzing making it a great spot to sip an espresso freddo (iced coffee) all the hours of a warm and sunny afternoon.

By 8 o’clock I am ready for another big night but this time to dine at Michelin-star contender Bill and Coo with chef Athinagoras Kostakos creating a cleverly presented dinner of stuffed cherry tomatoes, sea urchin, lamb with leeks and strawberries and lemon for dessert.

I leave at bursting point ready for my last stop in Skiathos – another island with a heartthrob blue and white welcome – seen as a backdrop in the Mamma Mia musical.

Again I opt for a hotel on the shoreline. This time Kassandra Bay is a family-owned five-star hotel and if you splurge a bit you can get a private pool.

Here I discover the lie down, the roll over and the splash in the sea. I carry on like this for two days broken up only by a two-hour spa treatment and a boat trip around the entire island with guide Panos Diolettas.

I choose to have a last and uniquely Greek experience before returning home. I have the classic creamy yogurt and honey for breakfast, the sharply dressed feta salad for lunch and the sweet calamari for dinner. A few Mastikas in the bar before bed and the rest as they say is holiday history.

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Flight from Stansted to Athens with Ryanair

Grand Resort Lagonissi, Athens
Petinos Hotel, Mykonos
Kassandra Bay, Skiathos

Flight from Athens to Mykonos with Aegean
Flight from Mykonos to Athens then boat to Skiathos with Hellenic Seaways – Flying Cat

Flight from Skiathos to London Gatwick with Thomas Cook

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