Santorini, Greece, and Amalfi Coast of Italy

When I Went: May 5-16, 2013

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? I love traveling to Europe in May. It’s right before the high season, so things aren’t crowded and oversold. Also, it’s still a little bit cool at night. Living in Dallas throughout the hot summer, I always appreciate the need for a light cardigan!

Why I Went There: Last month marked my mother’s 70th birthday. While I have had ample opportunity to travel abroad, my mother never has. She retired at the end of last year and said, “It’s now or never.” These two places were at the top of her bucket list, and I told her I would plan the whole thing.

Who Went With Me? My mother.

We Stayed Here: In Santorini, we stayed in the town of Fira at the Athina Cliff Side Suites. A lovely small hotel with each room’s balcony overlooking the caldera. With a remarkable view, service oriented staff, beautiful pool, and complementary breakfast served on your balcony every morning, I would highly recommend.  While in the Amalfi Coast, the town of Sorrento served as our home base. We stayed at the very large Hilton Sorrento Palace–what a contrast! As expected, the Hilton provided all the creature comforts Americans enjoy: large rooms, huge multi-level pool, and a breakfast buffet.

You Won’t Want to Miss: In Santorini, you must do a sunset sail. We used the company Barca sailing and were treated to a five-hour sail to the main points of interest along the coastline, as well as the hot springs, served a Greek feast on board, and witnessed the most beautiful sunset. In Sorrento, I love walking the streets of the town and wandering into the many shops that specialize in everything lemon, especially limoncello. If you’ve never had it, you are in for a treat. And if you have, you don’t want to miss the world’s finest. And, of course, you must travel to the island of Capri and see the Blue Grotto.

Eat Here: In Santorini, hands down my favorite restaurant was Argo (named well in advance of the Academy Award winning movie.) It was so wonderful we ate there twice. They had fantastic Greek classics like tzaziki, tomato keftedes, Greek salad (no lettuce), moussaka, and roast lamb. My favorite dish was a slow cooked honey garlic pork served in parchment–delicious! And talk about service–they brought out blankets to all the patrons that got a little cold on the rooftop after the sunset. In Sorrento, we had the great pleasure of having our last dinner at Ristorante Bagni Delfino, a fantastic seafood restaurant overlooking the Bay of Naples. There we enjoyed saute di mare (steamed clams and mussels), bruschetta, and an AMAZING seafood risotto, big enough for two.

Play Here: While in Santorini you MUST have sunset cocktails; it is mandatory. Two places jump to mind: Bar Tropical and Fauno’s. Bar Tropical is very small (I think only 5 balcony tables), but a they have fun music, a nice bartender, and amazing mojitos. Fauno’s is much larger and has actual chaise lounges for chairs, an entire menu of champagne cocktails, and plays classical music. In Sorrento, I found a great little wine bar, La Vineria Bollicine. It’s small and on a small street, but it’s a gem. Luigi will ask you what kind of wine you are looking for and can recommend something fantastic. The longer you sit, Luigi will bring you little snacks–perhaps a potato croquette, maybe some cheese, maybe some salami. It’s a great place to unwind and meet other people traveling through.

If I Went Again: While in Santorini, I would have liked to spend more time in the beach town of Kamari. In Sorrento, I’d love to take a day trip to the island of Ischia to visit the spas and the beach where they filmed The Talented Mr. Ripley.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? Both my mother and I had American Airlines AAdvantage miles the we used to fly round trip from DFW to Madrid. We purchased the remainder of our tickets on Aegean Airlines to fly within Europe.

Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: Greece and Italy are two of my favorite destinations. This was my second trip to Greece and third trip to Italy. Just know that it isn’t easy to get there, but once you do, it’s worth every second.

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