We recently returned from a trip to Greece during which we explored important sites from the Ancient and Classical era, both in and around Athens, before celebrating Angela’s birthday on the island of Santorini. As an added bonus, and because of a flight schedule change, we spent two nights in Switzerland before returning home.
The start of the trip was a little hectic, as I will describe later, and we had to make a few last minute adjustments, but we enjoyed our time and would strongly recommend a similar itinerary for other travelers looking for a mix of culture and paradise.
This trip was relatively straightforward to book. Our long-haul flights all belonged to a single round-trip itinerary booked almost a year in advance and our hotels for Greece were booked fairly far in advance.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside of our control, our outbound flights changed from a near ideal itinerary to a much less desirable one at the last moment. However, we did get to fly three new airlines and visit several new airports because of those changes.
The United Airlines MileagePlus program is no longer as good as it was, but there is still value to be found. That is especially true on itineraries to Europe on Star Alliance partners. As long as you’re OK connecting in Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, or Zurich, you’re likely going to find something that gets you where you want to be.
I originally booked us economy tickets for the Athens to Santorini flight on Aegean Airlines, but I was offered a 50.00EUR per passenger buyup to business class and decided to splurge because it was Angela’s birthday, and it would prevent us from having to check and collect a bag.
- Angela and Nicholas
- 154,000 United Airlines MileagePlus Miles + 78.37USD per person
- LAS-YUL on AC J
- YUL-VIE on OS J
- VIE-ATH on A3 J
- JTR-ZRH on WK J
- ZRH-LAS on WK J
- 214.99EUR per person
- ATH-JTR on A3 J
- 154,000 United Airlines MileagePlus Miles + 78.37USD per person
A last-minute adjustment led to us spending a night on the Las Vegas Strip at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, a property that I was generally unimpressed by but was glad to have as an option.
I paid cash for our hotel in Athens as I was able to secure a good rate ahead of time and had an expiring SLH gift card (which I previously purchased for 20% off) that I needed to use before November. This was the best opportunity to use it.
- One room for one night at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas for one Hilton Honors Free Night Certificate per night
- One room for four nights at A77 Suites by Adronis for 284.58EUR per night, inclusive of taxes
- One suite for four nights at Canaves Oia Epitome for 40,000 World of Hyatt points per night
- One room for two nights at the Park Hyatt Zurich for 30,000 World of Hyatt points per night
We booked all of our activities in advance, as we’ve gotten used to doing over our last few pandemic-adjacent trips, but I would likely reconsider this in the future unless availability seemed to be particularly limited. It seems like timeslots are no longer required for most museums and you can purchase tickets on entry without any issues.
In addition, we’ve decided that we don’t really like large coach tours and will look at alternates in the future even if they cost a bit more. That may take the form of a private driver or a small group tour, but we will decide that on a case-by-case basis.
As a final note, while the cooking class and sunset cruise that we enjoyed were available on Viator, I specifically sought out how to book directly to ensure that these small local companies aren’t paying fees to a booking platform acting as a middleman. I encourage everyone to do the same.
- 30.00EUR per person for the Acropolis Combo Ticket
- 10.00EUR per person for the Acropolis Museum Ticket
- 99.89USD per person for Delphi One Day Trip from Athens
- 121.14USD per person for Mycenae and Epidaurus Day Trip from Athens with Lunch
- 175.00EUR per person for Sunset Luxury Semi-Private Sailing Cruise
- 155.00EUR per person for Petra Kouzina Semi-Private Cooking Class with Round-Trip Transport
- 70.00EUR for Round-Trip Private Transfer for Santorini Airport by Pigaia Travel
Because of issues that delayed our arrival in Greece, we had to forfeit the cost of two items. The first was a one night stay at the Sofitel Athens Airport that I had booked to give us a respite after arriving on a late evening flight. The second was timed tickets to the Acropolis Museum that we had purchased in advance.
- One room for one night at the Sofitel Athents Airport for 313.50EUR per night
- 10.00EUR per person for the Acropolis Museum Ticket
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Our flight from LAS wasn’t scheduled to depart until the mid-afternoon and, as such, we went through our normal morning routine before boarding Fitz and taking a car to the airport. We arrived about two and a half hours before our flight was scheduled to depart and immediately proceeded to the check-in desk for Edelweiss Air where we were seen without delay.
Unfortunately, this is where things started to go sideways. The agent attempted to fetch our boarding passes and was unable to do so while claiming that her system would not allow her to check us in. She asked us to take a seat while her manager looked into it.
We waited patiently for thirty minutes before being summoned to the desk where the agent continued to try to check us in. We were informed that our name was making the system time out and that the duty manager was on the phone with the airline’s support center to try to resolve the issue. We were asked to wait, again, and, when I asked whether we should be worried, the agent helping us said “I would be.” I repeatedly asked for proposals on how to resolve the problems we were facing and was rebuffed each time.
I contacted United Airlines, who had issued our ticket, and confirmed that we were ticketed and confirmed. I talked to the agent at the airport again and she confirmed that the ticket was valid and we were on the flight manifest, but that the system would not check us in.
Finally, as we were talking to the manager, she closed check-in for the flight and informed us she had to leave to go to the gate before, offhandedly, explaining that we must have a problem with our ticket because it was issued as a United Airlines award. Everyone knew this wasn’t the issue because the symptoms pointed to it being a problem with our last name and not a problem with the ticket.
I insisted that the manager walk with me to the United Airlines desk where she explained the problem was with United’s ticket. To be quite frank, the United Airlines employees were not very helpful (the first one insisted that the ticket we booked was impossible to book even after I showed her that it is currently bookable on the United website), but the lead agent on duty did call the ticketing department and put me in contact with a reservations agent.
After two hours on the phone looking at options, I was finally able to secure an itinerary to Athens leaving the next day. Unfortunately, we’d get to our destination fifteen hours later than originally planned. On the other hand, we would still be in business class the entire way. At around 1700, I finally received notice via email that we had been reticketed and I was able to immediately check-in online with the first flight’s operator, Air Canada.
With our flights settled, I called Hilton and booked a night at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas so that we wouldn’t have to go all the way home and return to the airport for our flight at 0700 the following morning. We secured transport to the hotel and checked in for our short stay. The room was comfortable and the agent who greeted us at reception was friendly and polite, but I would have a hard time recommending this in comparison to other Waldorf Astoria properties we’ve stayed at.
We decided to eat dinner at Din Tai Fung and, while you’re definitely paying a premium given its location, the dishes were uniformly delicious.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to decompress and sleep as well as we could in preparation for our flights the next day. In order to use our Hilton Honors Food & Beverage Credit, we ordered some desserts which, while pretty, were fairly mediocre tasting.
Friday, July 29
We secured transportation to the airport at 0500 and arrived at 0515. We proceeded to the Air Canada counter and waited with bated breath as the agent processed our check-in. We were handed boarding passes a minute later for our flights to Montreal and onward to Vienna.
We made our way through security and then stopped by the Centurion Lounge for some breakfast. For the first time in a long time, we didn’t have to be put on a waiting list for entry, a pleasant surprise.
After eating our fill, it was back to the gate for boarding. We arrived right as it started and were able to settle in and breathe for a second, knowing that we were finally on our way to our destination.
The flight to Montreal was quite pleasant. The seats were large and comfortable, arranged in a 2-2 layout on the narrowbody aircraft. The onboard meal was quite tasty and was certainly better than anything served on a US carrier.
Once we arrived in Montreal, we made our way through a security check between terminals and eventually found ourselves in the Maple Leaf Lounge, a pleasant place to while away the time between our flights. I chose to eat, not knowing what the situation would be on our flight to Europe and enjoyed the Thai curry quite a bit.
We departed the lounge at 1700 in order to stretch our legs before boarding for our flight to Vienna began at 1740. We were able to secure seats along the fuselage with Angela volunteering to sit in the seat nearer the aisle.
Interestingly, we boarded this flight via a sort of elevator bus which was raised at the gate and lowered once passengers had filed on prior to the drive across the terminal. Once we reached the plane, the bus raised the passenger compartment again for boarding.
This was our first flight with Austrian Airlines, and I was quite excited because I’d always heard how tasty the food tended to be on the carrier. Our meal certainly didn’t disappoint and I’m glad, even with the shorter flight time, that I stayed awake to eat.
I was served salmon carpaccio with avocado creme fraiche, beef filet with cauliflower mash and vegetables, and a piece of apple cake. To complete the meal, we were treated to Austrian Airlines’ signature coffee service. I ordered The Einspanner, a drink made with coffee, powdered sugar, and whipped cream.
Most of the items we were served were quite good with the exception of the beef filet, which was ludicrously overcooked and under seasoned, in my opinion. The delightfully flavored accoutrements made up for it, though. After snapping a picture of the setting sun, I laid my seat down and rested.
I woke up for breakfast service and ordered a coffee based on the deliciousness of the items the night before. To my dismay, the coffee served outside of the special service was, even being generous, extremely mediocre.
Saturday, July 30
Angela and I got what sleep we could before landing in Vienna and proceeding through passport control. Once our documents were processed, I was able to check us in for our Aegean flight and secure mobile boarding passes. Aegean Airlines’s business class for intra-Europe flights conforms to the standard Eurobusiness seating that you see on almost all airlines – a standard economy layout with a blocked middle seat.
The inflight dining on our flight to Athens was surprisingly tasty. I enjoyed my miniature pancakes and Angela liked her scrambled eggs. The flight passed quickly and, once we landed, we made our way directly to the Athens metro. We took the train to Monastiraki Square before disembarking and walking to our hotel.
I carried our suitcases from the train station to our home for the next four nights and, when we arrived, I was dripping sweat from the exertion in the hot summer sun. In spite of this, the staff was kind and polite as we checked in and helped us familiarize ourselves with our room and the amenities offered.
After showering and ordering our breakfast for the following day, Angela and I slept from 1730 to 0530 the next morning, completely exhausted from the travels and the unbelievable stress of the 28th.
Sunday, July 31
We awoke considerably in advance of breakfast and waited patiently for it to arrive. Once it did, we were in for a treat as we discovered that our included breakfast was large and delicious and would provide us with the energy we needed to tackle the day.
After breakfast, we walked to the Acropolis’s side entrance and started a walking tour narrated by Rick Steves courtesy of his free Audio Europe app. I highly recommend taking advantage of the free tours available in the app while you’re traveling as they tend to be very high-quality and informative. If you feel like learning more, you can always pick up a well-regarded book or watch a PBS documentary afterwards.
It was an amazing treat to be able to see yet another ancient building that I was fairly confident, as a young adult, I’d never be lucky enough lay my eyes on. The feats of engineering by our forebears continue to be awe-inspiring to me, whether we’re talking about the Great Pyramids, Petra, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Great Wall of China, the Terra Cotta Army, or the Parthenon.
After departing the Acropolis, we visited the Acropolis Museum which hosts a large number of artifacts, marble panels, statues from both the Parthenon and other edifices on the Acropolis. The museum is in a beautiful building and presents a number of incredible items, but the legacy of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum certainly casts a shadow over the collection.
We exited the museum and walked to Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The arch is quite well-preserved but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the temple which is really just an odd collection of scaffolded columns.
We passed by the Acropolis Museum again on the way to Pnyx Hill where we followed a trail to the top, taking in some incredible views of the Acropolis along the way.
We continued upward and stumbled upon the Philopappos Monument, a Roman era memorial to a prominent Greek citizen.
Angela spent a few minutes at the Shrine of the Muses pondering why we were walking around so much in the scorching heat.
Upon descending the hill we found the spot where Socrates is traditionally said to have been jailed after being condemned to death. As with most things from the distant past, though, this is shrouded in controversy.
We walked to the Ancient Agora of Athens where we availed ourselves, again, of the Rick Steves app to lead us on a journey backwards in time. I appreciated the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos which, today, houses a museum and provides excellent views over the remaining ruins.
The most intact part of the Agora is the Temple of Hephaestus, a stunning example of Classical architecture.
After leaving the Agora, we visited Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Agora, the two remaining sites on our list of ruins to visit.
We decided to grab an afternoon snack at Lukumades given that we’d been walking all over the city in some incredible heat for the majority of the day. We opted for the cinammon and honey flavored version of the traditional Greek dessert and were quite happy with the selection.
After our snack, we returned to the hotel to rest until the early evening. At that point, we decided to eat at Pantheon, a cosy little restaurant close to our hotel. It is well-regarded in reviews and our dishes were fairly delicious, but the food was definitely on the healthier side of what we were looking for. The scrumptious baklava served at the end of the meal made up for the calories we missed out on earlier in the meal, though.
Monday, August 1
The hotel accommodated our early departure for a coach tour by delivering our breakfast at 0745. We opted for a lighter breakfast during the rest of our stay here, consisting of a mixture of avocado, cucumber, quinoa, and tomatoes.
After breakfast, we set off for our tour’s meeting point, a hotel down the street. There, we boarded a large tour bus and set off for Delphi, the focal point of the day’s itinerary.
We passed through the countryside outside of Athens on the long drive and saw Lake Marathon and Lake Eliki along the way. Our first stop was an overpriced snack depot where our tour guide advised us to buy some water because we wouldn’t have access to it at Delphi (this turned out to be false, as we would learn later).
Finally, we arrived at Delphi where we were given a guided tour of the first half of the historical site. This included the Roman Agora, Treasury House of Athens, and the Temple of Apollo.
Afterwards, we were given some time to explore the rest of the site. This included a walk up to an ancient amphitheatre and, at the tallest excavated point on the site, a large stadium.
Once we had completed our exploration, we were given a short guided tour of the Delphi Museum highlighting several of the artifacts recovered throughout the archaeological work done at the site.
After leaving the museum, the tour group was brought to a restaurant, Symposium, for lunch. The tour could be booked with or without lunch. We chose without but were still expected to order a la carte while others ate their prepaid meal. Given that neither Angela nor I was particularly hungry at this point, we decided to walk outside and wait for the rest of the group to finish.
We stopped at the Shrine of Athena Pronaia near Delphi fairly shortly after leaving the restaurant before getting back on the bus for the long drive back to Athens.
In the end, we were happy to have seen Delphi and were satisfied with the transport to and from the site. We weren’t particularly thrilled with this tour’s itinerary or the guide who led it and would not recommend it to others.
Once we arrived back in Athens, we stopped at Ella Greek Kitchen where we enjoyed dolmadakia, grilled octopus, kebab, and souvlaki. The meal was absolutely fantastic, and, if you’re in the neighborhood, we would highly recommend a stop.
Tuesday, August 2
Again, our early departure was accommodated by delivering our breakfast at 0745 and, after scarfing it down, we were off for our second coach tour. There were several destinations for this day, with the highlights being Epidaurus and the Palace and Tomb of Agamemnon, King of Mycenae.
Our first stop for the day was the Corinth Canal, an impressive looking waterway that only came to fruition during the modern age in spite of various attempts during several previous periods. Our guide said that, as the width is severely limited, it is almost exclusively used for pleasure cruises at this point.
From there, the coach took us to Epidaurus where we were given a guided tour of the Theater of Epidaurus, a very well-preserved example of Classical Greek and Classical Roman construction. It is somewhat amazing how well-preserved it is in comparison to a lot of the other ruins that we have encountered on our travels. The acoustics of the site are also incredible.
Nearby the theater is a set of ruins that played host to those suffering from a variety of ailments. The primary building on the site was a hospice, of sorts, and is surrounded by structures that played an accompanying role.
We briefly stopped at Nafplio where we were given twenty-five minutes to explore the city. It is a beautiful place with a stunning harbor and a couple of large military structures from the period of Venetian occupation.
Afterwards, we stopped at King Menelaos Restaurant for lunch. Immediately before arriving at the restaurant, we passed by a minor palace from the Mycenaean civilization. We opted to prepay for lunch during this tour given the reviews mentioned the provided lunch was in the middle of the day with nothing around. The food was acceptable, but the tour would be much nicer if those who wanted to eat were given time in the seaside town of Nafplio given the quantity of quaint seaside restaurants available.
After our meal, we continued on to the Palace of Agamemnon. While there, we were given a guided tour of the first half of the site, including the gate into the palace and the relief carved into the gate’s lintel.
Once the guide finished her tour, we were given some time to explore the rest of the ancient ruins and the museum on site (with the knowledge that most of the original artifacts are located in Athens in the National Archaeological Museum).
After leaving the palace area, we visited the excavated Tomb of Agamemnon where we were given a brief tour of the area and a description of the excavation.
We snapped some pictures and then settled in for the long ride back to Athens. Upon arriving, we disembarked at Syntagma Square and stopped at La Greche for gelato before returning to the hotel. We highly recommend this little shop for a sweet treat.
Once we arrived at the hotel, we packed up in preparation for an early morning departure so that we wouldn’t be rushed the following day.
Wednesday, August 3
We started Angela’s birthday by checking out and walking to the train station to take the subway to the airport. It was a much more pleasant walk in the morning than it was in the mid-afternoon when first we arrived in Greece.
Once we arrived at the airport, we decided to print paper boarding passes that we would keep until after the mileage credit for the flight was received. We entered the priority security line and spent a few moments in the Aegean Airlines lounge before boarding our flight to Santorini.
The flight is very short, about thirty minutes from start to finish, and our pre-arranged transport met us immediately after exiting the secure area at Santorini airport. The drive from the airport to our hotel, the Canaves Oia Epitome, was very beautiful with views from the road over the beautiful sea.
We were able to check-in immediately upon reaching the hotel and, while our room was being prepared, we were brought to the property’s casual restaurant, Omnia, where we chose to eat a small meal and snap a few pictures of the absolutely wondrous surroundings. During check-in, we were treated to a couple of welcome drinks with Angela opting for a white wine sangria while I chose a mixed berry tea.
Shortly thereafter, we were given our keys and a brief tour of the room. The hotel was generous enough to provide us with a cake in celebration of Angela’s birthday. We loved our room and were very happy to have the private patio.
Our afternoon was a delight. We spent some time in the pool before eating the cake that we’d been gifted. After that, we spent a couple more hours in the sun before showering and dressing for dinner.
We walked to Ammoudi Bay for dinner at Armeni Fish Tavern. In order to reach the restaurant, you must take a boat from a pier in Ammoudi Bay around some rocky outcroppings to a pier alongside the eatery. We were greeted by the restaurant’s staff after disembarking from the boat and asked to take any table we’d like.
We chose the grilled octopus to start, and, after being presented with a variety of fresh fish options, we opted for the whole grilled sea bream. The octopus was very tasty, and the fish was absolutely delicious. We were given some ice cream for dessert and an entirely separate ice cream course while the staff sung Angela happy birthday.
Afterwards, we departed via boat and returned to our hotel room to watch the sunset from our private patio.
We laid on the patio for a while and managed to fall asleep on our day bed before stumbling inside to get a good night’s sleep.
Thursday, August 4
The breakfast at our hotel in Santorini was absolutely wonderful and is included for all guests. We ordered a number of coffee drinks every morning, were served a delicious variety of breads and treats, and enjoyed a number of different entrees. Service was always excellent, and the standard of care is absolutely exacting.
After breakfast, we met our pre-arranged transport from the hotel to Fira where we attended the Petra Kouzina cooking class. The husband, a chef, leads a small group of people in making traditional Greek dishes and passes along a number of helpful tips and tricks along the way. His background is interesting, having been a restauranteur at twenty years old and working as the chef on cruises in Santorini afterwards. In fact, that’s where he met his Brazilian wife!
We, and by we I mean mostly Angela, made tzatziki, Greek salad, moussaka, tomato fritters, and shrimp saganaki. The hosts ensured everyone’s wine glass was full throughout the class and we had a great time cooking alongside a chef who cares about his craft and helping people learn more about it. He specifically complimented Angela’s chiffonade skills, which brought a smile to my face.
The food we made was delicious even though I couldn’t eat much of it due to my nightshade intolerance. That didn’t prevent me from tasting it all, though!
At the end of the class, we were given the option of purchasing something to take home with us. We opted for the absolutely delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar that we used during the class.
We were transported back to our hotel and relaxed a bit in our pool and on our patio before taking the complimentary shuttle into Oia to walk around the city and take some pictures.
While I’m glad we took the opportunity to see the hustle and bustle of the tourist town, it was definitely not our scene – packed full of people shoulder to shoulder fighting for the perfect shot for Instagram.
We stopped at Lolita’s for gelato thanks to the recommendation of a staff member and enjoyed a small treat. It was good, but not as good as the gelato we had in Athens (and was slightly more expensive).
There was a small market next to Lolita’s where we stopped for a few large bottles of water to bring back to the hotel given tap water in Oia is not potable. Afterwards, we called the shuttle and returned to our hotel where we relaxed in our pool and enjoyed the sunset.
Friday, August 5
After another delicious breakfast, we spent most of the day relaxing before being picked up from our hotel for the short drive down to Ammoudi Bay where we met the crew of the Carpe Diem for a sunset catamaran cruise. After removing our shoes we stepped on board for a day of fun on the water with a dozen other people alongside a three person crew.
The cruise was an absolute delight, departing at 1400 and returning around 2030 after sunset. After departing the bay, we journeyed to several spots where we were prompted to enjoy the water and given goggles to observe the sea life.
At the third swimming spot, the crew prepared us a delicious lunch of Greek salad, tzatziki, pita, grilled chicken, and grilled sausage. The chicken, in particular, was incredibly tasty. We had a great conversation at lunch with an American couple, a British couple, and a couple of native Greeks.
After lunch, we were taken to the sulphur springs near the new volcano (now dormant) for another swimming session. Angela and I opted to stay on the boat at this point.
Finally, we motored into position to watch the sunset. The crew are kind enough to take pictures of everyone with the sun in the background and we were able to get a couple of excellent shots.
After that, we returned to the bay and, while everyone else piled into the shuttle, Angela and I walked back to our hotel and fell asleep after an afternoon of delight.
Saturday, August 6
With our scheduled activities on Santorini complete, we were prepared to spend the entire day relaxing and we did. First on our private patio and then at one of the two pools on property.
While we relaxed at the pool, Angela ordered a drink called the Princess Jasmine. It was ludicrously expensive at 27EUR, but she said it was worth it given how delicious it was.
At 1815 we walked to Ammoudi Fish Tavern for dinner where we were seated at the very corner of the dock with an expansive view of the bay and surrounding sea. I was very happy with our choice to request the hotel to make a reservation ahead of time as I’m sure that helped us receive this table.
To start the meal, we asked for bread with olive oil and olive paste. The tapenade was very flavorful and was a great way to start the meal. We ordered ceviche as an appetizer and opted for the whole grilled sea bream as our main course.
I loved the ceviche and the way it was dressed and we both enjoyed the grilled sea bream. Personally, I liked the olive oil and lemon dressing at Ammoudi Fish Tavern better than that at Armeni Fish Tavern, but we both agreed that the fish at Armeni was better cooked.
We ordered chocolate hazelnut loukoumades for dessert and it was definitely the right decision as they were delicious.
Service was excellent throughout the meal and we would recommend this restaurant if you’re staying in the area.
We finished dinner about thirty minutes ahead of the sunset and were able to make it back to our room before the show started. Angela was able to capture a few truly exceptional pictures of the sunset.
Sunday, August 7
After another delicious breakfast we packed up and checked out of our reservation in order to vacate our room. However, our flight wasn’t until much later in the day so we confirmed with the hotel that we could use the property’s amenities after checking out and spent the entire day at the main pool. This was quite nice as we were provided with several treats throughout the day including iced bottled water, a small fruit drink, and an ice cream cone.
We ate a delicious lunch of fish tacos and a chicken Caesar salad in the mid-afternoon and, while it was pricey, the amount of food you get as part of the dishes is quite substantial.
Angela had another Princess Jasmine to round out our stay at the hotel before we availed ourselves of the shower facilities near the gym and awaited our transfer to the airport.
We arrived at the airport considerably earlier than I expected us to because the driver arrived ahead of time and there wasn’t as much traffic through Oia as I expected given the timing. Once we arrived, we decided to grab a coffee and spend some time outside before entering the small terminal building.
Clearing security was easy and we boarded our flight after taking a bus from the main terminal building. The flight, while almost three hours, passed by quite quickly with a delicious meal service and polite and friendly crew. It was exciting to finally be able to fly Edelweiss after our mishaps at the beginning of the trip.
We arrived in Zurich about twenty minutes ahead of schedule and took the train to the city center where we walked a little over a kilometer to the Park Hyatt Zurich, our home for the next two nights.
It was quite late by this time so, after a quick shower, it was off to bed to rest up for whatever we decided to do the next day. We love the rooms at the Park Hyatt and would recommend the property to those looking for a comfortable place to stay in the city.
Monday, August 8
We ate breakfast al fresco and enjoyed the delicious buffet and cooked dishes just like we did on our previous stay at the property. Service is exceptional at the hotel and breakfast is no exception.
While at breakfast, we decided to visit Bern during our day in Switzerland to try to see some bears in the Bärengraben. As such, we walked to the main train station and bought tickets for the IC train to Bern’s city center.
When we arrived in Bern we walked from the train station through the old city, admiring the many interesting statues perched above the fountains dotted throughout the city.
We also took some pictures of the city’s clock towers and cathedral.
After getting our fill of the historical city streets, we set off for the bear pit to catch a glimpse of the city’s unique inhabitants. At this point, we spotted the first dachshund we’d seen on the entire trip.
Finally, we made it to the bear pit and, while we were initially frustrated in our search, we enjoyed the walk around the area and the path along the Aare River that winds its way through the city. I even took the opportunity to test the water’s temperature.
We spent a few minutes sitting on the banks of the river enjoying the beautiful weather and the sounds of the rushing water. Angela had told me ahead of time that people float down the river in the summer and we got to see several groups pass swiftly by as the current took them downstream. We also got acquainted with a very handsome duck who came to hang out with us.
We went and checked the bear pit again and were lucky enough to see all three resident bears come out of hiding and walk around.
After admiring the bears’ majesty, we decided to check out the Bern Rose Garden. We walked up a somewhat steep cobblestone sidewalk and were treated to some absolutely wonderful views of the city before continuing on to the garden itself.
By this time, we were both getting a little tired, so we decided to say goodbye to Bern. We repeated the morning’s journey in reverse and, once we reached the Zurich city center, we walked to Zeughauskeller Restaurant for an early dinner. Angela ordered the Gold Sprint Lager to go with her wiederkerli and potato salad. I ordered the kalbabratwurst with vegetables and sauerkraut.
This was our second visit to this restaurant, and it was just as good as our first. The sauerkraut, in particular, was delicious, and was well worth the 8.50CHF for the serving.
For dessert, we walked to Vanini 1871 for gelato. Angela ordered the Madagascar cone while I chose the Il Dolce Amore. The gelato was extremely light, and the cones were delicious. I would definitely recommend this shop.
After dessert, we returned to the hotel to relax and pack for our journey home the following day.
Tuesday, August 9
After another delightful breakfast we finished our packing and walked to the train station to return to the airport. We chose to use mobile boarding passes and carried on both of our bags so clearing security and passport control was very straightforward. I believe it only took about twenty minutes.
We made a brief stop at the Swiss Business Lounge for some water and coffee before boarding our long-haul flight to Las Vegas on Edelweiss Air. The flight passed without incident. The seats are comfortable, the food was tasty, and the service was friendly. I especially liked the Movenpick ice cream we were served as a snack about six hours into the flight.
After arriving in Las Vegas, we met a car for the journey home and completed our vacation. Overall, we had an excellent trip after the initial hiccups, and we would both recommend Santorini as a destination if you’re looking for an excellent place to relax. I would specifically recommend the property that we stayed at given the excellent location and separation from the madness of the rest of the tourist scene.
We will need to return to Athens at some point in the future to visit a couple of museums that we didn’t have time for on this trip but, overall, we are very happy with the itinerary that we planned and experienced and would recommend it to others with the caveat that the coach tours are probably best to be avoided if you can afford it.