Ios, Greece (Photo creds: me)
Greece is a beautiful country with countless beautiful islands and cities, my absolute favorite of all being Ios. While Santorini is definitely one of the more well known Greek islands, and most definitely a breathtaking one, my time in Ios was unforgettable and left Santorini in second place. For those people who are more aware of certain Greek islands, you’ve probably heard of Mykonos and heard about how it is a party island that comes with a great time. I’m here to tell you to go to lesser known Ios first! Obviously traveling is about so much more than partying. It is a way to experience new cultures in a place far out of your comfort zone, and to enrich yourself as a person by widening your horizons and seeing new places. But a little bit of partying never hurt anyone.
Ios is a small island, and every summer, young travelers from all over the world flock to Ios to spend their summers working at hostels or bars, and have somewhere to stay for 3 prime months of a party like no other. Throw in all the backpackers like myself, for whom Ios is just a few days stop on a backpacking trip, and you have a large group of social young adults, excited to mingle, drink, and befriend other fellow travelers! Days are spent by the pool (my hostel had an incredible pool, with an even more incredible view) relaxing and tanning, or at Far Out Beach Club drinking and dancing. Evenings are spent in happy siesta’s or lounging in the common area. When night comes, everyone prepares for a never ending night of drinks and drunken stumbles.
Here in America, I’m used to getting to clubs around 10 PM. So when I found out upon my arrival to my hostel that the pregame itself doesn’t even start till 10:30 in the common room, I was enthusiastic to see what my night had in store. And just as I was told, at 10:25, all the guests at my hostel began flooding the common room, buying drinks at the hostel bar, getting to know each other, and just overall having a good time. Each guest was given a free ‘welcome’ shot and we all did cheers together. At midnight it’s time to migrate to all the bars and clubs. The hostel I stayed at (Francesco’s) was in what they call the village, which is where the whole maze of bars and clubs was. Francesco’s was only 2 minutes walk from the start of them, which definitely made the drunk walk back to bed that much easier. The night is spent moving from bar to bar and club to club, meeting more people and getting drunker and drunker, and listening to the music progressively getting louder (it’s a surprise that even by my 3rd night I knew my way around). I just remember looking around the village my first night, just completely in awe of the madness surrounding me, feeling like I’m straight out of a movie. There were so many people everywhere, bouncing all over the place.The party in Ios continued for some people until the light of day was no longer fresh. And then after waking up, everybody does it all over again. My 3 nights in Ios concluded with 8 hours of sleep total.
Obviously I greatly enjoyed the party life there, but even besides that, Ios was absolutely gorgeous. Simple white buildings with blue trimming (similar to Santorini and many other Greek islands) all on big rolling hills so that you can see so far on the horizon, you can’t even count how many other islands there are around you. My hostel came with a breathtaking sunset view and my last night there, myself and a group of other travelers at Francesco’s walked up higher on the hill, and sat on top of a church with a couple bottles of wine and each other’s company to enjoy the sunset. I remember being stunned at the perfection of the sunset, and I wish so bad that my iPhone 5 had better camera quality. But of course no camera could possibly grasp what I was seeing in front of my eyes. I’ve seen so many beautiful sunsets in California, but none can compare to any sunset I see over a foreign landscape. Along with the visual greatness of Ios, the people I met there were all so great as well. Francesco himself and his wife Maria were two of the most welcoming hosts I encountered over my trip, and even with the large size of their hostel, and the large amount of people staying with them, they still got to know me personally and by name, and at the end of my stay, they told me to come back one day and spend a summer working for them (which I definitely plan to do). By my last night there, I’d walk through the village and feel like I knew all the door people by name, and recognized so many of the faces around me. It was just so easy to make friends with everyone on Ios.
Francesco’s – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★