Dilettante Collection: As long as I've known you, you've always wanted to go to Greece...what about it attracted you?
Anna: Greece has been my number one place to visit for as long as I can remember. I’ve dreamed about going there, and even taught myself the alphabet and how to read a little bit. I think my fascination started with our 7th grade mythology class, and throughout school, I kept finding myself drawn back to the country where civilization as we know it began. Greece has everything: mountains, islands, culture, the Olympics, theatre, literature, democracy, philosophy…you name it. Also, my boyfriend is Greek, and his love of his heritage is infectious.
Anna: My wardrobe had to be flexible; daytime would be split between beaches and climbing around ruins while nighttime would be mostly family dinners (at 10pm, mind you). We had also planned to spend two nights on the island of Paros and three on Santorini, which meant boat rides and an island-worthy wardrobe. Essentially, I needed to bring clothing for everything from climbing up to the Acropolis, to dinners out, to night clubs in Santorini.
In an effort to fit the perfect wardrobe into a carry-on suitcase, I packed white jean shorts, tank tops and t-shirts, and a handful of dresses in addition to my three bikinis and cover-up. I only wore two pairs of shoes during the two-week trip: a new pair of Havaianas Luna sandals in sand grey and black beaded sandals from Barneys New York. I traveled in my favorite Diesel jeans and, of course, my grey Loomstate zip-up hoodie that I never leave home without. I carried both my blue and white personalized Longchamp Le Pliage tote, and a Coach large Madison wristlet – a great neutral clutch that had enough room for my camera, sunglasses, and the abundance of Euro coins I seemed to collect everywhere I went.
Dilettante Collection: You chose to bring several Dilettante Collection pieces along on your epic trip as well. How did you choose?
Anna: When I go on vacations, every piece I bring has to be versatile, comfortable, and will make me look my best. I was going to Greece in August, the hottest time of the year, so I wanted to wear dresses as much as possible (feminine AND cool). Also, as I mentioned before, I was spending two weeks with my boyfriend's family in their home in Greece, so I needed to make all kinds of good impressions. So, naturally, I brought along the Key West Dress, which transitioned smoothly from climbing up to the Temple of Poseidon to a fancy dinner. I also packed the Santorini Caftan (a Dilettante Custom Collection piece, pictured above) that was perfect for hot, Greek summer days at the beach. The Athena Dress (also a Dilettante Custom piece, pictured right) was perfect for Santorini – both the night club and a sunset dinner.
Anna: I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it turned out that I wouldn’t have been able to guess how people would dress at all. In Rafina, people wore pretty basic summertime clothing, relaxed and cool. The islands were a completely different story, especially Santorini. Half of the people out were in outfits worth more than my salary, while others were in shorts, tank tops, and flip flops.
Dilettante Collection: You mentioned you ended up not wearing heels during your trip. Why was that?
Anna: Oh, I tried. But only once. I almost broke an ankle and practically had to be carried back to the hotel to change shoes! The towns of Santorini are paved with cobblestones and Greece is very mountainous. Any outing included plenty of steep inclines and a lot of walking which made walking gracefully in heels a difficult task.
Dilettante Collection: Did you find any fabulous items to purchase in Greece?
Anna: I bought a handmade bracelet after a special dinner in Naousa, Paros. The jewelry store turned out to specialize in a unique style: the artist took vine leaves, olive branches, flowers, whathaveyou, dipped each piece in 24k gold, and shaped them. I fell for a cuff made of a large vine leaf, and, since I was not only in Greece but about to have a significant birthday, I took me about 3 seconds to decide it was going to be mine.
Dilettante Collection: Were there any aspects of Greek culture that surprised you?
Anna: Eating dinner at 9.30pm is early, apparently. I also didn’t realize how arid and mountainous Greece is. I’d never really thought about it, but I pictured it as being much lusher. Also, being an urbanite, I’m used to Uber being at my door in no more than 5 minutes, but this is not the case in most of Greece, especially on the islands. There were maybe 15 taxis on the entire island of Paros, so getting around requires planning.
Anna: The Santorini sunset. The island is famous for them for a reason. Some people say that Oía has the best view of the sunset, and we watched it from Dimitri’s Taverna with our table about to fall into the harbor, surrounded by bobbing fishing boats…the sunset is beautiful no matter where you are. The view from Sounio at the Temple of Poseidon was also beautiful -- it reminded me of Sorrento, Italy.
Anna: Melon! We’ve all had honeydew before, right? It’s green. And that’s about where the good descriptors end. Flavorless, watery, blah, a sad excuse for a melon. But in Greece? I’ve never had anything like it. I can’t describe the sweet, melony flavor explosion that came with every bite. Mmmmm. I’d move to Greece just for that melon (let’s be honest: I’d move to Greece in a heartbeat anyway)!
Seriously, though, every meal was delicious. If I had to choose…my absolute favorite meal was the first night in Fira, Santorini. Dinner on the islands centers around the sunset, so for the first time in Greece we were eating at 7:30 instead of 10 or 11. We were seated at the perfect table at the edge of the balcony under a bougainvillea, so we had a great view of the caldera and the sun as it was setting. We could see everything happening on the streets below us, too; it was a prime seat for people (and donkey) watching. We started off with a pitcher of white wine, spicy feta, and two of the local specialties: tomatokeftedes, which are fried tomato balls; and white eggplant rolls stuffed with feta and spinach, topped with a tomato sauce. I have begun the quest to recreate this dish and it was so delicious we fought over the last bites! We also had the summer salad (that magnificent melon I gushed about earlier with lettuce, feta, and prosciutto), fresh whole fish, and a chicken filet in Vinsanto (a local dessert wine) sauce.
Dilettante Collection: If someone were going to Greece, what would you recommend as the "must-do" experience?
Anna: Obviously, you CANNOT go to Greece and miss the Acropolis. But besides that, Greece has incredible variety from town to town and island to island, so make sure you have enough time to sample a few places. Santorini is a classic destination, but my personal recommendation is to stay in Fira. Fira has a nightlife and a prime location on the middle of the island so you can take the bus to all the different beaches (don’t miss Vlychada!).
Also, eat everything you can! All of the food is incredible, and it will be the center of your trip (if you’re friends with me, at least) – so don’t sweat packing on a few pounds! It’s worth it. Trust me.
Now excuse me while I go and research flights to Greece...