By Robe founder and director, Bec Kroon
I was lucky enough to have a quick sojourn to Vienna and Greece last week and, although it already feels like it was forever ago, I am still on a high.
I always thought the first time I went to Austria would be in winter and, to be honest, I had never actually considered it as a city I really wanted to visit unless it was connected with skiing, so it was an incredible surprise to find ourselves jetting to Vienna in the middle of summer!
And I am eternally pleased we did. Vienna is so beautifully steeped in history (like all European cities) but with a beautiful classical music edge. I found myself wandering the cute narrow cobblestoned streets (definitely a place for wedges not stilettos), visiting St Stephen's Cathedral, viewing Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss' at the Belvedere Palace and sitting in Greichenbeisl (the oldest restaurant in Vienna) in absolute awe of this beautiful city. I'll let you in on my faves:
Stay - The Palais Coburg Residenz
We were greeted at check in with a much needed champagne - Pol Roger (the House champagne no less) - after approximately 26 hours of travel by the General Manager of the hotel and whisked away to our room - where an entire bottle of chilled Pol Roger waited patiently for us - in record time. Perfect start!
The rooms were absolutely huge - full kitchen, living area, office, two bathrooms and a huge master bedroom, complimentary mini bar with everything you could possibly want including wasabi nuts (a personal fave) and the BEST Viennese wafer cookies known to mankind.
The hotel restaurant is a two Michelin star beauty called Clemetine where you eat breakfast in the garden and dine under the stars. Breakfast was incredible - together with champagne (of course) - they served a fabulous selection of healthy and interesting meals.
My favourite part off the hotel? The wine tour. The Palais Coburg has one of the world's top wine cellars (not kidding - it has actually won awards) so a tour with a tasting is an absolute must. The sommelier who took us on our tour was so incredibly knowledgable and interesting it inspired my love of wine all over again - not that my love was ever lost but it never hurts to be reminded again of it's greatness. We tasted 5 wines and wandered through the 5 cellars, saw the world's most expensive bottle of wine - over 100,000.00 Euro's worth and soaked in the beauty of the underground playground we were in. Just sensational.
I would not hesitate to go back to this beautiful hotel.
I did not do a lot of sightseeing to be honest. I was a bit jet lagged and was very happy to do a bit of shopping, eat, drink and rest by the pool. I did get out a little bit though! I visited the Belvedere Palace, which now houses two museums (the lower and the upper Belvedere) and holds 'The Kiss' among a number of other Klimt works. The lower Belvedere houses changing exhibitions and is home to the incredible Marble Hall, which is seriously worth the visit. Although just walking around the grounds and soaking in what it must have been like to live there is enough in terms of an incredible experience.
Aside from that little piece of culture, I just wandered around and soaked up the atmosphere, we sat in gardens and had picnics with wine and bread and toasted holidays and summer on rooftops with incredible views of the city. Oh - and we ate A LOT of schnitzel and apple strudel!
A quick 2 hour flight from Vienna to Athens and then a super quick 30 minute flight from Athens, and we were landed in the paradise of Santorini.
I had never been to Greece before and, I have to say, this was a fabulous place to start. What a simply breathtaking part of the world. By this stage Ben was getting tired of being my Insta-husband, so I hired the help of a professional to capture our Robes in this stunning location. You can see my lookbook here, and shop the pieces featured!
Stay - Charisma Suites, Oia
We chose Oia rather than Fira to stay in as we had been told Oia is better for sunsets and a little bit less 'party' that Fira. Having now seen both, I would make the same decision again although Fira is also beautiful... it is a little more bustling and has more by way of little tavernas and bars.
If you love sunsets then the Charisma Suites is for you. Nestled in among those beautiful white stucco buildings that we all know and love Greece for high up on the side of a hill, this is the perfect spot for a sundowner. Unlike a lot of Santorini this hotel looks directly at the sun as it descends. Most of the hotels in the slightly busier parts of Oia actually see the sun disappear behind a hill prior to setting - which is also beautiful - but different. The service was impeccable and, in typical European style, we were treated to a lovely bottle of Greek wine chilled to perfection for our arrival.
Just wandering around and getting lost in the streets of Oia is amazing - there are hundreds of gorgeous little shops selling everything from fashion to trinkets to food and wine just tucked in and around the winding streets. As suckers for punishment and lovers of good food, however, we decided to make the trek down to Ammoúdi - a cute little seaside suburb by the water. We ate in a traditional Greek taverna called the Sunset Taverna, which was surprisingly not touristy and had incredible food, shared a bottle of wine by the water and then faced the gruelling 246 step walk back to Oia. I am pretty sure I can still feel the burn in my thighs!
We were only in Santorini for 2 days so with limited time, we decided to book a private sunset cruise for us and our good friends, Bridget and Anusch. Best. Decision. Ever. Seeing Santorini by boat was incredible - we spent 4 hours cruising around the island, stopping for swims, drinking wine and eating incredible Greek BBQ food cooked on deck for us. At the end of the tour we sat and watched the sun go down on the bow of the boat pinching ourselves to remind us it was real. This was an absolute highlight!
On our final morning, Ben and I decided (because we are a bit crazy) to run from Oia to Fira. For someone who is dramatically terrified of heights and does not like narrow winding trails with deathly drops to the side, this was bold decision. But a good one. The views along the 10.5km track were second to none - just jaw dropping and the gruelling climb was worth every second. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I am still traumatised by the ferry ride from Santorini to Mykonos (think livestock travel) so I will not dwell on that. But needless to say, if you have the funds for a chopper - totally do it!
It is safe too say I am completely in love with Mykonos. I will absolutely be going back and spending A LOT more time there. 2 days was not even close to being enough.
Stay - Bill & Coo Suites
Yet another beautiful hotel situated walking distance to Mykonos town. Service was amazing, breakfast was incredible, pool was beautiful. The view of the sunset from here was also spectacular and with Molten Brown amenities, I could not fault this hotel.
We had two things we really wanted to tick off on our first visit to Mykonos. The first was a proper club. We had to do it before we got too old. But truth be told, we were the oldest at the club by approximately 20 years! We chose Cavo Paradiso - an open air beach club - as it has a pretty good reputation. While it was not as pumping as it could have been (read: no one was dancing in the pool), it was one of the busiest dance floors I have ever seen... and we were there early and finished early... so heaps and heaps of fun. Warning - the alcohol is bad... think 'Big Day Out only going to offer 3.5% beverages to avoid people getting too messy' crap. But that's OK - its all an experience.
The second thing - a beach bar. On Day 2 (and sadly last day) we went to Nammos. And Oh. My. Goodness. It was outrageously cool. Very very different from the French beach bars we have come to know and love. Less exclusive and more fun. The music was amazing, food incredible and everyone was dancing on the tables by 3pm. But massive warning - your wallet WILL take a hit. Completely worth it though if you know what you're in for. Needless to say the flight home Mykonos - Athens - Dubai - Brisbane was somewhat painful the next day but that's what sleep's for right!
So that's it. Back to reality for a bit now. It's always nice to come home and even nicer to come home when you've left the kids behind, but I will be dreaming of European summers until we start warming up again here!