Part of what makes our EF Ultimate Break trips so great are our expert Tour Directors (TDs). They know the ins and outs of traveling and somehow always find the coolest off-the-beaten-path spots, even in the most touristy of cities. Meet Tyson Monfredini, a pro EFUB Tour Director. Tyson originally hails from Illinois, but has lived in Europe for the past 16 years. He has been with Ultimate Break since the beginning and is one of our most loved TDs.
I sat down with Tyson to discuss one of my personal favorite countries, Greece. Known for sun, sand, wild parties and also relaxing, scenic sunsets, I wanted to know more. What don’t we know about Greece? Here’s what he had to say…
Morgan: So Tyson, tell me about the Greek Islands. Yes, I know I’m being super vague.
Tyson: Well, scenery rules this trip. Anything to do with water, swimming, boating and sunbathing is the obvious. All three islands [Santorini, Mykonos and Paros] will have amazing beaches and incredible food.
M: Go on about the food. Which island has the best cuisine?
T: Mykonos probably has the best food, but for food with a view, go to Santorini. Both are famous for their sunsets. And Paros is right there with them.
M: What’s your personal favorite dish?
T: Unfair question! There are too many good ones. You’ll find all the traditional Greek dishes like stuffed cabbage leaves, souvlaki, gyros, feta, etc. But I say, stick with seafood when on the islands. Octopus, calamari, mussels, urchin… Shrimp saganaki is great. It’s prepared in a skillet with fresh shrimp, tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil and….ouzo.
M: We’re going to come back to the sea urchin thing, but wait. Ouzo? Like, in the souvlaki?
T: Yes! It’s in the sauce. It’s the not-so-secret ingredient.
M: Woah. Ok, back to sea urchins. I’m imagining that to be a swishy texture. What’s that like?
T: It tastes like the sea, very salty with the texture of a mussel. Wash it all down with a glass of white wine (or ouzo). Greece also has great beer like Mythos and Alpha.
Then… Tyson turned the tables on me and asked me a question…
T: Have you ever tried Metaxa?
M: No idea what that is. Explain!
T: Bartenders will warm a brandy snifter with an espresso machine, then pour in 3, 5 or 7-star Metaxa (brandy) in the warmed glass. It’s delicious.
M: That sounds fancy. It sounds like you have some insider knowledge of the islands. What do you think is the best-hidden gem of the EFCB Greek Islands trip?
T: The new wine tasting excursion in Santorini (Santorini Wine Tasting & Oia Sunset) was a great addition to the trip. The views from the vineyard are breathtaking. Typically, you see the photos of the blue domes in Oia, but from the vineyard, you have a completely different perspective of the island.
On the way to Oia, you pass through Pyrgos and Megalochori, two beautiful towns along the route up to the monastery of the Prophet Elias. There are sweeping views over both sides of the island and narrow, winding paths that criss-cross the village like a spider web of alleys. It’s a miniature version of what you picture the Greek Islands to be with the white-washed buildings and blue shutters.
M: Where do I sign up? This has been great, Tyson, thank you so much! Any final bits of advice for our world travelers out there?
T: Make sure to use sunscreen and ask permission before smashing someone’s plate.
Opa! Experience the Greek Islands for yourself on Greek Islands, Italy & The Greek Islands or Ultimate Europe: 5 Weeks..