dear milos, greece

Happy 4th to my Americans!

I am currently typing up this post at 1am in Milan, Italy. My Milos recap is much overdue! I was having wifi issues and uploading photos onto WordPress was taking way too long, not to mention how much schoolwork my study abroad program entails! Be sure to look out for many Italy posts to come soon 🙂 Without further ado, my Milos recap – enjoy!

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Dear Milos,

When we first picked you as our second and final island to hop to in Greece, we were expecting you to be much more mellow and calm than Santorini, to have less tourists and to overall be more relaxing. We didn’t expect much of you, but you gave us so much more. You gave us the kindest people from all of Greece, the best food, and the best beaches. We loved you, Milos.

Getting to Milos

Julia and I headed out at 7:30am to catch our ferry from Santorini to Milos, and we boarded the much smaller Seajets ferry. The ferry was only about two hours long, but luckily, I was able to be super productive on the ferry and edited my vlogs and wrote up my Santorini blog post while Julia napped. We got there around 11am, and got off at the port of Milos in Adamas. It immediately felt like a Greece version of Nantucket, a beachy town with more quiet and less people. We dragged our suitcases over to the bus stop and saw that the bus to Pollonia, the city we were staying in, wasn’t going to come for another three hours. Well, I guess that’s what you get for staying in a smaller town and a less-populated island: less frequent buses.

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So we decided to stop by at a really cute dessert place and each ordered – you guessed it – Greek Yogurt with fruit. It was so delicious! Mine was 6.50 euro, and it was pretty filling for a lunch, I suppose. After we finished eating, we still had more than two hours to kill, so Julia worked on her laptop while I listened to more of my audiobook (Lean In) and napped.

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Finally, around 3pm, we boarded the charter bus to Pollonia, and were greeted by an even smaller town than Adamas. The bus dropped us off right next to the beach, which ended up only being a 2-minute walk from where we were staying. We checked in at Pergola, and were showed to our room. Our host was really kind and gave us free cake (since she also owns the bakery next door). Our room was super cute: ocean-themed, and really quite nice, until we saw the bathroom. The shower, y’all. The bathroom had your standard toilet, sink, and the shower was a 2-inch thick square on the ground with a shower hose attached to the wall and no shower curtain. The shower hose wasn’t even attached at a good height, and it wasn’t adjustable. Hey, I guess not every hotel/villa we stay at is going to be 100%.

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Since the day was already half over, we just headed over to the beach right next to our hotel and tanned and swam a bit. For dinner, we walked around our town before deciding on a restaurant on the water. It was beautiful. I ordered a chicken penne and we ate while watching the sun go down. There were people getting on boats to watch the sun set and even some people fishing at the beach.

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Day 1

The next morning, I woke up to three humongous mosquito bites on my right leg. We couldn’t figure out how to turn on the AC the night before and it was so humid.

We headed out to breakfast down the street at Alesta, where we both ordered the breakfast omelette, and it came with coffee and orange juice, all for only 8.50 euro. It was so good and filling!

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After breakfast, we took the bus to Sarakiniko, a white beach. Y’all, this is one of the most amazing beaches ever. Yes, it’s a white beach, but no, it’s not sand! It literally looks like the moon; we camped out near the water and dove in. The water is a bright turquoise color and it legitimately felt like we were swimming on the moon.

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Julia and I did a lot of sunbathing and exploring around the beach. There were a lot of cool caves and rock formations in Sarakiniko. I must say that that beach had a lot of topless women too – not quite what I was used to. There was one point where it was a little uncomfortable because a woman had her husband take nude photos of her – quite awkward for American-eyes.

We left the beach at 4pm because it was the last bus from Sarakiniko, and made our way back to Adamas for dinner. We both got gyros from Yankos – super cheap, only 2.60 euro for one euro! Then we headed back to the same dessert place for Greek Yogurt, once again.

We had two hours to kill before our bus to go home came again, so we explore Adamas a bit. We looked at all the souvenir shops and wandered into some cute alleyways.

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There was one alleyway with a cute wall and while Julia was taking photos of me in front of it, an old man came across our path and offered to take a picture of both of us. We thought, why not? and handed over my iPhone to him. At first, he tried taking it and ended up saying, “I see myself” (he had turned the camera to self-facing), so we fixed it for him and then when he took it, we could see that he visibly pressed down on the touch screen so that the camera definitely moved when he took it. As you can see, the photo is quite blurry – but it’s the thought that counts. Oh, people in Milos are so lovely.

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We eventually made our way back home. We showered and realized we were both actually really sunburnt from spending the entire day at the white beach – we were practically tomatoes. Then we were craving dessert so we went back to Alestas and Julia ordered waffles while I ordered praline and banana crepes. So sweet, but so good. We worked on our laptops until 11pm and then headed back to the hotel and went to sleep.

Day 2

We woke up at 8am and got ready quickly to go the bakery next door. We ordered Greek Yogurt with fruit and scarfed it down in 5 minutes, and then ran over to the bus stop. Day 2 was reserved for the boat tour, and our tour guide had promised to personally drive us over to Adamas since the bus wasn’t coming for another two hours.

The tour guide’s name is Constantine, and was probably one of the friendliest people we’ve met so far. When we first introduced ourselves as Julia and Jennifer, he said, “Oh Julia, like July? And Jennifer, like JLo?” Extremely easy to talk to, and gave us a student discount on the boat tour.

The boat tour we booked was through Drougas Tours, and it was 50 euro to tour the west coast of Milos with breakfast and lunch served and visiting sea caves with the option to swim and snorkel.

The yacht we got on was pretty small, especially with the day’s crowd. There was a total of 12 people on the boat, including the captain and first mate. It was the perfect mix of people: Julia and I were the only college-aged kids, there was a mom and daughter (who we guessed was around mid-twenties), a family of four with a teen daughter and a toddler son, and a couple in their late twenties/early thirties. The captain (he told us to call him Captain, or Jack, like Jack Sparrow) appeared at first sight to be a little creepy, but turned out to be super friendly and like a grandpa. The first mate, Yana/Yoanna?, was a beautiful Greek woman who was very nice and charismatic, and impressive with the sails and ropes.

The couple was the only other people from the U.S., and they were hailing from New York. They were amazed that Julia and I came from Seattle – they even asked us how we got to Greece, haha.

We set out at around 10am and headed north first to Klima, the fisherman’s town. The houses were all colorful and super cute; unfortunately, it was only a sail-by viewing and we didn’t get to stop.

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We sailed around the west coast of the island then, with the sun dipping in and out. The forecast said it might rain later, and we could definitely see how overcast the sky was; it was already very windy on the water. We passed numerous rock formations and Yana gave us interesting stories and facts behind the caves and rocks, mostly involved pirates and mining.

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For breakfast, they served us a delicious chocolate marble bundt cake and sandwiches. We stopped at a beach, but Julia and I decided not to jump in quite yet. When we were anchored there, there was another boat next to us that looked like a live frat party: loud basses bumping, boys with baseball caps turned around and blonde bimbos on the boat. Julia and I were super glad we didn’t get stuck on that boat.

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We passed Sikia, the pirate caves and got to Kleftiko, the sea caves. These were so freaking awesome, y’all. The yacht was anchored yet again here, and the captain took half the group onto a smaller boat to tour the sea caves. Once we got back on the yacht, Julia and I immediately asked for the snorkeling gear and flippers. We swam around the sea caves for a good 30 minutes and took a ton of GoPro videos – it was so fun!! Definitely a highlight from this trip.

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Then we ate lunch on the boat; it was a delicious salad and pizza/savory pastry ordeal. That’s when the storm kind of rolled in. The rain drops got heavy and the wind picked up, so we set sail again.

We made another stop at a different beach, where they served us some watermelon. We had to skip the stop we were most looking forward to, which was the sea cave with the open dome, since the water wasn’t calm enough to sail into the narrow cave. The sail back to Adamas seemed like the longest: it was literally storming out on the water, with the boat rocking wildly, and the wind blowing the rain sideways. We were all freezing and quite miserable. The funny thing is, we all could have opted to go inside the yacht, but we all stuck it out on the outside of the boat, and stayed relatively positive, if not a bit more quiet. I felt pretty seasick so I definitely just tried to close my eyes and nap.

We finally got back to Adamas at 6:30pm, where we all toasted to surviving that wild rollercoaster ride. I must say, that experience was definitely worth the 50 euros, even if we skipped a stop and the weather was awful, because the people and service was fantastic.

Quite frankly, Julia and I felt like wet dogs; we went to get gyros for dinner and for some reason, they were extra messy to eat that day, and the insides of the gyros fell everywhere and we just felt like an extra hot mess. All we wanted was a nice, warm shower and to climb into bed. We got back to our room at 8pm and did exactly that – and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Day 3

On our last full day in Milos, we got up around the same time and were feeling an extra wholesome breakfast, so we headed to Adamas and tried out Caffe Luigi. I ordered an omelette with mushrooms and bell peppers, and Julia ordered a fancy salmon on French toast (I highly encourage visitors to order salmon whenever you can in Greece because salmon dishes are much cheaper in Greece than in the U.S., y’all!). It was already super hot in the morning and we embarrassingly moved tables three times since we couldn’t find a good medium. As we ate, there were lone cats prowling around the area.

Initially, we had wanted to catch the bus back to Sarakiniko beach again because we did research the night before and found out that there was a cliff we could go cliff diving at, but we missed the bus. We decided to catch the bus to Paleochori beach, which was on the southeast end of the island. The bus was quite crowded so I ended up sitting on Julia’s lap for part of the ride.

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When we got to Paleochori, there was already a ton of people, and we saw the tiki umbrellas with lounge chairs underneath. We were so tempted to sit under them but they all cost 8 euro to sit down at – we couldn’t figure out how payment was verified, but we didn’t want to risk it – so we planted down on our own blanket (s/o to Air Canada for providing blankets on the plane, which we’ve used as a beach towel every time we went to the beach during this trip!). The beach was beautiful: a good mix of sand and rocks, and crystal-clear turquoise water. The sun was high in the sky and there were patches of clouds, but since it was so windy, the clouds came and went relatively quickly.

Julia and I tanned for a bit and then went swimming and definitely got our workout in for the day. I have to admit that my treadwater and overall swimming abilities have improved since coming to Greece (I used to be terrible at treading water). We sunbathed a bit more and then caught the bus back to Adamas after fours at the beach. I’ve learned that my favorite part about being at the beach is getting wet after a good swim and then sunbathing while the sun dries off my skin alongside a slight breeze – it’s the perfect blend of cool and hot.

It was time for our midday Greek Yogurt break, so we tried a new place that day in Adamas: Milors. The fruit was different, but still good, and a better bang for our buck because it was one euro cheaper than the place we usually got yogurt at.

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Then we took the bus to Plaka at 4:30pm. Plaka is the capital of Milos, so we knew we had to go at some point. We had heard that the sunset is beautiful there as well. Weirdly enough, when we arrived, it was super quiet: there was hardly anyone around. We assumed it was probably the Greek’s version of siesta, like in Italy when the shops close for 2-3 hours in the middle of the day so the shop owners can eat lunch. We explored the town and it was adorable: a lot of cute corners and alleyways.

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We hiked up to the top of a castle/church, where we saw the view for where the sunset would be. If we hadn’t already been to Santorini and seen the amazing views there, the view here would have been comparable. On the way down, I rolled my ankle a bit and got a huge bruised lump on the side of the foot – but no fracture, thankfully. It feels like Greece so far has consisted of close calls! I’m just getting beat up here alongside my bug bites, really.

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When we got back down, it was around 6pm and a lot of shops were opening back up. We explored numerous souvenir shops and art shops, they were so adorable! Throughout the town, there were these marvelous floors that had rock designs on them, it was so thoughtful and intricate. Definitely a highlight of the town.

We couldn’t stay for the sunset since the last bus back to our town was at 6:30pm, so we headed back to Pollonia a bit early. Julia was dying to go back to the restaurant on the water that we had eaten at on our first night in Milos, so we headed back. We both ordered the same thing, a salad for Julia and chicken penne for me, and got to see the sun go down on the water again. It was around 9pm by the time we finished, and Julia was craving a dessert so we went on a short expedition to find a small dessert for her.

We got home at around 9:30pm, got ready for bed, and slept at midnight.

End of the trip

On Tuesday morning, we woke up extra early and packed up our suitcases. I went downstairs to the bakery and ordered a Greek Yogurt and feta cheese pie for breakfast while Julia finished packing upstairs, and then she joined me at 9:30 for her Greek Yogurt.

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The bus was going to leave from Pollonia at 10am; paying for the hotel and checking out took a long time since there was an issue with Julia’s card, so we ended up only having 3 minutes to book it to the bus stop. It was crucial we catch the 10am bus because the next one wasn’t coming for another three hours, so after departing the bakery and getting another free pastry from our hotel host, we sprinted to the bus stop with our backpacks and luggage in tow. Y’all, it was the workout of the week. I’d say we sprinted for about a quarter of a mile with all our things. We made it just in time to the bus, and both collapsed on the bus seats.

We got to Adamas and then camped out at Milors once again and each ordered a delicious Latte Coffee Cold. We had two hours before the ferry would arrive, so we drank our lattes and I started reading My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella while Julia did some journaling. At 12:30pm, we boarded our ferry.

The ferry ride was about seven hours long back to Athens, so I got some blogging done, did some more reading (I finished Lean In on audiobook) and napped for a few hours.

Now that it’s been a full two weeks since leaving Greece, I have to say that I do miss it a lot. It definitely holds a really special place in my heart; farewell, Greece!

 

 

 

 

 

dear santorini, greece

Dear Santorini,

Oh, where do I start with you? You were as breathtaking as all the photos I’ve seen of you before I got there, but you were also not anything like I expected. Sure, you’re beautiful, but was there anything more to it? I felt like I got more of a cultural experience out of Athens than I did with you, just because you were filled with tourists and workers on the island who so strongly targeted tourists. The entire time, I felt exactly as that: a target, a target to buy this, drink that. A little annoying at times, but overall it’s part of the experience of being on Santorini.

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Getting to Santorini

Julia and I boarded our ferry a 6:30am and even though we were groggy and still half-asleep, we immediately got super excited when we saw the inside of the ferry. It was boujee, y’all. We found a glass table with comfy armchairs near a window and made ourselves at home since it was going to be an eight-hour ferry ride.

Julia started out with a nap while I did some reading, and then we decided to color in her book. I started listening to Lean In by the infamous Sheryl Sandberg while I was coloring. Then we ate some leftovers for lunch. Julia got some blogging in after that while I took my nap, and before we knew it, we got to Santorini at 3pm.

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Right when we got off the ferry? Utter chaos. I didn’t get a chance to look anything up on Google Maps beforehand because I didn’t have access to internet on the ferry and the when I did have WiFi the night before, I didn’t know where exactly the port in Santorini was, so I couldn’t route anything. Up until that point, I had been successfully navigating Julia and I everywhere. Thus, I went into full panic-mode. I hate not having a plan, and there I was with Julia, suitcase in hand and already profusely sweating because we did not know what to do.

There were so many different signs advertising bus tours, taxis, and more ferries. Everyone who just got off the ferry with us was also milling about, trying to avoid getting run over by cars and motorcycles alike. The taxi drivers were aggressive: they ran around asking the tourists where they were going and shouted out absurdly high prices just to get there. I was tempted for a second, but then they said 20 euros and there was just no way I was going to succumb to the ease, convenience, and expensive price of a taxi. Eventually, Julia and I decided to hop on a shuttle bus that the driver claimed would drop us off at Firostefani, where we were staying for the next couple of days.

The bus system in Santorini is probably one of the most absurd things I’ve experienced so far. All the buses operate on shuttle/charter buses, and everything is non-digitized. We literally got on the bus, and then someone came around to each person on the bus and collected the fare by hand. Mind you, it was only about 2-3 euros, but they ripped off a ticket once a customer paid them by cash/coins. When they stopped in Firostefani, the money collector shouted, “Firostefani” to let the passengers know, and that’s how we knew to get off the bus. It made me truly appreciate Seattle’s wonderful data and information bus system.

After the bus rolled away, Julia and I didn’t know where else to go so we stopped in a car rental shop and asked for directions. The employee was extremely nice and pointed us directly to our villa. Turned out, we were only a 2-minute walk away.

Eventually, we found our way to Firostefani where we were staying. We checked in with our host, Maria at Villa Fotini and she was just the cutest – she acted as not only our villa host, but also half tour guide. She gave us plenty of recommendations about what to do, eat, and how to get from point A to point B.

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And our room was so cute! Everything was super clean; I have to say that the balcony and the shower were my favorite parts. I’ve never showered in a curtain/doorless shower before though, haha. One reservation I do have about this villa is that the doors locked oddly, in that they didn’t feel 100% secure. Santorini as a whole felt pretty safe since it was all tourists though, and most hotels seemed pretty low on security.

After we settled down, Julia and I headed out to explore the area! We grabbed souvlaki gyros at a small restaurant near our villa, Why Not? They were delicious and super cheap – only 2.70 euros! I would say that’s a little cheaper than the standard gyro price, but it was so good and didn’t feel unhealthy whatsoever even though there were fries inside.

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We couldn’t have chosen a better spot to live. Firostefani is located in the center of the island in Fira, where it’s still busy and fun, but away from the most crowded touristy part of Santorini in Oia. We spent some time taking a lot of photos of the white cliffside – it was so hot but so worth it.

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The 75 degree weather felt like 90 degrees because of the sun reflecting off all the white. We found numerous adorable alleys and corners, with bright blue doors adorned with fresh flowers. After that, we stayed in to rest until sunset, and walked right outside and watched the sun go down. Y’all, Santorini sunsets can’t be beat.

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Julia and I were in the mood for dessert after the sunset, so we headed back to Why Not? And got banana and chocolate crepes to share. Something about Greek food, I’m telling ya.

Day One

The next day, we left the house at 9am and upon Maria’s recommendation, we walked two minutes from our villa to go eat at Galini Café. Right when we walked into the restaurant, we saw that it had quite the view. Clearly, part of the experience was the food and the view of the ocean. It was quite breezy up there so we opted to sit undercover, and Julia even asked for a blanket (which was easily supplied, they were sitting in a basket near our table). We ended up but ordering the Eggs Florentine, which consisted of poached eggs, spinach, hollandaise sauce, and warm toast. We both scarfed it down in about 10 minutes because it was so good, and quite filling. The staff at the restaurant were so pleasant as well.

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After breakfast, we decided to go to Fira to explore the markets and hit up some of the restaurants we had bookmarked. The flea market in Fira felt a lot like the ones in Athens, but perhaps with much more to eat and drink. I was so tempted to purchase the miniature sculptures of Santorini, but I decided not to, considering how full my suitcase already was.

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We stopped by Chillbox yogurt, which was a Greek frozen yogurt place. We loaded up on fruit and chocolate sauce, it was delicious!

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After that, we headed back to our room to change into swimsuits and jumped on the bus to go to Kamari beach in the southeast part of the island. Once we got there, we saw that it a) was a black beach, and b) had tiki umbrellas and lounge chairs for people to relax on – for free! It was a pretty sweet deal; Julia and I picked a spot and immediately started sunbathing. We dozed and eventually went into the water. We stayed for about 4 hours at the beach, and headed back to Fira.

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We were on the lookout for some more Greek yogurt (it’s an ADDICTION now, y’all. Greek yogurt from the States will never be like the yogurt from Greece though, I don’t know how I’ll cope). We wandered in the streets of Fira again, and stumbled upon a line of donkeys!! We finally saw them!

Then we walked in to Café Zafora around dinner time, and promptly sat down to each order our own Greek Yogurt with fruit. They served it in a high glass bowl, and oh my it was heavenly, probably the best Greek Yogurt yet – and with a view.

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We made it back to our villa just in time to see the sun go down again, and once again, it was absolutely stunning. We went back to Why Not? really quick to grab some more gyros for a late-night snack, because as much as we wanted Greek Yogurt to suffice as dinner, it doesn’t.

Day 2

Since we loved Galini Café so much the day before, we went back. This time around, it was a lot less windy and much warmer, so it was a more pleasant experience for sure. I ordered the Eggs Royale that day, which consists of salmon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, and warm bread. Julia got the Eggs Avocado. Mine was 10 euro, the priciest of the breakfast eggs, but so delicious.

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After breakfast, we headed back to Fira and went down the cable cars to head down to Old Port. Once we got to Old Port, we picked up our tickets to for a volcano and hot springs tour package we bought. We boarded the Poseidon boat and headed out to the volcano!

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Lathered in sun screen, Julia and I jumped off the boat and swam in the hot springs. There was a ton of sulfur in the water, so people wearing white swimsuits were out of luck. Definitely quite the experience swimming in hot springs! Then the boat took us to the active volcano. Julia and I had no idea it was a 90-minute hike up to the volcano – we were only wearing flip flops! Alas, Julia and I did it (it wasn’t a rigorous hike at all), sweating and scalding under the sun.

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Funnily enough on the boat, we met a couple who also hailed from Seattle! I had initiated conversation when I saw the woman wearing Moss Adams sunglasses (a public accounting firm) and asked if she worked there. Turned out, it was the boyfriend who worked there and the girlfriend was starting in the operating room in Seattle. So cool, and what a small world!

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After we got back to Fira, we stopped by V Lounge Café and Cocktail Bar, to stop by for no, not drinks, but more Greek Yogurt. This bar also had a spectacular view, and Julia and I shared a bowl of Greek Yogurt with fruit together. We met some people from Tennessee and Atlanta. It’s always fun to meet other people from the United States. We headed back home to Why Not? for yet MORE gyros. At that point, we were regulars and the waitress recognized us, it was hilarious.

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At around 5pm, we headed out to Oia. Santorini’s famous sunset-viewing spot is in Oia, and we had yet to explore that part of the island. To be honest though, it fell pretty flat. There were way too many tourists and the cliffside wasn’t as great as the one outside our villa.

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We walked down the cliffside through many many steps, and stumbled upon more donkeys! We walked all the way down to Ammoudi Bay, where we searched for the cliff-jumping spot. We eventually found it, but the cliff was really low- not even really a cliff. I decided to stay out of the water, but Julia jumped in. She swam for a bit before we climbed back up the cliff and watched the sun go down.

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This view was unique – the boats were coming into the bay. While we waited, Julia and I saw a literal cat fight go down. We watched the two cats yell at each other and chase each other up and down the cliff side – absolutely insane. Undomesticated cats are wild!

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After watching the sunset, we had yet to eat dinner, so we stopped at a café/restaurant called Vitrin. I ordered a salad and shared a fruit salad with Julia, and it was probably the most mediocre food we’d had so far in Greece, unfortunately. Then we caught the bus back to Firostefani at 10:30pm.

We made it back and got ready for bed. That’s it for Santorini!

Santorini’s one of those places that you visit once and feel pretty satisfied with however many days you spend there – enough to suffice for a couple of decades, I think. I don’t feel the desire to return to Santorini again anytime soon. I’ve seen the things that I wanted to see, and other than that, it’s not like the culture and the people of the island are one-of-a-kind.

xx,

Jen

 

 

dear athens, greece

Dear Athens, Greece,

You welcomed us with open arms, two Americans entering Europe for the first time (excluding our London layover). Let me recap what you were like:

If you missed my first 24 hours of traveling, read it here!

I had looked at how to ride the train prior to landing in Athens, but y’all, Greek letters are confusing. We got onto what we thought was the right train, and had to confirm with Greek people on the train. It took about 40 minutes for us to arrive at the Monastiraki station. When we got out of the station, we were immediately hit by the chaos and nightlife that is Monastiraki square. Julia and I immediately linked hands because the square was poppin’ at night! It was super crowded and we didn’t want to risk losing each other. There was a live band playing on a stage and my nose was filled with the scent of cigarette smoke. With my Google Maps pulled up and my phone in hand, I successfully navigated us through the square and through the narrow streets to our hostel.

On the way, we passed several night clubs and bars, where we heard Soulja Boy and some Fetty Wap. I guess some things never change? We checked into our hostel, City Circus Athens, right at midnight and got our room. We booked a mixed-gender 4-person room, and when we got there, the other two people were already sleeping. The hostel was impressively clean and modern. Julia and I went to sleep in the same clothes we had been traveling in for the past 30 hours since we still hadn’t received our lost luggages.

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Monastiraki square during the day, about half as many people compared to at night!

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The view from our room’s balcony!

Day 1

We woke up at around 9am to recover from jet lag and then got breakfast downstairs of the hostel, called Zampano, and it only cost 6 euros for a buffet-style breakfast. Y’all, this breakfast made my morning. Not only was the food amazing, but there’s also something about eating breakfast with the doors open. It was lovely!

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Hotel lobby

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The delicious buffet breakfast! A.k.a real Greek yogurt and very non-greasy food.

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After breakfast,  we decided to make our way up to the Parthenon. We saw some cute streets on the way and had to take pictures. The line to get a ticket wasn’t actually too bad, and we only to pay 15 euros since we are students from the States. The walk up to the Parthenon was a slippery one, especially since there was white dust everywhere and the steps are mostly marble. I was trekking my way through the Acropolis in my two-inch high heels with blisters on my heels – please sympathize. It was so beautiful though!

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On the walk up the Parthenon ticket office!

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On the walk up to the Parthenon!

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The Parthenon

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The Parthenon x 2

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Propylaea

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Erechtheion

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Erechtheion x 2

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Erechtheion x 3

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Roman Agora

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Tower of the Winds

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I don’t remember which site this one is 😁

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Hadrian’s Library

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Hadrian’s Library x 2

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Ancient Agora

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Temple of Hephaestus

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Temple of Hephaestus x 2

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Stoa of Attalos

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Stoa of Attalos x 2

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Stoa of Attalos x 3

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Cute streets!

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Hans and Gretel candy shop, so adorable!

The ticket we paid for had access to many other attractions in the Acropolis area, so we just hopped from one site to another. The crammed streets were surprisingly easy to navigate.

At around 3pm, we headed back to the hotel and just blogged and uploaded photos, and good thing we were back inside because it started raining. Um, excuse me, us Seattle-lites did not sign up for rain!! We hadn’t eaten since breakfast and decided to finally go on the hunt for dinner around 7pm. We stumbled upon a gyros place, Savva’s, and it looked fancy, but the prices turned out to be pretty reasonable. Julia and I both got veal gyros and it was so delicious.

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Right when we were leaving, a little girl and her mom came up to our table and threw a sign on the table, and while I was baffled for a second, Julia reacted quickly and grabbed her phone out from under the sign. Turns out, the little girl and mom were trying to distract us and steal her phone! The little girl was going to grab the sign back and also grab her phone from underneath the sign at the same time. The waitress quickly hurried over and shooed the mother and daughter away. Thank goodness Julia reacted quickly because I could not have dealt with a lost luggage and a stolen phone.

We ended up heading back to the hostel right after dinner because it was getting dark, and then we sat in the lobby for a bit getting ready to watch a movie, when the hostel host WALKS IN WITH OUR SUITCASES. Julia and I fell off the couch scrambling to our suitcases and clung onto them for a bit, we were so happy.

Day 2

The next day, we got breakfast downstairs again (let’s be real, a week later, I’m still dreaming about that breakfast). Then we made our way to Athens’ oldest neighborhood, Plaka, because I had heard that this neighborhood has the cutest streets. I wasn’t wrong!

We first stumbled upon a beautiful church, and then turned into Plaka. Julia and I took an extremely long time taking cute photos as we strolled down the narrow streets. There was a long street that was a flea market and it was so fun seeing all the different shops.

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After exploring Plaka, we started walking in the direction of the National Garden, because honestly, we had nothing much else on our agenda. On the way, we stumbled upon the Congress building, which I thought was super majestic with all the pillars. We spent a long time in the National Garden because it was pretty big, and super peaceful. We made our way back in search of a different, cute neighborhood, Anafiotika, but couldn’t find it, unfortunately.

 

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Julia and I grabbed some food nearby the Acropolis Museum; I bought an iced Greek coffee out of curiosity (apparently adding ice is NOT a thing for Greek coffee specifically). It was extremely gritty and quite bitter – not sure if that’s what Greek coffee is or because there was ice in it. Julia grabbed a smoothie and then I also grabbed a spinach and feta pie from Lulu’s bakery.

It was around 3pm at this point and so we slowly made our way back in the direction of our hostel. Julia needed to pick up a few clothing items for our next leg of the trip so we spent a few hours shopping before actually getting back to the hostel. Then we made a pitstop at a gelato place, where I got a mango gelato and ugh – so good.

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We finally got back to our hostel at around 7pm, and we kind of just hung out and uploaded photos and did some blogging. At 8pm, the hostel offered free wine for all their residents, so of course I had to grab some! I had a few sips before Julia wanted to mail off a letter to a friend back in the states, which meant going out to look for a mailbox.

It was late at night, but we made a few pitstops once again. We stopped by a toy store because Julia wanted colored pencils to prepare for our 8-hour ferry ride to Santorini the next day. We got some and promptly made our way to the post office near Plaka. Once we got there, Julia realized her phone was not on her – that she might have possibly left it in the toy store. The toy store had closed right when we left the store. We were leaving at 6am the next morning, way earlier than when the toy store would open again. We both hyperventilated for a few minutes, but we kept calm. There was a huge possibility that Julia had left her phone back in our room.

On the way back home around 10pm, we made a quick stop at Lulu’s bakery again to pick up tomorrow morning’s breakfast. When I was taking out my wallet to purchase the pastry, I audibly gasped in shock. The corner of my Longchamp back was slashed open. I quickly scrambled through my bag, and sighed in relief when I saw that everything was still there (SUCK IT, THIEF). I couldn’t believe that that had actually happened to me, and I hadn’t noticed until then! I had no idea when my bag actually got slashed; it must’ve been when I was in the really crowded areas near the shopping area or flea markets. Alas, I’ve decided that Longchamp totes are a bad idea for traveling in Europe, especially because the material is so thin and easy to slash through.

We made our way home, and right when we turned on our room’s lights, we nearly cried in relief when we saw Julia’s phone lying on my bunk ladder. I swear, we are both incredibly blessed. TOO many close calls within the first two days, y’all.

I went to bed at midnight and packed everything before heading to bed that night, and woke up at 5am with Julia to head out to the ferry.

End of Athens trip

The walk to the train station was a little sketchy, especially at 6am, but we made it to the Piraeus port just on time. We picked up our physical ferry tickets, which we had booked a few days in advance, and then boarded the ferry (Blue Star Ferries).

That concludes my trip to Athens! It sure was an emotional rollercoaster and I learned so much about what everyone warned me about.

Look out for my next recap coming soon!

what i learned in my 36 hours of traveling so far

Hello from Greece!

I’ve been traveling with my friend Julia for the past couple of days and wow, let me tell ya – I’ve already learned a ton.

We left Seattle and took a BoltBus to Vancouver (since the flights from Canada were cheaper) on Friday at 10am and went through customs, and arrived to Vancouver at around 2pm. We immediately took a train to the Vancouver airport (and frankly weren’t too impressed by the airport). On the way, we stopped at a train stop to grab calzones, which were delicious and hit the spot.

We checked our bags and then waited to board. We boarded smoothly at around 6pm, where I pretty much started and finished reading The Hating Game on the plane (SUCH a good book!) The flight to London was 8 hours and overnight. I could barely sleep though because my right leg was pressed against the leg of the man next to me and there was a toddler across the aisle from us who would not stop crying. I woke up from my naps with sticky eyeballs and a parched throat. Overall though, I had a great experience with Air Canada considering it was an international flight.

We landed in London for our layover at noon (their time), and settled at our terminal. The Heathrow airport was pretty cool because it’s an open, airy space with tons of shops and fancy cafes. We bought a salad and almost sat down to eat it when I luckily re-checked our boarding time and realized we were supposed to be boarding right then and there. Eeeek, it was such a close call! We got on the much smaller plane and sat for about 3.5 hours before we landed in Athens International Airport.

This is where the nightmare begins: we went to baggage claim and whomp whomp, our suitcases weren’t there. We were told that Air Canada and Aegean Airlines operate their baggage system differently, so Aegean may have delayed the flight for the baggages. It was already close to midnight, and we needed to check into our hostel, so we went ahead and left the airport.

Julia and I weren’t sad, or angry, or annoyed about our lost luggage. We told ourselves that everything would be okay, that it would turn up. We refused to have lost luggages ruin our trip. Everything valuable was still with us, it was only everything that would make our trip comfortable that was gone. We were determined to remain positive and optimistic – and we did.

Yesterday, I realized that Julia and I are really good at looking at the glass half full – we focused on what we wanted to do that day and all the sights we wanted to see – albeit being stinky and greasy and overall not photogenic – and being extremely open-minded with one another and the culture around us. We were talking at dinner and noticed that we haven’t had much of a culture-shock; we didn’t meet anyone who didn’t speak English when we were asking for questions, and the people are generally friendly in Greece (except when late at night). But for the most part, I think it’s because both Julia and I are super open-minded and flexible (physically and psychologically, ha).

Julia and I are also staying in a 4-person mixed dorm in a hostel in Athens, and call us having a lucky experience, but we have had no issues so far. Before leaving for the study abroad programs, our directors told us to be flexible, because so many things can go wrong.

Personally, I’m excited to see what other challenges we face because it really tested our temper, personality types, and overall capability to keep going.

last coffee in seattle (for now): anchorhead coffee

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Happy Friday!

As you’re reading this, I’m most likely already in Greece! After finishing my exams on Monday, I’ve spent the last few days running errands and tying up some loose ends in preparation for leaving the states. One of my good friends (s/o to Tanner!) recommended I hit up Anchorhead Coffee in Seattle. I knew for myself that I wanted it to be my last coffee in Seattle.

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I took the bus to Anchorhead – it’s right next to the Westlake station stop, and at first I was a little confused because it’s in the same complex as a business. Right when I walked in, I got the business-man-on-lunch-break vibe. Still, I ordered their Quaffle (cinnamon roll made in a waffle-maker) and an iced latte, and sat down with my Kindle at the bar.

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The barista got my order wrong but they were super friendly and fixed it immediately, and I really enjoyed the food itself. But in the hour I sat their reading my book, groups of professionals came in and out to grab coffee really quick, chatted with their co-workers, and then left the coffee shop to go back upstairs to work. So yes, it felt like a very professional environment. I feel like it would be a great place to be productive since they have tables and leather office chairs, but it’s not the best to sit down and read a book to relax in.