Hello all :) I’m sorry that this is my first blog post through Transy Study Abroad, but I have not been posting them correctly prior to this post. (https://aeedkins16.wordpress.com/) Here is a link to my own blog that I have been keeping all semester if you are interested. I have written about trips to France, Portugal, Ireland, Morocco, and cities in Spain. This blog post is all about my recent trip to Greece.
Since I have been a little girl (or at least since I watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2), I have desperately wanted to visit Santorini, a beautiful Greek island with the famous white houses and blue domes. I had no doubt in my mind that this glorious Grecian paradise would sweep me off my feet, and it did more than that. I fell in love with not only Santorini, but with all of the places I visited. Simply put, Greece is an unbelievable country, with the history, monuments, museums, islands, beaches, shopping, cliffs, and natural beauty. My trip to Greece has my best trip of the semester, without a doubt.
After spending about 24 hours traveling to Athens, I was absolutely thrilled to hear a familiar voice call out ‘Annie’ as I passed through the arrival gate. While studying abroad has been unbelievable (and I wouldn’t trade it for anything), the fact that I hadn’t seen anyone I had known in 2014 since January 13th was getting a little rough. Spending the week with Jessica, a fellow Transylvanian, a sorority sister, and a friend, was awesome!! Being able to talk with someone who actually knew how amazing Transylvania University is, and who shared my love of Kentucky, was wonderful. We had an amazing time together, and I know we grew a lot closer as friends! :)
Our eight days in Greece were absolutely perfect. I honestly don’t think that things could have gone much better than they did. Our flights, boats and buses were pretty much on time; we didn’t get lost (at least not badly); and we made some friends along the way. We were thrilled to arrive in Mykonos on Saturday afternoon, after spending Friday night in the Athens airport and taking a ferry from Santorini to Mykonos. While waiting in the airport, we may or may not have gotten McDonalds twice and watched Netflix :). Our excursion to Mykonos was planned somewhat last minute, but we decided that we couldn’t pass up this beautiful island. I am so glad that we didn’t! Although the ferry ride to Mykonos from Santorini was absolutely terrifying it was so rocky, we safely landed in Mykonos and were eager to explore the island. After enjoying a delicious pasta lunch in Little Venice, we went and explored the windmills (Kato Milli) and watching a bit of an outdoor wedding. Not having any time restraints, we leisurely explored the island and watching the sun go down on a beautiful patio in Little Venice. After shopping and sleeping, we got up and continued looking around. We spent the morning on a beautiful, little beach about five minutes away from where we stayed. The water was truly crystal clear, and it was fun getting to go to the beach.
(Below: plane ride to Greece; headed to Santorini; view from the roof of our hostel; pasta carbonara; Little Venice beach; Kato Milli – windmills; Greek wedding; pictures from around the bay area and the beach)
When we arrived in Santorini, we made our way to our hotel, the Caldera Butterfly Villas. The hotel overlooked the water, and it was beautiful!! We settled in, and then walked to the center of Thira for a good dinner. We did some shopping and decided to catch up on our sleep. The next day, we took an all day tour around Santorini and nearby islands. Visiting the volcanic island of Nea Kameni and hiking up to the active but dormant volcano was so exciting. The views of Santorini were spectacular!! We got to see some steam emerging from the ground, which was awesome!! Our tour then took us to a nearby hot spring, where we got to swim. While swimming in the hot spring was awesome, I thought my body went into shock when I initially jumped into the cold water surrounding the hot spring haha. I rubbed some volcanic clay on my face from the hot spring area, because it is supposed to help your skin. Swimming was really fun, and we were thankful we brought dry towels with us. After swimming, we had lunch on the island of Thersia, another beautiful island close to Santorini. Our tour dropped us off at the port in Oia, where we rode donkeys up to the city area. Riding the donkeys was fun, but quite an experience. Halfway up the hill, I decided to name mine Speedy, because he enjoyed quickly racing around the other donkeys and leading the pack a little more than I was comfortable with haha.
Jessica and I LOVED looking around Oia. Oia is one of the main cities on the island of Santorini. Oia is the city with all of the white buildings on the cliffs with the blue domes. It is unbelievably gorgeous. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I took way too many photographs (which I did), but it was impossible to capture just how perfect Oia truly is. Walking around Oia, I felt like I was in a dream, because it was amazing!! After our donkey ride, we stopped and got ice cream at the Crazy Donkey shop. We climbed to a lookout point and did some shopping on the island. We watching the sun go down at the world famous spot and had traditional Greek chicken gyros for dinner.
(Below: view from our room; Caldera Butterfly Villas; hotel at night; boat to Nea Kameni; port at Nea Kameni; hiking up to the active area; AOII love; Queen of the World haha; Hot Spring swimming; Pioneering; Therasia Port; Restaurant for lunch; view from Therasia; Oia port; Me and my donkey friends; pictures around Oia; the Crazy Donkey; Chicken Gyro)
The next day, I spent most all of the day in Oia again. I took the public bus into Oia and had eight glorious hours to look around and explore. I truly enjoyed the day!! The only thing that would’ve made it better is if my wonderful family or awesome boyfriend could’ve joined me. Throughout the day, I got gelato, had a nice lunch, took lots of pictures, and did some shopping for my mom and sister. I decided to walk down the hill to the port to take some pictures and look around. The climb back up the hill made me appreciate Speedy (my donkey the previous day) even more. I met up with Jessica that night, and we said goodbye to the beautiful city of Oia. I truly truly truly hope that one day I can go back to Oia. If you ever want to visit Greece, 1. You should do it!! and 2. You MUST go to Oia, Santorini!! :) At least, that is what I would recommend. :) For dinner, I tried a Greek salad, a mixture of fresh vegetables and Feta cheese. It was delicious!
(Below: Many pictures around Oia and the port; last picture is my Greek Salad)
After a wonderful few days in Santorini, Jessica and I flew to Athens for three more nights. We navigated the public bus system, and after asking for directions a couple times, finally arrived at our hostel. Our hostel was located in an awesome location, right in the downtown area of Athens. We spent the rest of the day riding the Hop On/Hop Off bus around the city. This was very reasonably priced, and it really helped us get around the city while providing us with lots of information about the various sites. We stopped at the Panathenaic Stadium. The first modern Olympics were held here in the year 1896. The stadium holds about 60,000 people, and it is still used today for special events and as an ending point in marathon races. After the stadium we went to the National Library, the University of Athens (government building) and the Academy of Athens (what we would call the University of Athens). We got to look inside the library a little bit, but were immediately stopped when we tried to enter the other two buildings haha. Our last main attraction of the day was the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. This is one of the top museums in the city, and it is filled with lots of ancient and historical artifacts from the region. I saw a bowl and small statue from the Neolithic age, which was really cool. Our time at the museum was great, but we did make one museum guard very angry, when we posed in front of one of the statues and took a picture (though pictures were allowed in the museum, so we were really confused and couldn’t speak Greek lol). We ended our day with dinner near our hostel and gelato.
(Below: lunch restaurant; Riding the bus; first view of the Acropolis; Hadrian’s Arch; Parliament building in Syntagma Square; our bus; Panathenaic Stadium; another view of the stadium; old Olympic torches; on the podium; National Library; University of Athens; Academy of Athens; National Archaeological Museum; statue and vase from the museum; other pictures from the museum)
We began our second day in Athens with a walking tour. There were only five us for most of the tour, which was really nice, and we all become friends. Our guide, Artemis, showed us many wonderful places in Athens, including, the Syntagma metro stop; the changing of the guards ceremony in front of Syntagma square; the National Gardens; The Temple of Zeus; and Hadrian’s Arch. While walking up to to the Temple of Zeus, I saw someone waving at me and was a little confused. However, I saw that it was one of my friends from Spain with whom I’d gone to Paris! It was so cool to run into someone I knew in Athens haha :) After our morning walking tour, we made our way up to the Acropolis. We sat in the Theater of Dionysus and saw the Odeon of Herodes Atticus amphitheater, where there are famous performances during the summer months. While up on the acropolis, we visited the Propylaea (gateway to the Acropolis); the temple of Athena Nike; the Erechtheoin; saw the Porch of the Caryatids; and of course THE PARTHENON!! Having a guide was wonderful, because she told us the history and facts about each of the buildings. Standing and just looking up at the Parthenon was unreal. It was hard to believe I was actually there in front of it. The views of the city of Athens were also amazing from the top of the acropolis!! After our visit, we went to the Acropolis Museum, a beautiful museum built in 2009. Part of the museum had glass floors, which enabled us to see the ruins underneath of the museum. The museum was very impressive and had lots of ancient artifacts. After our visit, the five of us on our tour ate lunch in the museum restaurant. I thoroughly enjoyed my pumpkin soup while looking up at the wonderful Parthenon while eating. Jessica and I returned to the Hop On/Off bus for the rest of the afternoon and made a stop near the Roman Agora area. We did some shopping and walked around the area. We had an amazing day in Athens!!
(Below: Syntagma metro station; me and my guard friend haha; changing of the guards ceremony in Syntagma square; National Gardens; Temple of Zeus; Theatre of Dionysus; Odeon of Herodes Atticus Amphitheater; Propylea; Temple of Athena Nike; view of Athens (with my shirt that says Athens in Greek); 2 views of the Parthenon; ruins; the Erechtheoin; our guide Artemis at the spot where Athena touched the ground and the first olive tree grew; Alpha love; Acropolis Museum; museum exhibit; Agora area)
After spending an amazing two days looking around the city of Athens, on the third day, we decided to take to the sea and explore three other Greek islands: Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. We set sail on an all day cruise, and we had a great day. I learned how to dance a traditional Greek dance while on board. :) On our first island, Hdyra, we went to a small Holy Cathedral and went to Hydra’s Historic Archives and Museum. We had a wonderful buffet lunch back on board the ship, and climbed up to the famous clock tower on Poros. While on Aegina, we took the Classic Tour, and visited the Temple of Aphaea and went to Saint Nektarios Monastery. Since Aegina is known for its abundance of pistachio trees, we felt obliged to try the delicious pistachio ice cream while on the island. On the journey back to Athens, we watched a Greek folk dancing show on the ship, which was fun!! I enjoyed sitting at the front of the boat watching the sun as it was going down and as we were approaching the Piraeus port in Athens. That night, we had a great dinner, and I tried Baklava, a famous dessert in Greece. While it was good, I don’t think I would ever pick it over anything chocolate :) I woke up at 2:20 AM the next day to take the 3:10 AM public bus to the airport for an early flight. My trip back went really well.
(Below: view from our ship; deck 2; Greek flag; the sea; greek dancing :); Hydra; tower; another picture of Hydra; Holy Cathedral in Hydra; boats; me and Jess; Historic Archives and Museum; our ship; Hydra, Poros island, Palm tree; clock tower; Temple of Aphaea; Pistachio ice cream; Saint Nektarios Monastery; outside of the monastery; Greek folk dancing; goodbye Greece)
I had an absolutely amazing time in Greece!! I am so thankful that I got to have this experience. Even though I liked Oia, Santorini the most, I had an amazing trip!! This was my last trip before my mom flies over to see me!!!! I am so excited for our trip together!! I’m planning to write one more blog post all about my time in Sevilla later this week/early next week :) Thanks for all your continued support!! Love to you all :) I’ll be back in the States in about a month!