In more ways than one, this post is about ancient times.
At the end of my semester abroad, I got caught up with wanting to soak up every moment of my final European adventures, and I failed to post about my trip to Greece. Now a summer of juggling two internships and traveling around the United States has come and gone, and I’ve found myself missing writing my blog.
To start things off, I cried on my entire flight from Copenhagen to Paris. I was in the front row, and I’m pretty sure the Norwegian Air flight attendant thought that something really horrible had happened to me, but in reality it just hit me that I would really really miss my friends, my host family, and my home. I was grateful that my sister and her husband were picking me up from the airport in Paris so that I wouldn’t have to lug all of my bags from the past five months on yet another form of public transportation (we all know how unlucky I am at this point).
I had just one (well spent) day in Sceaux, eating crepes and gushing about my semester, with Lexi and Alexis before I was back at the airport again for my flight from Paris to Athens. Note to self: easyJet is THE MOST uncomfortable airline in the world and it DOES NOT make sense to take a 6:00am flight just so that you can save approximately $12 and get to Athens a few hours earlier.
After making it to my (surprisingly nice) hostel in Athens and settling in, I set out to taste some authentic Greek cuisine. Greek food tends to be very simple (but sooo good), and often incorporates many of the same key ingredients: feta, tomatoes, olives, peppers, meat.
Lisa, my friend from home, finally made it to Athens after a long journey from the U.S. We decided to celebrate her arrival, and our first time seeing each other since December, with a cheese board and Greek wine from a highly recommended wine bar in the historic center of Athens.
We decided to turn in early, so that we would be ready for a full day of sightseeing the next day. We hit all of the important sites, including the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Socrates’ prison cell, and more. It was truly surreal walking around the Acropolis. Athens was boiling hot, but I don’t even remember either of us complaining at all. We were determined to discover as much of Athens–the city both of us have learned so much about since elementary school–as we could in just two days.
After a full day of exploring what felt like only the tiny tiniest portion of Athens, we were worn out. The next morning we had to catch an 8 hour ferry to Santorini.
Santorini is breathtaking.
After spending a semester researching Santorini, Lisa and I decided to spend half of our time on the caldera side of the island, and half of our time on the beach. I was most excited to see the beautiful white washed caldera in Oia at sunset. The owner of our hostel picked us up from the ferry port and drove us to our “villa” in Karterados, not too far from Fira, one of the most lively areas on the island.
We rented ATVs right when we arrived (don’t worry, we wore helmets), because we had heard that they were the best method of transportation on the island. This was definitely true. Our first night in Santorini we drove our ATVs up to Oia to walk around and catch the sunset. During our time on the caldera side of the island, we visited Oia, Fira, and Imerovigli multiple times. We walked around looking in artisans’ shops and spent a lot of time in awe of the island’s stunning views.
As much as it pained me to leave the caldera side of the island, both Lisa and I were excited to get a taste of the beach! We stayed in Perissa, one of the areas that our research told us was great for black sand beaches. Perissa was quaint, the owner of our hostel showered us with kindness and gifts, and the beaches were great for basking in the sun, but it was missing the lively boardwalk atmosphere we had expected. Kamari beach had the reputation of being a bit zesty, so we decided we would spend one day there. We thought Kamari beach was right next to Perissa beach. Little did we know…there is a mountain in between the two beaches.
In order to get a chair on the beach, we were required to buy something from one of the restaurants that lined the beach. I certainly didn’t object to a piña colada.
We rented a double ATV one day and decided to go to the Red Beach near Akrotiri. Santorini continued to amaze me, and the beach was unlike anything I had ever seen.
After visiting the Red Beach, we rode our ATV around the mountain to Kamari beach. It felt great to bask in the sun, and the beach wasn’t as cold (believe it or not) as it had been in Perissa because the mountain was blocking the island wind.
Side note: Lisa and I were very confused by these signs. I’m going to apologize now to the Greek sanitation system… I did not follow your rules and I’m sorry.
Every night we returned to Perissa for dinner, and every night we went to the same restaurant. It was delicious and they had huge, inexpensive salads that Lisa and I were able to share. I thought I would never say this, but we were sick of Greek food. All we wanted was a salad and Tranquilo answered our prayers. I was also obsessed with this eggplant concoction called Melitzano dip which was made out of roasted eggplant, garlic, almonds, parmesan, Greek yogurt, and parsley. I may or may not have gotten it three times. I will definitely be re-creating this at some point.
The fried tomato balls were also delicious.
I’m so glad Lisa and I got to spend time together in Greece. It was the perfect warm ending to my amazing semester abroad. The people of Greece were so friendly and hospitable, Athens was full of rich history and culture, and Santorini was even more beautiful than I could have imagined.