Travelling through Greece: Part 5

Athens

And just like all the other journeys that came before, I was drawing a close to my time in Greece. The final stop on the adventure: Athens. After the striking sunsets, bumpy quad rides, and wild water sports it was time to visit the place where democracy was born. The start of my journey had been a rough one, full of obstacles and trials. However, by sticking it out I had met fantastic tour mates along the way and made memories that would last a lifetime. These memories would include making the most of a boat shipwrecked at sea, making up drinking games out of playing cards featuring individuals performing acts not suitable for the eyes of children, dancing to a man playing a cajon, watching the sunrises and sunsets, and sleeping on the deck to fall asleep under the stars. It was these moments of sheer beauty, joy and peace which validated that I had made the right choice in taking this trip for myself.

Although initially I had plans for my day in Athens to be jam packed full of adventure, the pace was slowed down considerably due to falling ill the day before. The sights I did manage to see were the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch and the Acropolis. The temple is an outdoor sanctuary dedicated to the supreme ruler of the gods, Zeus. He is the god of the sky, as well as thunder and lightning. According to Greek mythology, Zeus’ father Kronos feared a prophecy that he would be overthrown by one of his children, and swallowed them whole to prevent this. The youngest child Zeus, however, was saved from this fate as his mother Rhea substituted Zeus for a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes and fed it Kronos. Zeus was then sent away into hiding to the island of Crete where he was reared and would grow up eventually to fulfill the prophecy and save his brothers and sisters. After drawing lots against his siblings, he would go on to become the ruler of the gods. Upon arriving at the temple, I felt joy in being amidst a place which stood as a representation of the extraordinary mythology of the Greeks I had learned about during my first year in university. The structure is made from limestone and pentelic marble, and over the centuries construction has followed a pattern of being halted and continued. Sadly, after completion it stood tall for only a few centuries before being damaged by war. After admiring the temple, my tourmate and I walked around the grounds to see the roman baths and lastly admired Hadrian’s Arch on our way out of the grounds.

After visiting the Temple of  the Olympian Zeus, it was time to move on to what Athens is known for: The Acropolis. The Acropolis is an ancient citadel which sits atop a hill in the city. In it resides several important buildings, including the Parthenon. Before you embark on this adventure to the Acropolis, please note that the Acropolis by being on top of a hill requires some level of physical fitness. As a result, make sure to wear some comfortable sensible shoes, bring sunblock as the complex offers little shade, and food and snacks to stay hydrated and satisfied as places for snacks are far and few between. With that being said, the ancient citadel was beautiful. Although some of the beauty was squandered with the construction going on to restore the monuments, it is a place one must definitely visit during their time in Athens. I felt honoured to be in such a place of sheer beauty and rich history. During our walk around the citadel we saw the Parthenon dedicated to the goddess Athena and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which was used as a venue for music concerts by the ancient Greeks. If I had come prepared, I most likely would have spent the rest of the day there. However, with little preparation and my illness worsening,  I had to halt my adventures for a moment to refuel on food and water. My illness had beat me and so it was time to rest.

After getting back on to our hop on, hop off tour bus, I took the moment to rest and see some of the other sights of Greece from the comfort of a vehicle such as the Panathenaic Stadium and Parliament. Being exhausted from the long ferry ride the day before, I eventually dozed off in the comfort of the tour bus until we arrived at a destination to refuel our energy at. After some food and beverages in our system, we headed back to our hostel where I spend part of the afternoon napping and packing up my suitcase for the trip back home the next day. My illness had drained me and I needed to recover. After having some time to myself, the day was finished off watching the sunset sitting atop a hill in Athens. It was the perfect ending to my journey, and as locals and tourists all sat atop the hill, I felt whole. In this moment, we were all bound together by the same thing and all problems in the world ceased to exist for a moment.

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The Next Morning

The next morning, I was headed back to my home country. As I headed towards the airport, a friendly faced Greek shop owner whom I had asked directions from invited me to sit down for a moment outside for a cup of coffee. Despite being frantic to catch my flight, I agreed to sit down for a moment for some conversation. We spoke briefly about the beauty of Greece and the values of the culture which I admired. While it may have been an insignificant act to him, it remains ingrained in my mind and reminds me to take life one step at a time and treat everyone with kindness. During this trip, I learned so much about myself and it allowed me to reevaluate the way I saw life. I was slowly becoming embittered by the curveballs life threw at me, and this trip allowed me to accept the things I had no control over and change those that I did. Some of you reading this may feel as though what I am saying cannot apply to your situation because the obstacles you are facing are too grandiose and cannot simply be accepted. I ask you to change your way of thinking, as being consumed by these obstacles will only prevent you from attracting the happiness you deserve. The obstacles I have faced and continue to face are of a great magnitude, and yet I have learned to make my peace with them. This is not to say that every day it will be easy to simply accept the lot you have been given, but rather I simply ask that you try and remember that if today is not a good day, we can only hope tomorrow will be better.  Life is too short to be so angry and we can all learn a little from the Greeks about appreciating life in the moment.

Hope you all have enjoyed reading about my adventures and stay tuned for my Asian wide adventures coming soon. I promise the photos get better from here on out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling through Greece: Part 4

The last time we spoke I was talking about my adventures on the island of Ios. Since then, my hometown has been experiencing a bit of a cold front (it feels like -40 degrees celsius with the wind chill kind of cold). In the wake of this cold front, I thought now is a better time than any to reminisce about the warm Greek sun and everything the country has to offer. The next stop on the tour: Santorini.
Santorini

After two party fueled days in Ios, it was time to move on to the next island on our tour, Santorini. Out of all the Greek islands we had visited up to this point, Santorini hands down was my favourite of the Greek islands. The reason I say this, is while each of the other islands are beautiful in their own right, Santorini offers the most in terms of things to do and see. Whereas the story so far has been told day by day up to this point, it is here I deviate from my previous mode of storytelling. Instead, I will offer personal suggestions on what to see and do in Santorini along with commentary on the sights.

1. Rent Out a Quad Bike
Santorini is big, and the best way to experience it’s beauty is by renting a quad bike (ATV). Renting a quad is very affordable and costs roughly a little over 20 euros for an entire day. It should be noted that you will have to fill up your tank on your own which will roughly cost another 15-20 euros depending on how far you are travelling. As a quad bike can accommodate two people, it becomes easily affordable mode of travel. Now equipped with a mode of transportation you can begin checking out the surrounding towns and several beaches that Santorini has to offer. Driving around Santorini alone without visiting any sites is a scenic adventure all on its own.

2. Check out the beaches
Whereas the beaches thus far have been mainly golden sandy beaches, Santorini offers so much more in its array of beaches. It is home to black,white pebble, and red beaches. One beach in particular that is worth visiting, Red Beach. Red Beach despite its small size is something that should not be missed. It is a beauty created by destruction, carved out of volcanic eruptions. Upon arrival, the craggy terracotta and charcoal coloured cliffs along with the iron rich rocks that make up the beach’s shore entrances you. The beautiful red of the cliffs emphasizing the azure coloured waters of the beach. While it is not the typical golden sandy beach one thinks of when thinking of their ideal beach, it is a beauty which stands in its owm category and is worth the trek.

3. Watersports are a must!
Seeing that we are speaking about beaches, a trip to Santorini is not complete without checking out the watersports. The beach of Perivolas offers this, and is continuation of the beaches of Perissa and Agios Georgios (where the black sand beaches are located). Offered here are a range of watersports including jet skiing, tubing, flyboarding, amongst many other activities. Although I only did the tubing it was no joke, and the two of the tourmates can attest to the fact that we had to hold on for dear life. It was a blast.

3. Check out Santo Wines Winery
A trip to Santorini is not complete without visiting the beautiful Santo Wines Winery. Even if you are not into wine, the views from this place are picturesque with a plethora of outdoor seating overlooking the water. It is immaculate and pristine, the white exterior of the establishment practically glistening under the Greek sun. After you have undoubtedly consumed more wine than you should, finish your visit by taking some pictures against the stunning landscape in front of you.

4. Visit the Hot Springs
Now I’m going to be honest in that I myself did not visit the hot springs, however I had every intention of doing so but missed the boat to visit the springs. Now the hot springs aren’t for everyone, as those tourmates who did visit the spring had mixed reviews. For one, the “hot” springs are actually lukewarm and have a high sulphur content. What this means is that the springs smell less than desirable and have the potential to stain your bathing suit and jewelry. Despite these drawbacks, the contrast between the black rugged cliffs against cyan coloured waters makes it worth dealing with its sulfuric odour. Afterall, I am no dermatologistt but I’ve heard sulfur is good for the skin? If I am to return to Santorini, I will definitely attempt to make the trek to the springs.

5. Watch a sunset in Oia or on a boat
Apparently everyone except me knew that Santorini was known for its beautiful sunsets. I will excuse my last minute planning for this lack of knowledge. The most famous spot for sunset watching: the village of Oia. Now I’m going to be honest in that while the sunset was indeed beautiful from Oia, the hordes of tourists all pushing and shoving to get the perfect selfie ruined it for me. If you are looking to see the sunset in Oia, be warned that you must find the perfect sitting spot at least 1-2 hours prior to sunset to secure that elusive view. If you can deal with the hordes of people, I say go for it as it is stunning but for those like myself who prefer something more calm it is here I suggest the option of watching it aboard a boat. Seeing as we were already docked in the middle of the sea (as the port couldn’t accommodate the size of our ship), it was on our boat in which I appreciated the sunset the most. Now, I know what your thinking…girl not everyone came here on some sail boating excursion. Lucky for you guys, there are sunset cruises designed for this purpose. If you require more information on the best sunset spots in Santorini, check out the Girl Vs Globe Blog who has provided some of her favourite sunset spots and the boat company she used on her own quest.

6. Kick Back and Relax
As someone who is determined to become a world traveller, one thing I have learned along the journey is you really need to allow time to relax, regardless of how much you want to see. In failing to do so, your immune system becomes compromised and instead of enjoying your trip you will fall ill resulting in being forced to relax in a much less desirable way. After missing the boat to check out the hot springs in Santorini, me and two other of my tourmates were now faced with the dilemma of what to do instead. While we had to option to drive back and return to the water sports beach, the decision was made to instead kick back, enjoy some food, and relax. I am not one who lives off social media, but after having minimal wifi throughout this trip it was nice to have a moment to be able to connect with those back home. With free wifi and delicious food, we were at peace and could take in the people and surroundings around us.

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Stay tuned for the final leg of my adventures in Athens, coming soon.

Travelling through Greece: Part 3

Ios….Here We Come 

After being stranded the day before in the middle of the sea, this day was already starting off significantly better than the last. For one, our boat was no longer broken and so we carried on our adventures. Despite missing our opportunity to visit Naxos, we were excited for our next destination: Ios. As I mentioned before, this entire trip was planned in the spur of a moment and so going into it I had little knowledge of what each small island was known for. What I would soon find out is besides Ios being known for its beautiful beaches is also quite a popular party hub. What this meant for the next two days, I would soon find out.

When we arrived to Ios, we headed straight to a “secluded bay”, where a private BBQ party was arranged for us with music and free shots of Ouzo. After staying for a short period of time,  I  went to a store to pick up some souvenirs and then headed back to the boat to get some rest. As my blog name suggests, while I do love travel there is nothing I love more than getting enough sleep. Top that with an ambivert nature, I was exhausted and needed time to recharge my batteries if there was any hope of going out that night to check out the nightlife. And so, I arrived back to the boat, managed to get a nap in, and took my sweet time showering and getting ready for the night ahead. With the boat strangely quiet, it was the peace I needed after the crazy adventures of the last few days.

When everyone began to trickle back in from the beach party, I was now well rested and ready to enjoy the nightlife that Ios had to offer. However, there was one stop that had to be made first: a stop for dinner. For those reading this, one of my favourite things about Greece was the food. Not only is it absolutely delicious but it is super cheap and affordable, and after being in Greece for about ten days, I didn’t even come close to maxing out my budget for this trip. After stuffing my face with a very generous portion of food it was time for the festivities to begin.

The first stop on our bar/club/ crawl was the Fun Pub Sports Bar & Restaurant.  This spot was the perfect place to ease you into the night ahead. The bar hosts a giant jenga set as well as pool tables for the public to play. Despite not getting the chance to play jenga (which for those who know me will know this is a goddamn tragedy), it was a great way to ease into the mayhem as despite this place being quite packed it maintains a kind of pub feel to it. After spending a short time in the fun pub, it was time to step into the real nightlife of Ios.

Ios is great in that we did not have to pay for drinks or cover in many of the places we visited. Due to the multitude of clubs that line the streets, clubs often offer free entry and a free drink in order to bring in people and fill up the clubs. The same club that may have been full an hour ago can quickly become empty due to this kind of competition from other establishments and so for those who enjoy the party lifestyle, it is definitely the island for you. After excessive bar/club hopping, one of the South Africans on our tour suggested a once in a lifetime experience: Slammer Bar. Now while you can’t expect free drinks here, it is an interesting experience to say the least. For a few Euros, you can order a Slammer shot. Now what is a Slammer Shot you ask? For the brave ones out there, a helmet is placed on your head, you take a shot, and then are hit by a miscellaneous object by one of the bartenders. The logic behind it, is that it is supposed the blow to your head (with the safety of a helmet of course), is meant to intensify the buzz from the alcohol. While I cannot validate whether it made me feel any more buzzed or not, it was harmless fun nonetheless. After dancing a bit in the Slammer Bar, it was time to move on. After visiting a few other clubs/bars we landed at the Circus Bar. 

Out of all the places I visited during the crawl, it was this place I enjoyed most. In contrast to the other places we visited that night, Circus Bar was more my scene. Besides having incredibly affordable drinks (no freebies, sorry!), the bar won me over with its live music, tavern like atmosphere, and daily fireshows. Although the majority of the live music was covers of popular songs, it was still refreshing to be amongst this crowd enjoying the music. It was here I spent the rest of the night with one other tourmate, enjoying the tunes being played on guitars and a Cajon (box drum). Not only was the live music fantastic, but top that with the fireshow and great bartenders, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Photo courtesy of Circus Bar Ios Facebook Page 


Next Day: Mylopotas Beach

The next morning, the survivors from the night before were herded onto a public bus to one of the most popular beaches in Greece: Mylopotas Beach.  The beach lived up to the hype, as its long expanse of beach offered something for everyone. For youths looking for a lively beach vibe, there are many restaurants and bars to be visited along this long strip of beach. For families, there are large areas of beach away from the commotion of the party scene. After being out all night, the visit to Mylopotas beach was a much needed break. Seeing our tired eyes and the hungover faces of many, our guides took us to a slightly more secluded area of the beach, and here we were able to enjoy the crystal clear waters and radiating warmth of the sun on our skin all to ourselves. To make things even better, that day a Greek style BBQ was arranged while we relaxed on the beach along with an assortment of alcohol for purchase.  After spending the day of the beach swimming in the water and lounging on chairs soaking in the sun, it was time to head back to prepare for the another night on the town.

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I will not delve into details about the second night on the town due to it being very similar to the first night, however considering I witnessed the sun rising as we finished partying was evident of the fun that was had. With that being said, I want to express that Ios is an island that offers a little something for everybody. For someone looking to spend a few days lounging at beautiful beaches, this is the place for you. And for those looking for a party scene, the plethora of options available will not leave you disappointed. I for one enjoyed the island but was excited for the final destination of our tour : Santorini.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling through Greece: Part 2

So the beginning of my adventure in Greece had been a hell of an adventure to say the least. However, as someone who comes from a life that is far from perfect, these things were minor hiccups in the grand scheme of things.  Despite the hectic nature of the trip so far, I was enjoying myself and I had never felt so independent in my life. When the morning sun rose high above in the sky it was time to set sail to our next destination: Paros. Like Mykonos, Paros’ rugged landscape and pristine white houses are breathtaking. Along with the phenomenal views, there are several beaches in Paros to immerse yourself in upon arrival, and that we did. As our boat docked at the port, we set off to a beach shop in search of beach gear and sunblock. As a gentle reminder, it is recommended you bring your own sunblock prior to arriving to Greece as the sunblock can run anywhere from 25 Euros and up near beach locations. Once we collected our supplies, we headed to the beach with floaties in our hands and joy in our hearts (that line sounded a lot cooler in my head).

As we swam out further into the Aegean Sea and took selfies and videos on a few of our tourmates GoPros, the tension once again began to melt away. It didn’t matter that I had left on vacation in the middle of a summer course back home, it was time to be present in the moment. Just as walking around Mykonos the day before had erased all the stresses of life, being weightless on our floaties created a sense of peace and calm. It was everything I could ever ask for and more. After our selfie sessions ended and we worked up an appetite, we headed back to the boat for a late lunch. Although I cannot remember the specific meal of the day, I do want to give a special shoutout to the man who cooked all our meals during the trip. He went above and beyond and showed kindness that extended beyond simple courtesy. It was people such as him which made the trip all that better.


(Apologies for poor quality pictures- we did the best we could with our resources)

Once we filled our bellies with food, it was time to relax before the adventures that would commence at night and so it was time to stock up on alcohol. After showering and prepping ourselves for the night and consuming some of our stock, it was time to head to the town. First stop: a hookah lounge. When we arrived to the hookah lounge we were greeted by our tour guide with free shooters, while the owners of the lounge presented us with a cocktail menu and a list of shisha flavours for our hookah. While I decided it was not my thing, I understood why it has garnered considerable popularity. It creates a sense of community and so I was happy to observe while they passed it around. After a considerable amount spent indulging in free shooters and cocktails, it was time to dance off the alcoholic beverages we had consumed.

After dancing the night away, and not having consumed anything since our late lunch I was absolutely starving. Luckily for us, in the distance a bakery was opened for all late night cravings and it was there I had the most delicious cheese filled pastry of life. Also known as as tiropita. The pastry was flaky to perfection and the melted cheese was to die for. Greece truly is a foodies dream.  With food in my belly, it was now time for sleep. Tomorrow we would head to Naxos, or so we thought!

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The Next Day: Naxos…..or Not

The next day as I lay in my bed, I was awaken by the sounds of shouting amongst our cabin crew. The cause for the commotion? Our boat was sinking! We were all going to die! Okay, so that wasn’t entirely true. The real reason for the commotion was that our boat had encountered a mechanical problem and from our understanding the engine motor has essentially given out. As a result, while we weren’t sinking, we weren’t really going anywhere with no running engine. While we waited for reinforcements to help tug our boat to shore, we were given the news. It would take eight hours to be tugged to Naxos or four hours to be tugged to another port in Paros. The decision was made: we would return to Paros. As we waited for backup, I decided that if we were going to be stranded I was going to take this moment to get my tan on. And so, as the boat rocked aggressively back and forth (which is exactly what happens when you aren’t moving), I brought my blanket from the cabin, set it on top of the deck, and laid down to soak in some rays.

After our reinforcements came and we were hauled back to Paros, it was time for our crew to establish a backup plan and so it was decided to tour Paros on quad bikes. Whereas, the previous day we did not get a chance to see Paros, our broken boat had been a blessing in disguise as we were given the opportunity to really check out the island. As we hopped onto our bikes, we kicked up some dust and were ready to go. Riding around Paros, we were able to truly take in the rugged landscape and beautiful architecture first hand and appreciate the colourful plant life and shrubbery that Greece offered. For anyone travelling on any island in Greece, I recommend renting out a mode of transportation such as a quad bike as it truly allows you to maximize the amount of things you get to do in a day. After touring a bit, it was time to stop at a different beach than the one from the day before for the rest of the day. Unlike the beach from the day before which was not that large in size, this beach was much larger with softer sands and azure blue waters. In addition to the beach itself, the food like all the food I had tried in Greece so far was absolutely fantastic. It was here that we set up shop to spend the rest of the day and get our tan on.

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After a long day at the beach, it was time to head back to our shipwrecked boat for the night and settle in. With alcoholic reinforcements in our hand, we would have a boat party in the middle of the sea. You work with what you got! That night our ship along with two of the other boats who helped tug us to safety had a boat party on our ship. While I can’t remember various details of the night due to a lack of sobriety and what not. I do remember the feeling. We had been stranded and yet all three boats (ours and the life savers), took the hand we had been given and made the most of it. It was a great night, and with our boat finally fixed we would be able to continue our journey tomorrow.

Travelling through Greece: Part 1

Growing up, I was always that kid who desperately sought attention and reassurance from other individuals. I would often create these stories in my mind that people inherently did not like me even when I was reassured otherwise. As a result, this fear created a strong dependency on the few people I trusted, but resulted in a loss of independence. As I became older, the fear of everyone disliking me began to diminish and I realized that I could not ask my friends and loved ones to be there with me at every step of the way holding my hand. It was time to find the independence I had lost and to learn to do things I enjoyed on my own. And so, this is where the story of Greece begins…

The story begins in June 2016. I was in the final term of my undergraduate degree, and only had two online summer school courses to complete in order to graduate. To say I was stressed is the understatement of the year. The final year of my undergraduate degree was a tough one as I often found myself spending hours sitting in a carrel desk reading scholarly articles and making notes until my hands went numb. It was a stressful time, and despite knowing the end was near it could not come soon enough. By June, I was fed up and due to the nature of my last two courses being online I made a choice for my sanity to leave the country in hopes of finding some sense of peace. With joy in my heart, I began to ask around to see which one of my friends would accompany me on my next adventure. However, the more people I asked, the more rejections I received. You see, when you plan on leaving for a trip no more then two weeks away, not many people are actually able to jump on board with you. And so I was faced with two options: scrap the idea or go alone.

At this point I had already done the research for this trip and made an excel spreadsheet detailing the cost of this excursion including tour prices, food, flight costs, and accommodations for my first and last two nights. Despite having made the spontaneous decision to go to London a few years ago with classmates, this was different. My trip to London was the result of a study abroad experience, and I was given a month prior to the trip to get to know my classmates in my home country. We spent countless hours together after class planning our time in London, and so I got the chance to know them. On the other hand, I knew no one prior to my trip and I would be all alone during two stopovers and three plane rides to my first destination: Mykonos,Greece.  

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it was time to be independent and after slowly learning to become a more independent person, this was like my final test. It was like going into the final boss battle of a videogame, and I was going in with guns blazing. So on June 16, 2016, I kissed my parents goodbye and boarded my first plane out of three to the United States.

Now I’m going to admit, the journey to Mykonos was not an overall pleasant one. After being “randomly selected” for a security scan in the States, having my bag aggressively searched in Athens on my way to Mykonos, having my contact lense solution thrown out despite it being travel sized, and being told at the departure gate in Athens I would have to pay for the amount of luggage I was bringing onto the plane to Mykonos, I was about to call it quits. While the security inspection in the States was actually quite simple and only required I stand in a scanner for about five seconds,  it was the treatment in Athens that made me want to call it quits. While I understand that a girl of small stature like myself travelling alone may raise suspicions it was frustrating that my first solo adventure had gone off to such a rough start. Now, please note that while my experience in the Athen’s airport was terrible it is not an accurate depiction of how Greek people are at all. In fact, despite having my bag aggressively searched, acceptable contents being tossed out, and being told I would be charged for my extra luggage it was another Greek employee at the airport who helped console me and sorted all my issues, resulting in my luggage being stowed on the plane at no extra cost. It is this simple act of kindness and reassurance that I remember one and half years later that reestablished the tone of my trip to be one of positivity.

Once I arrived in Mykonos, I was determined to shake the rocky start of my trip and was greeted at the airport by my ride to the beach hostel by one of the workers. Upon meeting him, the anger began to dissolve as he began to cheerfully ask about my travels and what I was planning on doing during my time in Mykonos. He was absolutely precious, and it reminded me again that basing my trip solely on the experience at the airport was unfair to the people of Greece and people like him and the lady at the airport served as better representations of the people as a whole. As I checked into cabin, I was thankful for the moment of reprieve and began to read a book by Mindy Kaling. It was the night before my tour and if I was going to enjoy my tour, I needed this moment to feel sorry for myself and the rough journey I had along this way. After reading Kaling’s books, I realized it was time to pen a few words of my own. As I wrote furiously into my travel journal and the fan whirred above me, each word penned into my journal released my pent up frustration and anger and was replaced with a sense of peace. The girl who thought she could never do anything this bold on her own had made it, and no way in hell was she about to give up now. And so after a quick shower, it was time for this traveller to go to bed. Tomorrow would be a better day, and goddamn I would make sure of it.


Accommodations during my first night in Mykonos (roughing it since Day 1 and yet I slept like a baby that night)

The Next Day

Soo…remember how I said I was determined to make the next day better, well let’s just say the gods took it upon themselves to challenge me. The next day, I woke up bright and early with a smile on my face. It was the first day of my tour and it was time to head to the port where our sailboat would be departing from. The beach hostel I stayed at provided free transport every couple of hours to the port where my sailboat would be departing from and so rather than paying from transportation, I opted to take the shuttle to the port two hours prior to the arrival of the sailboat I was scheduled to get on. Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret, where the sailboats dock and where the ferries dock are on opposite sides of a very large port. If you are ever planning on going on a sailboat excursion, it may benefit you to ask your tour operating group about this prior to your travels. As the time of departure creeped closer, I began to keep a lookout for my sailboat. Thirty minutes before. Twenty minutes before. Fifteen minutes before. Finally, at ten minutes before my departure time I decided it was time to take action into my own hands in ask one of the ladies at the port for help. After trying to explain to her that I was waiting for a sailboat, she explained in with the little English she knew that the sailboats were docked on the other side of the port and pointed far into the distance at what I could now see was the boat I was supposed to be boarding looking like a mere speck in the distance. After inquiring about how long it would take to get to the other side walking she broke the news: twenty minutes at least. Now, during this time I wasn’t a fully seasoned travel veteran and had one full sized luggage, a carry on, and a backpack. To make matters worse, the streets were a mix of cobblestone and pavement and I now had to run with all these luggages to the other side of the port in an attempt to catch my sailboat. With the sun beating down against my skin and sweat dripping from every pore of my body, I ran as fast I could, my luggages bouncing aggressively behind me and my arms aching from the motion of pulling my overly packed luggages. At last, I arrived on the other side of the port and found a few more travellers looking equally confused. After confirming that they were part of the same tour group, we managed to locate our sailboat and were finally able to start our adventure. We were also informed once we arrived that the check in time was from 2-3 pm, and that I did not have to run like a gazelle being chased like a cheetah. To add salt to the injury, my tourmates also told me that a water taxi ran from one side of the port to the other for the cost of two Euros. Therefore, that run….. totally unnecessary!  At that moment all I could do was laugh at my misadventures so far, and was grateful that I finally made it to my destination.

Now up to this point, I had never been on a boat for longer than a few hours let alone more than a week and I was a bit shocked about what it meant to live on a sailboat. For starters, the word “shower” was entirely different from my definition. As I soon discovered, the “shower” in the sailboat was nothing but a mere shower hose in the bathroom with a drain in the center of the bathroom. Meaning when you showered, everything from the sink to the toilet got wet in the process. Furthermore, the drain was a slow one and so in order to avoid five inches of water on the bathroom floor, it was best to keep your shower short. Afterall, the next person needing to use the toilet would have to stand in five inches of your shower water if you didn’t.  If this shock was not enough, I was also told I would be sharing the room with a tourmate which was definitely not conveyed beforehand. Despite these shocks, and trust me when I say I was shocked I was fortunate enough to have such a great, chill bunk buddy and quickly got over the fact I would be showering with a glorified hose for a week.  After settling in and having moussaka for lunch served by our ship crew, it was time to start our tour of Mykonos.

As we walked around Mykonos, I finally let myself truly relax. I was settled in for the long haul and so I allowed myself to embrace the sun beating down on my skin and admired the white painted houses of Greece. I’ve often wondered why the houses in most of the Cyclades are painted white, and as I learned it originally started off as means to reflect the harsh summer sun.  Although this is simply a vestige of its past, and houses today in Greece do not necessarily require the white colour to reflect the sun, the standard of white houses has remained and new houses by law are required to be painted white;  with some exceptions.  And so, I appreciated the stark white walls and walked down the cobblestone streets taking it all in. As we walked through Mykonos, small vendors and shops selling souvenirs and crafts from Mykonos lined the streets. The winding cobblestone paths were mesmerizing and it was the kind of place that if you got lost, it would be something you would simply accept and slowly peruse through each store until you have found your way out. As we walked along Mykonos, our guide informed us that apparently there are 365 churches in Mykonos, one for every day of the year. As he did so,  we passed by several churches and witnessed a bride taking her wedding photos in a nearby church. As we continued our tour, we stopped in Little Venice; a small group of restaurants and shops sitting precariously at the edge of the sea. This cluster of shops and restaurants screams romance, and you can almost picture young and old couple alike drinking a glass of wine, holding hands while the waves crash against the stone walls around them.


Little Venice in broad daylight

After our stroll in Little Venice, our tour finished off with one of Mykonos most famous landmarks: The Windmills. Mykonos’ windmills date back to the 16th century where they were once used to grind grain. Although they are no longer operational, they serve as a reminder of Mykonos history.  Upon reaching the top of the hill, the view is spectacular and one could see the entire island around them. After a short moment to capture photos, the officially tour of Mykonos was over and we returned to our boat to get ready for the night ahead. Afterall, Mykonos is known for its crazy beach party atmosphere and it was time to see if it lived up to the hype.

After returning to our sailboat and getting ready for the night ahead, it was time to start this boat party. As part of our tour package, we were given free Ouzo shots to get the party started. After many Ouzo shots, we were ready for a night out on the town. Next stop: Paradise Club. The club is located directly on the beach front and after dancing in the club, one could carry this party out on the sand. The experience was interesting to say the least and it is a  very popular spot for tourists. After dancing the night away it was time to catch a bus back to the docks. The only problem: the last bus left long time ago. And so, after about an hour of waiting for a cab we managed to hail one and go back to our boat. It had been a hell of a day, and despite the hiccups I knew I had made the right decision to embark on the trip alone. The next day in Paros would only validate this; I needed this trip and it couldn’t have come at a better moment in time.