Puerto Rico: Part Four

Day Seven

After spending the day before in Vieques, the next morning it was time to head on over to Culebra. In contrast to Vieques, Culebra was a bit more relaxed as the only thing on our itinerary that day was to go to Flamenco Beach. Flamenco Beach had gorgeous turquoise waters and white sand which we were able to enjoy in solitude that morning.

One of the most interesting things about the beach was not even the pristine waters themselves, but a colourful tank that could be found at the end of the shoreline. Needless to say, one does not usually equate beaches with abandoned tanks. Later I found out that these tanks were once used by the U.S military for target practice and had since been abandoned after the locals protested against the U.S occupation of the land for target practice. As the tanks were far too large to be moved, they were left behind to rust. When we went to Flamenco beach, the locals had painted the tank at the far end of the shoreline with various shades of teal and orange. It was super neat to see and even more significant once I learned the reason behind these tanks being left behind.

As the day drew on, we spent time basking in the sun and catching waves in the water. It was the perfect way to end our time in Puerto Rico as the next day, we would be driving back to San Juan and then leaving the day after.

Afterthoughts

During my time in Puerto Rico, one thing that I took away from the experience was to be more grateful for what I have as one never knows when your whole world can change in the blink of an eye. To this day, Puerto Rico continues to struggle in repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Maria. Not only were homes damaged but vegetation suffered. According to an article in the New York Times,

Although my travels may have only played a small part in pouring money back into the economy, I am hoping that through my posts I help bring awareness to the Puerto Rico’s current economic reality. Often when a crisis occurs, there is a momentary outpour of support and just as quickly the issue is forgotten.

If you’re looking to help Puerto Rico out consider checking out the following organizations:

Thank you for joining me in my journey through Puerto Rico. I hope that one day you get the chance to see Puerto Rico for yourself and all the great things the country has to offer.

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 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.