I honestly cannot say enough wonderful things about Greece. As I mentioned in previous posts, the people, food, culture, activities, view–EVERYTHING was as breathtaking as one could imagine. I, like many other women of my generation have read and seen “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” book series and ensuing movies. A big storyline in the books takes place in Greece–in Oia (pronounced “eee-yah”) a city on Santorini to be more exact. So, when planning our trip to Greece, I just knew that it was 100% non-negotiable that we went to Santorini. And let me tell you, I am SO HAPPY that we did. Because it was just the most wonderful part of our vacation–hands down. You. Must. Go. For reals. I mean….this picture is real. From my iPhone. I am a teacher, not a professional photographer; I just let the sheer amazing-ness of Santorini do all the hard work:
We left the “party island” (Mykonos) and hopped onto a plane to fly on over to Santorini. Inter-island travel via airplane is hilarious, mostly because the kind and efficient airline staff (shout out to Olympic Air!) REALLY wanted to perform the beverage service despite the fact that the plane is literally in the air for 15 minutes. Let me tell you, they accomplished serving all of the passengers beverages AND a snack, picked up trash, and were strapped in and “prepared for landing” in what seemed like the blink of an eye!
I think that I could write the equivalent of a 20-page-long blog post about Santorini, but I don’t think that anyone REALLY wants to read that, so I am just going to give you the highlights. We arrived on Santorini and we forced to share a cab with another couple (so, yes there were five people–along with the driver–crammed into one taxi–Joslyn and I shared the front seat, ridiculous). Word to the wise: cabbies are the same everywhere–they apparently don’t like to make the journey to Oia–its the furthest city from the airport–so they end up forcing people to share cabs and then charging everyone full price. Awesome. Literally the only thing that was not 100% amazing about Santorini and really not even that bad.
Our hotel, Andronis Luxury Suites was the most beautiful place that I have EVER been to, stayed at, visited…gorgeous. We arrived in Oia and were greeted by a man from our hotel who carried ALL of our luggage (that’s right, 3 girls’ luggage) at the SAME TIME up the hilly marble walkways to the lobby of our hotel. As soon as we stepped in the door, the luxury began. They were “expecting” us, mostly because the hotel is extremely romantic, and a group of three girls staying there is kind of a novelty apparently! Nadia–a concierge at the hotel–a greeted us with joy and took us on a tour of the facilities. PLEASE GO TO THIS HOTEL! It is fabulous and totally worth the money. Splurge a little, live a lot!
The infinity pool was my favorite part of the hotel!
Literally felt like I was sitting on the edge of the world
Our room was amazing. The “Kalypso” Suite (we had our own jacuzzi, in a cave; Que Romantico!)
A few of my favorite things that we did on Santorini were our sailing excursion–Santorini is now shaped like a horseshoe, but at one time was a whole circle with a volcano at the center of the island. About 3,000 years ago the volcano erupted and obliterated the island, changing it’s shape, and creating what they now refer to as the “caldera”. We took a sailing excursion out to the mouth of the volcano to swim in the hot springs which are there as a result of the volcanic activity going on under the water! Awesome! The water tasted like pennies, but I wouldn’t have changed the adventure for anything! Joslyn, Courtney, and I were, once again, the only group of girls (everyone else was coupled up…sigh) on the boat, but were definitely having the most fun (duh!)
We also hiked down to Amoudi Bay and ate lunch and then….RODE THE DONKEYS BACK UP! This was the “one thing” that Joslyn really wanted to do and it was SO FUN! Here’s how it went down: we paid an old man five euros, his grandson (actually I’m not sure that he was his grandson, but I just like to imagine that he was) who I must mention, looked kind of like a donkey (haha) hoisted us up onto a donkey, slapped the donkey’s butt, and let the donkey RUN (seriously running) up the hill. As you can imagine, we were laughing hysterically, kind of screaming, and causing a scene the whole entire way back up the 200 steps. It. Was. Awesome.
Santorini is famous for her sunsets. They are beautiful. Everyday. Each night, around 7:30PM people begin gathering at the Amoudi Bay end of the island, on steps, the roofs of restaurants, and–where we posted up–at the Medieval ruins to sit and watch the sun go down. This simple act of sitting with a bunch of strangers who had the same goal as us–capture the beauty of the sunset and commit it to memory, film, “Instagram”, whatever–was thrilling. Additionally, as the sun is setting, EVERYONE cheers, claps, whistles, dances, etc. So cool! Just celebrating the pure beauty of this natural act made me so happy.
This was probably my most happy and peaceful moment on this vacation; despite the fact that there were tons of other people around me, it still felt like I was having a personal moment between myself and God.
The last day of our trip was so sad. We hugged everyone at the hotel–every single person was amazing and kind. I know that this is part of their job, but I have stayed at other places where it is supposed to be “part of their job” and it just was not the same as it was at Andronis.
(Oh yeah, they also came around the pool with trays of cold watermelon, everyday at 2PM, “just because”…ahhhh)
Joslyn, Courtney, and I are no different than the rest of you: we work hard–just like you do, we lead stressful lives–just like you do, we can’t just “pick up” and go on vacation–just like you can’t either; so, the reason I mention this is that I think–no matter who you are–it is so important to get out of your comfort zone and visit other places in the world. It has taught me a few different life lessons:
1. Roll with it. Seriously, not everything goes the exact way you planned for it to go–but guess what? That’s okay! Travel teaches us how to do that too–adapt, adapt, adapt…and then enjoy enjoy enjoy!
2. Working hard is only really worth it all when you can also enjoy some of the fruits of your labor. Material things (buying a home, paying off student loans, financing a wedding, paying for college) are cool, but nothing can replace the ways in which you can be shaped by meeting other people and learning their stories.
3. I am more capable than I give myself credit for being. At home, I tend to be a “routine girl”; but when I travel I turn into a more confident, capable, and interesting person. Things that I never really thought I would be able to do, suddenly become second nature.
4. The world is huge and I have seen only a fraction of it. Guess what? The world is not going to come to you, you actually have to buy a plane ticket, search for hotel deals (but please, if you are over 30 years old, splurge for the hotel and avoid the hostels PLEASE! Be a grown-up! Haha), take time off of work, etc. It might seem like a lot of “work”, but sometime making yourself more well-rounded is a little painful–I promise, it feels good in the end!
Until our next adventure, thank you Joslyn and Courtney, for being so easy to travel with. I love you guys and I can’t wait for our next adventure…Spain? A Safari? Hmmm….where will the Sister Cats go next? Only time will tell. Til then, Stay Fabulous. Stay Ridiculous. But don’t Stay Home. Go somewhere!
PS: a BIG “shout out” to Jetsetter, Expedia, and everyone (Tessa, Nadia, Nicholas, Chris…) at Andronis Luxury Suites for helping to make this leg of our trip so amazing and memorable in the best ways possible.