The Wall

Sadly, Katherine and I had to leave the beautiful island of Santorini on the 23rd. We hopped on a ferry around 3:00 P.M. in order to head back to Athens for a night. The first couple of hours were very pretty, and at one of our stops along the way, we were able to see a gorgeous sunset over one of the islands and the water.

However, after the sun went down, we were on the ferry for hours and hours and hours. There were tables that we could sit at, but nothing conducive for sleeping. Luckily we had brought some awesome fresh bread and feta cheese with us, but it was not enough to really satisfy us. The expensive fast food on the ferry did not help, either. The boat was rocky and cold, and after trying to drink a hot chocolate to feel better, I was left only with a stomach ache. By about 8:00, we were both ready to be on land. However, the ferry back was even longer than the one we took to Santorini, and we did not arrive until 11:00! From the ferry dock in Athens, we still had to lake a long metro ride before we could be at our hostel. It was sometime around there that I knew I was hitting The Wall. If you are unfamiliar with The Wall or The Edge, it is a place that one reaches during a sustained period of traveling. For me, all of the exhaustion of constantly being on the go- what with flights, ferries, metro rides, horse-drawn carriages, walking-, going to bed late every night and not sleeping enough, being covered in gigantic bug bites because every single hostel that we stayed in had bed bugs, re-wearing the same dirty, worn-out clothes all of the time, risking various foot infections by showering in gross showers that had been used by thousands of people previously… all of these things added up. I missed the comfort of home- how, if I landed at a ferry dock, I could have someone simply pick me up and drive me home, where I would be greeted by my actually comfortable, bug-free bed. But no. With a throbbing stomach ache and pure exhaustion, I still had to ride a crowded metro for another 45 minutes before I could return to… a new hostel room that smelled, I’m really sorry for being offensive here, like Asia and was 1,000 degrees. I immediately crawled into a bed that I was certain was filled with critters who would be crawling all over me. And they did.

The next morning, Katherine and I woke up early in order to catch our flight to Rome. At the airport, I realized that I had yet to complete my climb over The Wall. Having booked a cheap airline called Easy Jet, we had to learn the hard way why it was so cheap. It took an hour just to wait in the line for checking our bags. I was convinced that everyone was moving to Rome and had packed their entire life’s belongings with them, for why else would it take so long? Finally, on the way to our gate, Katherine and I stopped at McDonalds to have some beloved cheeseburgers and Coke. Then, in the security line, we had to throw our Cokes away before having a single sip of them. I also had to throw away my shampoo and conditioner because I had forgotten to move them out of my carry-on/I didn’t think that liquids were a big deal in European flights. Anyway, we finally got on our flight and landed in a beautiful city…

On an Island in the Sun

The next day, I woke up and realized that I could barely open my left eye. In a panic, I rushed to the bathroom mirror and saw that my eyelid was completely swollen. My right eye was fine, though, so I looked like a crazy person or like I was constantly winking at someone. My theory is that, attempting to only lie on my left side to prevent irritating my new ear piercing, I had an allergic reaction to my sheets or something. I went to the pharmacy, and they gave me eye drops and stuff to put on it, but I had to wear sunglasses all day long until it went away.

This photo was when it was actually starting to look better. Anyway, it was pretty hilarious =P.

That day, Katherine and I rented an ATV, because it is a very popular and easy mode of transportation on Santorini. We drove around the island a little before going to a black sand beach. The beach was pretty rocky, but the water was so clear and blue and just went on for infinity.

Later, we went back to Fira to do some shopping and have dinner/gelato. We then went back to our hostel, for we had signed up for a hatha yoga class there. The class turned out to be on the roof of the building, overlooking the whole town and the Aegean Sea. It was so stunning, and we did our sun salutations to the setting sun. It was such a peaceful, beautiful moment.

The following day, we decided that we wanted to explore the island some more. Katherine drove me around the island on our ATV, and it was so incredible. We were driving on winding roads on the side of a cliff, which was slightly terrifying, but we had the most stunning views of the island and the sea. I saw the most beautiful scenery that I’ve ever seen in my life. It was breathtaking. I can’t even describe it, and pictures don’t do it justice. You just have to go there sometime in your life. It’s a spiritual experience.

 

That night, we went to this awesome restaurant called Mama’s and had the second best meals of our lives. Then, as we were walking around the area overlooking the water, we got sucked into going to this bar. We were the only ones there because it was pretty early, but it was an extremely romantic place… it had beautiful views of the sea, the lit up village off the side of the cliff, the orange moon lighting the experience, and romantic music playing. Katherine and I were joking to each other about how glad we were to be sharing that moment together. Then we bought fruity drinks which ended up costing 15 frickin’ euro! Each! It was by far the most money I’ve ever spent on a beverage and was definitely not worth it. Regardless, I had had such a life changing day that I didn’t let it bother me =).

New Country, New Adventures

Finally, our Turkish adventure came to an end on September 17th, when Katherine and I flew to Greece. We arrived at our hostel in Athens in the evening, and were informed about its fabulous rooftop bar. Our plan then was to go up to the bar, have our free shot of ouzo, and hang out for a little bit before going to bed. The bar really was amazing, as it casually overlooked the lit up Acropolis. We met a bunch of people from Australia (p.s. we have met so many Australians in every place that we’ve been to, so we came to the conclusion that no one is currently living in Australia since they all seem to be in Europe right now). One free shot of disgusting ouzo turned into a few more drinks, and we spent all night up there and at our hostel’s other sports bar.

The next day, we attempted to explore the city with less than stellar results. You see, Athens itself is not a particularly pretty city- it’s just really big. Everything is very spread out, so there was not really one cool area that had cute shops, restaurants, etc. However, that night, after a long and laborious trek to find food (you would think that in a country known for its fantastic cuisine that it would be easier to find restaurants), we stumbled upon a random little restaurant on a small street. None of the employees spoke English except for one who knew a few words, and the entire menu was in Greek. After some confusion, we ordered more food than we intended to, but… it was, literally, the best meal that I have ever had in my life. Looking back at all of the food that I have eaten in these past twenty years, this meal stands out as the best. I had Greek salad with vegetables that tasted like they picked them out of their garden and immediately placed them on my plate, with two giant slabs of amazing feta cheese. I also had fresh-out-of-the-oven pita bread dipped in the most refreshing tzatziki sauce as well as the most delicious chicken in the world. It had a very strong lemon flavor but was not sour or too intense, and it was so tender and juicy…

Anyhow, early in the morning on the 19th we hopped on a ferry to go to the island of Santorini. Thinking that it would be 2-3 hours max, we were on that damn ferry for 8 hours. It was very beautiful, though, as I was able to see the bluest water that I have ever seen. It was not aqua, like in a tropical place, but just the truest, sapphire blue. Seeing other islands on our way there was also quite lovely as well. Once we arrived, we walked around Fira, the main part of town, and had some fabulous seafood. Fira is somewhat touristy but very cute though, with amazing shopping and lots of restaurants in cobblestoned alleys. It is also right on the edge of a cliff, and its views are absolutely breathtaking. The sun sparkles on the perfectly blue water, with neighboring islands dotting the sea and white buildings along the cliffs. I realized that Santorini is probably one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to in my life.

After dinner, Katherine and I spontaneously decided that we wanted to get piercings! We found a piercing shop nearby, and we both got the cartilage in our ears pierced. I had been wanting to do so for awhile, so it was so fun to finally just do it. I really like mine, but unfortunately for Katherine her body pretty much rejected the piercing. For the next few days her ear kept bleeding profusely, and she eventually had to take the ring out.

That night, we tried to go to a couple of bars in Fira, but they were all, like, Scottish pubs filled with Australians. We were unsatisfied with the inauthentic experience and went back to our hostel early. Our hostel, though, was the coolest place in the world. It is called Caveland, and all of the rooms feel like old Greek caves. The architecture of the building is in the very traditional Greek style, what with its bright white paint, pink flowers, and some yellow and pink walls. It also overlooks the Aegean Sea.