“I’d learned so much from traveling to familiar places that I figured I’d learn twice as much by going to a place I knew nothing about”
My experience in Greece was different. To say it was normal would just be lying to myself and everyone. Originally, before I booked this trip I asked TONS of people to come with me and everyone was busy, they couldn’t afford it, or they didn’t have the leave so I made an executive decision. I wanted to go to Greece, I didn’t want to stay in the USA for 3 weeks so I was going to Greece. I booked everything about 2 weeks before my stay which was stupid, I should have went to Iceland… No seriously, who goes to Iceland in August?!??? Apparently, everyone goes to Greece. If you know me at all, you know I am the absolute WORST planner. I can’t plan things to save my life because I like to keep life on edge and be spontaneous… I love meeting new people and I love doing new things and going with the flow of things so planning an entire vacation by myself was a lot of work.
Let’s start with the beginning of my vacation, I got to Greece and got lost for at least an hour. Had no idea how to get to my hotel, all the signs are in Greek and Greeks aren’t the best at giving directions……. FINALLY found my hotel and guess what?!? I booked the wrong day. No surprise Tia would book the wrong day for her first day in Athens…. So let’s fast forward, I found a hotel named Hotel Cecil that had one room left and so generously accommodated me for the first night. Went out and ate some food then of course, my Kuwait life (and Whitney Houston) caught up to me and I had to stop in the local hookah bar to jam out to the old 90s jams and show these Greeks how hookah is supposed to be done. After hanging out there for about an hour, I went back to the room and knocked out.
I slept till about 1430 (2:30 PM for the none government people) because I was freaking exhausted. I went from the United States to Dubai to Kuwait to Qatar to Athens in three days and it was finally catching up to me…. I woke up and got ready for my tour excursion I had booked. We went around Athens and saw some pretty solid stuff including the first Olympic Stadium, the tomb of the unknown soldier and of course, the infamous Acropolis. I won’t lie, if you have any intentions of visiting Greece, spend one day in Athens because I believe after you do all of the historic tours and learn about the city there isn’t much else to do there. Spend the rest of your days at the Islands because they are amazing and beautiful. While hiking up to the Acropolis, I met a really cool couple that was on their honeymoon so I kind of hung out with them. The groom was a software designer and the bride was a future photographer, they were really cool to talk too. After Acropolis, I was so exhausted I went back to the hotel and just knocked out. When I woke up, I went to eat a chicken gyro (because Greece duh) then went back to the hotel and knocked out again since I had an early flight to Santorini.
Another contracting friend was in Athens too so I convinced him to fly to Santorini with me for the day since flights were so cheap. I woke up early and almost missed the flight to Santorini. Not because I wasn’t on time but just because Athens is so confusing and I got so lost. Barely made my flight but guess what, I was Santorini bound!! Santorini has been on my bucket list for YEARS and the fact that I actually got to experience it just amazes me and makes me realize how truly grateful I am in this thing called life. So let’s fast forward, I get to Santorini and I have an excursion booked in Oia… I catch a cab to Oia and ask to take me to the closest hotel to the Port, where my excursion was, so I could sleep…. I wish it went that way, walked around for a few hours before someone offered to help and by then I was wired. I didn’t want to sleep, I wanted to explore. Santorini was beautiful. I went out into the city and met a really cool girl from Sweden who offered to take my pictures for me and then we even went and got breakfast together and talked for about an hour or two. After breakfast, it was time to make that trek down the steps of Oia to the port…. First off, I’m way too short for these steps. I’m 5’4 but shit, I felt like I was hobbling down those steps. Finally, after making it down the steps and figuring out which sunset cruise excursion was mine, I sat down and grabbed a glass of sangria (first drink of the trip by the way **patting myself on the back**) and talk business with a couple of people from Florida then headed to the dock where I met a really cool couple from NY but had recently moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL. I quickly bonded with this couple, we ended up drinking and swimming (so much swimming on this cruise by the way, don’t do a sunset cruise unless you can swim) together the rest of the day. We visited the hot springs which were really muddy and there were a lot of rocks. Also, we saw the active volcano in Santorini which was kind of surreal. It hasn’t been activated since 1954 (see I learned something) but it was still creepy to know it was an ACTIVE volcano. After that we went to the red sand beach which we weren’t even allowed to swim too because I guess rocks fall down frequently… However, we did attempt flipping into the Aegean Sea which for me was really back flopping into the ocean sideways and it hurt. After the red sand beach and more ouzo (a famous Greek drink that tastes like licorice cough syrup and isn’t very good at all, no offense to my Greek friends but y’all are cray if you like that), we headed to white sand beach… We were at white sand beach for awhile so Jess and I (the girl I met), attempted to snorkel but I think I failed miserably. We saw some fish and a metal thing, after that we were ready to get back on the boat. Then I somehow got inspired to do handstands and the crow pose and did that for about 45 minutes while random people took photos of me…. Yup we turned the party into a yoga class, judge me. After yoga, we got to eat food!!!! Probably the best part of this post, food has never tasted so freaking good man. I got the chicken kabobs which were uh-maze-ing and some other random Greek foods. Greek food is actually really good by the way, it’s so freaking good and they are so healthy. After eating I was ready to turn all the way up, change my flight and everything because I was having so much fun (this is where spontaneous Tia who doesn’t care about anything, comes in…..). Luckily, some people talked some sense into me after I convinced an entire circle of people to join in on the drinking games on the boat…. I decided the best thing for me was to head back to Athens, book my hotel for the night and then relax until my flight the following day. As much as I wanted to stay in Santorini because it’s freaking beautiful and amazing, I couldn’t because I needed to catch up on sleep and work.
So here I am, headed back to Athens and being responsible… What did I learn? Traveling solo isn’t as bad as people think but you have to be open to everything and anything. What I mean is: be friendly, make friends, book tours, have fun and most importantly ENJOY YOU. It’s pretty surreal to say I’ve been to Greece because it was such a spontaneous trip. Do I regret it?!? Hell no. I am obsessed with this country and it is completely safe. I walked around Santorini for hours by myself and it felt relaxing, the sound of the sea, the view of the sea, all just amazing and unreal. If you have the opportunity travel, travel with your friends, your significant other, and even travel by yourself if you have that opportunity. TAKE IT. I learned a lot during this trip and I challenge you guys to step outside your comfort zones and do something different. Travel often, even if it’s by yourself because it’s liberating. Until my next post, inshalla.