Saturday, June 19, 2010

Island Hopping

I decided, because I know I tend to get a little lazy as a solo traveler, that I would pack my days with visiting as many islands as possible after Christin left.  I succeeded in hitting up five Greek islands in 11 days.  I thought I would give you a little dose of my fav. moments from each.

1. Santorini
By far my favorite island!  The best sunsets and the BEST company!

2. Mykanos
Ahh, dancing til' 7am.  Just like Alexander the Great...

3. Paros
The best part about solo traveling is you are ready to chat with almost anyone.  Getting free iced coffee and cake and chatting the day away in a small village with Stavros.  Yes, they are really named Stavros over here.

4. Naxos
Getting so lost on a bike and cursing whoever thought it would be funny to draw a map with their eyes closed.

5. Syros
Oh maaaan, the flowers on this island made my heart hurt.  This was my last island before heading to Spain.

Now, I hop over to Spain for some quality Sunday family hangout time!  I will miss you delicious thing, you.

It's 3am: Dinnertime

I mean, its a totally normal thing for me to start taking my nap at 11:30pm, pull my friend out of her deep slumber on a lounge chair and force her into the shower so we can get ready to go out at 2am.  Yup, just like home.  At first we sort of thought it was a joke and we would get down to the bar area and there wouldn't be a soul around; not at all.  So, we joined the ranks of the locals and sat down to a lovely dinner (of a crepe) at 2am.  Mind you that is usually when im ending my night with pizza in hand.

We met some lovely locals who had made it out of Athens alive and were enjoying some much needed R&R.  After getting lost in the alleys of Mykanos and passing the same creperie 27 times, we made it to the dancefloor!

Then, as I was breaking it down to the 4th round of "When Love Takes Over" (ps. thank you K. Rowland for giving me my travel jam), Christin grabbed my hand to pull me outside.  I forgot the world keeps spinning while I am on the dance floor and suddenly the sun was up.  Funny how that happens. Good morning, Mykanos!!

That morning, before I could cry and pout about it, Christin was gone :(  What an amazing travel partner you were C-Smith!  Magical things happened, we always found the perfect food, the spirit dog, our heavenly B&B, gyros, Muslim cats, Christ cruises and vino.  Good things always happened to us, even if we found ourselves in the oddest of places.  Can't wait to make it all happen in S.F!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zoom, Zoom (whisper it)

Usually I like to walk on the safer side of life, (I realize traveling alone in Asia and swinging on trapeze above rocks doesn't fall into that category), but for the most part I keep it Kosher.  But there is something about zooming around on a scooter that makes life just a little sweeter.  Putting Papa and Mama Sunday's best wishes aside, I jumped on an ATV with Christin and checked out the rest of Santorini.  Phenom!

We ended the day in the classic Greek way, a dinner of chocolate crepes and white wine.  And yes, another sunset for dessert.

After 3 glooorious days on Santorini we decided to jump on a ferry and check out another one of my dream islands: Mykanos!
One of my favorite moments happened in the first few minutes of being on the island.  After getting the run-around by a hotel rep (taking us to a different site than promised) we ended up in the smoky office of a travel agent.  We sat there for a few minutes watching her fumble with a search engine until my sassy travel partner got up and politely said, "umm...can I do that for you?"  What I love about Christin: teaching the Greek travel agent how to search for hotels on Google.

Thankfully, Christin and the newly educated travel agent, found us this place!  Yes...home for a few days while discovering Mykanos!

We jumped on another motorbike and hit the beach to soak up the last of the sunlight.  A nap was in high demand because we were going to do as the Greek do that night and head out starting at
2am.  We SO crazy!

Hiking Across the World...Or Like 6 Miles

You know you are traveling with a good person when you hear from your B&B hosts, "There is a 6 mile hike that takes 4 hours..." and without even hesitating both of you look at each other and say, "Oh hell ya!".   Anyone that knows the Sunday family knows that we are hiking people, so I was pretty stoked to find out I could hike on the cliffs of Santorini and maybe get an ice cream at the end.

 We started the day with pouring rain, which made me want to cry cause all I have wanted to do is take some fabulous pictures of the cliffs and houses I wished I owned.  I don't know who or what heard this from above, but as soon as we pulled up to the town of Fira, the clouds parted, sun shine poured down, and im pretty sure I saw unicorns dancing about.  I was a happy girl.  So...our 6 mile hike began!

We trecked for hours, stopping every two minutes to either say, "Oh myyy loooord this is amazing" or take pictures of the same things eight times just from different angles.  We felt pretty hard core by the time we got to the other end of the mountains and were rewarded with another unreal sunset, and obviously a frozen product from Nestle. 

We hopped on a bus to take our tired little feet home and just in time for me to snap a picture of Fira winding down for the day, or just starting up depending on how you look at it!  What a perfect day...thank you weather for not raining on my parade!

Next up, a little ATV cruising through the island.  Shhh....Dad, don't look.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Those Sassy Sunsets

Aw man, I love chasing sunsets around the world.  This was the one of the "must dos" on my list for Greece and thankfully, as long as I threw some wine and cheese in there, CSmith was game!  (She liked to do things sans wine and cheese too, but lets be honest, its all better with a little vino).  After getting good advice from our hotel parents and missing the much-needed bus, we hopped in a car with Spiros who drove us to our destination.  That is a stellar hotel dad who doesn't want you to miss the sunset so he drives you himself.  You can see why!

We were some happy girls at the top of the world!!

Perfect ending to a perfect Santorini night!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Big Fat Greek...Road Trip

Out of the Middle East and into the land of white houses and blue water!  Not that I don't love the architecture of Israel, but honestly...nothing comes even remotely close to what Greece has to offer.  C-Smith and I were only a little stoked to set food on our black sand beach.

We arrived in Santorini after a night of getting up at 2am to catch our bus, Christin on about an hour of sleep, so you can imagine we were ready for our first amazing Greek meal.  Yesss..from here on out it was wine and crepes anytime we stopped for food.  In between, we managed to squeeze in some gyros.

Our first B&B was a HUGE step up from our place in Tel Aviv that smelled so badly of smoke we could hardly sleep.  It was called Hotel Zorzis and for anyone ever traveling to Santorini, please take my word and go stay here.  The owners, Loco and Spiros, were an amazing couple that were like our Greek parents.  One night I was sharing pics I took of their place (seen below) and they loved them so much that they traded us a free nights stay for use of my pics on their website.  I am now a professional photog, once Spiros learns how to actually download the pictures.

Christin showing Spiros and Loco her IPad, that thing was like carting around a really cute puppy; everyone stopped us to look at it and ask to touch it.

Amazing start to our Greek adventure!  Wish we had some traveling pants...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Few More Goodn's

Just a few more from our tromp through the city.  How all good travelers do it these days: navigation via IPad:

A good reason to NOT bring a leopard rolly bag to go backpacking through a few countries.  I think she learned her lesson as soon as we hit the mass crowds in the Arab Quarter.  Don't let this fool you, by the end we were carting a huge mirror, coffee set, mugs and my favorite, a huge knife that she thought would be a good idea to purchase.  All in the name of tourism, C-Smith...this is also a pic of the streets at 1am sans tourists and shwarma.

We also visited the Wall on Shavuot, a holiday here in Israel.  Everyone flocks to the wall at midnight to start the celebration.  I wish I could say we made it that late, but I decided to play with a cat earlier that day and couldnt breathe by the time 12 rolled around.  Here is a pic of some Jews we decided to follow down the alley (multiply that by hundreds and that was what it looked like), and the dreaded Muslim cat from our hotel.

We spent some time at the Western Wall and then decided to take me even further outside my comfort zone and cross over to see the Dome of the Rock.  It was actually beautiful on the other side, and until then, I didnt even realize you could visit.  There are certain times when non-Muslims can visit; I decided to leave my "I Work for Birthright Israel" tshirt at home that day.

It was an amazing week in Israel, getting to play tour guide and trying some things I never would have dreamed. Next up is Greece where I have been DYING to visit since I saw Mama Mia. Haha..just kidding, it was at least a week before I saw the movie that I got the idea.