greece

Explorations in Santorini

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The last leg of my time in Greece was mostly spent in transit, wandering from one village to another and trying to soak up as much of the culture as I could before leaving. My friend and I moved to our second lodging in Kamari, a beachside town that was mostly shut down. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful, and the few places that were open couldn't compare to the Black Beach that Kamari is famous for.

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I was so thankful to be able to experience it without the swarm of tourists, to just see black sand and blue waves stretching uninterrupted into eternity. We arrived at the beach around dusk and the setting sun cast such a pure blue light over everything, amplifying the already vivid blue of the ocean.

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Exploring Kamari with such a blue light was magical in its own right, and it seemed to be reminiscent of a movie or television set to me -- how everything was composed, how the light made the mundane infinitely mysterious.

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There were a couple of little super markets in Kamari, but this one was different because it seemed to have a restaurant above.

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I also spent a fair bit of time in Thira, which is the capitol of Santorini. It was by far the busiest, most alive village in the island, and took my breath away yet again. In Thira is where I had my first, and sadly my only, gyro in Greece -- did you know they put french fries inside? I was not expecting that, but it was quite delicious.

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While wandering I came across this store with my name as its own and I wish it had been open so I could see just what Indigo sold.

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On the main street there was a café with benches just outside of it and I would sit 0n them, with this guy as my view and companion, to steal the free wifi and call my parents and gush about Greece.

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On my last day in Greece I ended back in Oia, paid one last visit to Atlantis Books and took in the oceanic views. Looking at these photographs makes me want to jump on a plane and go back, just for one more day.

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I Left My Heart in Oia

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The latter half of my time in Greece was spent in Santorini, and it breaks my heart that I'm gone. My friend and I split our time between two of Santorini's villages, starting with the famously-photographed Oia. And boy, did it blow us away. From Athens we took a seven hour ferry to the island, which was a quaint journey in its own right -- riding the metro before 7am, almost spilling coffee while walking back to my seat because I had forgotten how to walk on a boat, seeing the blue water spreading out in every direction. After arriving on the island, we took a taxi up to Oia. The road winds sharply through the cliffs of Santorini, always going higher and higher and it was only a bit nerve-wracking to experience.

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Once safely in Oia we found our airbnb that my friend had booked for us, and it was beautiful. Classic Greek architecture, complete with the white walls and accented with blue. Our apartment was HUGE -- there was a bedroom through the door in the middle, and a very spacious kitchen off to the right. We also had a spacious patio all to ourselves, as well as a bathroom in a standalone room outside.

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After getting settled we head out to explore, stopping every two seconds to take a photograph of something. Oia, and Santorini in general, is a labyrinth of stairs and winding walkways, with uneven paths to walk on. My legs were feeling it after only an hour or so, and I'm pretty sure exploring and wandering in Santorini was one of the most intense work-outs I've had since arriving in France.

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Our second day in Oia was gray, rainy, and so windy we could hardly walk outside at all. After fruitlessly trying to find somewhere that was open to shop, we ended up staying at the only open restaurant for a few hours, sipping heavenly cappuccinos and gushing about freshly made tzatziki, and learned from the waitress that day was a national holiday, which explained a lot. We went back to the apartment after, I read and my friend slept, before we ended up at the same restaurant for dinner.

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It was nice to be in Oia during an odd time in the year, which meant that there was a drastically smaller number of tourists than if I had gone in the summer, but I feel like there would have been more open a bit later in the year. Everywhere in Santorini only a fraction of shops, cafes, and restaurants were open, while the others were having repairs done and prepping for the tourist season in the spring and summer.

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I miss the view of the ocean so much already, and the sound of the waves at all hours of the day and night.

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One of the things that I really loved about Oia was the use of color -- with the majority of the buildings being white, color was used sparingly and meaningfully, but usually with a bit of playfulness. Plants offered a lot of color, while doors were also used to break up all of the white.

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My absolute favorite place in Oia is Atlantis Books, a beautiful, tiny bookstore with books in multiple languages that cover everything from fiction to poetry to mythology to travel guides. In my journal I wrote: "This is one of the most amazing bookstores I've ever been in! It's tiny and every surface is put to use, the walls are covered with shelves and quotes and it's being run by a guy who is working there this winter while the owners work at one of his bookstores in NYC. He lives there and it's all so goshdarn delightful."

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I picked up two books while I was there, on two different occasions, but information on those will be coming in a later post. Safe to say, however, that I couldn't be happier with what I ended up with!

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Every view from every point in Oia took my breath away. Looking at these photographs again makes me yearn to be surrounded by blue water. (The rivers in France are more of a murky brown than this gorgeous blue.)

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We did see the sunset in Oia and it was magical, breath-stealing, and magnificent. This was my favorite shot of it though, not the ones where you could actually see the sun. There was something magical as well about seeing the light change and play off of the buildings.

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One place I really wanted to go was Lolita's, but unfortunately it was closed the entire time I was in Santorini. It will just have to happen next visit, then!

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Adventures in Athens

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Last week was my winter break at school, and what better way to spend it than in Greece?! One of the girls in my study abroad program and I flew over last Thursday and didn't get back until Friday (hence the radio silence here). We decided to split our time between Athens and Santorini, starting with the land-locked city.

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Pretty much all I knew about Athens before going was that it housed the Acropolis and it was one of three cities in Greece I knew the name of. So the three days that we were there were filled with exploring and discovering this metropolis. When I was on the phone with my dad at one point he said it was like the New York City of Greece and I completely agree -- there's a hustle and bustle to the city that is reminiscent of NYC, a pulse of life that sweeps you into it from the first moment you're there.

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We ended up in a hotel that was minutes away from the square of the Acropolis on foot, and we could see the Acropolis from our balcony. The first hotel we were supposed to stay at was creepy, in a not-so-good part of town, and a 20 minute metro ride away from anything we would want to do. So we trusted our guts and booked at a different hotel, which was a much better experience. I'm glad that we paid for the first night and were able to move, be in a place that was exponentially better for our experience and peace of minds.

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When we weren't busy falling head over heels in love with Greek cuisine (which I miss sorely right now -- why can't I just walk out of my apartment and be able to get a gyro for 2€?) we tried to visit as many of the ancient sites as possible. The first one we explored was the ancient Agora, which we actually found on accident while looking for the entrance to the Acropolis.

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We found our way to the Acropolis next, and I know I've said it before here but having the opportunity to be in the presence of such rich history is insane. I will never get over just being able to walk into the Acropolis, stand less than 10 feet from the Pantheon and the old Temple of Athena.

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Unfortunately it was really rainy the day we went, and I was wearing my black ballet flats, which meant the climb was slow and anxiety-ridden -- any misstep could cause a colossal fall. But getting up to the Acropolis? More than worth it. It was breath-taking and one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

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There was graffiti EVERYWHERE in Athens, and most of it gorgeous, but these two pieces were my absolute favorites of all that I saw during my stay.

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We also visited the Arch of Hadrien, after getting profoundly lost, and I promise it's more impressive in person. Same with the Panathenaic Stadium. I was showing these photos to my mom over FaceTime and I had to explain to her that the scale of the Stadium is far greater than my camera could capture or convey.

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Yes, in the rain, I climbed all the way up to the top of the Stadium. Which is made of marble. How I did it without falling or slipping I will never know.

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This tunnel lead to a gallery of all the previous posters and torches of every Olympic Games. The entire thing reminded me of The Hunger Games, to be perfectly honest, of when Katniss is describing how previous years' arenas become resorts and tourist spots. How when the Games happened in Athens it was most likely a bit more bloody than they are nowadays.

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Of course I got first place -- in what? It doesn't matter. But there was strength in that podium that I try to remember every day I feel small.

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One of the highlights of Athens was definitely this over the top, decadent hot chocolate. Melted dark and white chocolate, with milk chocolate whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. What more could a girl ask for?