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Published: July 19th 2011
July 12th - 18th
Have you ever been on a plane next to a panicked screamer when there is turbulence? Well I was next to four of them. However, when I landed I finally got to see a familiar face from back home, my friend Sarah was waiting at baggage claim for me. We plan to spend the next three weeks traveling Greece and Turkey together, starting in Athens, island hopping over to Turkey and ending in Istanbul. Right before heading to the airport, I looked up a hotel that I had booked weeks earlier and I read some reviews and it turns out it is in a shady neighborhood within Athens. When I booked it, all i looked at was the price and the location, both I thought we were real lucky to get. So after giving Sarah instructions on how to handle different scenarios that might occur, we caught the Metro to a stop very close to the hotel. Those reviews put me on high alert, basically i was walking as if i owned the street, this must be how Chuck Norris feels all the time. Turns out during the day its not that bad of an
After relaxing for a bit and taking showers, we headed out for our first dinner somewhere near the city center. That was interesting. We encountered prostitutes, drug dealers, drug addicts, civil protestors (heard about the riots going on here?), stray dogs, garbage, and finally riot police fully decked out with their shields... all within the 15-20 minutes it took us to find a place to eat. It turns out we were right by the city parliament building was, which is the area you see on the news all the time regarding the riots happening constantly in Athens. During dinner, the number of riot police walking towards the massive crowd of protestors we past coming in kept increasing, so right when we finished, we headed right back and used the time to start planning the next day.
Despite not sleeping on either of our flights, somehow we both woke up around 4am which allowed us to get a real early start for our day of sightseeing. Basically, the main tourist attraction in Athens is the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Basically the Acropolis is the hill/mountain that the temples city on. It actually means “High City.” The
Parthenon is the temple on top dedicated to the greek goddess Athena. Today, it stands as the symbol of Ancient Greece. Right after breakfast I got Sarah her coffee fix and we started our journey up the giant hill which the Parthenon sits. It didn’t open till 8am and we were there by 8:20am, and thank g-d we were cause it was hot and sunny (roughly 95 degrees) this day and the crowds were massive by the time we left. In total we were there about 2 1/2 hours, if we would have started at 10am, the same route would have taken about 5 hours. Sometime when I was running around in my Where’s Waldo costume on top of one of the most historic mountains in the world, did i have one of those moments when traveling when it just hits you where you are. Pretty amazing. The rest of the day we spent in different markets and walking around. The next day we did the markets, shopping and walking some more. I did buy a scarf and my first pair of European jeans, still kinda tight for my liking but i bought one a few sizes bigger to give
me as much room as possible. One of the best things about Greece so far has been the food. Finally a country that loves meats as much as I do. Had some pretty amazing lamb, burgers, and much more.
The next morning we had to be up real early to catch a ferry to Santorini. When we got there it looked amazing but that feeling quickly was overshadowed by frustration and anger when I realized there were only a few cabs on the whole island and we had no idea how to get to our hotel. We got some food nearby, which was one of the worst meals i had in the last 10 years and costs were ridiculous, which didn’t help my anger. I finally saw a cab, but for some reason he wouldn’t take us and two minutes later took 3 other people. I was close to just renting a car when a shop owner heard us and a couple near us talking and offered to take the 4 of us for 40 euros total, so we had to take it. The hotel is pretty amazing and is close to the beach. So we spent the
rest of the first day at the beach which is known because it has black sand (and i do mean black, not gray). Santorini is the site of one of the top 5 volcanic eruptions in history. In fact, the whole island and the ones nearby are the top of the volcano and the water between them is the center of it. Because of this there are so many cool places and features on this island that make it amazing to be at. First the water is warming and has higher salt content making it easier to float. I also noticed the waves don’t really go directly to the shore, they move almost horizontal. I was quoted as saying, “I feel like a volcano just threw up on me.”
Our frisky and flirtatious hotel owner recommended a boat tour for the next day, and i’m glad she did, it was amazing. I do recommend staying at Bella Santorini if you ever go there. The hotel is right next to the beach in a quiet section of the island. Well, first we started the day at the beach again and right after lunch we started the sail boat tour.
There were about 14 people on this tour, 3 couples just got married and were honeymooning. It started by taking us along the coast and showed us the different beaches. Some beaches have red sand, some black and some white. Near the white sand beach, the sail boat stopped and gave us snorkels and masks to jump out and swim around the boat. Once again, I broke out where’s waldo but made sure to hang on to the hat this time in the water. Next they took us to the center of the volcano and to a spot known for the hot springs. Because the volcano is still active, just hundreds of feet under the water, there are certain spots you can swim where the water just gets real warm, although most of the time it seemed like just one side of the body got warm and the other side was still in cold water. Once we got back to the boat i was quoted as saying, “Hey guys, I just peed in a volcano.” How many people can say that? The crew then made us a great dinner then started heading out to sea to find a good spot
for the sunset. Santorini is famous for the sunsets. They have been rated by many magazines and travel sites as one of the top 3 spots on this planet to watch the sunset. This too was amazing.
The next day chipped in to rent a car with a Canadian couple that was on the day cruise from the day before and they happened to be staying at the same hotel as us. We started off going to the red beach to tan and swim for about an hour. Following that we headed to Kamari Beach to cliff dive. One of my favorite travel websites, Off Track Planet, had a list of the top 10 places in the world to cliff dive and one of them was on this beach in Santorini, so we went on the hunt for this spot. After getting to the beach, there was only one cliff that could possibly be the spot so we started walking. After passing many topless sunbathers (maybe I was the only one noticing that), we reached the cliff and noticed some people taking the jump, so it must be safe. I would guess the ledge was about 30-35 feet
up and there was a stoney walkway carved into the cliff. As I climbed up there were signs posted saying “Cliff diving is dangerous and illegal” but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from doing it. To me, it seemed the most dangerous part was climbing out to the ledge since it was wet and slippery and the last thing you wanted to do was slip since there were rocks all along the bottom. This means you can’t exactly just step off, you do have to jump or you would be in some trouble. Sarah said she wanted to go first and after she had second thoughts, I climbed out. After looking down for a second I knew i didn’t want to stand up there to long so I just jumped. It did seem to take awhile before hitting the water and experiencing salt water rushing into parts of the body I cant mention on this blog. It was pretty thrilling although i was hoping for a little more of an adrenaline rush. What took away from it was a fact i learned right before, this is where they shot a scene in the movie, “Sisterhood of the traveling pants”
and all these teenage girls supposedly jumped from the same cliff. Anyways, I look up to see Sarah still deciding if she wanted to do it. This went on for some time but after about 3 almost jumps and an hour later, Sarah finally did it! I guess some guys did it about 8 times and was sick of seeing her still up there every time. After tanning some more we continued our tour of the island by going to the small city of Fara and walking around before watching the sunset, not as good as the night before though. We then went to dinner and headed back to the hotel to pack cause the next morning we had to catch a flight to Rhodes and a ferry to Turkey. We did run into a slight problem in Rhodes when all the taxis were on strike so we had to take a bus as close to the port as possible and walk the rest, but we didnt really know where it was, but we finally made it. Also the Passport Control agent held up the line on me cause he had a hard time finding my latest entry stamp cause
my passport is almost full, even with extra pages added. This could be trouble soon cause i’m not sure if i can get another set of pages added. Well I made it through and i am now in Turkey!
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