After producing the exhausting magazine project with my fellow international semester classmates, it was time for a break for awhile. And good thing, too, because we had a break from school for 10 days for Easter...and I had a flight booked to Greece!
Oh my goodness, I can't even say how much I loved Greece. I hope I will never consume as much olive oil and feta cheese as I did in that week, though, because we ate damn good on that trip — especially since both of my travel buddies, Nicole Cairns and Lauren Smith, were in the middle of reading "Eat, Pray, Love." And maybe we didn't get all of those points down, but we at least did the Eat, Eat, Eat part!
All I can say that is if you go to the Greek islands, every single one of them is different. We decided to skip Athens and the mainland, but I am not so sorry about this because we had such a fantastic time traveling from Kos to Santorini to Rhodes and then back to Kos. And the islands were so distinct from each other, it was like arriving in a new country every time!
We arrived in Kos because that's where RyanAir wanted to take us — we didn't necessary pick the island for anything special. But I am so glad we went, because it became our home away from home away from home while we were in Greece.
The town is a lot smaller than other islands and is also less tourist-y. It's not the island many people think to go to and a lot of the tourists are actually Scandinavians because of the flight out of Oslo. But it is quite a bit more authentic and the locals are so kind and outgoing. Everyone, especially the hotel staff, took such good care of us and we actually ended up hanging out with quite a few different groups of people while we were there. I was in love!
Kos was a fantastic first impression of Greece, so we were even more excited to go to Santorini. After a five-hour boat right in the middle of night, we arrived in Santorini in the dark, but it was still so beautiful! We awoke in the morning to not-the-best weather, but it could not cover up the beauty of the island, with it's picturesque white-washed houses and blue doors and, of course, more food that we needed to consume.
We spent the first day wandering, shopping and, yes, eating and on the second day we took an excursion! Santorini is made up of three islands, so we took a boat (after walking down a million stairs) to a volcanic island! The weather was worse than the day before so it was incredibly rainy and even colder since we were on a boat, but that did not stop us from our hike.
After the volcano, with its small geysers and sulfuric green water, we sailed to a hot spring and were told that because it was too shallow for the boat, if we wanted to go, we had to jump in and swim to it — into the freezing cold Aegean. So, I said, why the heck not? And I jumped in and swam to the hot springs — which were more like the lukewarm springs.
It was insane, but I was so happy I did it. It was so invigorating and I never do stuff like that, so I felt very adventurous and was really happy with myself. Plus, it was so beautiful back in the spring, with goats climbing the hills surrounded it and the weird greenish water. I only regret that I could not bring my camera with me!
We ended the day in Oia, the most beautiful part of Santorini, in my opinion. It has the white-washed houses like in the main city, Fira, but is much more quaint and has a great small-town feel to it. Plus, the sunsets there are breathtaking.
After three nights in Santorini, we hopped a ferry to Rhodes. I don't think we planned our ferries very well because this ferry was to take us fifteen hours — and in addition to that, the ferry was an hour and a half late and got to the port an hour late, in addition to that. We didn't get to Rhodes until 8 p.m. and it was dark and rainy and boy, were we tired!
However, we were invigorated by the awesomeness of Rhodes. The place is so old and medieval and our hotel was behind the walls of a castle, in the Old Town. And because it was dark and rainy when we arrived, it even added to the mystery of the place — we felt as if we had time traveled!
That night and the next day, we mostly shopped and ate, as we had done before. We had a great time trying to find the best "deals" at restaurants, as people would try to coax you into their restaurants by offering discounts. Our favorite deal was always free alcohol and yes, we got a lot of it. Our last meal in Rhodes included a free bottle of champagne, thanks to some flirting. We had a fantastic time.
After only one day in Rhodes, we went back to Kos and it felt like we were home again. It was the day before Easter and the city was preparing for the festivities, and they were beautiful. One common tradition is the blowing up of fireworks, which was quite alarming when we didn't know that. They also have an affinity for cooking an entire lamb on a rotisserie in the middle of the street and serve it at midnight on Sunday morning, the moment when Jesus is resurrected.
One of my favorite things we attended for eater was the midnight vigil. Everyone gathers outside the church and brings a candle and from one single candle, each candle is lit. It symbolizes the everlasting light of Christ. It was a beautiful moment and I enjoyed it very much, especially since I couldn't be home for Easter with my own family.
Greece was amazing and I know I will go back someday. I have been to other places and have had a great time, but know that it's just to go, enjoy it, and then mark it off your list. But with Greece, I had such a beautiful time and enjoyed the people so much and it is so diverse that I know I will have to go back someday! There is so much to see — it's unavoidable.