Europe Begins with Greece and the Greek Islands

23rd of April 2016:

I had all of 20 minutes of disturbed sleep before we arrived in Dubai. We had a 4 hour stopover before catching the plane to Athens. Coincidently we were in the exact same terminal and only 3 numbers different, so I felt like I knew where everything was. We fell asleep on the lounge chairs for 2 hours. It was just what I needed to survive till the next plane. We bought Mc Donald’s again with our food vouchers from the aeroplane. I was so skeptical when they gave us the vouchers with our boarding passes because I was concerned that meant we would be delayed even longer but apparently they were being nice. However once again not much was open apart from McDonalds so here we were again eating double cheeseburger meals for breakfast. It just makes me feel so ill, but when you gotta eat, you gotta eat. At 10am we were boarding our plane again off to Athens. Nick hasn’t been to Europe so I was so excited for him. We bounded on the plane to find we were the second to last seats. The last two rows on the side are only 2 people which is good that it means your not sitting next to some stranger but bad in the way that we can’t spread out.

Greece

When we arrived in Athens we waited in line for only 5 minutes to get through customs. It’s not like it’s exactly hard for Australians to get in anyways. We just have to stay less than 99 days before paying for a visa. We grabbed our bags from the carousel and a map and were on our way to the bus to the city. I honestly don’t even know how to catch a bus back at home so for me to catch a bus in a foreign country I am fathomed on how I actually successfully arrived at the hostel. The bus ride however was a good hour. Once we were in the city square we took a trolleybus for 2km to the street our hostel was on and arrived safe and sound. It has been a very long day and I was beyond exhausted but we still walked around the block to explore. 

Our aim was to get some dinner as we explore what the city has to offer. We found a little yiros place opposite a church. No one spoke a word of English apart from one waiter who only knew the basics. However only 5 minutes after working out what the chicken yiros was, it was served in front of us. Their yiros’ are by far the best yiros I’ve ever eaten. I know that you would hope Greece has good yiros but it tasted fresher than back home. They filled it with lettuce, tomato, chicken and chips. The chips are quite foreign but good. Half way through our yiros I heard Nick say “omg” as I turn around I saw 8 men and women running down the street towards us all in black with black balaclavas. With what’s been happening in the last 6 months in Europe this is terrifying. My heart sunk and I stopped breathing. All of a sudden they threw pamphlets in the air and started giving away free frozen chicken to the people in the line to go to church and on the street. Within 5 seconds the whole ordeal was over. Everyone was confused as to what was going on, especially the old lady with a free chicken. It looked as if they had just robbed the supermarket (they still had the supermarket basket) and just did a runner to give back to the people. I would rather free chicken then what originally crossed both our minds. After this ordeal instead of drifting off to sleep we walked around the night markets for an hour before heading back to the hostel.

24th of April 2016:

Our first full day in Europe, and my god we did not take it easy. Our plan was to go see the Acropolis and that we definitely did. We were up and ready for the day. The Acropolis is huge one that makes me exhausted just thinking about it. We started our walk to the main Acropolis through a botanical garden where we saw little turtles in a water fountain. As we walked past the Parliament House I had read about the changing of the guards at 10am and as it was 9:45am and the cues were building I suggested to Nick for us to stay and watch it. He simply said “why would that even be exciting”. Clearly he did not do any reading about Athens or know of how cool they can be. The police pushed us to the other side of the road when 30 seconds later we heard drums. There was a band playing and the soldiers marching behind. When I say marching the first imagine that comes to mind is the normal marches, however their march is far more unique and bizarre to say the least. They lift one leg up straight then put it down whilst then take a normal march step. 

Changing Of The Guard, Athens, Greece

Even changing of the guard their balancing on one foot before taking another step. Their balance skills are incredible. Once they had arrived into the parliament it was a stampede to get to the front, on the other side of the road. Literally people were running in front of children, no one cared about anyone else apart from themselves. Even Nick left me behind to get to the front whilst I was stuck behind some big Italian woman. 

Changing Of The Guard, Athens, Greece

We then walked down to the main square where we jumped on a double decker tour bus to jump on and off around the Acropolis. Nick didn’t want to do this at all and it wasn’t until half way through the day that I realised this. I like to learn about what I see but the tour bus wasn’t very good anyways. The bus dropped us off at the top of the hill where the Acropolis was. By the time we arrived it was past lunch time and the line was unfortunately long. The sun was beaming down on us while we waited 15 minutes to buy our tickets. As we walked through and up the hill we saw a huge amphitheatre where they perform concerts. 

Acropolis, Athens

Further up the large Acropolis sat on top of the hill overlooking the modern Athens. To imagine how they built these with no technology or machinery is unfathomable. The structures are huge, it makes me look like an ant walking next to the white pillars. We walked all the way around taking in the modern Athens with the contrast of the Ancient Greek ruins. 

Acropolis, Athens

We walked back down the hill to go to the museum on the other side. After 15 minutes of walking we reached a little area with statues as I went to go show my ticket I realised I had completely lost it. It was no where to be found in my bag and we had already been walking around for 2 hours it could be anywhere. I didn’t want to line up again and pay another $30 euros. So Nick who was more in the right mindset than me said “we should trace our steps.” Well at this stage I was just angry at myself, basically feeling as though I want to throw a little tantrum. We started to walk back up the steps when I remembered I put food in the bin that was in a plastic bag. Thankfully the plastic bag was still sitting on top of the bin and inside was the ticket. A huge relief rushed over me. We walked down to the new museum. On the way a lady gave us a rose, “apparently” free. Over the trip what I have learnt is no one gives away things for free no matter what it is. As she put it in our hands we walked off. Then she started saying how we must give her money for the apparent baby she has. We refused and gave her back the rose. It’s not our fault she wouldn’t take it back. It became so frustrating that I gave her one euro to shut her up so we could leave. We haven’t been fooled like that so congratulations to her for getting one euro. 

By the time we eventually made it to the museum it was 3pm. The museum is impressive, the best museum I’ve ever been in, and surprisingly only $5 euro. The museum has four levels comprising of historic ruins, statues, pots etc. The bottom floor is mostly glass as you walk over the protected ruins. It’s amazing how you can be so close and yet still be able to preserve them without the damage of 1000’s of visitors each and everyday. The consecutive levels consist of a security guard every 5 metres telling people “no photo”. I can understand why Greece is in such a financial debt they have at least 50 security guards whilst only charging $5 euros for one of the best museums in the world. As well as no one pays for public transport as they never have anyone to check if they do, even other Europeans know this. The museum took us only an hour and a half to get through but it was definitely worth it.

We continued walking down to where we found another ruin with a huge corridor and pillars lining down it. We continued our walk through the botanical gardens before the sun was setting. 

After 15 minutes of trying to find where to eat dinner we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the ruins as the sun finally said goodbye for the day. 

What a magical first day in Europe, let’s see where the next two months takes us.

25th of April 2016:

Today’s ANZAC day, normally on this day I wake up early to go the local community dawn service down the street and then walk a further 200m to the Cherry Gardens hall to have sausage sizzle. However, today was not the normal routine, we awoke fairly late for our standards. Today was definitely a waste of a day as we tried to organise our ferry to the Greek islands. After a few hours of trying to decipher which islands and for how long, the booking cancelled. We had no idea why, the money had been taken out of Nicks account but then put back in only 10 minutes later. So at 3pm we raced down to the square to discuss it with a travel agent. She became so frustrated with us when we explained the situation saying that she doesn’t know if it went through or not, even though that is not what we were asking. Nick can be confusing when he speaks to other people who do not speak English. He doesn’t speak simply but asks numerous confusing questions. After I calmed her down and simply said can you book us tickets we were fine. Apparently we had to pay in cash though even though there was a eftpos machine behind her and the window says visa and MasterCard accepted. We walked down the street to get money out, if only today had been as simple as I had wished. As Nick tried to get money out of the ATM it kept rejecting him. He started to panic, as would anyone, after 3 ATM’s rejecting his card I took extra money out to pay for both of our ferry tickets. After paying the woman we went to find another ATM but once again it would not accept. There was not much more we could do until we got back to the hostel so the next best idea was to go shopping. I wanted to buy new clothes because the European standards is a bit different to camping in Africa and travelling around South East Asia. I bought bathers and a new top. Although it’s not much it’s nice to wear something different after 4 months. 

26th of April 2016:
Today’s the day we go explore the Greek islands. We arranged a taxi to pick us up at 6:30am. From what I had become accustomed to in Asia and Africa buying the cheapest ferry ticket means you are either on a boat travelling like Refugees or sitting on your backpack. However the European standards means 3 stories with cars, escalators, restaurants and lounges with tables. When we found two seats spare I sat down feeling like we were treated like royalty. To have a comfortable chair that’s stuck in place is amazing. 

Ferry To Naxos, Greece

We were off to Naxos, only a 4 hour journey which consisted of writing and playing solitaire by myself whilst Nick slept across two chairs. 

When we began to arrive in Naxos, it looked like a postcard. We were both so excited seeing the white buildings and sailing boats. As we stepped off the ferry I could see how clear and turquoise the water was. As we walked down the dock between beautiful sailing boats we saw our free hotel pickup waiting for us. It was so nice to know that I didn’t have to try and navigate how to get to our hostel or have to walk a mile. 

Naxos, Greek Islands

Our hostel is so nice, it’s more a hotel with a private room, bathroom and balcony. It would have cost us the same to stay in a dorm room so we opted for the private. Especially after being with 24 or 11 people 24-7 in Africa it’s always nice to have some of your own time and space. Where you don’t feel obliged to talk and you don’t have to lock up all your belongings when you leave.

As usual we decided to go for a walk around the island. However we began with lunch as we were both starving and it was 2pm by this stage. I ordered a classic Greek salad and it was gorgeous the best Greek salad I’ve ever had. All the vegetables tasted so fresh and the huge block of feta sitting on top just made it even more scrumptious. Then we walked like we usually do all around the island, inland and along the coast. We found a gorgeous little rock pool which would be gorgeous if it wasn’t 10 degrees in the water. By the time we finished our walk it was sunset. We were in bed fairly early just relaxing when as usual I became hungry. We went and got a quick yiros before actually going to sleep.

27th of April 2016:

Waking up on the Greek islands is just as magical as you may imagine. It’s like knowing you have complete freedom. Our plan was to adventure down the island to another beach where we would spend the day. After waking up late and slowly getting ready we were out the door. Breakfast consisted of omelette, bread and jam, orange juice, water and coffee. As we arrived at the bus station to buy our ticket to go to the beach we found out it didn’t leave until 2pm. As it was currently 12pm I didn’t know what to do. So we wandered around, got some more drinks and then eventually sun baked on the stone next to the water.

By the time we arrived at the beach the sun was well and truly in the middle of the air. As we walked around the coast to the beach we walked past something that I truly will never get out of my head. I nudist beach. Oh god did I get the pleasure to see everything, it’s absolutely horrifying. 80 year olds walking around with nothing on. I didn’t know where to look. They were just everywhere. Eventually after 10 minutes walking down the beach we found a area that was a bit more private in the schemes of people’s “private” areas.

We only spent 2 hours sun baking by the water but it was so relaxing. It was all we needed though as I was too fidgety to lie down for so long doing nothing. 

We headed back to catch the last bus to town at 6pm. The rest of the night consisted of walking and having dinner by the sailing boats. I love Naxos it has a true community feel about it. I definitely prefer the less touristy places.

28th of April 2016:
Today we decided to go to the beach across from our hotel. The first day we arrived there was one person, now today families galore were everywhere. As once again we woke up late we had lunch on the beach. I had another gorgeous Greek salad whilst Nick had an amazing stuffed eggplant. If the Greeks know anything it is definitely how to cook the most fresh and gorgeous dishes. 

Naxos, Greek Islands

We found a little private beach secluded from people and the wind. It was one of those days where you think to yourself how privileged you are to live like your retired before actually beginning the working life. We stayed here for 3 hours before deciding to get gelato of course. We then walked to the other side of the island where the ports come in and sun baked on the rocks there. I’m not sure if your suppose to but no one ever notices you that far out and the rock warms your body up.

The sun started to set so we decided to head back. We watched the sunset over the ocean while a sail boat passed. 

Naxos, Greek Islands

It was undescribable how beautiful the entire situation was. Whilst the sun shed the last of its light reflecting on the buildings and water behind us.

29th of April 2016:

Today we say goodbye to beautiful Naxos and travel to Santorini. Today also marks 100 days of travelling. Can’t believe how fast time has gone! Our ferry wasn’t until 12pm so our lovely hotel drove us to the port. Our ferry arrived with 100’s of people pouring out waiting for their Greek island adventure to begin as we were sadly leaving what is my favourite island. We got on the ferry for 2 more hours to arrive in Santorini. Santorini has always had this amazing appeal to it. As if it’s the most gorgeous island known to date. The rich and wealthy fly from 1000’s of kms to sip champagne and watch the sunset. However when we arrived it looked rather boring. The port arrives into a huge cliff face. With no buildings in sight apart from on the top. As we arrived the hotel didn’t pick us up. I don’t know if there was a communication confusion or if they just forgot but we had no idea what to do. By the time we got wifi and tried calling them we had missed the local bus. A guy kept trying to get us to rent a car even though we didn’t want to. We jumped into the last taxi available. I was all happy thinking at least we would get there with no hassle, especially how it was on the other side of the island. The taxi had however dropped us off at the wrong hotel leaving us 3km away from the hotel we had originally said. I was fuming. I felt like a child I was just so angry, my bag was heavy and the last thing I wanted to do was walk 3km. Finally we had made it and the feeling of putting my bag down was amazing. I didn’t even want to talk I was just so angry about the whole ordeal. Thankfully we were in another private room. We went out for a walk. Normally this puts me back into a good mood, especially walking along the beach but the sand was black. It was to confusing for my mind to process. It felt as if I was walking on gravel not soft white sand. The sand is black due to the volcano right next to Santorini. I honestly wasn’t feeling to well by this stage I felt drained and as if a cold was coming on, my entire body just ached. By the time we did a lap of the beach I asked if we could have dinner because all I wanted was to go to sleep. The place I choose was different to say the least, I only chose it because we were walking past it. I went to go sit inside, when our waiter came over, it was clear he was smashed. He was telling us we have to go outside its beautiful. Even though it was clear it was about to rain in 2 minutes. Non the less we moved just so he would stop telling us too. 30 seconds later it started raining. Well this just added to my day. He gave us a free shot, and then was satisfied to leave us in peace. By the time I got into bed it was only 7pm. It felt so much later but my body still ached all over and I started feeling as though my body was on fire. So maybe it was a good idea I went to bed early.

30th of April 2016:

I woke up feeling horrible. Honestly if I was home I would have spent the entire day in bed but we only had one day in Santorini so I didn’t have much choice. It was either see Santorini or see the wall in my room of Santorini. I felt like I had a cold, my whole body still ached, head to toe. We walked over to hire a quad bike. However as Nick forgot his licence I was the one who had to drive. I love my quad bike at home on the farm but not when I have to drive on the wrong side of the road and actually on the road. The only part I liked of driving it was when we were going straight. As soon as I had to turn the corner I screamed and wanted to get off. My brain just couldn’t comprehend driving on the right hand side. I had to keep watching cars in front of me so I could know where they were going. Although once I had to turn the corner with no car in front of me and I just screamed driving in the middle because there was a bus coming out and no lane lines. I should not be allowed to drive. Once I finally stopped the bike and got off I was more relieved, but my body still ached. 

Santorini, Greek Islands

We walked around Ori in Santorini where all the beautiful white buildings and resorts are. Honestly I don’t know what the big hype is about this place. Of course it’s beautiful, but unless I was living it up in one of the five star resorts and having my butler at a click of a finger it really wasn’t that enticing. All I was doing was watching other people click their fingers for their butler to run after them. Finally after an hour and a half we stopped to have some food. 

Santorini, Greek Islands

The flu sucks, it just drains all your energy out of you. I ordered a chocolate pancake with strawberries. Honestly this was the best chocolate pancake and strawberries I’ve ever had. At first it just looked like it had a sprinkle of chocolate syrup, and I was like oh god there is not enough chocolate but then once you cut into it Nutella oozes out. 

We walked around for another 2 hours till we called it a day to head back to our accommodation. I was so happy for this all I wanted to do was rest. Nicks friend from the hills, Mel was in Santorini so we planned to catch up with her for dinner. There is nothing worse than knowing your going to have to make conversation when you feel horrible. However after a nice warm shower and putting make up on I tricked myself into looking the part. We walked over to the restaurant where we said we would meet. We were 10 minutes late so I thought she would have already been waiting for us, but we did not see her. We sat in the restaurant till 7:30pm when Nick got up to go back to the hotel 200m behind us to get wifi to ask her where she was. Still I was sitting here without seeing anyone. As Nick walks up to the restaurant he asks if that is Mel, she had completely walked past without even looking in. Nick runs after her as she turns down the road to go back to her hostel. I don’t know if she was trying to do a runner or what but he caught up to her. We went out to dinner at the only place that was really open. I ordered a pizza, which ended up being huge whilst they just had dips. Nick did eat a burger at 5pm though.

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