Greece is a place that has always been at the top of my bucket list. I've always been mesmerized by the pictures of crystal blue water the endless white houses. The place seemed too good to be true.
I had the opportunity to travel to Greece in May with my mom and spend time in Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. While I've always had an idea of how Greece would be in my mind, I can honestly say that when I got there, all my expectations were exceeded. It was truly a place that made me pinch myself every second to comprehend that I wasn't dreaming- I was actually living and breathing in Greece.
The beauty of Greece cannot be expressed deeply enough. Greece is known for its obvious beauty: the rows of white buildings, colorful sunsets, and blue doors. Not only were those aspects beautiful, but it was the hidden beauty that stood out. I was in awe of every corner- every street, church, hidden alleyway. There was beauty everywhere I looked. This can account for why I took over 3,000 photos in a span on seven days, yet NO picture could really do justice or capture what I was seeing first hand.
While in Greece, I kept a journal to document all my feelings and impressions. I'm so thankful that I did as the days flew by and without the photos and videos, I think I could have dreamed it all.
These are the major things I took away from my trip to Greece:
1. Life moves slower.
Life moves at a slower pace in Greece. No one is in a rush, and everyone is relaxed. I was sitting in a cafe when I noticed the man above in this photo. He sat there effortlessly enjoying life for an hour just taking it all in. He embodied the " life moves at a slower pace in Greece" notion.
There are so many little coffee shops where you can find people sitting outside, enjoying a cappuccino, a cigarette and the views. It's typical in the United States to see people crazed on their phones, focused on work and immersed in their endless to-do lists, I didn't feel that at all in Greece.
Even the people working seemed to have this ease about them that made the country's energy feel so effortless.
2. The Greek language is so romantic.
Anytime someone would be speaking Greek, I was always loved listening to the way they spoke and the phrases they used. The Greek language is so beautiful. I would often be enchanted by people's accents or be delighted to hear someone speak Greek. The language sounded so romantic every time it rolled off someone's tongue.
3. There are vibrant colors everywhere.
I made it my mission to take a picture of each color used as a door for homes and stores in Greece. It wasn't only blue doors. There were red, yellow, green, orange, purple, brown — virtually every color in the rainbow.
From the streets to the houses to the shops, everything is enriched with vibrant colors.
4. There are flowers everywhere.
You'd see flowers lined up in every restaurant, outside every home and even in alleyways.
5. The fashion in Greece is another level.
I hate to admit it, but I fall into the category of having black as a staple in my closet. But when I traveled to Greece, I made sure to bring only colors. And I'm so happy that I did.
Everywhere I looked, both men and women were wearing the latest fashions and brightest colors. It was honestly inspiring, and it made me want to step my fashion game up.
Even the accessories were so unique and colorful. I bought a purse that had so many colors and different styles of stitching and beading. It was one of my favorite pieces, and it truly captured the essence of Greece.
6. The food tastes fresher and richer.
Drinking cold, fresh-squeezed orange juice became a staple for me in Greece. I would walk by vendors selling fresh fruit everywhere.
The pastries, desserts and breads were also to die for. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I indulged in a Cappuccino every day, paired with Nutella crepes or baklava.
And then there's the gelato and ice cream selection. As an ice cream lover, I can safely say that the United States does not hold a candle compared to Greece when it comes to sweets.
7. There is a church on every corner.
There were churches and cathedrals all over Greece. These became some of my favorite sights, as the buildings were each so detailed and beautiful. They all had crosses at the top and rounded domes that were recognizable from miles away.
Temple of Poseidon
My mom and I were able to spend two days in every city, and each place was more beautiful than the next. Every time I thought I had seen it all, the next place topped the rest.
Athens is a place that felt so historical and alluring. It was surreal to be surrounded by such monumental architecture, dating all the way back to the fifth century BC.
My mom and I spent two days in Athens and were able to see historical and ancient sites. In Athens alone, I was able to visit the Temple of Poseidon, The Acropolis, The Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus and The Panathenaic Stadium, a stadium made entirely of marble where the first Olympic games were ever held.
Reading about these places in history books is one thing, but standing in the middle of them is a feeling I will never forget. It was amazing to be surrounded by enormous structures that have withstood the test of time and will be here long after me. I felt so lucky to be standing right in the middle of history.
Mykonos felt like another world compared to Athens. It was surrounded by bright blue waters with rows of boats on the shore. It was also a place filled with so many white houses, purple flowers and bright blue doors. Mykonos had some of the best shopping, with rows and rows of little shops filled with keepsakes, clothes and jewelry.
I truly felt in awe of my surroundings every second. From the hotel to the water to the boats and flowers and colors and buildings — I could not get enough. Watching the sunset light the sky on fire is a picture that I have forever imprinted in my mind.
Upon leaving Mykonos, I remember thinking that nothing would be able to top its beauty. That was true, at least until I made it to Santorini.
We took a boat from Mykonos to Santorini, and instantly upon arriving, I was greeted with unforgettable sights. We made our way into the city, winding through roads atop high cliffs with incredible views of the Aegean sea. We made our way into Oia, where there were miles of open plains and wild horses.
Upon arriving at our hotel, I remember waiting for the Santorini view that you see in pictures: the white buildings with blue tops. The receptionist at the hotel was named Costas (I was truly living out my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants dream), and he showed us to our room and brought us to the back of the hotel, where the pool and outside seating area was.
That was when I saw it: the most breathtaking view. There, waiting behind the hotel, was a hidden world filled with hundreds of white buildings with winding dark grey stairs, overlooking a view of the volcano Palia, Nea Kameni and the island of Thirassia.
I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life.
My mom and I were dumbfounded, looking at one another as we both tried to grasp what was in front of us. There was the Santorini I had always envisioned, yet the sight of it truly left me speechless.
We ended up doing the hiking path from Oia to Fira, which took over 5 hours by foot. The views were incredible. For anyone visiting Oia, I highly recommend doing this. You will see unforgettable views that no guide or pamphlet will ever show you.
We also visited the most magical, hidden gem in Oia: a bookstore called Atlantis Books. It felt like an underground world with books stacking from the floor to the ceiling. I could have stayed inside for hours.
11. The beauty of Greece is indescribable.
I can not properly put into words or pictures how special or magical Greece was. The beauty at times honestly felt overwhelming. I wanted to be in the moment AND capture it through photos and videos so I could never forget.
I look back at pictures of my trip and am so thankful for it all, as it honestly all feels like I could have dreamed the whole thing. I am humbled and forever changed by visiting Greece.
Greece has always been a place I've dreamed of going, yet the experience was truly a dream all in itself.