11 Reasons To Move Greece Straight To The Top Of Your Travel Bucket List

11 Reasons To Move Greece Straight To The Top Of Your Travel Bucket List

I traveled to Greece and the experience was a once in a lifetime dream.

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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.

This year, I was able to fulfill one of my lifelong goals and visit Greece. The experience is one that I will forever cherish.

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.

8. Athens

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.

9. Mykonos

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.

10. Santorini

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.

Cover Image Credit:

Ximena Gonzalez

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Meet The College Student Who Took A Solo Road Trip Across The United States

With only a cooler, a bag of electronics, and a bag of clothes, Alex Kim embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

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Not many college students can say that they've taken a road trip across the United States. Even fewer can say that they've gone on that journey alone.

However, Alex Kim can say that within one month, he drove from the east coast to the west coast of the United States by himself. And he made sure to hit all the major attractions on the way.

You name it — the White House, Cloud Gate, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Yosemite — Kim has been to all those places.

Kim is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in religious studies with a minor in human rights. He plans to attend law school in the fall of 2019. So, he knew that if he wanted to take a trip across the states, the summer of 2018 would be the perfect time.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

I had the opportunity to meet Kim when he briefly stopped by Lawrence, Kansas, near the final stretch of his journey. When he told me about his trip, I was baffled, intrigued, and impressed all at once.

To take a long road trip with friends is one thing, but to take a month-long road trip by himself is an entirely different story.

Kim said he simply wanted to meet people. He had the opportunity to meet other brothers in his fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi, and made quite a few friends (myself included!) on the way. He also visited family friends and people that he knew through Greek life.

Besides meeting people, this trip also consisted mostly of driving an 6-8 hours per day, listening to educational podcasts, and traveling to national parks, monuments, and memorials. He even bought along a burner and pot to cook ramen noodles in the national parks. Kim called these meals his "ramen adventures."

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Kim said this trip was extremely of out of his comfort zone, but it helped that he went alone because he was able to set his own schedules, plan his own routes, and do everything at his own discretion.

When asked about why he decided to go alone, Kim said "Going with someone else means that I will spend way more money than I should… If I went with another person, I also have to cater sleeping accommodations as well."

There were many times where Kim simply slept in his car because he didn't know anyone in the area, or he didn't want to pay for a hotel or Airbnb. But he didn't have to sleep in his car the whole trip. Half the time, he had friends or family members who were willing to house him for a night or so.

In addition, going alone gave Kim a lot of time to reflect on his past and what's to come in his future.

"I can't tell you how many times I thought of what my next chapter of life will be," Kim said.

However, going alone also presented its fair share of obstacles. Some difficulties included bad weather, over exhaustion, too much caffeine, and lack of sleep and nutritious food. One of the biggest problems that he faced was loneliness.

Kim admitted that there were periods of time where he felt extremely lonely. When he knew that he wasn't going to see people for a while, he would call his parents in the morning to tell them where he had been and that he was doing well.

There was one instance where he was first traveling to a national park, Yellowstone Park, and he internally freaked out. For the most part, Kim heard nothing but complete radio silence because there was no reception. Kim said that he felt scared because he wasn't in control of his loneliness.

Aside from those challenges, Kim was glad to say that the road trip went well, and he didn't have any car trouble.

For him, some notable locations were New York City and Los Angeles. Kim didn't really go to L.A. for sightseeing, but rather to pay his respects to an old mentor who passed away. Even though he explored much of nature and national parks, he said that the most breathtaking view was not in fact at a national park, but at a family friend's farm in Harlington, Nebraska.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

"I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed the countryside in Nebraska. Being away from the city lights, it was very peaceful and quiet. The sunset was breathtaking," he said.

Overall, Kim approximated that he traveled across the United States for a grand total of 9,700 miles, and despite some challenges, he really enjoyed this trip. He met new and old people and witnessed stunning views that he wouldn't have seen back in North Carolina. As a lone traveler, Kim practiced humility and now sees the world with a fresh perspective.

Kim also learned many lessons along the way and here are six that he shared:

1. Learn to rely on yourself.

2. Sometimes it's good to play it by ear. You'll have the freedom to do so much more.

3. If you can't play it by ear, always have a contingency plan.

4. The people who constantly kept up with you throughout your whole trip are you true friends.

5. Get out of your comfort zone; learn to be versatile.

6. Take time to yourself to reflect on your past, make amends if possible, and plan out your future.

After his trip, Kim returned to North Carolina, taking with him all the experience and lessons he gained from his travels. Nowadays, he keeps busy by studying for the LSAT in September and working towards getting into law school.

But would Kim take this extraordinary road trip again if he could? Most definitely.

See more pictures from his trip below.


Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

All photos here are provided courtesy of Alex Kim.

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Born, Raised And Living In The South, But Never A 'True' Southerner

The cover photo is a picture of me milking a fake cow at Mayfield — the most/only "Southern" picture I have.

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I grew up way below the Mason-Dixon line and my family on both sides are from very small towns in South Carolina. I've lived in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and in the rural town of York, South Carolina. Now, I attend the University of South Carolina where Southern culture is still heavily present, despite living in the state's capital and a metropolitan area.

My family drinks sweet tea, goes hunting and says "y'all." Actually, my family never said "y'all" until moving back to South Carolina. I used to pick up a Southern twang every summer when I visited family in York that my friends in Buford, Georgia, loved to hear.

Yet, I don't define myself as a "Georgia peach" or a Southern belle.

I'm not truly immersed in Southern culture nor do I completely understand it.

1. Country Music

It makes me cringe. I never spent time listening to it and I have never liked it. I don't enjoy the slow beats and the heavy country accents. Beer is gross and my idea of a good time is not standing in a field drinking beer. I can't relate to the lyrics.

2. Monograms

I don't understand why girls feel the need to put their initials on everything they own. Are they planning to lose it? Moreover, why is the last name in the middle? It's totally out of order. It's practical to put on luggage, but not the whole backside of a T-shirt.

3. Cowboy Boots

They look extremely uncomfortable and are not the prettiest to look at no matter how they are customized. They were designed for riding horses, not to tailgate in while paired with a cute dress.

4. Southern Sayings That Mean The Total Opposite

"Bless your heart" does not actually mean someone is blessing your heart. Southerners truly know how to deliver a backhanded compliment and how to be spiteful while still acting sweet. They, additionally, love to call someone or something "different" when they don't agree with it or find it bizarre.

5. Small Towns

Everyone knows everything, meaning everyone knows exactly what you and your family members are up to at all times. You're known by who you are related to and vice-versa. You will always be so-and-so's child or so-and-so's grandchild or even so-and-so's distance cousin twice removed. And you're judged by your family members' actions, as well. You're stuck with the same people you grew up with and don't get to experience much outside of your hometown.

6. Southern Cooking

It can be yummy, but casseroles that can be served for every meal of the day? Really? Hash brown casserole, green bean casserole, breakfast casserole, sweet potato casserole… the options are endless. It's not very exciting to attend a potluck where each person has brought a variation of a casserole, even for dessert.

7. The Confederate Flag

I never want to flaunt a flag from a war that was lost and for a confederacy that was never achieved or recognized. Not to mention, it is very controversial and is offensive to some groups of people.

8. NASCAR

Racing sounds cool and exciting, but driving in a circle for hours straight does not. And for those who love it, they say the most interesting part is the crashes — which is only a hazard of the so-called sport.

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