Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Solo-traveling: It's all Greek to me

I boarded the plane taking a deep breath. The group of four friends behind me were chattering excitedly about all the Greek food they wanted to try and their ferry schedule. I secretly envied them...what the hell was I thinking going on a week long trip alone??? Sure I had gone for a weekend in Belgium by myself but that was 3 days. This was a 6 day long vacation with a loooooot of me time. And you know how getting lost on the way to your hostel or not being able to find the metro is funny when your with friends well when you're alone it just seems stressful. But as I stepped off the plane in Athens I tried to view the whole thing as an adventure. I can do this I told myself, faking confidence I didn't feel as I strode toward the metro. 


I showed up to my hostel and the helpful receptionist told me I had a free drink at the hostel bar. While I was hesitant about going to a bar alone I decided to dive right in and see what happened. At 3 AM I was dancing like a loca at a club with my new found friends from the bar. This traveling alone thing might not be so bad after all. 

The next day I was up bright and early (with somewhat of a headache) to do a walking tour offered by our hostel. I made a conscious effort to talk to almost everyone who was on the tour and ended up meeting 2 girls to spend the rest of the day with. As I talked to more and more people the less weird it became, sometimes I forgot I was even traveling alone. As soon as I had met some people in Athens...it was off to Santorini!


I was a little worried when I got to my hostel in Santorini, there seemed to be no one around. I talked to the owners and they said this was the low season with less travelers and places open. Great...I thought, 4 days alone in one of the most romantic/beautiful places on earth. However, I tried to keep positive and tell myself that I would meet people. The first day I spent wandering around the capital of the islands, Fira. As I got back to my hostel I notice a group of students in the lounge. Cue my opening travel line "Sooooo where are y'all from?" Works like charm. I ended up going out for dinner and drinks with the group of Americans who went to college in Canada but were studying in Barcelona. So far so good in Santorini.


The next I woke up and decided I wanted to rent an ATV to see the island. That was the best part of traveling alone, I got to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. No consulting everyone in the group's opinion and being angry at the one person that doesn't want to eat at the restaurant you found or museum you want to see. It was great. I picked up my ATV and started driving to see the black beaches. Driving the ATV was probably oneof the most fun things I did on the trip. While driving along the island, I pulled over to take some pictures. Just as I had stopped 2 guys came roaring into the same area and rolled up to take pictures as well. As I asked them to take my picture, I struck up a conversation about where they were from (Canada) and found out they were headed to the Red Beach just like me. And so a travel friendship/ATV gang began. We missed the turn to go to the beach and headed to the light house instead, celebrating another beautiful sunset with a beer. 
The next 3 days I met up with my new friends Blake and Matt to go the Red Beach, try some of the local brew Yellow Donkey, visit the volcano and have some laughs. While I didn't even get their email or last names, they made my trip to Santorini really memorable in an unexpected way. I proved to myself that I could travel byself and have a great time, pushing myself to meet new people. In the end I realized how many people I had met by being alone, something I would have never done in a group of friends. Maybe I won't have a trip to look back on and laugh about with my friends, but I made my own memories and stories. Just for me. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Greece

Yassas y'all! (that's hello in Greek) Although CNN might tell you differently I had a great and relaxing trip to Athens and Santorini last week! I don't have time to write about it right now (school starts tomorrow eek!) but I'll put up some of my favorite pictures for now!