Athens, Greece (unedited photos from my IPhone and GoPro) 

All photos are my own! Please do not use without my permission!

                                    

An Unexpected Paradise

Contrary to others, Greece has never been on my list of places to see. If I could go back in time to add visiting Greece to my bucket list, just to cross it off now, I absolutely would. It has been a busy few days in between Athens and Santorini. My first day in Athens was filled with lots of walking, sight seeing, exploring botanical gardens, and a late sprint to see the sunset from Mount Lycabettus. We made it just in time to catch the end of the sunset, and probably one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life. When I reached the top of the mountain with my new friend Ella, I had one of the most humbling moments of my life to date. To realize how small one truly is, is one of the most scary and best things that can happen to a person. Yes, most of us realize how small we are in compared to the world and then universe, but to actually have the feeling click inside is something else. To realize how little all of the drama that engulfs our life sometimes is in comparison to the bigger scheme of things, and to see just how many people live their similar and different lives next to your own daily life, is such a grounding experience. I was lost for words in the moment, filled with anxiety, happiness and wonder all at the same time. What brought me back down to reality from this moment was catching a glimpse of the glittering city lights. I finally understand what “lights sparkling like diamonds” means. I watched the lights dance and shimmer from each distant household for what felt like hours. Just as I was beginning to feel as though I had started to really dig into the hidden secrets and gems of Athens, it was time for my group of new friends and I to take the six hour trek to Santorini, and it was by far worth it. There are truly no words to describe my love for this place. I believe I could truly live here for the rest of my life in content. Yesterday, we woke up late, took a ferry to hike up a volcano, and to swim in the hot springs. There was not one moment that I was not in awe of this heavenly place, even through the tough hike in my very weak sandals. To top it off, we had an amazing dinner while watching the sunset fall under the ocean horizon. Waking up today, the girls and I drove ATV’s all over the island; exploring new streets, driving on the sides of mountains, and to beaches with the most soothing black sand. I have truly felt like I am in paradise, especially lying in the hot sand and letting myself listen to the surrounding noises of the earth as I slipped into a peaceful state of meditation. As the day has gone on, I feel as though I am becoming more and more my age by living in the moment, caring less about the future and just letting go of all of my worries. And with my relaxed mindset, I am now enjoying the spectacular ocean, mountain and valley view from the hostel balcony, before my friends and I venture off to watch the sunset again with a nice local meal, and glass of wine. I think this is my favourite place I’ve ever been to in the world, and that is saying a lot coming from me. It has been a hard transition for me to go from being in a comfortable place to traveling alone, but I am so thankful to be here in Santorini, as I do not think it is humanly possible to have a trouble in the world in such a paradise. I only hope this wonderful feeling continues, and that I continue to be pleasantly surprised with each new place that I visit!

(Ps. I will be posting photos from Athens and Santorini in a separate post tomorrow! Sorry to keep you guys waiting, but I promise that it will be worth it!)

Settling In

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I have always been good at leaving home for long periods of time without getting home sick, lost or upset. Since I was little, my parents have encouraged my cultural excursions, and I have engrained into my head the ability to shut my home world out to adapt to new surroundings easily and quickly. There are moments, however, when I have lots of trouble letting go of things that have meaning to me. With the recent sudden changes in my life over the past year, I have slowly begun to notice that when I drift into more of a comfortable state in my life, I have a harder time accepting change even if I know it will be good, which is not quite a familiar feeling. I believe this trip is a good means of refreshing my appreciation and acceptance of change. Though the few short days I had with my family in Italy made me not want to leave them, I realized that one can not return if they first do not say goodbye. After a few wonderful days full of day trips to the beach, hiking, enjoying more good food and meeting new people, I learned a few more things to take away from these first few days. I learned to put my phone away until it is time to call family at night and to enjoy the moment, as I observed that most kids in Porto San Giorgio only have a simple phone to call their parents on in order to avoid getting sucked into technology and social media instead of enjoying life. I learned that sometimes, I put too much value into unnecessary materialistic things, i.e. packing way too many clothes that are not needed at all on this trip when I could have packed lighter. My favourite lessons that I learned however were the following; how to ride a motorcycle in Italy, how to crash a motorcycle within 15 seconds in Italy, how to crack a rib in those 15 seconds, and how to walk away from the whole situation with a laugh on my tongue. The story is much better told in person, so I will leave that for another time. Taking these new lessons with me, I am now regaining my child-like mindset towards life as I am looking at things as if I have just re-entered the world. I am in new environments where I don’t understand conversation, social norms, or street signs. I have complete freedom without pressure of a time frame or social expectation, and everything seems all so simple and complex somehow all at the same time. I am looking at things with big eyes, as I have now entered Athens without outer guidance, and everything is new. After a long day of traveling, I have determined that is has been worth it to come all the way to Athens. Hiking through the city with my backpack on until I reached my hotel made the whole back-packing adventure actually settle in for me. I am backpacking the world! I am actually doing it, this is not me just looking up cities and things to do there and planning which paths I will take through Europe, I am actually here now. So far, so good. After meeting up with my friend Alex, and making four new friends, we all grabbed a wonderful local bite to eat, where I had stuffed baked zucchini flowers and pumpkin soup. Following this, we climbed to the top of the girls hostel, and watched the sun set over the beautiful city of Athens, and shared laughs and stories. I decided to then walk the city by myself. I didn’t get as far as I had hoped, as it had begun to get dark and I was getting a very eerie feeling walking alone in this city at night, but the beginning was so peaceful and reflective. It has honestly been hard to regain energy from last night’s pub outings and today’s long travels, so I decided to enjoy the beautiful street view from my terrace. The city sounds of people of all cultures laughing, talking and eating down below were followed by the smell of fresh Lavender from the trees draping over the terrace banister, almost too natural and strong to be real. I could sit out there for hours unbothered, as I probably did. Time has seemed to be slipping away from my mind recently, and it feels so freeing. It has not even been a week yet since I left home, and already I feel as though I may just let myself stay in this beautiful nomadic life style forever, without ever returning home.

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