Monday, August 1, 2016

It's All Greek to Zee

I took an *amazing* end-of-term trip to Greece back in late April/early May, but the majority of my life of late has taken place in the virtual world of Barbri-land, staring into the glow of my laptop screen day in and day out, attempting to memorize as much law as possible. In English: I have spent the last two months studying for the bar exam. It was not the most enjoyable experience of my life, but it is now (hopefully) done, and I can move on to more exciting things... like this post!

The Cyclades from the air!

I don't love posting so long after the fact, since I like recording my impressions of a place while they're still fresh, but I hope that given the circumstances, I'll be afforded a pass by you, my dear readers. Also, the pics are pretty great. 

As an update, I graduated from law school in May (woooo!). And also from Sciences Po in July. So you can call me Dr. Master Zee :)

Cool, so Greece! I went to Santorini and Mykonos, both islands off the coast of mainland Greece in the Aegean Sea. I spent 5 days in Santorini and 2 in Mykonos. I went alone. I didn't go to Athens, b/c I kept hearing sketch things about it on the interwebz and figured I'd save it for another trip when I wasn't #ridingsolo. I'd love to go to mainland Greece one day, though, since I've heard that that's where all the good ruins are and as I have previously mentioned on this very blog, I am a fool for Greco-Roman history.

Santorini is really amazing and I'll probably honeymoon there one day. Mykonos is legit but I was so tired that I basically just sunned myself on the beach for my one full day (more on that, later!), so I don't really know much about the party scene. Quel dommage, I know!


Santorini was the first stop, after an extremely long layover in Athens. I stayed in a hotel, but it was kind of a weird hotel, like there were greek pensioners living there, I think. Couldn't beat the location, though. It was in Firá, which I intentionally picked as it was the location of the bus hub that I later used to go to different towns on the island. Oía is prettier, but also more expensive. I was too chicken to rent a 4-wheeler, so I took the bus from Firá to Oía, Akrotiri, and the various beaches on the island, as well as down to the harbor to take a ferry to Mykonos at the end of my trip.

Santorini is super photo-ready, all day, 24/7!

Santorini is basically a blown-out volcano. The main island is the crescent-shaped remnant of the top of the volcano, and there are some small islands in the middle of the caldera. The volcano is still kinda active, from what I understand, so just a little "FYI" lol.  You can take a boat tour out to the middle volcanic island where you can see smoking craters. I tried to go on the tour when I was there, but it got rained out.

A little map of the island, for reference!

The views from Firá are incredible, they really never get old. The shopping is pretty cool, too! Lots of really gorgeous jewelry for all you magpies out there. Near the cliff's edge, you can watch the donkeys coming up the stone steps from the harbor carrying goods (more likely tourists) on their backs.

Oiá itself is a prettier town than Firá, although I prefer the caldera views from Firá. Oía is probably what you see when you see pictures from Santorini: it has most of the cool blue-domed churches. The trip from Firá to Oía on the bus was harrowing, man. You feel like you are going to go careening off the edge of a cliff. The stunning views of the surrounding ocean are totally worth it though(???).


Santorini as a whole was a bit more economically depressed than I was expecting, tied in no doubt to the troubles faced by Greece as a whole. I saw a ton of partially-constructed buildings scattered across the island. The people are chill for the most part, and some of the dudes are really good-looking.

Aside from the gorgeous cliffside towns, Santorini has many other cool things to offer. Some notable examples are the red, black, and white sand beaches, wineries like Santos Wines and the excavation site of the ancient town of Akrotiri. I wasn't expecting to find any cool ruins on the island, but I was pleasantly surprised! Akrotiri was a trading town buried by Santorini's most recent major eruption a few thousand years ago. Volcanic ash and dust buried the town, but also preserved it. At the excavation site at Akrotiri, visitors can walk over the town itself, and see the painted pots, mortar and pestle and other artifacts in situ as they were thousands of years ago at the time of the eruption. Because the town was populated by affluent merchants, archaeologists were able to recover remarkable objets d'art and beautiful wall paintings depicting daily life, which can be found at the museum at Firá.

After I finished my visit at the Akrotiri site, I meandered down a scenic road toward the Red Beach. I was un peu faim, so I stopped for lunch.

The red beach!

The Black Beach

The black sand beach at Perissa.

Back on the streets of Firá.

Artifacts from Akrotiri in the museum at Firá.

This depiction of a young boy carrying fish (the blue on his scalp just meant that his head was shaved bald in those places) was super ubiquitous on the island. Restaurants,  posters, and even my hotel had this image painted on the walls.

Can't beat those #calderaviews

One huge highlight of the whole trip was the food. I ate a TON of amazing food. I love greek food anyway, and I was able to find a few new dishes in addition to authentic versions of things I've had in the United States. I love how the feta comes in a little slab on the salad instead of in chunks, idk why haha. Also, many greek foods are very vegetarian-friendly, which is a big plus.

Baklava! Best I've ever had (random aside: there is a stall at Smorgasburg that sells incredible baklava, as well. This one edges it out b/c of the view...)!

Beer produced on Santorini! Not a beer person per se, but I was induced to try it!

Some sort of italian iced coffee that's an island specialty, apparently!

I had like 3 different varieties of saganaki in Santorini...all delish!

Really amazing lemonade!

A fava bean dip that is apparently a local specialty!

The tip of the volcano. Beautiful and silent...for now! (dun dun dunnnn)

I purchased a ferry ticket from Santorini to Mykonos the day before my departure date, but when the time came to board the bus to the harbor, we were told that due to a strike, none of the ferries were going to come from Athens and that we were stuck on the island. There were no airline tickets available to Mykonos that day, and I was starting to panic a bit, since I had prepaid for my hotel on Mykonos, and frankly, at that point, I was Santorini-ed out. Luckily, another island sent boats a few hours later.  I'd lost almost an entire day in Mykonos with the delays, but I met a Mexican personal chef and her friend while waiting at the bus station, and we chatted a bit while we sunned ourselves on the slab of concrete at the harbor as we waited for our ship to come in.

Waiting for the ferry to come. Strikes suck.


The water was so clear!

My hotel in Mykonos was much nicer, but consequently, I just rolled around in my robe and laid out on the beach instead of doing anything. It was a relaxing, although painfully short, stay. I only have a couple of pics from Mykonos. Guess you'll just have to take my word for it when I say it was beautiful :) One day I hope to go to Skandinavian Bar and all of the other funzies in Mykonos, but all in all, still an amazing trip!

After I flew back to Paris, I was there for an additional two days before I flew back to the U.S. I'm so grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience to cap off my year abroad! Thank you to all of the friends and family who followed me during this incredible journey. Your support was much appreciated :) I hope you all enjoyed my blog!