Wednesday, September 19, 2012


For the past two days I have successfully stuffed myself with copious amounts of gyros and crepes, frolicked and danced in the Aegea/Mediterrean Sea (at both day and night), and seen the most magnificent sunrise/sunset where I felt my own eyes were not deserving of such beauty.

To put it simply, Greece is stunning.  The people are wonderful, warm, welcoming, and treat you like family if only you share a laugh together.  It's beautiful.  Most everyone speaks English extremely well and I must say I do hate the fact that they can converse so well with me in my native tongue and all I can say in Greek is Yassou (hello), we spent 5 days just trying to properly say "Efharistó" (which is thank you)  It is absolutely insane to experience just how powerful our own country is as well.  EVERYONE knows everything about the States.  They even know most of our complete history, it's crazy to hear how widely known we really are.

We arrived in Athens from London almost 40ish minutes late, our connecting flight to Santorini was scheduled to leave an hour from our original landing time .... yeah..we were terrified we would miss that flight and therefore had to RUN through the airports, security, and customs as best we could to make it.  Turns out they had held the plane out on the runway for the small group of people late from the Athens flight.  They bused us to the plane and we entered planeside (always very cool)

Finally!  We arrived in Santorini!  We saw our first Grecian sunset from the sky and arrived in the dark.  Our hostel host, Kostas was there to pick us up smiling as broadly as can be with his big, gap-toothed grin and aged leather skin. We had a terrifying drive experience along the curviest/bumpy roads I've ever seen until we finally were able to release our breath upon arriving safely at our hostel, Villa Dimitris.  It's a lovely place I would recommend to anyone and only cost us 10euros a night which translates to about $14 USD!  We met Kostas wife Rula, who spoke excellent english and were quickly settled into our little room.  We of course then proceeded to immediately throw down our bags and head right back out the door to do some exploring...

We followed the breeze and our noses down towards the sea, we came across a wonderful local eatery called Pepitos.  We sat down and had a feast of gyros, lamb, moussaka, saganaki, feta cheese, and Mythos (local beer)  Delicious.  Now that we had satisfied the rumblings in our empty stomachs we were significantly perked up from our flight ordeal and headed off down the boardwalk path bordering the water.  Tons and tons of restaurants, bars, and little shops line this path and we randomly selected a bar called Noma.  The vibe was cool and not too many people at all, which we found ideal.  We all ordered a couple of Alpha's (another local beer) and proceeded to spend the next 3 hours talking to our bartender, Thanos.  A wonderful guy from Athens here to work for the season.  Once the wee hours of the morning started to roll in and we began to feel as if we should vacate we decided on a whim to buy two bottles of wine and go play in the water.  We ran down, jumped in the water all of us screaming like schoolgirls (only two of us are in fact girls), had a grand ol' time for a bit splashing and frolicking in the water before we finally settled down and stood staring up at the night sky at the very same constellations we knew all our friends and family could see as well.  Talk about feeling small..our sky is THAT big.  Thanos then came down to join after he had closed the bar and we all sat on the beach talking about anything and everything under the sun for hours.  Sharing stories and jokes back and forth laughing and giggling throughout.  Wonderful how you can enjoy your time so much with someone from across the world...we finally headed up to bed around 4:30am which was actually only 8:30pm at home in TN (Greece is a full 8 hrs ahead)

First time out on the beach!

This entire rock face was bolted for rock climbing.  Awesomeness

The next morning we woke up with a ravenous appetite ready to slaughter and cook up the next donkey that passed our way..we decided that could anger a few of the locals and besides, I'm not much in the business of killing animals myself..we decided crepes for breakfast was a much better idea anyway.  From there we made our way down to the famous black sands of Santorini to spend the day at the beach.  The black sand is extremely interesting, comprised of teeny tiny little black pebbles rubbed smooth from the water.  The pebbles are black as they are actually Volcanic rock.  An inactive volcano is located on another island very close by.  We have been told there are actually white and red sand beaches as well on the same island.  Crazy.  We took the late afternoon to walk all over taking pictures and exploring to finally settle down for a good dinner and friends.  We went back to Noma to see our friend Thanos again and had another wonderful night of meeting new friends and drinking wine and of course, playing in the sea  How many people can say that they've drank wine and danced in the Aegean Sea?  We can.

We decided one of our mornings we had to get up and see the sunrise (our beach was located on the sunrise side of the island), we set our alarms for around 6ish, sluggishly dragged ourselves out of bed when it went off seemingly five minutes after closing our eyes and headed down to the beach. Boy was it worth it. The pictures below again are all from my iPhone, me and Nicole were also using our DSLRs so expect much better pics when we return. This might be my most magical moment of the trip thus far. It was exhilarating, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring all at the same time. Magnificient.

Santorini Sunrise - Gorgeous
I only use instagram and Leme for my picture apps. This was taken using the Leme app
As I sit outside in the breezeway of our hostel typing this surrounded by the traditional white stucco and blue of Greece, bright purple flowers trailing down trellis', and feel the delightful salty breeze float in lazily from the Aegean Sea I feel so happy and content.  I know that this is not the "normal" kind of thing people from my world do but who's to say what is normal?  Perhaps "typical" is a better word choice...  I feel blessed and proud that I took the initiative to go after what I wanted to do and that I was blessed to have the means to accomplish that.  Crazy thing is, is that everyone can do this.  Everyone.  With enough hard work and determination this could be a dream come true for you too.  I hope to be able to post a great blog soon to discuss more in depth cost saving ideas and the like.

Our final few days consisted of taking a bus to Fira, which is a large city on the island of Santorini (we were staying in Perissa Beach, a small village).  From Fira we were told there was a 2ish hour hike to Oia where you could see the most spectacular sunset.  Um, yes please.  We hopped the bus, arrived in Fira, was told about a specific castle ruin on an small part of the island that juts out where the sunset watching was superb.  We eagerly headed off.  Fira was amazing as it is JUST like the pictures you've typically seen of Greece.  In fact, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a home in Oia perched on the side of the cliff in perfect view of the grecian sunset.  Huge mountain sides with white and blue stucco buildings jut out everywhere.  Stairs wind in a complicated maze throughout all the buildings that seemingly seem to be merely clinging to the cliff for dear life.  I'm not quite sure how all the people know where their friends and families are located as the homes, stairs, and pathways all looked extremely similar...  Our pictures from this place are absolutely incredible. 

**Those who read my blog by the way, should go and like Nicole Gagliano Photography on facebook.  She is one of my fellow travel buddies and takes amazing pictures, she will be returning to the States at the end of September and will be putting some amazing photographs up of our trip.  MUCH better than mine I'm sure :)

Hard to tell in this picture how big this really was but it was an old castle ruin, we hiked down the winding path and up the very top of that ruin.
On top of the castle ruin, you can see the sea wayyy wayy far below us
This hotel overlooks the water and sunset.  Infinity pool was incredible
We arrived to the castle ruin and decided to be extra adventurous and climb to the tip top of this structure, scary but absolutely worth it.  We had a couple of hours to kill before the sunset and therefore sat around talking and laughing as we waited.  Fog began to roll in and we became super nervous we were going to miss this famed, epic eventually cleared away (for the most part) just as it began to set.  Due to the little fog incident the sunset wasn't quite as big and brilliant as it typically is but it was still absolutely beautiful and was a great moment.  We popped a small bottle of champagne, took some pictures, and simply relished in the moment.  We hiked back once it was over, grabbed some dinner and headed back to our little home on Perissa Beach.  The rest of our trip consisted of more fun nights with our new greek family, Kostas (bar owner of Noma), Thanos, Machos, Mladjin (our serbian friend!), Anzi, Nikos, Giannis, and a few others.

This greek woman taught us how to dance in traditional greek fashion and gave us rose bouquets as well.  Opa!
Our favorite Greek beer
quick sketch I drew of Thanos
Dinner at tomatino with Thanos
On our last day in Perissa, me and Nicole headed off by ourselves to look into the price of tattoos on the island.  She had been discussing her plan to get one at every country she's been to in that specific language with something that was special to her during her visit.  I also began to consider the idea of getting a tattoo I've always considered in the back of my mind but had never been brave enough to do.  We found a place, I watched Nicole get the greek letters "Opa" tattooed on her wrist (which means, happiness or an elated feeling in greek), and I decided to go for it.  I had long ago decided on the word "agape" which just so happens to be a greek word..means "love" specifically.  However greeks have many words for love and I feel agape love is the most special of them all.  Instead of a more sexual love (which is "eros) or a platonic friendship love, it is an unconditional love.  One that does not waver and is good in every way.  Those of you who have read scripture will most likely recognize this word.  Many describe it as a "Christ-like" love.  I decided to place it on the outside of my left wrist.  It can be read when I move my arm to be parallel to the ground.  I love the simplicty of the word yet the power behind it.  Check out my facebook for a picture of it.  Another first in Greece!

Late that night we took a ferry over to the mainland on Monday night at 2am (9/17) with Kostas and Machos who do business in Athens too.  They spent the majority of their time on Tuesday showing us around and making sure we got the proper train tickets and stops, wonderful wonderful guys.
We went to the Acropolis and saw the REAL parthenon.  Very awesome and way cooler than our Nashville version ;)  The ruins were amazing and you better believe I walked around picturing myself and everyone else wearing togas, gladiator sandals, drinking wine, and eating grapes whilst the Athenian soldiers walked around in their armor and shields nodding their hellos with their big giant feather helmets on while all the while I'm humming "Go the Distance" (Hercules version of course) in my head.  Great moment.

We met Kostas brother that same Tuesday night (9/18) and had a great time eating and hanging out, from there we hopped a train at midnight to take us to the northern part of Greece where we had a flight scheduled to leave on Wednesday afternoon (9/19) to Budapest.  We have been sleeping wherever we can last night and this morning before we leave for our flight.  So train station, on the train (which was a cabin similar to the Hogwarts Express mind you!), and at the airport.  Not so terribly comfortable but we saved money on training overnight and not getting a room.


As you can tell, I truly fell madly in love with Santorini and will for sure make it a point to go back and visit.  It was absolutely wonderful and a perfect place to relax and let your mind go wherever she pleases.  Life is different there..time almost doesn't even exist, people spend 6 hours at a restaurant surrounded by friends and family long after they've eaten just to spend time with each other talking and sharing stories and not one person minds.  In fact the waiter and owner will most likely come join in as well.  There is something to how they live life that I will be taking home with me in my heart.  I am so sad to leave our greek family but am very excited for what is next!  Remember if you go to Perissa Beach on Santorini, visit Noma and say hello to Kostas, Thanos, and Mladjin for me!
Next we have Budapest, Vienna, Italy (many cities here), Spain?, and who knows what else?

Quote from the trip, "May the best of your todays, be the worst of your tomorrows!"

Adventures await, on to Budapest!


"The sky has never been the limit.  We have our own limits.  It's then about breaking our limits and outgrowing ourselves to live our best lives"


  1. Wow Carrie sounds like you are having so much fun. I am so happy you got to do this. I LOVE the tattoo! Can't wait to hear more

  2. Carrie you need to start adding photos between every paragraph or so. makes the reading so much more interesting.... just my tip of the day! Have fun and hug Chris for me and let him hug you for me! And no more tats for God's sake!