THE Oia, Santorini

Santorini is 1 of the 227 (out of 6,000 total) Greek islands that are inhabited. It’s home of one of the most picturesque cities in the world- Oia (pronounced ee-yuh)- so you can image how tourist-packed it can be. We visited the island for a few days in July after visiting Athens and a flight from Athens to Santorini is only a 35ish minute flight and was a little over $150 for a round trip ticket during high season.

Couchsurfing barely exists on this island but Airbnb can be a life saver when you’re having trouble finding vacancy in resorts or hotels. Just like I talked about in my Athens post, Greece is super hot at this time of year and even though you’re on a little island and you’d think it’d be cooler because of the ocean, that happens to be untrue so still be prepared for the heat! Those are the only logistics I’m going to get into with this post so onto the good stuff…

… and there you have it. Oia, Santorini. Such a stunner from every angle that it seems impossible to get a bad photo here!

But even better than strolling the streets of Oia, was the day cruise we took around the island with Santorini Yachting Club. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of our entire trip and we didn’t even have to go broke to do it! We started at the bottom of the island where we visited the white beach and the red rock beach, where we got to hop off the boat and do some light snorkeling down below to join all the colorful school fish and enjoy the turquoise waters.

Wine and beer were available on board and they cooked us a delicious barbecue lunch. The staff was so incredibly friendly and fun to be around and everyone we met on board was such a peach!

We ended the cruise at the top of the island back in Oia, but more specifically at Amoudi Bay which you see below. We ended in this specific place because the sunset here is legendary. People from all 4 corners of the Earth travel far and wide to witness the Sun disappearing into the ocean, taking all the oranges and pinks along with it right here in Amoudi Bay of Oia.

 

We came back to Amoudi Bay on our own another day because we wanted more daylight time here AND more because (take note of the panorama below) if you follow the sidewalk which turns into a sort of sketchy trail towards the right side of the island if you’re looking at this photo, it curves around to an amazing turquoise oasis where you can cliff dive and swim as you please. The water is incredible and worth enjoying for a couple hours at least!

Shown here is the famous Oia sunset from our boat. What a beaut, am I right?

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2 Days in Athens

 

I’m finally back in the USA, settled down, no longer living out of my suitcase! It’s nice to sit and finally have time to write, but I will admit I’ve enjoyed the break. Sorry to everyone who’s been waiting to see the photos from the rest of my trip, but they’re finally here!

After spending a few days in Amsterdam we flew to Athens, Greece. I’ve been dying to come here and nerd out for so long so THANK YOU JESUS, we finally made it happen!

As you guys know, I’m normally one for getting lost and being spontaneous but when it came to Athens I had a list of things I needed to see and things I wanted to do. This is one of those places that it’s important for you to research beforehand otherwise you’ll be lost and or not get to see what makes this place what it is. I’m no history buff but the sheer magnificence of what I do know was enough to make me prioritize this city during my time in Europe. Athens is such a cool city with so much culture and beauty to be appreciated, although during the summer months it can be very intense. The hilly terrain and endless winding roads call for comfy shoes, the heat and humidity call for durable clothes, and the intensity of the sun calls for (in my case) 100 SPF sunscreen. You will enjoy yourself as long as you’re prepared!

Below I’ll make note of the specific things we saw during our stay in Greece’s capital. Most of the photos that aren’t labeled are from a photo stroll we took in Athens’ historical neighborhood called Plaka. Eat a bunch of Greek salad and gyros, try some Greek coffee (it tastes like dirt but ya know.. when in Rome…), and find a rooftop bar at night to enjoy the beautiful views of the city (Couleur Locale was my favorite).

Herod Atticus Odeon

A ticket to this, the Acropolis, Philopappos Hill, the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike cost us 20 EUR each in June.

Temple of Athena Nike

Erechtheion

Erechtheion

Panathenaic Stadium

This place is an absolute MUST. This is where the first organized Olympics in world history took place. AND- the ENTIRE thing is made of marble (the only one of its kind). Lots of capital letters because this is just EPIC.

The Parthenon

Temple of Zeus (view from Acropolis)

view of Acropolis from Philopappos Hill

Ancient Agora

Amsterdam: The City of Freedom

It goes without saying… we all know why people come here (not everybody, but many). As one of Europe’s party capitals, it’s no wonder why you see so many bachelor and bachelorette parties roaming the streets! Marijuana is legal and so is many other things which is a major factor in tourism here, but Amsterdam has so much more to offer than its party scene.

One of our favorite things about Amsterdam is that the best way to get anywhere is- as you can probably guess by the photos- by bike! They are everywhere. You absolutely have to rent one when you go. On every street is a bike lane, and when you’re where you need to be you can pretty much lock it onto anything; and make sure you do lock it, otherwise it’ll be gone when you get back. Ours were $7.50 each per day and came with both a wheel lock and a bike lock.

One of the first things you need to do on your trip to Amsterdam is visit Bloemenmarkt. It’s the world’s only floating flower market and it’s filled with adorable touristy trinkets as well as tulips and tons of other flowers. You don’t see many tulips in my photos because we had just missed Tulip season when we visited which apparently is from mid March to the end of May and we visited at the end of June. Sad day. But next time!

Bloemenmarkt is in one of the cutest neighborhoods of Amsterdam. When I was finished ogling at all the flowers and after we stopped at a coffeeshop, we hopped on our bikes and went only a few blocks before I insisted on stopping and we ended up wandering around for quite a while taking photos of all the adorable little streets and corners. Vondelpark and Jordaan are some other cool areas to explore while you’re there, too.

A trip on its own, the Van Gogh Museum is said to be one of the best museums in Europe. The Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum has more of Van Gogh’s works than any other place in the world! If you want to see this museum, you NEED to buy tickets online, especially if you’re going during the high season. In June, the tickets ran about 17 EUR each.

Some other Amsterdam musts are the patat or frites. They’re thick and crispy friends in a paper cone covered in a sauce of your choice. The Dutch love their unique toppings, like peanut sauce or curry. The biggest craze are stroopwafels: thick, sticky, cookie-like mini waffles that taste like caramel or honey or something of the sort. I wasn’t a big fan of those but it’s one of those things you have to try!

That about wraps up what I want you to know about Amsterdam. The rest I want you figuring out yourself! This is for sure one of my favorite cities as of late and I can’t wait to go back… 3 days weren’t enough!

Wine Tasting in Paris

Les Petits Crus is a wine bar in one of my favorite parts of Paris- Bastille. That being said, this is France, and where there is wine, there is probably cheese. For a great price of about 28 euros you can get 6 different cheeses and 6 correlating wines to try. For your tasting, they have several different options when it comes to the board of cheese you choose (I got a lighter bunch of cheeses while Joseph got a quite smelly and strong board). It may not look like much in the photos but I was absolutely stuffed after this! They serve bread with the cheese of course so it ends up being quite a lot of food. On the board they bring you, the cheeses and wines are numbered and accompanied with a booklet that talks about the “marriage” between each pair and where it all comes from individually. After finishing each pairing, you eat an apple slice so that you’re taste buds are wiped clean for the next thing.

This was one of my more stereotypical French experiences in the last year of living in Paris and I couldn’t have been happier! I will definitely be coming back to Les Petits Crus in the future when I find myself in Paris again. It has been a hell of a year in Europe, and I plan on spending much more time here. What better way to go out, than overflowing with wine and cheese?

Musée Gustave Moreau

For the sake of transparency, I really just came to this museum for the stairs. One day, I saw pictures on some random website and had to see this room for myself. It’s as stunning as it looks in photos and the art itself actually became my favorite I’ve seen in Paris! I wasn’t expecting to love all of the paintings as much as I did- but wow- they’re amazing.

If you can’t tell, I’ve become a bit of a museum-junkie since moving here which I wasn’t expecting… but it’s all free if you’re an EU resident between 18-26 years old so I’m knockin’ myself out! That being said, I know I’ve said this before… but this little museum tucked away in a residential neighborhood is a MUST. The art is soooo worth paying for a ticket if you’re required to do so.

Check out an audio guide if you’d like and wander around this old French apartment and lead yourself up the gorgeous stairs to paintings on paintings. (and snap a quick photo sitting on the stairs or something artsy for your Instagram)…

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Marie Antoinette’s Village

The Château de Versailles is a stunner, to say the least. If you read my post on it a while back, you know the gardens were my favorite part, and this post shows why! I forgot to post this way earlier- these photos are from the same visit that I took to the palace a month ago which you can see here.

 

When exploring the gardens of Versailles Palace, you’ll come to the main canal in the very center where- in warmer months- people are having a picnic or sunbathing or rowing around in a little boat. You’ll walk through a gate to get to this area and if you turn right and stroll for maybe 10 minutes, you’ll find Marie Antoinette’s village. It’s a beautiful miniature town built and used by the royals. Marie Antoinette used one of the houses strictly for her children’s schooling and another for a dairy, where they kept their cows and pigs and such. They’d host guests in some of them or just find peace there when they needed a break from the Palace court.

You could easily get lost in this area just as much as anywhere else on the grounds. The paths wind through the fields and trees tirelessly but I, personally, am thankful for this because the more I saw, the less I wanted it to end! I’m obsessed with French architecture and just their aesthetic in general if you can’t tell and Versailles in its entirety is a dream in reality for me. I can’t get enough (which is why I went back a few days ago just to sit in the garden for a few hours).

If you come to Paris I’d say this Palace is a MUST. Take a day trip here and pack a picnic, and at the least bring a water bottle cause you’ll get tired walking so much. I highly recommend a blanket or towel because then you can just lay anywhere at any time when you need a rest and or to just soak in the moment. And in Dirty Foot Movement fashion, take off your shoes and explore!

How To Go To A Ballet Or Opera for $10

I was very skeptical when I first heard that you can go to an opera or ballet at Paris’ Palais Garnier for only 10 euros. Palais Garnier is one of the most stunning buildings in all of Paris; I couldn’t believe you didn’t have to pay just to walk in! But anyway, I’ll get right to the how-to.

I scrolled online for tickets on a couple different websites and found them ranging from $30-200, and apparently it’s because they don’t advertise the super cheap tickets there. The trick is: you have to go to the opera house at least 2 hours before the show and claim your treasure at the ticket office! Literally ask what the cheapest seats possible are, and if you’re there early enough, you can snag seats with a decent view. My group and I weren’t too far from the stage and we were only the second level up. Not too shabby for 10 euros! It’s not a difficult task- most people just don’t know it’s possible.

This is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world, and you can see a show for next to nothing. Needless to say, you can likely do this anywhere! So try it out, you’ve got nothing to lose! Dress to impress, grab your camera (but don’t take pictures during the show FOR OBVIOUS REASONS such as IT’S TERRIBLY ANNOYING to hear when you’re trying to watch the performance in peace and it’s forbidden anyway), grab a glass of champagne, and enjoy the show.

A Day Trip to Fontainebleau

There are 365 days in a year and 300 of those are jours fériés (public holidays) in France. Clearly that’s a joke but seriously, why are there so many? I may never know but I’m definitely not complaining since everyone including myself gets work and school off on these days.

Every bank holiday I try to plan a mini get-away with friends and this time we decided on Château de Fontainebleau. Just about a 45 minute train ride from Paris, this lovely Chateau is the perfect start to your Fontainebleau day trip. What’s different about this chateau is that it feels a lot more homey despite its size. Many of the walls are wooden which isn’t common at all in Paris and the gardens outside are huge, which you also won’t find in Paris.

With the audio guides and written info available to you, it’s safe to say you’d spend at least an hour or two inside the chateau then even more outside in the gardens. They aren’t Versailles-caliber gardens but they’re still very beautiful and so serene. Have a picnic in the grass, sit on a bench by the water to feed the massive fish in the pond, sit by the fountain, or under a tree, wherever you choose to rest, do so for a long time. Sometimes we forget to just exist. Don’t forget here. Breath deeply, put your phone away, close your eyes, listen to the birds, do nothing, just be. Take a walk along the gravel path through the thick and thin of the vast garden, literally stopping to smell the roses. Or do what I did and roll around in the grass for a few minutes and sprinkle in some yoga poses. This place is gorgeous, and worth your time!

photos of me taken by: Priscilla and Naomi

http://www.chateaudefontainebleau.fr/

 

My Thoughts on Moving Abroad

How did you do it?

Since moving to Paris, that’s the question I’ve been asked the most. Next to, “Did you vote for Trump or Hillary?” (Most Europeans are really into politics.)

But it hasn’t been just Europeans asking me that question, it’s been tons of people from America as well. Don’t you miss your friends and family? … Isn’t it difficult not speaking the language? … Aren’t you home sick? … How did you move so far away for so long? … How did you do it? 

I do have an answer for you, and a lot of you aren’t going to like it. I just did it. *GASP* I didn’t make excuses; when a road was blocked (a.k.a. when my visa was denied) I kept driving until I found a new one (a year later down a totally different path). I didn’t allow other people’s “logic” and negativity to invade the dream space in my brain. I said, “I don’t care what you think about French people. I don’t care how expensive it is. I don’t care if I don’t speak the language. I don’t care if I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m going.” You’d be surprised by how unsupportive so many people are about things like this. There are so many things about my life that seem to make some people feel uneasy, but you know what I say: other people’s opinions of me are none of my business. Stop listening to society’s formulas of how your life is supposed to go! In the process of making my biggest decisions, I try to remove every box or limitation I can think up. My space is my space and I choose what clutters it. When I declutter my dream space, I see life so much clearer.

If you’ve read my About page, you’ve read a version of this. I just can’t say it enough. I made this blog for YOU so that you would realize that you’re worth the extra miles down the road less traveled! Dude, formulas and agendas and plans are great. They make things happen. But DO NOT let them be the reason you compromise your dreams. If those things will take you to your dreams, sail on my dear friend, otherwise, head back to shore to draw out a new map. This time with a lot less directions and a lot more freedom. Just do the thing, don’t think about it too much. Logic always ruins magic. You’re brain’s dream space is precious. What do you occupy yours with?

The fewer our demands on life, the greater is our ability to see its bounty.

B.K.S. Iyengar

Location: Petit Palais

All That Glitters at Versailles

Once his father’s hunting pavilion, King Louis XIV initiated a massive renovation to create what is known today as the Palace of Versailles. With 2,300 rooms and real gold- yes, that’s all real- embellishing every corner, I totally see why the king was known for his opulent tastes.

It is those very opulent tastes that made the King’s people hate him so much. He taxed the country heavily to fund the building of Versailles among other ridiculously unnecessary luxuries. People were literally starving as their leader continuously raised their taxes to compensate for his excess, ignoring the suffering around him in order to keep up with his indulgent lifestyle.

The story ends with King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette at the guillotine during the French Revolution. Château de Versailles obviously wasn’t worth the loss of life and it clearly doesn’t have a happy fairytale story, but at least it glitters like one.

When you finally get out of the line (which could be around 2 hours on a weekday morning), inside there are audio guides in tons of different languages to teach you all about the palace as you walk through each room. Get one; it’s free! And speaking of costs: if you aren’t an EU resident under 26, a ticket to access everything including the gardens and chateau will run you about 20 EUR. *so worth it* Come when it’s warmer so you can properly enjoy the gardens. This place will always be swarming with tourists so you might as well just go when the weather is in your favor. You can take food to picnic or eat anywhere at the location if you’d like. We ate at one of the restaurants in the garden and it was the same prices as places we eat in Paris (and we’re on poor college-aged kid budget). Stay tuned, I’ll be posting about the gardens and Marie Antoinette’s Village very soon!

pictures of me taken by my girl Priscilla!