Showing posts with label Greece. Show all posts

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly | The Truth About Travel

Obviously, I love to travel. Each and every time we arrive in a new city or country, I have that moment of awe and excitement. I get the traveller butterflies! I look around and take in the scenery, connect with images that I have seen in my guide books and Pinterest, and settle in for a new adventure. However, I have to be honest.....there are some parts of travel that are unexpected and not so pretty. While I am able to arrange a post full of all the beautiful moments on our travels, I never really share any of the bad bits (cause who wants to read about that anyway...give me the pretties!!). 

But today, I though I would share some of our not so beautiful moments in a few of the places we have been.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly if you will.


I think it's a safe bet to say that many people either love or dislike Paris, but I feel like I fell somewhere in between. Had I been running on all cylinders, I think I could have enjoyed the 4 days in Paris a little more. And I feel like I for sure need a second round!

Top 5 Destinations from 2014 + Top 5 for 2015

2014 was an incredible travel year for us which makes it difficult to narrow down our top destinations for the year! I swear we leave every new destination claiming it to be our favorite. But after discussing what our favorite trips were, we came up with a shortlist. 

Top Travels in 2014

5. Tie: Amsterdam and Paris

After a short trip to Amsterdam with my Dad, we have decided that this city is one that we could definitely return to and actually need to return to. We loved the architecture and the city but we missed out on a lot of the museums. And not to mention, we would love to go back just for the food! 

Amsterdam Posts:

And Paris. We visited Paris while I was sick with a tummy bug and we missed out on a lot. There was sooo much to do in Paris but we still got a good feel for the city and wouldn't mind returning for some food and shopping!

Paris Posts (coming soon)
Thoughts on Paris | Notre Dame | The Louvre
Our Wonderful Apartment | Cedric's CV Night Tour | Montmarte/Sacre Couer

4. Santorini

Santorini is on many a bucket list. And for good reason. The sunsets from the island's cliff side cannot be beat! Plus the beaches, the food, the's all amazing. We so enjoyed our time cruising the island on the ATV and eating the glorious Greek food. And after seeing our first sunset, I was sure I had died and had passed on into some sort of travel heaven. I had permanent chills!

Santorini Posts:

3. Chamonix

As avid snowsports enthusiasts, skiing and boarding the Alps was high on our bucket list while living in England. Our first taste came at Chamonix in France. It was absolutely incredible. We will now be forever spoiled by the Alps, especially now that we have booked 2 more Alps getaways this winter!! But Chamonix will always be our first love when it comes to the Alps.

Chamonix Posts:

2. Germany

We finally got to visit Germany in December. We immediately felt comfortable in this country and I think that it has to do with the similarities to the conveniences of the US. But add in some amazing castles and Christmas Markets and its a perfect country to getaway to. Luckily, we have another trip planned back to our new favorite country in a few days!

Germany Posts (more coming soon)

1. Prague

Germany may be our favorite country but Prague is by far our favorite city and for many many reasons including; the people, the food, the beer, the history, the architecture, the prices, the hotels, everything!! We were so sad when we had to leave Prague after a 3 night stay. We had a perfect trip to Prague and hopefully will get to return before we leave England. 

Prague Posts:

*Honorable Mention: not a destination, but flying first class from the US to the UK was a dream. I got lucky and was able to score a seat and it was just incredible. Oh to lead that lifestyle!

Top 5 for 2015

Ok, here is where reality hits. We will be moving this year and we don't have much time left for adventures in Europe. This hurts my heart just a little bit. Ok, a lot bit. The thought of not being able to hop on a plane to visit a new country every month just sucks. And the crazy person in me wants to spend every last penny we have and travel every weekend until we have to leave. But its just not possible. I have a serious itinerary planned for our remaining months but I'm also trying to be realistic and not go overboard......oh the struggles!

So here is my Top 5 list for 2015:

1. Austria
I am a massive Sound of Music fan and I have wanted to visit the "hills" before we ever knew we would be moving to England. So this WILL be happening! Hopefully, we will get to take a little sidetrip to Hallstatt as well as it looks to be incredibly gorgeous. 

2. Poland
Ever since I read Number the Stars and learned of the Holocaust in school, I have had such a desire to visit Auschwitz and pay my respects to those who were brutally murdered there. I know there are several other sites and if it is possible, I would like to visit those as well. But Poland has been on my list for awhile because of this reason. 

3. Croatia
We are hoping to fit in a beach trip this summer to the waters of Croatia and we are trying to talk some family members (ahem, Dad) into coming with us! Since we visited beaches in Greece and Spain last year, this will be our beach 'fix' trip for 2015!

 4. Italy
After visiting Rome last year, we know we need to get back to Italy. I'm hoping to put together a trip including Cinque Terre, Venice and Florence. Any tips are appreciated on this little adventure!

5. Budapest
From what we hear, Budapest rivals our most favorite Prague. So this little trip is almost completely planned. It looks fantastic!

Of course there are a million honorable mentions. And I am hoping to fit some of those in. But with the nature of Van's job, we never really know exactly when we are moving so this is about all I can plan for at this moment. Oh and in addition to these Top 5, we are headed back to Germany next week and Switzerland in February!!

So there you have favorites from last year and my penciled in travels for 2015!

What travels are you looking forward to this year?

Treasure Tromp

6 Things you must do in Greece

I hope you all are having some marvelous Christmas holidays!! Now that we are down in the Sunshine State, I've been reminiscing on some Greek sunlight. I wrote this post awhile back as a guest post on The Overseas Escape and decided it was perfect for this chilly holiday week. Let's all pretend we are soaking up some delicious Greek Vitamin D! Enjoy!

6 things you MUST do in Greece

Watch the Sunset
This may seem obvious when you think about Greek destinations such as Santorini but it seemed like all three places we stayed in Greece had fabulous sunsets leading me to believe that the Greek sky is a sunset haven. Heck, even from the airplane the sunset was stunning. So grab your favorite beverage and find a nice cosy spot to watch. You will find that throngs of others are doing the same thing and the crowds usually cheer once the sun has set. Greek sunsets made me understand why Apollo (the god of Light) was worshipped so!

Go to the Beach
Every Greek beach we visited was completely different! From the different color sands, from rocks to pebbles, to cliff faces and was all so amazingly different! Wherever you are in Greece, find the closest beach and marvel at the Aegean Sea. I can't choose my favorite's a tie between Paradise Beach (Mykonos) and Perissa Beach (Santorini)! Both were very relaxing and gorgeous.

Marvel at History
Greece is pretty much considered the birthplace of Western civilization so you know there is bound to be a ton of historical things to do. I was absolutely enthralled by the geologicial history of Santorini. Santorini is thought to have been where the mythical city of Atlantis was lost forever when one of the largest recorded volcanic events occured from the Santorini volcano! Wherever you are in Greece, there will be many interesting historical facts to discover. So get out there and get to exploring!

Drink local beverages
You most likely will be able to find a local winery or brewery to tour while anywhere in Greece. Drink the local beverages, you will not be disappointed. Our favorite beer while in Greece was the Donkey beers in Santorini: Yellow Donkey, Red Donkey and Crazy Donkey. We were quite impressed with their wine as well. And don't forget, most restaurants will bring you a shot of Ouzo, a liqueur, after your meal, which I found to be quite delicious. So raise your glasses and drink in the Greek flavors!

Take a boat ride
Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world because of the vast amount of islands. So wherever you are in Greece you are bound to find the sea close by. My suggestion, hop on a boat. Whether it be just a ferry ride or on a sailboat, a great way to get a good look at Greece is from the sea. If you are riding the ferry between islands and you have a fairly long journey, I suggest upgrading to Business Class. It's usually fairly empty, quieter and much more comfortable!

Be silly and have fun
Greece has been the country that I have felt most comfortable for some reason. It must be the laid back style of the Greek people. Everyone is so genuinely nice and helpful that you can't help but feel comfortable. So chill out and have some fun!

For more Greek posts or more information on our European destinations, check out my Travels page!

Stay warm my friends!

Hotel Review {Cori Rigas Suites, Santorini}

When researching a hotel in a new destination, I rely heavily on Tripadvisor mainly because I like to see real photos of the hotel. It can sometimes be a daunting task to find lodging in other countries! I like to know what I am getting myself into but when there is information overload on the internet, it can be hard to come to a final decision. Especially for an indecisive person like me! So I have to share with you this amazing find, Cori Rigas Suites in Santorini. I couldn't be happier with my decision!

While we were planning our Greece holiday, I was finding extremely high prices for lodging in Santorini. I mean, I'm talking $1000-$4000 a night places! I wanted to find a nice place to stay, with good views....but not for that price! I am not hugely picky, but I do value clean and comfortable lodging with some ambiance. I am a 4 star girl all the way! So when I found Cori Rigas Suites online, I was a little concerned being that it was a 3 star hotel (it has since been changed to a 4 star on TripAdvisor oddly enough). But I booked it as it was refundable in case I came across a better place for the same price.

I was concerned about where to stay in Santorini....Oia or Fira? I chose Fira since there was a lot to do, being the main part of the island. And leading up to our stay, I checked TripAdvisor everyday for new reviews on Cori Rigas and thankfully they kept getting better and better. Phrases like "everything you imagine a stay in Greece would be"..... I felt certain that we would be in good hands!

When we arrived, we were met by Bill at the top of the cliff (for lack of a better word). He grabbed our luggage from us and led us down the stairs to our hotel lobby which was the interior of the Art Cafe where our breakfast would be served everyday. The views were stunning. The staff was incredibly friendly and offered us a nice big glass of wine before explaining all of the sights and ways to get around the island. We knew we had chose well. The complex consists of only 12 suites. It was originally a sea Captain's house and has been restored as a hotel. Perfect.

We were then led to our suite. We chose the Senior Suite with breakfast included. The suite was HUGE. I couldn't believe it. Having just come from a tiny place in Mykonos it was so nice to be able to spread out! The downstairs, yes downstairs, had room for eating, watching TV and even a little kitchenette! The bedroom was upstairs in the loft, which was a bit warmer than downstairs but not worth complaining over. Oh, and our courtyard.....quintessentially Greek. Although we didn't have sea views from our room, I was perfectly happy to walk out onto the grapevine covered courtyard to get my day started! And speaking of getting my day started....Cori Rigas breakfast was pretty fantastic! Choice of eggs, we had veggie omelets, and an array of baked goods with cheese, honey and meats. Oh, and a fabulous view!

We shared a balcony with two other suites but we never saw the guests out there so we basically had it to ourselves every night to watch the sunsets. Had it been full, we could have just gone down to the Art Cafe  (which we did one night) or the pool. Speaking of pool.....they had a pretty sweet one. The pool area is very small, but so is the hotel so you are not sharing it with dozens of others. It was so delicious after a day on the hot, sticky beach!

Stairs leading down to pool area
View from the pool

Sunset from Shared Balcony:

Sunset from Art Cafe:

While this place was not cheap per se, it was incredibly reasonable for the view, location, service and overall experience. I was so pleased with this place I literally wanted to cry tears of happiness! Don't you love it when that happens!? Pure peace, comfort and beauty at Cori Rigas Suites! Stay here!!!

I love travelling and I love hotels. Especially amazing ones :)

Cori Rigas Suites
Prices from  150- 344 (high season),
 with a variety of rooms, some even with outdoor jacuzzis!
Breakfast included
Tips: Book the Hotel shuttle from Fira port, it is totally worth it!

More on Santorini:

Our Super Short Stay in Athens

Well, I am still going through our Greece photos! And today I'm bringing you a few shots from our brief stay in Athens. Had I known Athens was incredibly cool I would have booked us a longer stay! We only planned to stay one night and unfortunately, our ferry ride from Santorini to Athens was late due to high seas. Side note: this was one of the most terrifying experiences...and I thought I hated flying! Try riding on a massive high speed ferry in high seas...not cool.So needless to say, when we arrived in Athens we were exhausted, in need of a beverage, and short on time.

On our initial drive into Athens, the city didn't look too great. First of all, there is a huge amount of graffiti in Athens. And not really the pretty kind that you want to take pictures of. It makes the city look a little rundown and dingy. But having travelled to a few countries, I am becoming accustomed to the graffiti and it doesn't necessarily mean that you are in a dirty or scary place. You also are able to see a few of the abandoned Olympic structures from 2004 on your way in from the port. In my opinion, the drive into town could possible turn some people off to Athens, so just keep an open mind!

We were taken to our sweet hotel, New Hotel, by cab from the ferry port. We were staying near the town center, in the Plaka area, which was a great location for a base in Athens. I would wholeheartedly recommend this hotel! Here are just a few shots of the place.

We settled in to our room, freshened up, and headed out for dinner and drinks. I chose Athens Beer, just a short stroll away, for our dinner and it was a fab choice. Great music, a massive list of beers (hence the name), and Greek style pub food. Oh, and the waiters were super friendly. We obviously enjoyed ourselves at Athens Beer.....

After dinner, we headed over a few streets after being directed by our waiter to the nightlife area. On Kolokotroni street the bar scene was busy. But it wasn't really a party feel. The bars were super cool....small, cozy, and great atmosphere. We stopped in at Seven Jokers and it felt like we stepped into a movie. It was the weirdest and coolest bar I have ever been in. There were many others up and down the street that looked amazing as well. Just take my word for it and head over to this street!

I love a little snack with drinks :)
After Seven Jokers however, we were tired and headed back to the hotel, which included a detour to the Syntagma Square water fountain. Oh, my husband.

The next morning we realized we wouldn't have time to make it to the Acropolis (which means we MUST return to Athens eventually) so we just took a short stroll down the street to check out Hadrian's Arch and Temple of Zeus, or what's left of it. Seriously, who doesn't go to the Acropolis when they go to Athens?!

From our short stay in Athens, we still were able to determine that this is one place we need to return to.....if only just to go to the rest of the Roman ruins! I really felt like our Greek Islands trip was planned perfectly, up until our time was shortened in Athens. But just like the rest of our Greek adventure, the people of Athens were super friendly, the food was delicious and we felt completely at ease.

Have you been to Athens? 

For more Greek gorgeousness. check out these previous posts!

Mykonos & Paradise Beach | Sailing Mykonos | Santorini | Santorini Beaches