I’ve spent the last few weekends island hopping. Getting to see a bunch of different islands might be the best part of studying abroad in Greece, or at least a strong second to nutella baklava. Needless to say, it’s been a surreal couple of weeks.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been to Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Crete, and Corfu. Each island has its own vibe and offers something a little different. However, they are all incredibly beautiful. On these islands, the water is the most amazing shades of blue, wildflowers are everywhere, and the sunsets are breathtaking. I’m in love.
Each of my trips to these islands has also had different vibes. First, I went to Naxos and Paros with two friends on my program over spring break. After a day of sunshine and an amazing sunset in Naxos, we got hit with windy and rainy weather. Yet, we learned that even in those conditions Greek islands are still great and sitting in a cafe eating waffles is a very relaxing way to spend a day.
After those two islands, the following weekend, I went to Santorini. I went with my “parea.” In Greece, Greeks have a set group of friends who they hang out with, eat with, and go out with called their parea. Basically their clique. I have my own parea here, and 12 of us went to Santorini for one of the best weekends of my life. We hiked on an active volcano, swam in hot springs, and rode ATVs around the island. Santorini is just as beautiful in real life as it is in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. But also much, much better in real life.
The next weekend, I went to Crete with my program. It had more a field trip feeling because we went to different archeological sites, but, as a Classics major, it would’ve been a shame to miss Knossos. We stayed in one of the major towns called Heraklion. Cretan food is some of the best food in Greece. The portions are also massive. One night, we went out for the biggest gyros I’ve ever seen in my life. One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we stopped our bus to get fresh strawberries from a stand on the side of the road (unlike the States this is a perfectly good thing to do in Greece). We took our strawberries to a little hippie beach town called Matala and ate them as we walked past the tattoo and henna places, bakeries, and tourist shops that are all somehow reminiscent of Bob Marley or the Beatles. Like most of my favorite abroad experiences, it was random and it was awesome.
Finally, last weekend I went to Corfu. A couple great things happened. One, my twin sister was able to come back to Athens and then travel to and from Corfu with me. Two, we went to Corfu with one of my friends from my program who is probably one of the sweetest people I’ve met. Three, we stayed at the “Pink Palace” which was truly very, very pink. The Pink Palace is a social hostel, so we relaxed on the beach during the day, but hung out with the other people at our hostel at night. We met Americans, Australians, and some British and French people. Then, on Saturday night, I kid you not, everyone wore bright pink togas! We arrived back in Athens Sunday evening, tired, tanner than we left, and with a new appreciation for the color pink.
I realized on the metro Sunday night that I’ve entered the part of my abroad experience when everything becomes a “last”. It was my last trip to an island and my last time taking the metro home from the airport. This week is my last week of classes. I would be despondent if I weren’t looking forward to seeing my family and friends so much when I get back to the States. More than sadness or excitement, above all, I am grateful for these past few weeks (and months), and hoping to make the most of the last few days of this adventure!