For my first international travel experience, I went all in, taking a solo trip to Greece. I flew into Athens, where I spent my limited time at the Acropolis and wandering the touristy markets of Monastiraki Square.
From Athens, I took a five-hour train ride from Larissa station up to Kalabaka. I stayed in the small town of Kastraki (so small, they don’t even have addresses there!), for the purpose of visiting the monasteries of Meteora.
The train back was terrible, as I had to stand the whole time in a small hallway without air conditioning. But eventually I got back to Athens, where I spent the night in a hostel and got up early to sail out to Santorini.
I got a high-speed ferry from Piraeus Port to Fira. The ride wasn’t bad, although I’m glad I had prescription-grade motion sickness patches. It was nighttime when I got to Fira, so I splurged on a shuttle to take me to my hostel.
In the morning I made my first venture to the caldera, and it was stunning. It looked exactly like I’d seen in so many photos. Most of it is private property, so I couldn’t wander around much of it, but I did wind through the streets and alleys in the city center, taking in the views and spending a lot of money on souvenirs.
The next day I went to Perivolos Beach, a black sand beach with a string of bars serving up delicious cocktails.
That evening I took a bus ride to Oia, the most picturesque town on Santorini. There, I sat on a stone wall among countless other visitors, watching the sun glint off the white houses as it set. It was the most beautiful manmade sight I’ve ever seen.
Greece was an amazing experience, but I was also glad to go home. I never got lonely, but I felt a lot of stress trying to commute and stay on schedule in a country where many people don’t speak English. It was well worth the effort and the money, though. The world is huge, and there are so many spectacular things to see and do!
I wasn’t expecting to travel internationally in 2016, but my sister is talking about going to Johannesburg, South Africa, so I might try to join her. If not, I hope to visit New Orleans next year!