Starstrucked in Santorini

Santorini, Greece (20 May 2016)– Picture perfect from every angle, my initial skepticism completely vanished when I caught sight of those white washed houses and blue domed churches finally in REALITY. Santorini has always been my idea of the perfect Greek summer dream,  a place on my bucket list of places to go, and sure enough it didn’t disappoint!

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Exploring Fira
Fira was the place where we stayed at for the entire trip. Our accommodation was a nice and cozy family house with really hospitable owners. We decided to go for a free walking tour on the first day and the guide brought us around Fira without of course, forgetting to bring us to see the famous blue dome and church bells. Actually that was the first question I asked him, typical tourist move heh.  We hiked all the way up to Imerovigli where he said we would see the best view and it was spectacular indeed. Once you reach a high vantage point and looked back, you can see the entire coastline with the white buildings along the cliff. There are a lot of paid tours on the island but they were the ones who started the first free tour despite the disapproving attitude the rest have towards them for disrupting the tourist business. Our guide was no expert but he just volunteered out of interest to show us tourists places that he consider worth going and sharing a little knowledge about what he knew.

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Journey up the volcano
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View from the top!
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Volcano Hike
On the next day we took a whole day tour which included a boat trip to the volcano and a swim at the hot spring, a visit to a tiny island called Thirassia and ending at Oia to catch the sunset. Honestly, we were feeling a little lazy so we just felt like following a tour without having to plan anything by ourselves. It cost 38 euros per person which we found pretty decent considering that it included transportation to and from the place we stayed at too.

Our first stop was the volcano and we hiked up to the highest point where we could see the crater and the entire sea view from the top. The wind was blowing so crazily hard and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so afraid of actually being blown away? Sounds stupid but the fear was real. The entire walk up and back down took around an hour before we depart for the hot spring. Such a shame that I didn’t bring my swimming suit because the water was so clear and blue that I would’ve loved to jump in. It turned out that the swim to the inner part of the hot spring was a pretty long one and many people didn’t even reach before they had to call for help to bring them back to the boat. So…swimming skills are still a must!

Thirassia
Our next stop was the island of Thirassia. Honestly, there is nothing much on this island. But being a Greek island, it still had that old greek charm and amazing view of the Aegean Sea that made it worth spending a few hours there. We hiked all the way up in search of food. There were many restaurants near to the sea but we decided that those were probably tourist traps and were likely more expensive. The hike up was tedious, especially since it was sweltering hot but the tavern we went to, and the view, was well worth the sweat and effort. The food was not too pricey and delicious, especially the freshly made Moussaka!We had one later on at Fira but it didn’t taste half as good as this. So definitely recommended to hike up for some great food!

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Sunset at Oia
Finally, the highlight of the tour was of course the sunset at Oia. Known as the second best sunset in the world, it’s not hard to see why. We spent some time wandering around  the alleys in search for the postcard perfect blue domes. When it was almost sunset, we went to the tip of the island where everybody is, and waited for the sun to set below the horizon. It would’ve been a nicer experience if we didn’t have to squeeze through the crowd just to get a peak of the view, but you know…all great things have to be shared.

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Red Beach
On our last day, we pretty much spent half the day at the Red Beach, soaking in the sunshine and ocean breeze. Honestly, the beach was nothing particularly spectacular except for the soil tinted with a slight reddish brown, but it was a nice place to just chill and relax about!

Still can’t believe that I’ve finally experienced the paradise island of my dreams, and I get the reason for the hype over this place. There’s something dreamy and surreal about this place, a place where you can dump all your troubles away into the foamy sea and just live in the moment itself.

 

 

 

 

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Ghostly Gorgeous Mittenwald

Mittenwald, Germany/Austria (12 June 2016) – Right after the trip to Konigsee was another hiking trip to Mittelwald which was just as amazing. Our main route for the day was to visit the Gorge of the Ghosts (Leutasch Geisterklamm) , hike up to a restaurant called the Hut, hike back down to the village of Mittenwald where we will take the train back to Munich.

Our first stop was a short trail to the waterfall. We had to pay 2.50 euros to enter but it was definitely worth going! It brings you into the innermost region of the gorge with the foamy waters flowing fast beneath you and where you reach the waterfall at the end.

 

Then it was our turn to hike through the Gorge Ghost Trail. It’s really designed to be family friendly with educational stops along the way and stories about goblins and ghosts. We even saw a man carrying a baby who is probably only a few months old on his back!The hike was really easy at the start with the path already paved out, but after awhile it got a little harder when we had to hike up to a restaurant called the Hut which was a little steep and slippery but thank god the weather was great and it wasn’t raining like it was yesterday. At one point we even crossed the border of Germany and Austria, indicated by a square stone brick with T on one side and A on the other.

After what seems like a never-ending series of twists and turns, we finally reached the HUT. And it was totally worth it because we had the most amazing view of the Bavarian Alps around us that looked completely picturesque. Amazingly the weather did not disappoint like it was predicted to by the weather forecast, and the sun was shining in all its glory.

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We chilled around for a good two hours or so before making our way back down. Fortunately we did not have to take the original path and going down was so much easier.

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Then we reached the village of Mittelwald which was so beautiful and I especially loved how the houses were so colourfully well painted. The whole town pretty much could have popped out of any fairytale story though it felt a little like a ghost town especially since it was a Sunday with all the shops closed and barely anyone on  the streets. We had some ice cream and just sat around to enjoy the peace of this tiny town among the alps. Perfect way to end the day I say!

Enchanting Chania

Chania, Cretes (23 May 2016) – Gorgeous place stumbled upon because of crazy expensive tickets that forced me to do a detour. Who would’ve expected that?
After spending a night at Athens airport because of the 5 hours transfer, I finally landed at Chania airport early in the morning at 6am. Getting to the hostel went pretty smoothly but being way to early, the hostel wasn’t opened for check in yet. I wondered around and decided to make my way towards the direction of the sea and found a bench facing the sea.

So there i spent a few hours, nibbling on some chips saved (luckily) along the way and spent the rest of the time dozing off or reading a book.

When I finally checked in, I was told that breakfast was available and it was great to see a proper kitchen and ingredients for you to make your own breakfast. Awesome!

Having breakfast, a guy from the hostel told me that they are organising a trip to Balos Beach which I have never even heard of. Well I didn’t do any research , just planned on going to the old harbour and walk around, not much of a plan really. I would gladly go with them but it cost 25 euros, pretty expensive for someone who’s crazy on budgeting so i was really hesitant about it. And then I decided to google it and read amazing reviews about the beach which really got me tempted. With a bit more prompting from the hostel owner  who told me about the cute little goats you would see there (Yup, goats, that’s all it took to get me persuaded) I decided to go with them.

The bus ride there was looong. We had to go through a crazy rocky winding road before reaching the beach. It was a really scary ride and the bus was practically on the edge of the cliff. One wrong move and…gosh don’t even want to think about it. When we finally reached, oh my there were really  GOATS everywhere! They came up to us blatantly asking for food and totally unafraid. After a few quick snaps with the camera and squealing over their cuteness, we made our way down a rocky path to the beach. It was another long winding road walking between the valley and for the first time after Iceland I could feel the grandness of mother nature that made me feel so insignificant. Suddenly, the hills began to slope away and there right before my eyes was the blue sea, stretched out in front of me, shimmering in different shades of blue. I was speechless. It was not your average beach I’m telling you. There were patches of white in between the sea where the water was more shallow and the water was a crystal clear baby blue shade.

The excitement to get to the beach was real. When I finally reached and turned back to see how far we came, I was pretty surprised at how high the cliff was. But it was amazing to be surrounded by pristine blue waters , and the waves were the gentle kind that lap gently at the soft white sand in a steady rhythm. I wadded around in the water since I forgot to bring my swimsuit, but it was more than satisfying. I felt lucky and grateful enough to be there, with some lovely people from the hostel, just chilling and enjoying the precious short time we have at paradise.

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The time to go back came way too soon but we had no choice, the tide was already rising and the sandy white path which we came from was already submerged in water. Lucky for us it was still shallow enough to wade through.

After reaching our hostel, I took a quick shower and went out to check out the old harbour. Yes I was tired, especially from the lack of sleep the previous night at the airport but I guess sheer determination got me going. The sun was already setting and it was a really nice walk to the harbour with the sky painted in hues of pink, orange and yellow. There’s something about the Old venetian harbour that made me fell totally in love with it. The quaint narrow alleys and mixture of architecture from the Ottoman and Venetians were nothing I have ever encountered before.  I just felt a tinge of regret at not being able to see this place during the day, especially during sunrise.

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The town was already buzzing with life from the cafes and restaurants that lined the port on one side. I had dinner later on at one of the restaurants near the port with some people from the hostel and we had pizza to share and a huge bowl of salad each. Even found out that the girl from Italy was flying to Rome tomorrow morning just like me!What a coincidence!Was pretty glad that I’ll have some company on the plane the next day. Our meal ended with a bottle of free alcohol, ice cream and cake (which I was obviously more interested in haha) thanks to our lovely waiter.

It’s such a shame I couldn’t stay here for a few more days but Chania you can be sure I’ll be back.

 

Regen Regen in Regensburg

A trip to Regensburg just wouldn’t be complete without some Regen to add to the charm of this tiny medieval town! With the Danube river flowing through the city that made it a popular trading centre in the past, it has retained much of its medieval buildings with most of it left (thankfully) undestroyed by the Second World War. Apparently the city lost its significance after the trade industry went down, so much that it wasn’t worth being set as a target for the bombings.

Our lovely tour guide first led us down a street called the Happy Turkey Street apparently named after an inn owned by a really happy guy called Turk.Pretty easy huh? Be happy, make others happy and have an entire street named after ya!Das gefällt mir auch!I mean….who wouldn’t want to have a street named after you? Our tour guide showed us the many ways Italy influenced the city, such as a tower that’s typically found in Tuscany but can be seen towering overhead along a row of houses. Apparently the tower is a symbol of power and the higher the tower, the more power it symbolised since it reflects the wealth of the rich merchants who could afford the expensive stones used to build the tower. But now the tower and the courtyard around it is used as…a student hostel haha. Our tour ended with the Stone Bridge that was supposed to be the highlight of the tour. You know how you should always save the best for the last?

But unlucky us, the bridge was still under renovation and we saw the bridge enveloped with such ugly steel frames…We had 4 hours of free time after the tour and we immediately went for the Bratwurst restaurant recommended by our guide. If it did’t cost 2.50 euros for the sausage and bread, i’d definitely go for a second round. I have to say this is probably the best sausage I’ve tasted in Germany so far! The sausage went so well with the sauerkraut and sweet mustard!Sehr Sehr Lecker.

With our tummies half full but really satisfied, we went on the stone bridge to do a little exploring and the view surely didn’t disappoint! Everything looked so picturesque and idyllic, with the river banks covered with green grass and trees, and medieval houses that added to the already gorgeous landscape! We stopped by for some ice cream at the end of the bridge before making our way back to the Altstadt since there wasn’t much to see after crossing the bridge. We entered the gothic styled Saint Peter’s Cathedral, named after the saint with the keys to heaven!We managed to find a stained glass painting in the church of Saint Peter with his magical keys too! Didn’t think it was possible with so many paintings inside but yeah we found it (After some searching of course). We had plenty of time to spare so we strolled along the alleys and settled for dessert Round 2 at a cafe! The chocolate Spaghetti Eis was enough for four of us to share and was completely satisfying with the ice cream pretty much submerged in runny chocolate sauce and cream.

It started drizzling slightly, as the surprisingly accurate weather forecast had predicted, in the late afternoon, but we had a peaceful stroll in the park near the Hauptbahnhof in the rain that ended the trip really nicely:) To end off the post with something new I’ve learned today: Ich muss schiebe etwas nicht auf die lange Bank!

-Regensburg, Germany (23 April, 2016)