colorful Greece and Turkey
I know. I am extremely blessed to be able to travel as much as I do. I cannot express to you how grateful I am to have these opportunities. Especially with my best friend. That said, WELCOME TO GREECE!
This city is a mixture of some of the most insane history – I mean, like Socrates... and Aristotle!!! – and then quaint small streets filled with charming cafes and stray cats. The Parthenon was interesting because I run by the exact to-scale replica in Nashville every morning on my run, and it's fully in tact... but there was something deeper about standing here on the Acropolis; a weight of the centuries of history, of influential leaders who stood right where I'm standing now. That's crazy to me.
If you are in Athens long enough to take a day trip - basically anything more than one day, because you really only need one full day in Athens - you need to make the extra journey to Nafplio.. if you're up for the hike. "The hike" of course not only referring to the long and windy bus ride getting there, but also the literal physical hike of over 1000 steps to the Palamidi fortress at the top of the village.
If you do, along the way, stop at step #595 for this peephole view – the photo on the left below.
(Don't worry, you don't have to count every step.. although I did. Someone else already has and has marked the steps every 100 or so, so you can check in and see how you're doing!)
The village is small and walkable, and absolutely adorable. With all the palm trees, you forget you're in Europe...
And then begin your hike... Don't be discouraged because the hike provides some of the most breathtaking views.
It's worth it, I promise. And then, you'll reach the top. And the view of the city of Nafplio from Palamidi is absolutely spectacular!
So, go. Go to Nafplio. Climb the 1000+ steps. And take it in. Take it all in.
Santorini is definitely one of the most spectacular places in the world. It's been on the top of my bucket list for several years now and it is as amazing as the pictures. Of course, I scouted out some of the most famous shots, but also found some cool places of my own.
Everywhere you turn is another church. And by church, I mean another typical blue-domed Greek Orthodox church. Literally everywhere you look. I wish I knew the symbolism behind the bells that stand next to the churches, sometimes 3, sometimes 4 or 5... even 10 at times, always in a pyramid type shape. I'm sure that's Google-able, but oh well. Maybe you can Google it. :)
I absolutely encourage you to do the walk from Fira to Oia (or vice versa). It is a TRECK. Be prepared. It'll take about 3 hours. And it is tough. Wear sneakers and bring water. And hopefully you're not afraid of heights.. or cliffs. But if you can make it, it is so worth it! Many of these photos are from that walk.
In addition to the sweeping ocean views and white houses, there was a power outage while we were there, which made for some even more amazing moments while there were no lights. There are some things you can't plan for at all, you just have to be thankful and make the most of every moment.
Istanbul... not Constantinople...
I can't tell you how many times I sang that song while we were there. Thank you, They Might Be Giants. (one hit wonder)
Anyway, WHAT AN AMAZING CITY!!!!! Half in Europe, half in Asia. Literally. The city is split by the Bosphorus river. It's quite spectacular, really. Very much split between cultures. The river kind of makes a Y out of the city– the east coast very eastern influence filled with mosques and calls to prayer, the northern very much like Europe filled with Starbucks and Sephora, and the west, literally in Asia, with Asian influence. The city has the most amazing markets, bazaars, spices, coffees, palaces, and mosques. So many mosques. Just like Greece was filled with the blue domes, Istanbul is one big spattering of ornate mosques.
And the markets I mentioned... oh boy. If you go to Istanbul you have to go to the markets and bazaars! And plan to buy... lots of things. I literally traveled there with a carry on and somehow (magically?) fit an entire quilt set back in my bag after an impromptu purchase at a market! It's almost like the magic of the ice cream! (a story for another time...)
And the city just lights up at night! It's all very magical.
A truly beautifully eclectic city! I know I will return someday.