A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: EscapewithKay

7 beaches in 4 days

The Greek Islands: Mykonos & Folegandros

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From Athens, Alex and I took a 3 hour ferry to Mykonos (pronounce Mi-konos). I was expecting it to be pretty calm since there are dozens of ferries a day, but it was actually really bad! We could hear people throwing up into the bags. We felt pretty sick as well and I was sitting there clutching my stomach the whole time. When we got to Mykonos it was really windy (like 30 mph winds!) and so we just assumed the seas were rough that day.

Our hotel was really nice. They picked us up from the port and the mom gave us fresh tomatoes from her garden and cheese that she makes fresh every day!

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Mykonos Day 1: Walking around Little Venice & Ornos Beach

On our first full day we went to walk around town because the winds were still too strong to lay on the beach.

The windmills are a popular attraction on the island. They used to help supply the islands needs and we could see how after walking through that wind!

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Continuing down the same road leads us to Little Venice. This area is called that because of the restaurants and bars on the edge of the sea. It was just as picturesque as I imagined.

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My guidebook says that the maze of white-walled streets was designed to confuse pirates. It definitely confused us sometimes too haha. We had a nice morning walking through the streets and seeing all the fancy shops.

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Next we went to a beach that "is not greatly affected by the wind" (quote from my Mykonos app), Ornos Beach. That is only half true…the first place we laid down felt like a sandstorm around us! There are tons of cute bars/restaurants around to just sit, relax and enjoy the view. That part was the best!

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That night we took a bus out to Paradise Club on the beach. The doors don't even open until midnight! It was pretty cool inside though, they have a pool the shape of the island.

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Mykonos Day 2: Paradise Beach

On our 2nd day we had some time before our ferry to Santorini so we went back to Paradise beach. We heard that people go to party during the day there too. We had some drinks and took in the view of paradise. :-)

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The next island we went to was Santorini, but that island deserves a post of its own so I'll skip it for now. After Santorini we took a 45 min ferry to Folegandros. Our hotel was exactly what you imagine the Greek Islands to look like:

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Folegandros Day 1: Livadaki, Ligaria, & St. Georgios Beach

Folegandros is a little island that is not known by a lot of tourists (thankfully). The island has 20 different beaches, but only the 1 at the port is actually easily accessible. So we rented a scooter and drove out to the beginning of the hike to a beach highly recommended for its exclusivity. Little did I know that when they said it was an hour hike, they meant it was an hour hike with a difficulty of 12 out of 10!

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We saw a chapel on the way down:

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It was so difficult and I felt really bad because Alex is a better hiker than me, but just as I thought it wasn't going to be worth it, we got there and it was amazing! There were only 4 other couples there. And usually I prefer sandy beaches instead of rocky, but when we looked closer we saw that the rocks were all different colors. It was really beautiful. I took some back with me :)

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After relaxing and having lunch at the beach, we had to make the 1 hour trek back. We were told that a boat comes every hour to the beach from a neighboring beach that is closer to the road, but the boat never came! We think it was because the boat didn't drop anybody off so they didn't have to pick anyone up. I definitely recommend this beach…but next time I want to take the boat. Alex, I'll meet you there ;)

We then took our scooter down to two other beaches at the North side of the island. These were a bit sandier.

Ligaria:

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St. Georgios Beach:

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Folegandros Day 2: Vardia & Katergo Beach

When you look down from the Chora, the main town of the island, you see how high you are from the water. It is just a straight vertical cliff!

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We returned the scooter and went to Vardia, which is the beach right next to the port, this is by the southeast part of the island.

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From Vardia we took a boat to Katergo Beach. We passed Georgitsi Cave and the boat went into the cave a bit. At first I thought they were taking us through like a tunnel, but then we started to back up.

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Unfortunately, we only had 48 hours in Folegandros and we had to return back to Athens. I really enjoyed the island, because it was off the beaten path. The beaches that were the hardest to get to were the most amazing. I would definitely go back and spend more time at Folegandros and forget about the touristy Mykonos.

The ferry we took from Folegandros back to Athens was the same ferry that we took in the beginning of this post to Mykonos. It's called Seajets II. And Alex and I think it has more to do with the type of ferry rather than the sea. Our 4 hour ferry was horrible.

It gets gross here so you can end here if you want, but for your own travels to Greece, you may want to know: This time so many more people were throwing up. I felt so bad for the man next to me. He had filled two vomit bags and they were starting to leak! There was a little girl 3 seats from us and she was crying and throwing up. It was just horrible. I don't usually get seasick, but I was in a lot of pain until I was able to fall asleep. The ferry we took from Mykonos to Santorini was much better. It's called a Highspeed 5. Take that one if you go to the islands. Either we were just really unlucky with the seas on the days we took Seajets II or it was the ferry itself. There are also flights to Mykonos and Santorini that cost the same amount and are faster if you don't want to take the risk.

The ferry experience was really bad, but I will just look into another way to get back to the Greek Islands because they were amazing.

Posted by EscapewithKay 09:42 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Athens, Greece

I'm running out of cool ideas for titles...

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After leaving my mom in Munich, I flew to Athens, Greece to meet up with Alex again. After we separated in Italy he went on to do Eastern Europe for a little over a month: Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey and some other places I can't remember…

Day 1: Acropolis, Acropolis Museum & Lykavittos Hill

Today we decided just to conquer the Acropolis. We started with the Acropolis Museum which displays some of the surviving treasures. The museum is relatively new and the architecture is amazing. They have glass on the floors to show the subterranean ruins that they found below. Also great views of the Acropolis!

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We saw the 5 original Caryatids - famous maiden columns that held up the porch of the Erechtheion (the 6th one is in the British Museum)

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(Alex asked me to take a picture of him and "his girls" - he thought that was funny -__- )

The museum also has the reconstruction of the friezes that would be on the top of the Parthenon. The west one depicts Athena and Poseidon in contest for the city's patronage. The story is that the gods of Olympus said the city should be named after the deity with the most valuable legacy for mortals. Athena produced an olive tree while Poseidon produced salt water. Athena won and the city was named after her.

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The east frieze shows Athena's birth from Zeus' head…I don't really get that one…

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Afterwards we went up to the Acropolis.

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The Acropolis was always the most important center of the city as it is the highest place. But in 11th century BC, the people became to erect buildings for their patron goddess Athena. The Parthenon used to have a 12 meter high statue of Athena inside.

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The temple is 8 columns by 17 and is well preserved considering it was "blown up" in the 17th century.

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Also atop the Acropolis is the Erechtheion. This temple is built in the spot where Poseidon and Athena both created their gifts to the city. Today, there are plaster casts of the caryatids holding the porch (Because the real ones are in the museum)

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At the end of the day we took a furnicular to the top of Lykavittos hill to watch the sunset. It was really nice because we had a great view of the Acropolis, which we saw during the day, and the sun going down around Athens.

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Day 2: Benaki Museum, Theatre Dionysis & Temple of Olympian Zeus

On Thursdays the Benaki Museum is free for everyone so we figured this would be a nice start. It is not one of the museums that are considered a "must-see" but it was definitely pretty cool (and free so we had nothing to lose!). The museum has some of the ancient jewelry, pottery, and ceremonial pieces. It then goes through the years until Greece's independence from the Ottoman empire.

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Sidenote: In Munich, just 2 days before, I learned that Bavaria helped Greece in their revolution and the museum shows some art work about the alliance. So far on the trip every country I went to bordered or had some relation with the country I was in previously (Italy to France, France to Spain, France to Switzerland, Germany to Austria), so I was really glad when the connections continued with Germany to Greece!

We then went back to the Acropolis area to see the Theatre of Dionysos. A 6th-century-BC theatre, this place used to have productions of philosophers like Sophocles.

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You can see some of the marble thrones for dignitaries and priests (like the one I'm sitting on in the picture!)

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Lastly, we saw the Temple of Olympian Zeus. (The ticket to get into the Acropolis gets you into all these sites for 3 days!). This temple was the largest temple in Greece and took 700 years to build! It's estimated that there were 174 Corinthian columns, but only 15 remain.

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The fallen column that is broken into slices was due to a gale in 1852 (I didn't know before, but a gale is a really strong wind!)

That night Alex and I had dinner with his cousin and wife, who happened to be in town for a wedding at the same time! We got to see some nice views of the Acropolis at night afterwards too!

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Day 3: Roman & Ancient Agora, Ferry to Mykonos

On our 3rd day, we completed the last two sites on our list: The Roman and Ancient Agora. The Roman Agora was built in the 2nd half of the 1st century BC in order to transfer the commercial center from the Ancient Agora.

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The tower in the picture below is the Tower of the Winds. It was a sundial, weather vane, water clock, and compass.

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The Ancient Agora, on the other hand, started around the 6th century BC. It was the center for social and religious activities, commerce, and athletic contests.

This is the Stoa of Attalos. It was destroyed in 267 AD but rebuilt by the American School of Archaeology in the 1950s...that's why it looks so new!

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The best-preserved Doric temple in Greece is in the Ancient Agora atop a hill - The Temple of Hephaestus. The reason it is so best preserved is because in AD 1300 it was converted into a Church.

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The area we stayed in was Monastiraki...I liked that area a lot because it has Athen's biggest flea market (found tons of souvenirs!) and has a lot of good food in the area.

Speaking about food...so far it was great! We had:
1) Pork and chicken gyro meat, the plate will usually come with tzatziki sauce and tomatoes and onions
2) Stuffed peppers and tomatoes - usually with rice and herbs
3) Moussaka - they layer eggplant with meat and then topped with a sauce and cheese. I usually don't like eggplant but the cheese and meat helped :) It's like their version of a lasagna!
4) Gyro in Pita - it has the gyro meat with tomatoes, red onions, a different sauce depending if its chicken or pork, and...FRENCH FRIES :)

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5) And my favorite, Greek Salad. When I was a kid I would make salads that only contained tomatoes, cheese and croutons - no lettuce. Well, Greek salad is like made just for me. It's full of fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions, a block of feta cheese, and oil & vinegar...perfect

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After our sightseeing, we headed to the port for our first ferry of our trip to the party island of Mykonos.

Sidenote: Don't go to Athens in July! It's too hot to sightsee and most of the sites are outdoors!

Posted by EscapewithKay 00:58 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

My 24 hours in Munich

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One day is not enough for Munich. It was put in the schedule because I had to get a flight to Athens and I wouldn't be able to get there cheaply if we stayed in Salzburg. But I am definitely glad we went, because I really enjoyed the city.

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I took my Mom on a free walking tour and we went to all the major sights:

1) Glockenspiel - has 43 bells and 32 figures. We got to see the performance.

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2) Plaza that the façade is completely painted (sorry can't remember name) - Mom and I were looking at the courtyard and thought it was made out of blocks and had pillars, but all of that is actually just painted on concrete!

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3) Englischer Garten - Europe's biggest city parks, bigger than New York's Central Park. There are a lot of locals who go to the park to surf…its water that comes from the alps a shoots into a canal to great a single wave. And people actually surf there!

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4) Munich political building (can't remember this name either) - the interesting part about this building is that they rebuilt it after WWII with glass to symbolize that you can now see what the government is doing.

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5) Theatine Church - built in Italian high-Baroque style because of the queen who was from Italy. It is completely white inside

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6) We also learned how Oktoberfest started - When Prince Ludwig (later Ludwig I) married to his Princess there was a big celebration in 1810 right outside of Munich. And it actually started in September! Sixteen days before the first Sunday of October. King Ludwig I had so much fun he planned to repeat it in 1811. And in 1819 it was decided to make it an annual event.

Afterwards we had an early dinner at Hofbrauhaus (all my CMU friends - it is just like the Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh!)

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Apparently, in the early days of Bavaria beer was actually considered a fundamental food, similar to bread. The first hofbrauhaus was opened in 1607 for the royal and then was open to the public in 1828

Sadly, this brought us to the end of our 12 days together. My favorites of the trip were Interlaken, Switzerland (please go there!) and Salzburg, Austria (possibly because of all the music). Next time I'll have to take my Mom somewhere where the weather is better and they have air conditioning in the rooms :)

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Posted by EscapewithKay 03:18 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

The hills are alive...

Salzburg, Austria

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Our next stop on "Mom & Kayla's German Adventure" was Salzburg, Austria. The main reason we wanted to go to Salzburg? Sound of Music of course!

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Day 1: Sound of Music & Salt Mines Tour

Our Sound of Music tour was awesome! When I was a kid I would love to watch this movie. I remember my aunt teaching me how to play "My favorite things" on the piano :)

The tour took us to the locations used during filming the movie and we got to sing the songs on the bus (I also watched the movie the night before to freshen up!)

1) Leopoldskron Palace - the lake that was used in the Captains backyard where the kids and Maria fell off the boat

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2) The Gazebo - Hollywood built this gazebo at the location they used for the backyard of the movie. They left the gazebo in the same spot afterwards, but it had to be moved after tourists flocked to the location. I was really sad I couldn't go in, but it's all thanks to the 70 year old woman who fell after she tried to act out the "I am 16 going on 17" scene…(I know it's sad, but I'm still angry about it).

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3) Mondsee village - we saw the cathedral that the wedding scene of the movie took place at. It's a small little village about 45 minutes of Salzburg and the town is so cute!

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4) Mirabell Gardens - the kids and Maria ran through the gardens and touched some of the statues there when they were singing the "Do Re Mi" song

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^ They posed with those statues!

5) The bridge the kids and Maria ran across:

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On the tour, some of the actual truths about the Von Trapp family were told…I didn't really appreciate the Sound of Music being "debunked" but I guess it was interesting…

1) The Captain wasn't actually that strict with the kids
2) The family didn't escape by hiking to Switzerland - that's a 5 hour drive away…
3) The mountains the family are hiking on in the movie is actually in the direction of Hitler's Eagle's Nest…
4) No one in Austria actually watches this movie - they may have watched the German version which is more of an autobiography
5) Perhaps the saddest one: "Edelweiss" is not a cherished Austrian tune….sorry but wtf.

After the Sound of Music tour, Mom and I went on a tour of the Salt Mines. We had to put on traditional miner's clothes and enter into the old mines by a small train. To get to lower levels of the mine, we slide down on the older miner's slides. We learned about Salzburg's "white gold" - Salzburg actually mean's salt castle.

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At the end of the day (damn I was exhausted), we went to another specialty Austrian dinner. I had schnitzel that also had bacon and mushrooms inside (my favorite schnitzel that I had) and we also got a beef with egg noodles. Really great!

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Day 2: Hohenhsalzburg fortress, Mozart's Birthplace, & Mozart Dinner Concert

It was really raining today, but we tried to make the best of it. We walked to Mozartplatz - a square dedicated to Mozart on the 50th anniversary of his death.

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And then we took a funicular up the Monchsberg mountain to see the views of the old town of Salzburg and go to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.

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Since it was raining we decided to go inside of Mozart's Birthplace. Here is where he composed some of his boy-genius works. Throughout the 3 floors we got to see letters of Mozart to his family, some compositions and some of the things he owned. We really got to see how much people wanted to hear him play and wanted him to compose any opera for them. There was also a computer where you can see some of his compositions by hand and hear them being played at the same time. There is also the violin he played as a child.

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That was a perfect precursor for our Mozart Concert Dinner. It was held in the Baroque hall of St. Peter's Cathedral, which was really beautiful:

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And there are artists wearing costumes from the period and singing the operas: Don Giovanni, Figaro, and The Magic Flute. In between each opera piece we would get another course of our dinner:

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See the Mozart head and the treble clef in the dessert? :)

It was a really great experience and we had an awesome table: a couple from Israel who now lives in Indianapolis, a couple from Korea and one from China. Although I have really enjoyed everything I have done this far, I wish I had done more music oriented things around Europe because I really loved when I would recognize a song played.

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It was a perfect end to our time in Salzburg!

Posted by EscapewithKay 11:05 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Sleeping Beauty's Castle

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When my Mom was planning this part of the trip, the #1 attraction on her list was to go to Sleeping Beauty's castle. (Sidenote: When I told this to someone, they said: "Oh, I didn't know Sleeping Beauty was a real story" lol. I just mean that this is the castle that Disney based the Sleeping Beauty castle on!) My mom made it possible for us to go by taking a train to Munich, Germany (all the signs say Munchen and I think that looks like Munchkin haha) and then rent a car and drive to Fussen. Here is where my #1 attraction of this part of the trip comes in, seeing my mom drive on the Autobahn :P

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Just kidding…she did great! I was only scared half the time.

Fussen was another cute little town. We arrived and walked around to try some German food. We both had Schnitzel and my food came with Spatzle (I need to make this at home). [how to describe those foods]

The next day we set off for the King of Bavaria's (this area of Germany) castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Hohenschwangau is King Ludwig's childhood home and we didn't visit inside this one

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Our goal was Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Walt Disney for the Sleeping Beauty movie. Ludwig II, the King of Bavaria, spent most of his life constructing this castle. He loved the medieval period and had it designed that way, although this castle was actually built from 1869-1886. Everything was built and furnished in medieval styles but equipped with the latest technology. The sad part is that Ludwig II only had 172 days living here until he was declared unfit to rule and taken away and then died.

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To get a beautiful view of the castle, Mom and I went to Mary's Bridge or Marienbrucke

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Inside the castle we weren't allowed to take pictures, but it was a really cool visit.

I actually became very interested in the Bavarian Kings after going to the castle so Mom and I went to the museum on the kings right in the town below the castles. It shows the history of the Wittelsbachs (Bavaria's royal family). When Ludwig II was king he was forced to accept domination of Bavaria by Prussia. Afterwards Bavaria joined Prussia forces, and ultimately what became the German Empire when France attacked in 1870. Slowly Bavaria had to give up rights to the German empire throughout the 20th century. We learned that people from Bavaria still consider themselves as Bavarian first rather than Germans (just like Catalonians and Spain!).

It was a really nice day trip and we really enjoyed it. Also we finally had amazing weather!

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Posted by EscapewithKay 02:34 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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