Cretan Beach Resort Vacation

Crete is the largest of all the Greek islands and also the southern most island, closest to the African boarder. In Greek mythology this island was the birthplace of Zeus.

The crystal clear water, great private beaches, renowned archeological museums, fresh seafood, beach resorts, nightlife, and traditional Greek cultural immersion make it an island with something to offer everyone.

I stayed for 3 nights with 10 friends near Stavros Beach in Northwestern Crete near the city Chania.

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The first time I went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea something crazy happened…

I was waste deep in the water swimming with a few friends and I felt something wrap around my leg. Thinking it was seaweed I lifted my leg to pull it off, but to my surprise I came face to face with a huge orange octopus attached to my leg! I started screaming and within a few seconds it swam away. It was huge and wrapped around my entire leg…

So beware that you might get attacked by an octopus if you swim in Crete. But it’s totally worth because these are some of the best beaches I’ve been to in my life.

Behind this little beach is a bar and restaurant. The owner heard of my octopus encounter and sent someone out to hunt it for fresh seafood. Luckily they didn’t find it!

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Stavros Beach

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I highly recommend it this beach, as well as the restaurant next to it. The owners at this place were incredibly generous, kind, hilarious, and entertaining. Yes, they were also the one’s who tried to hunt down the octopus.

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My go to meal in Greece was always the Greek salad, which included a big hunk of feta cheese, black olives, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, vinegar, olive oil, and seasoning. And of course bread and wine.

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Chania, Crete

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Study Abroad friends from the American College of Thessaloniki

We spent a lot of time exploring Chania, mostly in the city center and the nightlife. The city center of Chania is very charming and captures Greek culture spot on.

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This was my first time trying a fish spa, which is where you put your feet in a tank of water full of little fish who eat the dead skin off you feet. It was an interesting experience and it was hard not to scream the whole time but I totally recommend it at least once in your life.

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One of the best parts of traveling is making new friends from all over the world.

The highlight of Crete for me was enjoying the Mediterranean sea and just being young and free with a bunch of amazing people. It is true that it’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with that really matters. This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t choose to study abroad in Greece. Study abroad in College please! Or live abroad for a portion of your life. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made and I believe it made me a much better person in most areas of my life.

Have you been to any of the Greek islands? Is so, comment below which one is your favorite, or which island is at the top of your places to see next.

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Female Solo Travel in Santorini

Female solo travel is nothing to fear, especially on the enchanted little island of Santorini, Greece. At the age of 21 I spent my first solo travel here. Rumor had it that solo travel is a must if you’re into personal development and self-growth. I’ve aways been an experimental kind of person and so I knew it was time for some solo travel.

Santorini is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, but my trip was during the off season in March. Hardly any tourists were around and some of the shops and restaurants were closed. I actually loved this because at the time I was seeking inner peace and did a lot of hiking, reading and meditation.

A simple and beautiful island like Santorini is a great place to do a female solo trip because it has a gentle and warm energy. It is welcoming, friendly, and won’t overwhelm you. The transportation is simple and most of the island is walkable.

In my short amount of time here I did see most of the island and I will share, in my opinion, the best things to do while staying 3 nights as well as my photo collection.

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flying into Santorini from Thessaloniki, Greece

Santorini is like walking into a dream. Strolling through the little winding walkways and viewing the white washed architectural theme of the island will give you plenty to do on with your first few hours on the island.img_7800img_7832img_7887

There are a million blue doors on this island! An Instagramers paradise. 😉img_7815img_7806img_7883img_7830img_7884

You will see donkeys everywhere on the island. Sometimes a herd of them will come out of no where and block the narrow walking paths. I went on a donkey ride with two guys I met from Paris, but that was before I realized how poorly the donkeys are treated. I would not ride a donkey again in Greece but if you want to it is very doable all over the island.

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It is too common in tourism to see animals that are clearly sad and over-used. Be mindful of this and please don’t support it if you get the sense that the animals are being mistreated.

On to a happy note! Greek food:

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Greeks are known to have outstanding hospitality and cuisine to die for. This cute little roof top bar gave me free wine for dining with them. You have to try the Greek wine while you’re here! There are a lot of great traditional greek restaurants and frozen yogurt places to try as well.

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During this time of my life I was going through a major spiritual transformation. I spent alot of time in meditation, journaling, and reading. This book is Aleph by Paulo Coelho.

Santorini is known to have “the best sunset in the world,” and they are truly captivating.  Take a walk to the highest point of the island and view the sunset over the caldera and the Aegean Sea. Although I was alone, I met 2 girls from Canada and watched the sunset with them. While solo traveling I totally recommend setting an intention to go out of your way to meet new people.

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Santorini has an active volcano mostly submerged by water. This is called the Caldera. On day two I met up with friends and took a boat to the Caldera to swim in the volcanic hot springs.

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Although I did a solo travel journey, some of my study abroad friends happened to be on the island at the same time and so it spent time adventuring them. I loved this because I did want to be more social on the island and it was hard with very little people around.

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Hiking around the volcano

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I highly recommend swimming in the volcanic hot springs, even if you’re there in March while the water is freezing! It’s an amazing experience. The water is so dense with minerals that you can almost float on top of it; this is associated with healing properties for your body. In some areas the water is very warm because it is heated by the volcano.

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To get up the cliff from the water toward the center of Fira, there is a lift you can take instead of riding a donkey or walking. It’s fun and gives you a great view from above.

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We all studied abroad at the American College of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

The most empowering part of my solo travel was hiking the island alone on the cliffside of the Caldera, from Fira to Oia. This was a half day hike of 10.8 kilometers across the entire island. It takes 3 to 5 hours, depending on your speed. I had some major fear arise out of no where when I did this, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of my entire year. The views were out of this world.

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Once you leave Fira there are hiking signs to guide you toward Oia.

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For most of the hike you could view the Aegean Sea from both sides of the trail. It was peaceful and exhilarating all at once. I only encountered one other person and his dog the entire hike. img_7880

I stopped along the way to do some mini meditations and breathing techniques. I find that these easy practices majority enhance the experience.

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Oia is smaller than Fira and during the off-season it is quite dead. Many places were closed but it is still beautiful and worth seeing no matter what. Plus, you can take a bus back to Fira within minutes.

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Oia

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Journal entry: Do your desires spark your ego or your soul?

A MUST SEE in Oia is the Atlantis book store. This is a famous book store and the second most interesting collection of books I’ve seen, next to the Trinity Library in Dublin.

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Like all places in Greece, cute little stray cats and dogs are everything. While I hiked around the island a little dog followed me around for hours. So adorable!

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Another great thing to do is to visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. There is also a wine museum, a Maritime museum, an archeological museum and more.

I recommend staying in an airbnb in Fira if you go in the off season. My trip was actually very affordable and the best things to do in Santorini don’t cost that much. There are many luxurious stays on the island, and some budget hostels and hotels as well. Never let money stop you  from traveling when you’re young, there is always a way to make it happen.

Overall, solo travel is not something I want to do all the time but I HIGHLY recommend everyone to do it in their lifetime. I find it very different than traveling with others. You have to be more vigilant and self-aware. It encourages confidence and self-empowerment, especially as a young female. It gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you more self-reliable and efficient.

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If you area considering solo travel or Greek travel I hoped this inspired you to make it happen. I have been to over 30 countries and Greece is my favorite place in the world.

I believe that solo travel and travel in general is not just about pleasure. It is about self-transformation and learning. Please comment below if you have ever traveled solo and name one thing you learned along the way!