I apologize in advance if this gives you the travel bug. This has been a long time coming and I have been putting off writing about our trip because I am afraid I won't do it justice lol. Last February (pre border shutdown and covid craziness), Nick and I took a trip overseas. It was both of our first times going to Europe so the excitement was real.
I need to start off by saying this trip was NOT well planned. It was extremely spur of the moment, but that's just how Nick and I do things sometimes. It was Christmas Day, and Nick started scrolling through groupon... you can already start to see the poor planning here lol. He decided he wanted to book a cheap trip for us and then stumbled upon Athens -- $1200 for flights and hotel for 2 people - TOTAL. He booked it instantly without talking to me and I literally cried when he told me. It's been my dream to go to Greece.
How did we do Greece so affordably? Well for one, it was the off season. We had no idea what to expect weather wise. And the flights were.. creative at best. Long story short it was a lovely 24 hours of travel to get to Athens. Even though I would do many things differently, the experience was out of this world. I can't even explain how it felt to be in a city so old with so much character and history.. we could not stop saying "WOW" at literally everything.
For the short amount of time we were there, we learned a good bit that will help us for the next time we plan a Greece trip. Here it goes:
Your favorite Mediterranean restaurant is NOT the food you will have there! Although some tourist traps had your typical gyro, it was not the norm. But the cuisine was phenomenal nonetheless. Every restaurant would give us free glasses of house wine, even at breakfast lol.
The fresh seafood was to die for. We went to a little island and found a hole in the wall restaurant owned by a husband and wife and he brought out all of the fish he caught for the day and let us choose what to eat. We were the only ones there and I'm not sure if they were technically even open. I've never had such an amazing experience.
OH -- and the olive oil.... I could have eaten a loaf of bread and a bottle of oil for every single meal. Amazing.
Athens is like the New York City of Greece. A ton of hustle and bustle but a lot of things to do. We stayed right near the Parthenon, which had a more historic vibe and was in walking distance of the Plaka, a neighborhood with adorable restaurants and tons of shopping. We never felt unsafe walking around because there were so many people out and about, but we stayed smart at night and tried to not let on that we were tourists lol. We really only stayed in Athens because of how budget friendly it was, next time we will definitely stay on one of the islands.
Things to do:
Our absolute favorite part of the trip was a one day cruise to 3 different islands -- Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. It was truly magical to see all of the beauty and culture on these islands. They were all picturesque little cities built into the mountain. Our favorite was Hydra, where there's no cars on the island and everyone travels by donkey. (If you follow me on IG, its the painting on our living room wall.) Hydra was also where we had the amazing fresh fish.
Other than the cruise, we spent most of our days exploring the city, trying out restaurants and cafes, and checking out all of the awesome historical sites.
The seasons there are relatively the same as ours. It was winter, heading into spring, so it was in the mid 50s pretty much the whole time. We expected light jackets and cute outfits still but we ended up buying winter coats while we were there because the wind is FREEZING. I guess we didn't take into account the fact that we were basically on a mountain surrounded by the ocean, so the air was definitely crisp. We said we'd love to go back in the early summer, even though there will be more tourists. We're both babies about the cold.
I'm sure I'm missing so much that I wanted to say about this trip and I will probably end up writing many more posts about it. If you have always wanted to experience another country but you're on a budget, I am here to tell you it is absolutely possible and can be way cheaper than you think! Traveling is the best way to get out of your bubble and learn a new way of thinking. I know I definitely can't wait until it is safe to travel again!