Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Guide to Santorini




We had the absolute best time in Santorini. Both Preston and I had seen the pictures of the gorgeous white buildings sitting against the blue ocean with the caldera in the background for years, and to get to experience it together was really incredible. Here are our favorite things we did and ate in Santorini...



1. Santo Winery. This winery was a little tricky to get to with no GPS/ Google Maps but was so worth it. It had the most incredible views, you could see the ocean, calderas and Fira, Oia and Imerovigli. We had a couple of hours there but truly could have spent half the day tasting wine and enjoying the views here. This is an absolute must if you are visiting Santorini.





2. Hike from Fira to Oia. We stayed in Oia (which we loved) but wanted to see Fira and thought the hike would be a great option to do so. We ended up hopping on the bus to start in Fira, where we explored for a bit (very, very touristy) before heading on the hike. Now, about 50% of this 'hike' is really a walk through Fira, Firostefani and Imerovigli where you will spend most of your time taking pictures in front of cute doors and pretty flower boxes. It was glorious. The remainder of the hike/ walk was filled with the most amazing views of the ocean. Most of the dogs in Santorini roam free, no leashes or owners watching them closely, so we picked up a few sweet, furry friends on our way back to Oia. We lucked out and had one cloudy afternoon we were able to do the hike, I would suggest checking the weather and planning to do the walk/ hike on the cloudiest day. If that is not an option, wear a hat and pack plenty of water and sunscreen as there isn't much shade on the trail.




3. Swim in Amoudi Bay. Amoudi Bay is one of the few places in Santorini that you can swim in the ocean. We tried out a couple of other beaches and were not very impressed, however Amoudi Bay did not disappoint. You have to go down tons of steps (beware: there will be lots of donkey poop) but it is so worth it! The views were beautiful, the water was refreshing and it is one of those 'pinch me, I'm swimming in Santorini moments.' Bonus! The restaurants next to Amoudi Bay are supposed to have some of the freshest seafood, sadly we didn't try it but plan to when we return again!



4. Pitogyro. These gyros are SO good. SOOOO good. SOOOO INSANELY GOOD. The only downside to eating here is that all of the rest of the food you eat on your trip will be disappointing compared to here. It is a small gyro stand set a bit back from the hustle and bustle of Oia. They have a few seats but chances are you'll eat your food standing up. The gyro's are $4 which feels like highway robbery for how good/ filling they are.

Our first day eating here, we met the sweetest local lady who had lived in Santorini for 15 years. When we asked where she recommended we go for a good view of the sunset, she proceeded to give us a walking tour of Oia - including introducing us to every shop owner, giving us background on all of the island dogs and telling us what to order at each restaurant. It was amazing and her recommendations did not disappoint. Have I mentioned how much I love the Greek?!




5. Sunset (and dinner) at Sunsets Cafe. This was one of the recommendations from our sweet friend. It was specifically recommended for the ambiance and is easily the best place to watch the sunset on the island. You will absolutely pay for it thought. Reservations are required, and upon booking they are sure to let you know that each person must order an appetizer, entree and dessert - you won't be getting out of here for less than ~ $150 but if you are in Santorini it is worth the splurge!



6. Lolita's Gelato. Every day. This isn't an option, if you are staying in Oia it is required that you eat this deliciousness daily. We went to Venice later in our trip (recap coming later) and honestly none of the gelato there compared to Lolita's.


7. Octopus from Roka. If you are a fan of Mediterranean delicousness and could eat seafood daily, the octopus from Roka is a must. This restaurant was recommended by several locals and is the complete opposite of Sunsets cafe. Don't expect great service or sunset views - but they do serve up great food. If you'd like to try authentic Santorini cuisine, I highly recommend Roka!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Vacation of My Dreams!


Last week we returned from two weeks in Greece, Croatia and Venice, and it was GLORIOUS. In the week leading up to our trip, I was incredibly excited but also feeling anxious trying to get everything in place with work, home and volunteer responsibilities. Life can get a little crazy! But the second I got in the car to head for the airport, I felt all of the child-like excitement explode and let all of the worry subside. It was such a fun trip, and I kept turning to Preston and saying, "This is such a dream! I can't believe we're here!"

I am going to do a city by city recap (in part so I can relive every day!) but wanted to encourage you, if you are on the fence about taking time away from life and exploring the world, DO IT. Book your tickets today, you will never regret it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Weekend 2015








Easter will forever be one of my favorite holidays. How can you not be completely overjoyed on a day that celebrates the new life we are all offered?! The spring flowers, delicious brunch, candy and baskets full of presents are just the icing on the cake. :)

We had a busy weekend full of Easter egg hunting, brunch making, Spurs game watching fun. Preston also surprised me with the sweetest Easter basket of all time - he had listened to me say things that I wanted or admired for the past few months and got all of them for me! A bike basket, Fitbit, 50 Shades of Chicken Cookbook (the most hilarious cookbook you will ever read), my favorite party wine, and Elderflower for some delicious cocktail making. That


Friday, March 27, 2015

Phuket














Phuket was AMAZING. I think I have said that about everywhere on our trip, but if you are a beach, water and sun lover like we are Phuket is an absolute must. We stayed in Karon Beach at the Pacific Club Beach and loved it. Their pool was incredible - I think my favorite relaxing afternoon was drinking pina coladas in the pool with Preston looking out at the ocean in front of us and the Karon Cliffs behind us. It is about an hour away from the Phuket airport (and whatever you do do not do a shared shuttle from the airport) but so, so worth it. It is less touristy than Patong and full of fun little places to eat and drink.

As you can see above, the water was a perfectly clear shade of turquoise and was so warm. One day we took a speedboat to the Phi Phi islands which are a must if you are in Phuket. We went to monkey beach, relaxed on the sand with pineapple cocktails and tried to soak in the breath taking views as much as we could! We also got sunburnt crispy here (the sun is SO strong, I wore sunscreen and still got it pretty bad but not anywhere near to Preston). Preston's one scheduling complaint was that he wishes we would have spent more time in Phuket, so if you are planning your trip - 3 nights is not enough here. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Laos






















After Bangkok, we headed to Northern Thailand to Chiang Mai. This jump started the adventure portion of our trip and over the next few days we rode elephants, went ziplining through the beautiful forest, pet tigers, hopped on a boat to cross the Mekong River to Laos (dream) and sped through the mountain hills like there was no tomorrow (with the lack of road rules there were more than a few times we thought we wouldn't actually see tomorrow :). It was incredible!

The funniest travel fail was when we were zipling. It was our second to last zipline for the day and Preston and I got to do it together. We were holding hands and I was commenting on how incredibly beautiful the entire forest was, and how amazing it was that we got to be there together zipping through the sky... and then all of a sudden I started to SCREAM every expletive that I had ever heard and ripped my hand out from Preston and started slapping my forearm. Something bit/ stung me SO hard - I have never had a feeling remotely close to that from a bug bite! The ziplining company but some Tiger balm on it which cooled it a little bit, but over the next four days I had an allergic reaction and it ended up swelling my entire forearm. We were laughing the whole trip about how hilarious/ ridiculous the bite had been!

If you ever find yourself in Northern Thailand, you MUST ride elephants (and do research to find a place that treats their elephants humanely), visit the Golden Triangle and if you are like me and have an obsession with the Mekong River (started when I read this incredible book) then take a boat from Thailand to Laos. And of course eat all of the incredible food and get daily massages! We stayed at Baan Orapin and absolutely loved the beautiful property, sweet owners and incredible breakfast spread every morning. The best Thai food we ate was from Dash (Dash, the owner, was born in Thailand but actually lived in Seattle so it was fun to talk with him!) and we also had one of the best Italian meals of our lives (strange, I know!) at Italia.  And while there are hundreds of coffee shops in Chiang Mai, you have to have at least one cup of jo at Woo Cafe. Now take me back right this second. :)