For spring break, I decided to go traveling with just Haley [Williams], the other student studying abroad from the University of Maine. Our spring break was one week instead of two, so we decided to go to Paros, Greece. Unfortunately, the weather on the Greek islands was not what you’d think of it being, as it was mid-March. We had a very long day of traveling even though it is really not far away at all. The only way to get to the Greek islands is either by Aegean Airlines, or ferry. Depending on which island is your destination, the flight can take around 25-45 minutes, and the ferry around is eight hours! We were flying, but our flight kept getting delayed, and then it was finally cancelled due to thunderstorms and bad weather over the islands and the Mediterranean.
We were informed that we had two options: we could either stay the night in Athens in a hotel that they would provide, and go to Paros in the morning, or we could fly to Santorini (a different island) that night. Well, obviously spending the night sounded ideal, but the catch was that we would not be able to get off the island in time to make our flight on Wednesday to Amsterdam. The one ferry from the island to Athens left too late and so did the one flight that was available.
We had not booked this in advance, because we had thought there would be more than one ferry offered. You cannot view the ferry times ahead of time. By the way, I advise everyone to not book through a Bulgarian travel site for flights. Because of this site, our flight first got changed to Thursday without us being informed and we had to change it last minute back to Saturday, paying 60 more euros. Also, we were not able to get a refund on the Paros flight and just stay in Athens, because we had booked this flight. We ended up having no choice really but to go to Santorini. The last available hotel for the night was the Romantic Spa Resort, which was humorous, but it worked out because it did not cost much more than staying in a hostel, and it was nicer. Our friends from American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) were also going to Santorini in two days for break, so we could meet up with them.
Everything ended up fine in the end, except for the weather. The island is rather spread out and has many hills, so it is not ideal for walking or biking. Because of this, we rented an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). On our second day there, the weather turned quickly into a tropical storm, and we were driving through high winds and torrential rain that was whipping us in the face. We ended up having to go back to the hotel to shower and change midday. Most of the activities in Santorini are outdoors, because most tourists go in the summer months. There wasn’t much we could do on Monday, so we all played cards and cooked inside the apartment that some of our friends had rented on the island.
However, Tuesday was beautiful, though still windy and cold. We explored the famous Red Sand Beach of Santorini, which has iconic red cliffs meeting the blue ocean. All of the beaches on Santorini have black or red sand, because the island is volcanic. We ended the trip by seeing the famous Santorini sunset in Oia, a village on the island with the well-known white houses on the cliffs.
The sunset was not spectacular, as it was a little bit cloudy, but the views were amazing, and just what I pictured Greece to be. One thing I have learned while studying abroad and doing so much traveling is that traveling never ever goes according to plan. Something always goes awry, big or small, and you just have to deal with it and accept that it is part of traveling. In the end, I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences for the world, because they are all amazing stories that I will be able to tell when I get back to the states.