Category Archives: Greece

Santorini

2016 – The end of another amazing year of travel

15747862_10154056897662617_3367207312712882158_nThere’s no doubt about it, 2016 has been a pretty incredible year for me. I’ve had some soaring highs and felt pretty low at times, but I’ve also had the chance to experience some thing I never could have dreamed I would. I crossed three continents and ticked off my 30th country, worked with hotels, spas and restaurants either side of the globe for this blog, I said goodbye to love so that I could travel Europe solo and I made some incredible friends along the way. I’ve worked as a sales manager, a cocktail waitress, a journalist along the way and all the while I’ve been working on creating amazing content for this blog. 2016 has been a year of working hard and playing harder, and as it draws to a close I can’t help but reminisce over the special times I’ve shared with amazing people. From the teary goodbyes at the airport, to the mates I’ve shared incredible road trips with this summer, to the incredible welcome home I got from some of my best friends when I arrived back in Melbourne. Getting the opportunity to celebrate a real Aussie Christmas surrounded by so many amazing friends was a perfect way to end the year. But what have the highlights been?

My top 5 travelling experiences of 2016:

Melbourne

Without a doubt, Melbourne is my number one for the year. Voted the Most Liveable City in the World six years running, it’s no wonder I’ve just moved back here for the second time. I lived in Melbourne at the start of the year and it was the first place in nearly two years that had felt like home. I had an amazing flat, a great job as a sales manager, the most incredible friends and I completely fell for a great guy. Now I’m back for round two and I’m already well on my way with a great job at a rooftop bar and my own brand new apartment. Melbourne, you are well and truly my second home.12742300_10153292964597617_7986843509108504989_n

Budapest

A city I had dreamed of visiting for years, Budapest was everything I had imagined and more. I loved the history, the beauty, the architecture and the people I met there. Part of my summer backpacking trip around Europe, it was a perfect opportunity to explore the city independently and to have some amazing experiences. One of my favourites was eating dinner in a traditional Hungarian restaurant with my newfound Aussie and Norwegian mates talking about the world under a blanket of stars. Visiting Budapest reminded me how much I love exploring a new city alone on foot, and it’s a city I can’t wait to revisit.image

Slovenia

Slovenia was an amazing experience – not only did I get to explore some of Eastern Europe, a dream of mine for several years, but I was invited along on my first blogging trip. It was an amazing privilege and a reminder of how hard I have worked to build up this travel blog over the last few years. Spending a week at a luxury glamping site on the Slovenian/Croatian border was a fantastic way to see the country – from woodland hikes to swimming in the rivers, to visiting locals and eating feasts of freshly caught local fish. The people, and the place, made it unforgettable.image

Bali

My second blogging trip of the year came about only as a last minute plan – I was at a low point and unsure of what my next move would be when one of my best travelling friends invited me to Bali. It was the best decision ever and led to my being invited along to review hotels, spas and restaurants on the island. What was supposed to be a week-long trip turned into a month and yet I still wasn’t ready to leave. I explored the Bali countryside on motorbike, visited temples, explored monkey forests, swam in the waves, spotted manatees and swam with sea turtles. It was the holiday I had needed – not just travelling, it was a holiday and one of which I appreciated every second.img_2178

Tasmania

Definitely the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have been yet, by far. Tasmania was somewhere I had longed to visit since arriving in Australia and “mini-New Zealand” definitely lived up to the hype. I spent three weeks there staying in the best hostel I have found yet in Australia, exploring Hobart and road tripping around 11 national parks in just 10 days. I hiked for days on end, camped wild under the stars and the full moon, I climbed several mountains and spotted countless whales, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies. It was a magical experience and one I’m so glad I made happen, it was just what I needed. A true breath of fresh air.img_2381

After such an incredible year, it’s hard to imagine just how 2017 could top 2016. I’ve travelled to eight different countries this year, I’ve lived in two of them long-term, I’ve gone from outback living to city slicker to beach babe and total mermaid. I’ve taken my clothes off on top of a mountain in the snow, I’ve changed my mind in 10 minutes and booked a spontaneous flight to the other side of the world. I’ve refused to stop living my dream for anyone other than myself and I’ve made a plan for the future. It’s an exciting time to be Absolutely Lucy and it all starts again when the clock strikes 12 on New Years. Another fresh start, another exciting adventure and another dream come true. I’m ready, are you?

Where has been your favourite place to travel to this year? Have you enjoyed following my adventures? What are your travel plans for 2017?

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If you’re making travel plans for 2017 already – look no further than Sunshine for cheap holidays that will bring your dream destination a little closer. With hotel deposits from just £1 and holiday deposits from just £50, they’ll help you make your dream trip a reality.

Santorini | The magic of Oia by day & night | Greece

13895488_10153669362677617_7991328918100532344_nWe’ve had a short break from the Santorini dreaming but I had to return to it to share one of the most magical experiences of all. I don’t think there are many people out there – bloggers especially – who don’t have seeing the Santorini sunset on their bucket list. It had been firmly on my must-see list for several years and showed no signs of budging in the face of longer-haul trips. There’s something rather magical about those pictures of the windmills high on the hill surrounded by a sea of white buildings reflecting the pink glow of a fiery Greek sunset on the Caldera that just gets your heart racing. It’s one of, if not the, most romantic location in the world and I genuinely believe that everyone should experience the magic, and the romance of Oia at least once in their lives. Those who have say they are already desperate to return, which just shows you the power this beautiful place has in capturing your heart.13938527_10153682680427617_8365844026343663042_n13902637_10153669362142617_310879561199431658_nNow I’ll be honest and saw a tiny part of me was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype – I’m not usually a big fan of overly-touristy places and crowds – I much prefer to experience places like this with space to breathe. Now I will admit there are a lot of people in Santorini and usually you can avoid the crowds but Oia is different, especially in the evening. But at the same time, these crowds don’t spoil the beauty of the sunset, they don’t ruin the perfect romantic moment or the stunning photos you can capture. There’s actually a kind of magic of hearing everyone gasp and exclaim in hushed tones as the sun dips lower on the horizon, or as donkeys jingle their way down the mountain-side towards the ocean. That feeling that so many people there are witnessing this spectacle for the very first time, and that you’ll never have this “first time” again. It’s special and it does take your breath away, I’m sure it still does no matter how many times you visit.imageI visited Oia on two occasions both during the day and at night, I was actually staying on the other side of the island at Perissa which I would recommend a lot more than staying in Oia. My advice is – if you’re there for just a few days, stay in Oia as it has all you want to squeeze into your visit, but for any longer like my two-week holiday, head elsewhere. Oia doesn’t really have a proper beach so you are limited to the swimming pools and it is very touristy, it is great for a luxury stay but if you prefer self-catering like us, you’re better off elsewhere. Oia is beautiful both in the sunlight and sunset, and I would really recommend visiting at both times of day to really appreciate it. I was actually lucky and also went on a boat day trip that ended with a late afternoon cruise around the Caldera so I also got to see Oia from the ocean which is also a great experience.imageOia by day is an intense experience at high season, the sunlight reflects brightly off the white buildings and it does get hot so I would recommend aiming for morning or late afternoon for a visit and avoiding the heat of the day. Although as you’ll notice from my pics it’s very windy there which helps keep you cool! Make sure you walk all the way up to the village from where the buses stop, just follow the crowds up until you reach the village, then enjoy wandering the little alleyways and exploring the tiny shops. If you turn right as you enter the village and continue all the way along, it will take you to what is left of the tower structure. This is the spot where you will get THE Santorini pictures of the windmill on the hill surrounded by white buildings – THIS is where you want to try and get a spot to watch the sunset but you have to arrive EARLY to stand a hope. Our bus was late so we didn’t make it this far but has a much less crowded and spectacular view from lower down. It’s worth bringing along a picnic and some wine for the wait and securing your spot early. In the day-time you’ll get some amazing views across the Caldera that will also get you snap happy!13876593_10153682680092617_4997487180421780562_n13906730_10153682680102617_324564665984752274_nWalking back through the village, double back on yourself along the alleyways until you stumble across Aphrodite Books – a cute and tiny little bookstore I found that is worth a look.Then continue along the strip where you’ll find more glimpses of stunning views and quirky little stores including one filled with old-fashioned puppets that amazed me. Further along you’ll find no end of restaurants overlooking the ocean – perfect for drinks in the afternoon, dinner after sunset or even a relaxed breakfast. We had no problem getting a table for drinks in the afternoon, nor for dinner just after sunset with three of us. It may be worth booking ahead if you have your heart set on a table or restaurant but if you’re flexible you should be okay. Don’t be too intimidated by the price of these ocean-view restaurants – they were a tad more expensive than in Perissa but nowhere near as expensive as we expected so worth it for a treat. Whether you’re there during the day or at night, make sure you stop along the way to capture some of the most Instagram-worthy pics you’ll ever take – those gorgeous white buildings and dreamy ocean views ain’t gonna snap themselves!13902744_10153669362592617_515321982825774059_nJust one thing – for those arriving in Oia by boat or passing through the village – I ask that you do one thing and promise me not to ride the donkeys. The treatment I saw there of these poor creatures forces to work in the midday sun when sick and weak was terrible. I couldn’t bear the sight of them bowed under the weight of tourists as they carried them up endless steps and steep cliffs to the village in the burning heat. And for what? Because we’re too lazy to use our legs? For some stupid tourist trap that is probably overpriced anyway. Use your common sense and realise the pain and suffering these creatures go through, don’t support the trade and it will eventually die out much like elephant tourism in Thailand. You have the power to make a change by not going with the crowd, so do it, trust me it works. I stopped no end of people from riding elephants in Thailand just from explaining why – it doesn’t take much to wake people up to reality.13680637_10153669362982617_5886234302335479895_n13921104_10153669363292617_373082987621663186_n

Have you been to Oia – can you recommend any hotels/restaurants? What was your favourite part? Did the sunset live up to the hype?

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Santorini | Volcano, hot springs & cruising the Caldera | Greece

13872705_10153669369437617_2574518093963893625_nThere’s nothing like a good day trip to break up a holiday, whether you go off to visit another nearby island or just another town, it’s a perfect way to experience something totally different during your trip. We were in Santorini for two weeks so we made sure to organise plenty of day trips and activities – like climbing the mountain – to break up our time sunbathing on the beach. One of my absolute highlights of the holiday was a bargain day trip we took from Perissa to explore the nearby active volcano, to swim in natural hot springs and mud baths, and finish the day with a cruise around the Caldera. You’ll see this trip on offer a lot when staying on the island in various different forms, but it can be difficult to ensure you don’t get ripped off when booking without doing a little research. Luckily for you, I’ve done the research for you so you can sit back and enjoy the trip!image

Booking the trip

We booked our trip at a Perissa travel agency after checking out several to compare prices, it’s always worth comparing at least three and seeing if they can offer you a discount for group bookings. A few euros doesn’t sound much, but it makes a huge difference to your pocket if you have a big group of people. We booked our trip with Star Travel, on the main street, who were great – they offered a full day trip with all three attractions for the same price other companies were charging for a half-day experience. At around 20 euros per person, we could be picked up from the agents in the morning and taken to hike up the active volcano, we would swim in the hot springs then break on the nearby island of Therissa where you can enjoy a peaceful lunch before heading home and cruising around Oia and the famous Caldera. A pretty busy day, but one worth experiencing. Not only do you get to tick some pretty amazing sights off your Santorini bucket list, but you also get to do it at a steady and enjoyable pace.13882417_10153669369852617_5295825705394534213_n13882417_10153669369712617_1683611288060951229_n

Climbing the active volcano

An amazing experience to see the volcanic, bare landscape set against a background of ocean and Santorini coastline. Just out in the bay from the island, it’s just a short 5-10 minute boat ride before you land here and prepare to climb the volcano. I wore running shoes but you can easily do it in sturdy sandals, I saw some in flip-flops but I wouldn’t recommend it. You have to pay a few euros each for entrance to the volcano, then it’s off up towards the crater. The hike takes less than half an hour and isn’t too strenuous but it is hot – make sure you have water and sunscreen – and be aware that it is at least five degrees hotter at the top. The walk up is incredible – take a second to appreciate the stark landscape – and when you reach the crater it’s amazing to walk around. Annoyingly you will be surrounded by boat-loads of tourists and plenty of selfie sticks, but it is still worth a visit and it is possible to find a quiet spot. Listen out for your tour guide talking about the history of the volcano, it has an interesting past, and then stroll around the crater taking in the 360 degree panoramic view of ocean and island. Watch out for our pal Walle who sits up there 24/7 monitoring volcanic activity and serving as an early warning for the island to be evacuated in case of emergency.13887038_10153669369867617_7050272482306377329_n

Swimming in hot springs

Back on the boat and we cruise round the volcano and off towards the hot springs which sit in the shadow of a nearby island. As you approach, you’ll see further in where the water changes colour to a deep rusty, brown colour, where the mud carries no end of minerals. The boat stops around 15-20 metres away from where you will be able to touch the ground but you do have to jump off and swim for it – if you’re not a confident swimmer stay on the boat. A short swim across and you can swim/walk across the rocks to enter the hot springs, feeling the water warming your skin. It’s only just above body temperature but you can feel the difference and it’s lovely to sit there in the water. I recommend rubbing the mud all over your skin – everyone thought Mum and I were mad for doing this but it makes your skin incredible soft. I was aiming for five years younger but I don’t know if I quite reached it. We have just half an hour to enjoy the mud baths before heading back to the boat, but it’s the perfect amount of time as we were starving by this point. Swimming back you definitely feel the cold hit you as you leave the hot springs but luckily the clear sea water washes off any remaining mud before you climb back on board.13876508_10153669370047617_6032899850155312868_n

A relaxing lunch on Therissa Island

Next our journey took to to the island of Therissa, a step back in time to the Greece of years ago. You can walk up to the main village but it is a very steep climb and we weren’t sure we would have time to squeeze that in with lunch. Instead we pottered along the shoreline to one of the restaurants and sampled the stuffed vegetables and freshly caught calamari – I’ve become addicted to calamari over the last few weeks. It was a perfect relaxed lunch with a beautiful view of all the boats and the crystal clear waters. All of the restaurants serve the freshest of fish and for roughly the same prices so choose any and enjoy the setting. After we ate, we decided to wander along the shore to the windmill at the other end of the beach so we could check out the views and shops along the way. It was a lovely little walk and with two hours there we had just enough time to see everything we wanted to see before heading back to the boat to get a good spot at the front for our Caldera cruise.13934590_10153669370202617_1448667652268613479_n13880203_10153669370217617_7472480666856025732_n

Oia and Caldera Cruise

How better to finish the day than with a peaceful cruise around Oia – a chance to finally view it from the ocean in all its splendour before making our way along the Caldera by boat. I’ll be posting about my day spent in Oia at a later date – but you must without a doubt experience Oia from the ocean, within the town during the day and of course, at sunset, to get a real feel for the town. It’s spectacular in all its forms and not at all overrated, every time I was in awe of the beauty and the magic of this stunning location. And of course, a boat cruise around the island in the afternoon sunshine is a perfect way to experience Santorini. There’s something so peaceful about being out at sea, perhaps it’s the mermaid in me but it just soothes my soul every time. Clear, endless waters, overlooked by centuries old white windmills – that’s what Santorini is all about and that’s what this trip will give you. All those dreamy island views you’ve been stalking on Instagram in the months leading up to your trip.13934741_10153682680522617_1083166504792679114_n13903378_10153669370362617_1717106529558893240_nI can’t recommend the trip we went on enough – it gave us everything we wanted and more. You get to see a whole different side to the island, a natural and raw side to the landscape that often isn’t associated with the more manicured beauty of Santorini. It’s a perfect way to spend a day during your holiday to the island.

Have you been on this trip – what was your highlight? Do you love boat trips, where was your favourite one?

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Santorini | That day I climbed a mountain and visited an ancient city | Greece

13962682_10153682687712617_3327037275195795263_nHaving two weeks in a place is such a luxury when you travel. Holidays can be so expensive and I know so many who have had to sacrifice a second week this year due to costs. We’re all familiar with that feeling that we never have enough time to squeeze everything in, well I’m definitely guilty of trying to squeeze too much into a break. I can’t help myself, I just want to do, see, eat and experience everything a country has to offer, which doesn’t often leave much time for relaxing! You’ll know from my previous posts that I love keeping fit and active, even when I travel and so I’m sure you’ll know that I’m game for trying any new ways of getting out there and pushing my body. So when I realised the amazing opportunity to try something a bit different that lay waiting in Santorini, I jumped at the chance. If you like to exercise this one is a great way to combine history and working out while taking in a spectacular view of the island.13882088_10153682679712617_2088484874682698811_nIn the south-west of the island lies the biggest mountain of the island, Mesa Vouna. This stunning peak has the town of Perissa nestled against one side, while the town of Kamari can be found on the opposite side. At just 369m, it’s only a baby in the mountain world, but it’s still a worthy climb and well worth it for the experience. We set off at sunrise to try and find the path, which was just a few fields behind my apartments, along the way stumbling across some donkeys preparing for their huge climb over the peak. It was around 5.30am and barely touched by the light, we began our journey – why so early you ask? Well I quite enjoy an early start to the day anyway, and quite frankly it gets so damn hot there that you definitely wouldn’t want to attempt this climb beyond 9am or you would be standing up there in 30 degree heat! With the incredible excavations and discovered ruins of Ancient Thira sitting at the top and just waiting to be explored, I wanted time to appreciate it.13912644_10153682679362617_482515594261268932_nThe walk is around 8km and if you’re relatively fit it’ll be a breeze, you can complete it in an hour or two – more or less depending on whether you stop along the way. We actually saw a couple of guys who were running up and down the mountain several times – so if you fancy a really grueling workout it’s right there waiting for you. I wore running shoes when I took on the climb but my mum and dad managed it fine in sturdy sandals. We took breakfast and plenty of water along with us, you’ll need both as the shop at the top is sometimes closed and you might not be able to buy anything for the climb down. I would really recommend hiking up the mountain from Perissa as you actually get the experience of walking up the rock face rather than a man-made path like the one waiting on the other side. It also means that in the morning you will walk in the shade which is a blessing when you’re faced with bright, burning heat down the other side. Along the way look out for signs marking graves on the hillside and plaques explaining the history, these are worth a read if you’re interested.13892056_10153682679527617_5446372040536266128_nWhen you finally reach the top – just stop and breathe it all in. The view is incredible across Kamari and Perissa with the ocean on either side and the volcano within view. It’s definitely time to stop for a few photos before climbing the next short hill to Ancient Thira – the ruins cost 2 euros to enter and are more than worth it for the stunning views waiting from the top and a glimpse into a city of the past. The site is not open on Mondays and only opens unil 2.30pm on some days so be sure to check ahead of walking. The hilltop was first inhabited by the Dorians, whose leader was Theras, in the 9th century BC. Thira was later occupied in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras, with most buildings surviving today from the Hellenistic era (around 4th century BC). If you like history and visiting ancient ruins, you’ll be in for a treat with remnants of the ancient houses, cemeteries and even a theatre overlooking the ocean waiting for you. It was amazing to what was found by German archaeologists between 1895 and 1902, and then later by N. Zapheiropoulos in 1961-1982. I personally love experiences like this, I love delving into the past and imagining the whole communities that might have lived in ruins such as Pompeii, Angkor Wat and Sukothai.13934695_10153682679652617_4820893897813726839_nWhen you’re walking around it’s worth checking out the boards that are placed around, they’re all written in English and give you lots of information about the different buildings and what once would have laid there. Buildings from different periods are mixed together throughout the site along one main street, which is intersected by smaller streets. Sights worth checking out include the two agoras where you can see the ruins of several Greek temples, and don’t miss out on seeing the Roman baths and stone church of Agios Stefanos. The arc of the theatre was one of my highlights with a panoramic view of the Aegean – to think Greeks long ago sat there watching theatre much like I watched movies at the open-air cinema later in the week was crazy. For a cheeky look into the past, you should check out the view over the site from the large Terrace of Festivals – in times gone by boys would have danced naked there to honour Apollo, and you can still find some nearby phallic graffiti.13935150_10153682687782617_2971241929701860738_nThe climb is a great experience and was one of my highlights of the holiday, all three of us enjoyed it and the early start even meant that by the time we reached Kamari, we still had a whole day to top up our tans on the beach. The ocean at Perissa hides quite a strong current at times so be careful when swimming, Kamari on the other hand is much more sheltered and perfect for a swim or a snorkel. We spent a couple of days on the beach there, exploring the town and eating out at the many restaurants. And after such an early start and the steep walk up the mountain, I can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than napping in the sun and swimming out to the nearby rocks. Just what the doctor ordered.13879253_10153682679887617_3364172225929287717_n

Have you climbed a mountain – where? What are your favourite ways to stay active when on holiday? Have you been to Santorini?

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Santorini | A night at Kamari’s Open Air Cinema | Greece

imageOne of the things you simply have to do if you visit Santorini is spend an evening at the Open Air Cinema in Kamari – it’s an incredible way to experience sunset on the island and see the latest movies at the same time. When I was invited along to review the cinema I was so excited for the experience, it’s something a bit different to do of an evening and a great family activity. My family and I love going to the movies whether it’s the latest comedy, something a bit soppy or the old classics, and we couldn’t resist a visit. I actually had my first open air cinema experience when I was in Australia and couldn’t recommend it enough – it’s just such a wonderful way to experience your favourite movie and take advantage of the good weather. Our movie of choice was the newly-released Disney remake of Tarzan, a movie we’d all been keen to see as big Disney fans.

We caught two buses to get from Perissa to Fira, and then on to Kamari, arriving a bit early so we had time for dinner. Stopping at an amazing fish restaurant, Zorbas Taverna, in the village, we couldn’t resist the freshly caught sea bass, which was genuinely one of the tastiest fish I have eaten, it was served with saffron rice and a fresh Greek salad. The wine was delicious and the service was quick, we were very impressed by everything, especially when they presented us with a complimentary dessert as we left. For a pre-cinema dinner it’s lovely, just be sure to allow enough time to walk to the cinema with a full stomach, it’s about a 15 minute walk up and out of the village. Be sure to arrive in plenty of time to join the queue before doors open at 8.30pm, seats are first come first served so you want to be there on time to secure the centre rows. The cinema itself is absolutely beautiful, like a modern-day amphitheatre surrounded by trees and with high walls that do a good job to block noise from the road.imageWhen you arrive you queue to get in and purchase your ticket which costs 8 euros, then usher in your loved ones to find seats – whether you prefer deck chairs at the front or the slightly more upright at the back. If you’re chilly, blankets are provided and there is a very well-stocked bar at the back offering wines, beers, cocktails and all kinds of snacks. One thing I loved about the cinema was the atmosphere, everyone is chatting away before the movie starts, enjoying cocktails or wine to a background of 1920’s music. Then once the film starts up everyone falls silent, lost in the setting and the screen. The surround sound is incredible – trust me, when your dad is as deaf as mine, that’s important to make sure he enjoys the film as much as we do. Over the years, as technology advanced and theatres became less used, many across Greece were converted to make way for the cinematic era and now have become a big part of Greek life. This was clear from the sheer number of locals and travelling Greeks who were enjoying the show.

Tarzan was amazing, such a fantastic remake of a great film and we were all gripped from start to finish. They threw in a few breaks for those needing to pop to the loo or restock on drinks. But I think for all three of us, it was our second visit to the cinema that was the real highlight. Being there for two weeks, we couldn’t resist returning for another show as we had so much fun the first time. This time we headed to a screening of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – who could honestly resist while in Greece? It was one of the best film screenings I have ever been to. Not only were we watching the Greek antics on screen but we revelled in the amazing Greek families chuckling along at the movie and voicing their agreement with some of the funnier moments. The whole thing was hilarious and an absolute highlight of our final days on the island. Trust me, if you’re looking for something a bit different to fill an evening on Santorini, this is the perfect answer and an experience you don’t want to miss.image

Have you been to an open-air cinema? When travelling, do you tend to look for evening activities or prefer to relax?

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Santorini | Discovering handmade treasures when you travel | Greece

imageSomething I really love about travelling is the shopping – I can never resist a good market or a browse around a boutique filled with delicate handmade crafts. There’s something beautiful about the way so much effort is put into the creation and sourcing of such wonderful products. It’s just so pure when you come from a world of mass-produced fashion where everyone dresses the same and personal style can sometimes lack a bit of soul. I’ve always much preferred something a bit quirky, something not everyone else wears – I love clashing colours, bright prints and vibrancy that reflects my personality. When I traveled in Asia, the markets filled with tie-dye, patterns and colours were made for me, the delicate shall bracelets and coloured anklets were the stuff my dreams were made of and the cheap prices allowed me to reinvent my image every few days.imageWhen I was in Australia, even when things were a touch more expensive, I couldn’t resist the lure of a beautiful handmade jewellery shop in Darwin that has given me one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. Never leaving my ankle, this dainty silver piece was handmade and holds some of my most precious travelling memories close to me wherever I go. It’s amazing really how a well chosen memento can transport you back to a moment in seconds, how it can transform your day with just a glance by reminding you of happier times. Something handmade always seems that much more precious because of the time, effort and heart that has been poured into the creation of it. It just seems so much more special because it is a handcrafted reminder of not only the place, but the people who created it and the history behind it.imageSantorini was surprisingly a hidden gem when it came to shopping after warnings it was an expensive island. I actually found the shops very reasonably priced, especially for the quality of the items on sale. And actually having a suitcase with me instead of a backpack for once – it seemed rude not to indulge! While there didn’t seem to be any markets to browse, there were several shops and lovely little jewellery stalls scattered around Perissa, where we were staying. My favourite item of the holiday was without a doubt my mermaid dish, pictured at the top, it is absolutely beautiful and perfect for holding all my favorite jewellery. I love the shimmering shell and it was a total bargain for something that will fit beautifully with my room at home and make a perfect present for friends. For any other mermaids out there, it’s a perfect reminder of those gorgeous ocean blues when you’ve had a long day at work or the weather is kind of crappy at home.imageEverywhere you go in Greece there are shops selling handmade sandals, wallets and bags, and usually I’m not very interested. But when I stumbled across a little shop full of some of the most beautiful, and quirky, handmade sandals I’ve ever seen – plus a real-life cobbler whipping them up in front of my very eyes – I just couldn’t resist! This shop was amazing and I decided to treat myself to a new pair of sandals which are already the most comfortable shoes I own and I know I’ll have for a very long time. The cobbler was so friendly and even made my mother and I matching bracelets to wear with the shoes. The whole process of watching him create these beautiful shoes from pieces of leather and fabric was just amazing, and it was so lovely to witness as you were buying the shoes. It really gave you a sense of where the shoes came from and made them that much more special.imageFurther along the seafront we discovered a little shop with some of the most beautiful dresses, jumpsuits and jewellery adorning the rails inside. A total mish-mash of creative, colourful trinkets lined the shelves, including some rather odd items such as decorative penises, and a host of gorgeous decorations for your home and even photo albums. I couldn’t resist trying on this beautiful dress, and I found an amazing jumpsuit and dress for my mum, plus I treated her to a cute little bracelet as a reminder of the holiday. The staff were so friendly and put the emphasis on the handmade elements of the clothes and jewellery within the store, that was what really sold the items to us, the fact that they were one-of-a-kind with only one of each in the shop. That’s something you really struggle to find back home where everything is available in every colour and size, so it just means everyone has one.imageIf you’re looking for a handmade gift that is just a little bit more personal, why not try Forever Handmade – they focus on using centuries old techniques to create modern looking accessories. This post was a collaboration with Forever Handmade, but as usual, all views are my own.

What handmade treasures have you discovered while travelling? Which purchases have become treasured possessions?

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Santorini | Where to stay & eat when you visit Perissa | Greece

13892178_10153669370592617_5126173372115806732_nThose of you who follow me on Instagram and Twitter have been berating me over the last two weeks for teasing you all with photos from my rather lust-worthy holiday. Sorry, I’m so not sorry about it. It was without a doubt one of the best holidays I have ever had and oh my, have you seen how crazy beautiful Santorini is? I’m not lying when I say the Greek island has been on my Must Visit list for years, and now having spent two weeks there I can officially say it is just as incredible as I dreamed. All those times I scrolled infinitely down websites and Instagram feeds taking in every dreamy image and every scrap of information about the island, and finally I had the chance to see it with my own eyes. I am such a lucky girl. Even more so, because I wasn’t supposed to be going! My parents had booked themselves a holiday, not knowing when I would be back in the country, but when they realised I would be home, they booked me on to the holiday with them as my birthday present. Officially the best parents and the best birthday present I could ever dream of.image

Where to stay

We stayed on the south-east of the island in the popular resort of Perissa – it’s a good choice if you find the prices a bit steep in Oia and fancy actually being on the beach. After visiting both Oia and Perissa, I would say that for a week or longer holiday, Perissa is a perfect place to stay, but if you’re just going for a few days you would probably want to stay in Oia. Perissa is nestled at the bottom of the mountain and it’s the only place in the world I have seen the mountains meet the ocean on a beach of black, volcanic sand. Even in peak season, Perissa has a relaxed and quiet feel to it and the beaches are never overcrowded, nor are the restaurants. It’s a good place to stay if you want a mixture of relaxing, exploring and activities during your stay – we found it a great base for visiting the rest of the island and enjoying trips. The buses give you great, reliable access to other areas such as Fira, Kamari and Oia, or you could hire and car or bike. Most places in Perissa come with a pool and there are a lot of self-catering apartments available which is great for those that have children or prefer to do their own thing.13872700_10153669383307617_2571551292654911782_nI stayed in a self-catering apartment at Sandy Villas, this place was great with huge rooms, private bathrooms and balconies for each apartment. My room also came with a small kitchen including a hob, fridge and basic items. It had a bar and lounge area with wifi (although rubbish) and offered the largest swimming pool in the area. It was set back from the main strip and closer to the mountain, but I loved that it was a short walk away from everything and it meant having a stunning view of the mountain and the ocean from my balcony, and getting woken up by the donkeys in the morning. A true Greek experience. The owners were very welcoming and friendly, all of the staff were so lovely, especially when they realised I was staying alone. I was really impressed with the place and would definitely recommend it for others travelling as a group, a couple or independently. With a shallow pool, this place is well-suited to young children and many of the groups staying had children with them.13906680_10153669381897617_6894478547748232475_nIf you’re looking for something a bit more adult, try Anezina Villas, it’s much more suited to a couple on holiday with smaller rooms and more of a hotel feel. It was a lovely apartment for my parents with a private bathroom and balcony, although they did find the rooms a little stuffy. It came with a small kitchen area with a fridge and all that was needed to make simple foods if you preferred to have breakfast at the apartment. The outside area was the absolute highlight – the bar and seating around the pool was gorgeous and for sunbathers, you were treated to the most comfortable sunbeds I have ever laid on. Short of being a waterbed, I don’t think they could have been better quality. Likewise, the pool was fantastic for adults, very deep and large enough to enjoy a good swim – not great for children due to the depth.The apartments also come with a swing and play area, a hot tub, and sit nicely in the centre of the town, perfect for strolling to the beach or out to dinner. Both places were fabulous and we would really recommend them if you’re planning a trip to the island.13906635_10153669347502617_1002783273706622821_n

Where to eat

  • Apollon Restaurant – The very first place we ate out and one of my favourites! The staff were great and the food was fantastic – order the Winegrower’s Lamb.
  • Acropolis – We LOVED the woman who ran this place, think Julie Walters in Mamma Mia, she was so lovely and served us the yummiest food. Seafood pasta, lamb chops and meatballs were highlights.
  • God’s Garden – Great service and lots of great deals on meals for two and platters for sharing. We shared a meatballs meal for two and it came with an extra half litre of wine – always a win in my book!

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  • Cyclades – This beautiful restaurant is set in a cobbled courtyard with bougainvillea, a perfect setting for the best moussaka of the holiday. Such a great restaurant that we chose to eat her on the final night of the holiday.
  • Dorians Bar/Grandma’s Recipes – Dorian’s is the bar next door to the restaurant but you can also order food from Grandma’s there if you fancy a drink too. I’m not a fan of gyros normally but the lamb burger gyros was to die for. Seriously.
  • Tranquilo – My favourite hippie-style bar, think hammocks, bright colours, delicious cocktails and great live music. We were lucky enough to be there for their full moon party – an evening of fabulous live music. Great atmosphere and they also do food.

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  • The Volcano – Great food for when you’ve literally just climbed the volcano! We were so stuffed after this meal, the shrimp saganaki and the feta from the oven became my two new favourite dishes.
  • Mermaid Tavern – Without a doubt the worst restaurant in Perissa. The food is terrible, the staff are either children or a guy who kept scratching his bits between serving us food. AVOID.
  • 24/7 Bakeries – Don’t miss out on the freshly squeezed juices, ice coffees and fresh bread/pastries – these places are a haven for breakfasts and snacks. I’ve still not worked out why a town so small needs more than one 24 hour bakery, but hey, it means you’re never far away from one!

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If you’re heading to Perissa, have a wonderful time. It’s a fantastic place to stay and perfect for a holiday in Santorini. If you have any questions about the area or planning your trip, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out!

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