Plan A Trip: Santorini, Greece (Imerovigli to Fira hike)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Santorini was a dream. It's exactly like it appears in pictures, like heaven. And for most people visiting, it is heaven.

We stayed in Imerovigli at Absolute Bliss and it was just absolute utter bliss. Funny that. One of the most recommended things to do in Santorini is the walk from Fira to Oia along the cliffs through Imerovigli. The whole walk is many many hours so we decided to just do the shorter part of it from Imerovigli to Fira. And we are so glad we did. The walk ended up taking about an hour each way and was very hot and hilly. It was the perfect amount of exercise and sight seeing without being overkill that I'm sure walking all the way to Oia would have been.

As you walk, you pass luxury hotel after luxury hotel with infinity pools and private hot tubs galore. There is definitely no shortage of amazing paces to stay in this town. I was glad to take someone's recommendation on where to stay so I didn't have to do any research.

Patrick and I ended up splitting up shortly into the walk because I was stopping every 5 feet to take pictures. But with views like these, how could you not? I actually enjoyed walking at my own pace without the Mr. giving me the side eye every time I snapped a picture. I got it all out of my system on the walk there so we walked back together without stopping for pictures. You are welcome, P.

When we met back up we decided to stop and refuel at a picturesque cliff-side patio. Rule number 1 when on vacation: refueling must be done by drinking beer, not water. I tried the Volkan Santorini Blonde, because it was so fitting. I love a good blonde beer and this was no exception.

Once we arrived in the main town of Fira we didn't waste any time getting gelato. And oh my, gelato is so much better when you are hot and tired and hungry. I swear it was the best I've ever had. This boy seemed pretty chuffed himself.

All in all, it was a fabulous walk and a great way to spend a few hours. I highly recommend only doing this section of the walk and renting an ATV for the trip to Oia. It is further than it looks and those windy mountain roads leading to Oia are a dream for a lover of adventure and speed.

Plitvice Lakes & Krka Falls, Croatia

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Plitvice National Park is incredible – a series of 16 turquoise lakes, some connected by trickling water, others through calcium travertines, and others still by stunning waterfalls. We were able to see the whole park, but we did spend an entire day there (about 8 hours) and we were moving the whole time. The crystal clear turquoise color of the water is incredible and the natural surroundings will take your breath away.

We spent two nights in the National Park at a great little B&B, Villa Sumrak, that was just a short walk to the view of the picture below. Both evenings we had a big dinner with the other two couples staying at the house (one from Australia and one from Colorado) with amazing food cooked by the owner of the B&B plus loads of tasty croatian wines, grappa and peach brandy. I spent my birthday here and everyone sang me happy birthday and stayed up late drinking and telling stories. It was one of my favorite travel experiences, really bonding with fellow travelers. 
On the other hand, Krka National Park is about 2 hours from Plitvice or a short day trip from Split.  Krka is a series of beautiful waterfalls over calcium travertines. The falls are amazing, the surrounding forest is stunning, and you get to swim at the base of the lowest waterfall (whereas there is no swimming allowed in Plitvice). We only spent a couple hours here mainly so we could swim in the falls. Unfortunately, when we bought our tickets to the park they told us there was no swimming allowed that day. We were properly disappointed, but when we got down to the base there were a few people swimming so we didn't waste any time jumping in!  We didn't see the whole park as it required additional boats further up river, mostly to visit monasteries, but the portion of the park that we did see was beautiful!

And a little video from Krka:

Plan A Trip: Hvar, Croatia

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hvar Island was one of our favorite stops of this trip. To arrive in Hvar you have to take a ferry or catamaran  from either Split or one of the other islands. The water is clearer than anything I have ever seen and is the prettiest blue/green color. The harbor is full of luxury yachts with smaller boats dotted about. Open air cafes make up the main square right off the harbor, serving fresh seafood and authentic Italian food (you can almost see Italy from Hvar). There is a great walking path along the rest of the main coast line with beach clubs and swimming holes throughout.

//our host provided us with some homemade grappa on arrival

Before coming to Hvar I knew I wanted to rent a boat and explore the nearby Pakleni Islands (a pretty popular tourist activity). My dad went out early one morning to enquire about boats and said we would have to hire a skipper and it would be a couple hundred dollars for the day. I knew right away this was wrong. The experience I imagined was not with a skipper on a run-of-the-mill tour. It turns out he was looking at the nicer, larger speed boats with double engines. Sorry dad, no big fancy boat this time. In order to rent your own boat without a boating license you have to go with a small no-frills boat! The value is amazing though: $75 for a full day!

//Teaching my parents the tricks of the trade (aka ballin' on a budget)

When you finally get to the Pakleni Islands on your super slow motor boat you dock up and find yourself in a little slice of heaven. Fruity cocktails, sun beds galore and crystal clear water!

After spending all day at the islands we begrudgingly made our journey back to Hvar. This journey takes about 10 minutes on a speed boat (we know this because they were flying by us), but for us it took about an hour! Chugging our way slowly through the sea at a snail's pace. Patrick and I had the biggest smiles on our faces, but I think my parents would have rather been on the fast boat home.
//The swimming hole near our airbnb apartment and where we rented our cute little boat
//Bonj 'les bains beach club

On our last night in Hvar we got to experience a really beautiful sunset from our terrace. I don't know why, but the sun looked bigger than I have ever seen it. I was imagining being that sailboat out there watching the sunset from the water and thinking how romantic it would be. I've always wanted to try sailing, but it looks so hard. Maybe some day!

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