The Magic of Santorini

Following our four days spent in Paris, my two best friends and I jetted off to Santorini, Greece. I had never been to Greece before, but let me tell you it is my new favorite place in the world. The entire place was magical. Everywhere you looked was just gorgeous view after gorgeous view. I truly felt like I was in a picture.

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Fira, Santorini

We had a a flight from Paris to Athens and then an overnight layover in the Athens airport before our 5:15am flight to Santorini. Trying to sleep in the Athens airport was… interesting. Let’s just say some interesting sleeping positions were attempted (cough sleeping on a table cough). So after basically no sleep we arrived in Santorini around 6:30am. Our hotel (Hotel San Giorgio) very kindly picked us up from the airport that early and we quickly went to the pool to take a nap on the lounge chairs until the front desk opened at 9am. After checking in at the front desk, cleaning up a bit in the bathroom and changing clothes, we decided to head into the main part of Fira to explore. There are a lot of little pathways that hold shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, and stores. So many places to see! After talking to a woman at a local clothing store we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We had a Greek salad and mezze platter to share. Wow! What amazing food and with a great view!

After lunch we finally were able to get into our room at the hotel. We changed into bathing suits and took a bus to the Red Beach. The Reach Beach is a beach completely surrounded by cliffs. Because of the volcanic activity the cliffs are tinted a deep red. In order to get to the beach you need to hike around some of the cliff. It was an amazing view. Plus the water was the perfect temperature. Not too cold but still refreshing. They also had lounge chairs there that you could rent for a few euros.

The Red Beach
The Red Beach

After a nap on the beach we made our way back to Fira to shower and have gyros for dinner. Lucky’s Souvlaki is the best place to get gyros! So delicious and they even put French fries on them. For just 2 euros you get a super filling and amazing meal.

First gyro in Greece
First gyro in Greece

The next morning we decided to do the hike from Fira to Oia. I think this was my favorite part of the trip! It took us about 3 hours from start to finish and there were definitely some harder parts to the trail. But the views, oh the views were so worth it. Every 10 minutes or so we just had to stop to take another picture.

Finally we made it to Oia. We walked around the town for a little before settling on a place for lunch. We indulged in tzatziki with bread, prawns, Greek salad, and octopus. We sat on the roof deck so we had more amazing views to enjoy. After we stuffed ourselves silly we took the bus back to Fira to change and get ready for the night.

It was Laura’s birthday that day and her one wish was to get dinner in Oia to see the sunset. We hopped on another bus and were able to pick out the perfect restaurant to view the sunset. It was an experience I’ll never forget. To see that bright firey ball fall beneath the waves was amazing.

Sunset in Oia
Sunset in Oia

My third and final day in Santorini started off with a boat tour. We sailed to the natural hot springs as well as the active volcano by the island. The hot springs felt like bath water. I could have floated there all day! And hiking the volcano was really cool. We didn’t see any lava, but we could see steam and feel the heat rising from the ground.

After our boat tour we took another trip into Oia. It is such a picturesque town we couldn’t stay away. We popped into different stores and shops. We all ended up making a few purchases including some jewelry and paintings.

Before dinner we tried to find the spot where everyone cliff jumps into the water by Amoudi Bay. But since it was later in the day no one was really around so we decided to skip it. We stopped at Taverna Katina for the freshest seafood around. More Greek salads all around and calamari and octopus. The octopus was one of the best meals I’ve ever had!

Octopus for dinner
Octopus for dinner

The next morning I took a flight back to Paris to start my long journey back to the States. It truly was a trip I will never forget.

Paris Is Always a Good Idea

I’m back! Actually I’ve been back in the States for about a week now. But it took me this long to get over my jetlag and get back into a normal routine. I can’t believe I was in Europe just a week ago! It was an amazing vacation that I will never forget. I went with two of my best friends from college, Laura and Bri. Laura has been living in Paris since November working as a nanny so Bri and I decided to capitalize on the fact that we have a friend living in Europe and have our own Euro trip.

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View from Airbnb

I arrived in Paris around 9:30am on Saturday morning after an overnight flight. With very little sleep I went to meet Laura at our Airbnb. It was located in the Republique area, a bit north of le Marais. Above is the view from our apartment window, so Parisian!

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Notre Dame

After dropping my things off at the apartment, Laura and I decided to walk around the area. We walked through le Marais with all it’s amazing architecture. We stopped by falafel alley for a late lunch. After falafel we walked by Hotel de Ville and Notre Dame. I kind of had to pinch myself to really believe I was back in Paris!

Hotel de Ville
Hotel de Ville

After Notre Dame it was time for a stop at Berthillon, the famous ice cream shop. The ice cream there did not disappoint! I chose two flavors fraise de bois et vanille (wild strawberry and vanilla). Some of the best ice cream hands down. We ended the night with a dinner of brie and baguette and drinks around the Moulin Rouge.

Our second day entailed us picking up Bri from the train station. The three of us united in Europe finally! We took the day to walk from the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs Elysees, through the Tuileries garden and finally ending at the Louvre. All of that is a straight shot and since it wasn’t too hot that day it was the perfect activity. We stopped off to taste test the famous Laduree macarons!

At night we went into Montmartre to a bar called La Famille. It had the craziest mojitos! I had a fraise et banane (strawberry and banana) mojito. They used dry ice to freeze the mojito so you had to break through a layer of ice to actually reach the drink! They also put a mousse of strawberry and banana on top of the ice. They topped it off with a little cup full of candy.

The third day entailed going back to Montmartre for the amazing views by Sacre Coeur. Since Montmartre is on a hill you can see all of Paris from there. We explored more of Montmartre before heading back into the city to peruse Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, both huge department stores. The view from the top of Printemps was equally stunning!

Eiffel Tower just before sunset
Eiffel Tower just before sunset

That night was reserved for the Eiffel Tower. Every night at the top of every hour after it gets dark, the Eiffel Tower has a light show. It twinkles and sparkles for about 10 minutes and everyone is just in awe. We brought wine, baguette, cheese, and fruit with us to picnic now while we staked out a perfect spot to watch the show. I may have gotten a little teary eyed viewing it, shhh…

Our last day in Paris was more relaxed, we didn’t have much of an itinerary. We went to the Jardin du Luxembourg and walked around there for awhile. We stopped to get some sandwiches, sat around in the garden, and then headed back to the apartment to get ready for the next leg of our journey, GREECE.

That’s my little Paris recap for now. I’ll post about our time in Greece next. I’m also planning a post of top things to do in each location.

Hitting Reset

Have you ever felt like you just need a restart? That you’ve been in a funk, just kind of going through the motions? You want to make some changes. You want to get out of your rut. But in order to do so you feel like you need to hit reset? Just a period of time to completely break away from the day to day. A time of change. Of new experiences. Of self reflection. Of love.

These reset periods can be big or small. You could need a reset just for an afternoon. You go to a museum you’ve never been to before and treat yourself to a delicious dinner. You could have a reset weekend. Take a small roadtrip to a town nearby and stay in a B&B. You could need a big reset. Quit your job, pick up your life, and move to a totally different country kind of reset.

I’m in need of a reset. I don’t need an entire life reset, but I need more than just an afternoon. Fortunately for me I leave for Europe tomorrow evening! I’ll be there for 10 days visiting both Paris and Santorini with two of my absolute best friends in the entire world. I think it is exactly the kind of reset I’m looking for.

I’m hoping this trip renews me. I hope it allows me to start fresh on the other side. To help give me a new passion and drive to make some real changes in my life. I moved to DC almost exactly a year ago (I think I moved into my house on July 7th). In this past year so much has changed. My old job and old life in Philly is fading further into the background. I am growing and learning. I am exploring more and more of my new city. I am doing things I am uncomfortable with and getting outside of my safe zone. There have also been challenges. One of the most trying and anxious periods of my life occurred in this past year. I am still trying to make friends and find my group. I am still learning how to take care of myself and treat my body right.

I’m so happy I moved to DC. It’s a wonderful city and I feel like this is where I belong right now. But I also know I still need to make some changes. I need to change my path ever so slightly so it starts aligning more with what I expect of myself and my future. But in order to truly get to that point, I need a reset.

So tomorrow I leave for Europe for 10 days. When I return to the States I also hope to return to this blog more regularly. It will be time to tackle personal and professional goals. It will be time to make some long time coming changes. It will be time to restart and head down the path as I see it.

Until then!

xx

My Ideal Day

I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this, but I often imagine my ideal day. I’ve done this ever since middle school. When I’m laying in bed and can’t seem to turn my mind off to go to sleep, I start to create my ideal day in my head. A day just so perfect and serene it calms me down, quiets my mind, and helps me fall asleep.

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Of course my ideal day has changed from middle school to now (I used to imagine going on a very sophisticated dinner date with my crush where we would eat spaghetti and kiss a la Lady and the Tramp). Even day to day or season to season my ideal changes. Some ideal days are more fantastic (wake up in my flat in Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower). Some ideal days are much more realistic (waking up to my cat and boyfriend and a delicious latte). But every ideal day is something I dream about and know would just completely fill me up with joy and gratitude.

One of my more recent (and more realistic) ideals days has been this: wake up in the apartment my boyfriend and I share. Have my little kitty by my side and cuddle with my two favorite boys for awhile. Make ourselves a delicious and nutritious breakfast of perhaps an omelette with some fruit and a cappuccino. Then it’s off to spend the day in the gorgeous weather – because of course of my ideal day the weather would be sunny, 75, and just a slight breeze. A beautiful hike through the local national park would be in order. Hopefully we could spot some little critters like rabbits, birds, and deer. We would then stop by the local farmer’s market to pick up supplies for that night’s dinner. Maybe grab some local honey or special jam. Time to relax at a bar with a fabulous outdoor rooftop, the perfect place for sipping on a refreshing cocktail in the afternoon. An exciting dinner would be made by trying out a new recipe. The evening would be capped off with some snuggling, a glass of wine, and a good TV show (Game of Thrones anyone?).

I don’t really know why imagining days like this soothes me so much. Perhaps it’s the tranquility in the entire scenario. It’s peaceful and happy. And by imagining such peaceful, happy days I am able to calm my own racing mind.

Do you have an ideal day scenario? Tell me about it!

Take Care of Yourself

I’ve had a recent epiphany: you have to take care of yourself. Seems kind of silly, duh I need to take care of myself, I want to keep on living. But taking care of yourself goes beyond just eating food, sleeping, and going to work.

In order to truly take care of yourself you need to dig deep. You need to examine your life and your habits. It’s not just about eating food, but eating the right food. What is going to make you feel good? What is going to make you feel energized? What is going to make you feel like the best version of yourself? These questions can and should be applied to nearly everything in your life. How about your relationship with your significant other. Does it make you feel good, energized, and like the best version of yourself? No? Then it’s time to make a change. What about your job, does that make you feel good, energized, and the best version of yourself? No, then changes need to happen.

It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine, we lose sight of the big picture. We forget to take a moment to pause and check in with ourselves. We slowly get worn down and before you know it you’re running on empty and just a shadow of the person you would like to be.

The biggest part of the “take care of yourself” epiphany is this: no one else is going to do it for you. Game changer! Seriously, no one else in this world is going to take care of you if you don’t take care of you. Of course you have loving friends and family that help out when they can. They can encourage and try to lift you up when you need a boost. But when it comes to everyday life, no one can be there with you 24/7.  No one can be there to hold your hand every step of the way. They are not going to make sure you wake up at 6am to get in that morning workout. They are not going to grocery shop for you and make you healthy meals. They are not going to stop you from having those last 2 glasses of wine (and you will have a hangover the next day because of it). They are not going to break up with your toxic significant other for you. They are not going to rid you of your negative self talk and your anxiety. No other person can take care of you like you can take care of you!

That is a very powerful realization my friends. Because for so long I put my emphasis on the outside world. When I have a boyfriend I’ll feel better about myself. When I’m thin I’ll feel better. When I have more friends. When I have a better job. But by making all my goals external I was missing the big point. And it’s so clear it’s almost funny that I was missing it. I wanted to feel better about myself. But I was trying to do that by looking for external acceptance and rewards.

What I realize now is that in order to feel better about myself, I simply need to take care of myself! I have to put my needs first. I need to be in tune with my body and my mind to steer my life in the direction I want. Because at the end of the day when I’m laying in bed alone just with my own thoughts I am the only thing that matters. In order to be the best version of myself for my friends and family I need to be the best version of myself, period.

So take care of yourself my friends. You will thank yourself so much for it later.

How Distance and Relationships Work

I have been with my boyfriend for just about 3.5 years. I love him very much and we’re in this for the long haul. We met in college while we both worked at the same pizza place (I was the counter girl, he was a delivery driver). We spent an amazing 6 months living just minutes from each other. And then we graduated. I moved back home, he stayed nearby school for his job. And we’ve been apart ever since.

I never truly consider us to be in a “long distance relationship.” In my mind long distance meant 5, 6, 7+ hours apart. Long distance meant across the country or in different time zones. Those people had it tough. Those relationships are hard. But for Greg and me? We were just in different states. We saw each other most weekends. We weren’t long distance.

But we aren’t close distance either. And that can wear thin. I have friends who get to see their significant other 5 or more times a week. They cook dinner together after work on a Monday. They go to sporting events on a Wednesday night. They watch Netflix and drink wine on a Tuesday. They kiss their boyfriend goodbye as they leave for work on a Friday morning. Seeing each other and spending time with one another is never an issue.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think that is true, for a time. Because Greg and I have such limited time together (he works Saturdays, so the only day off we have together is Sundays and we also live 2+ hours from each other) we really truly savor every moment we get together. We try to make every Sunday feel special. A walk through the park is a sweet moment. A trip to Home Depot is a fun excursion. Making dinner together is a novelty. Browsing the new arrivals at J.Crew is memorable. Because we get to do all these things together.

Spending time apart has taught Greg and me how important we truly are to one another. No relationship is easy and we’ve had our growing pains. We’ve gone through hard times. But in the end we know how important we are to one another so we continue to make the distance work.

But as we start to close in our 4 years together, the distance is starting to wear on me. Yes, the time we spend together is special because it is limited, but after 3 years of limits, I would like some freedom. The freedom to come home to him at the end of a bad day. The freedom to feel his presence next to me on the couch. The freedom to go to a baseball game on a Thursday night. The freedom to makes plans on a Sunday morning with girlfriends and still be able to hang out with him on Sunday night.

Absence does make the heart grow fonder. But there comes a point when your heart can’t take anymore absence. It needs presence. I’m there. I’m at the point where I crave presence all the time. And I know he does too. But due to extenuating circumstances we can’t be together yet. So we keep trudging along through the distance because it’s the only thing we can do.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? How did you deal with it?

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When You Feel in Limbo

Lately I’ve been feeling in limbo. I can genuinely say this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time, maybe even in my entire life. I feel confident in my capabilities and my ability to face challenges. I have a solid network of loved ones around me. But still I have this nagging feeling of limbo. That I’m waiting for something, that I’m waiting for my life to take off.

It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling. I feel as though I’ve been working my entire life trying to get to a certain place. Work hard in high school to go to college. Work hard in college to get a good job. Improve your skills and go on interviews to find an even better job. Work on yourself and find happiness as an individual. Meet someone and fall in love. Well I did all those things. I did well in college. I have a job I don’t despise. I am in a loving and committed relationship.

So why do I still feel so blah?

Is it because I have been programmed to continually be striving towards something? Is it because my job isn’t fulfilling enough? Is it because my long distance part of my relationship is wearing thin? Is it because I don’t have a tight-knit friend group here in DC? Is it because I still haven’t fully given up on my perfectionist tendencies?

I cannot fully answer those questions right now. Maybe it’s a combination of all of them. What I do know is that I find myself thinking a lot more about the future. Thoughts like “when I have this in my life, then I’ll feel content” seem to be common. And the this can range from a group of girlfriends, a garden, a home with my boyfriend, a dream vacation, a great wardrobe, a fantastically decorated apartment, another cat, and/or a passion for baking.

I have this idea in my head of what I think my life should look like, what I want my life to look like. I want a cute little cottage home with my boyfriend. I want to garden full of fruits and vegetables. I want to spend time baking and cooking. I want to spend more time in nature. I want to feel connected to my friends. I want to throw dinner parties. I want to spend less time on the internet. I want to help animals. I want to meditate and practice yoga.

I don’t really have any of those things now though and maybe that’s why I feel in limbo. Because I feel as though I am waiting for them. When I have this, then I’ll be content. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into and there can be two solutions. 1. Appreciate what you have right now at the very moment. Again I can say that I am the happiest I have ever been. I should not allow this limbo feeling to take that away from me. I have come so far and I have accomplished so much. I need to acknowledge that and completely revel in it. 2. Work for what you want. If I am feeling unfulfilled in an aspect of my life, I need to actively go out and change it. If I want a closer group of friends, I need to search out those people. If I want to bake, goshdarnit I need to preheat that oven and get to baking! These aspirations are not going to just be handed to me. I won’t turn 26, or 28 or 35 and all of a sudden have that ideal life I’ve been searching for. I need to create it.

So that limbo feeling, it can be pretty awful. It can be a hazy gray over your entire day to day life. And it can be hard to banish. But I know I am going to try!