Flashback: Santorini Sunset Cruise

Our final evening in Santorini, we booked a sunset and snorkeling tour. We actually had booked a tour for the daytime that would have taken us to Nea Kameni (the volcano) but the tour was canceled because not enough people had signed up. We were given the choice of either a refund or changing to the sunset tour. We opted to change to the sunset tour that included dinner, a bit of snorkeling, and the thermal springs. It was an enjoyable evening and the perfect way to close out our time on the island. I don’t have a lot to add in terms of commentary for this trip, being over 5 years ago (I didn’t even write down the name of the company we went with!).

Santorini Sunset Cruise

We were picked up at our hotel and drive to the port area with a small group of other tourists. We boarded the boat and headed first towards Red Beach. It was neat being able to see the famous beach from the water and we all did a bit of swimming/snorkeling here, though the water was pretty chilly so I didn’t stay in too long. Red Beach

After our snorkeling/swimming time was up, we cruised along the island towards the thermal hot springs. It was incredibly surreal seeing Santorini’s famous cliffs up close and personal from the water. It gives such a unique view of the island, that I highly recommend taking a boat cruise of some sort to enjoy the dramatic cliffs and the villages and houses perched along the edges.

Santorini Cliffs White Beach Santorini Cliffs Santorini cliffs Santorini Cliffs

Santorini from the water Santorini from the water

We cruised along to the thermal springs where we were allowed some more snorkeling and swimming time. Unfortunately, these aren’t the hottest thermal springs in the world. It’s more like slightly warmer water than the rest of the water surrounding Santorini, with an occasionally really warm spot. Needless to say, I didn’t stay in the water incredibly long again. Brian did more swimming than I did, but it was still a fun experience and I’m glad we got the opportunity at least. Being on the boat, just looking back at the island of Santorini was worth it regardless of the water temperature. After the thermal springs, we were served dinner on board the boat in a nice cove area.

Cove area Cove area Cove area

After dinner, we started the cruise back towards the island to get into position for the sunset. While in Santorini, we experienced the sunset from Oia, Imerovigli, and the water. If you have multiple nights on the island, this is the way I would recommend to experience the famous Santorini sunsets. Each offers a unique vantage point and while we were hit with some unexpected major cloud cover just at sunset time in Oia, I’m glad we opted not to return there as both other locations we viewed the sunset from were equally impressive (and a lot less crowded). You can’t be in Santorini for long without experiencing the Oia sunset, but you will get a more precious memory somewhere else when you can find an isolated spot along the cliffs or from the water.

Santorini sunsetSantorini sunsetSantorini SunsetSantorini Sunset CruiseSantorini Sunset

Travel Tip: I am incredibly glad that we were able to enjoy the sunset from the water and it was a good tour. Though I was a bit disappointed we weren’t able to make it over to the volcano. I guess my travel tip for this article is common sense, but don’t plan a tour for your last day on the island just in case. Book it earlier in your stay, in case of a conflict (whether from weather or lack of other people joining), you can reschedule for a later date instead of a different tour altogether. 

Beach Volleyball (Rio Days 3 & 5)

Beach Volleyball on Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Olympics was an epic event. We had three different beach volleyball tickets during our time in Rio, but we all would have been willing to go to more. It was such a fun, party like atmosphere with all the locals who love the sport. It was probably the funnest atmosphere at an Olympics event for us. Volleyball is such an integral part of Rio and Brazilian culture itself and it was just an amazing experience all around. Beach volleyball always would have been on my Olympic wish list no matter the location, but it was an absolutely essential event in Rio.

Beach Volleyball was an exhibition sport at the Barcelona 1992 Games and was officially added to the Summer Olympics at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Since the addition, Brazilian teams have dominated and the country has secured at least one gold or silver medal at each Olympics. The USA has also been fairly dominant, also securing at least one medal at each Olympics. The Beach Volleyball competition at the Olympics features 24 teams each in the men and women divisions, with a max of two teams per country. One spot is always reserved for the host country. The preliminary portion of the tournament has undergone multiple changes since the addition of the sport in 1996, but currently all 24 teams play a round robin schedule with the top two teams in each pool of six (along with 4 out of the 6 third place teams) moves on to the medal competition which is single elimination.

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August 2017

The biggest excitement from August was our trip to Slovenia (with a bonus day in Venice, Italy). It already seems like a lifetime ago that we were there and we’ve only been back a month. It was an amazing week spent in a new country for us. Slovenia was epic in terms of natural scenery, food, and wine. I can only image that the secret about this relatively little visited country (at least compared to its popular neighbors Italy and Croatia), will be out soon. We were there in peak tourist season and other than a few spots, it was never that crowded.

Restaurants:

We actually didn’t visit any new restaurants in Columbus this month. We visited loads if you count all the vacation restaurants we ate at while out of the country though. The biggest food event of the month was the annual Food Truck Festival in Columbus. We missed last year while we were in Rio for the Olympics, so visiting this year was a must do for us. The organizers moved the location of the event this year and it was such a great decision. The new location downtown allowed a more open environment with less claustrophobia. We could spread out on the grass in the shade with plenty of room. We caught up with friends and relived our vacation in detail to them, and I only snapped one picture of the entire night. Ooops.

Food Truck Festival

Books

  • Forbidden Bread by Erica Johnson-Debeljak: I give this book that I read for my book for my Slovenia trip a 4/5. It was an interesting memoir written by an American citizen, who fell in love with a Slovenian guy and moved to Slovenia just after their independence. It was incredibly interesting to read about living in a newly independent country and all the changes and challenges that it brings in addition to adapting to a new life and culture in a relatively unknown country. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in traveling to Slovenia from a cultural perspective.
  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan: I gave this short novel a 3/5. It wasn’t spectacular like my favorite of his Atonement, but it was an enjoyable easy read. It follows an older judge as she has marital struggles as well as hearing a case about whether medical doctors can intervene to save a 17 year old boy with a procedure that would violate his parents religious beliefs.
  • Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann: I give this old school classic novel a 3/5. It is by far not an intelligently written book, but that doesn’t mean that parts of it weren’t enjoyable. It’s most interesting trying to put yourself in the frame of mind of the majority of readers when this book came out decades ago. There is so much scandal, drugs, alcohol, and more both in Hollywood and everyday lives that is so much more publicized that the book isn’t quite as scandalous as it was back then. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure read and one that only needs to be read once,  but reading knowing Anne’s downfall was looming you just want to scream at her the whole time ‘Stay Away!’.
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann: A short story collection that I’d give a 3.5/5. I enjoy reading short story collections from time to time and usually find them enjoyable but not amazing. I feel the same way about this collection, though I really enjoy McCann’s writing, so it bumps up the rating a bit. It’s an interesting collection featuring vague connecting themes but an incredibly diverse set of characters and events.
  • In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park: I listened to this as an audiobook and give it a 4/5. It’s the story of how Yeonmi and her mother escaped the brutal regime of North Korea. I’ve read/listened to several of these stories now and Yeonmi’s felt different than others. They took a different route through China and skirted around the edges of the terrifying sex trade that the Chinese men participate in against the incredibly vulnerable North Korean girls and women is deplorable. At times her tale is horrifying, but her strength and her mother’s strength is empowering. She is able to avoid some of the worst horrors due to being so young, but she is all too aware of what was going on. Probably my favorite book of the month.
  • The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs: I feel terrible giving this audiobook such a low rating, but I just wasn’t into this book. Maybe some of it was related to the audiobook reader, her voice wanted to put me to sleep and I found my mind wandering quite a bit while listening and I would have to force myself at times to pay attention. The memoir follows Nina’s journey after her diagnosis of breast cancer which initially seemed not too worrisome, but quickly changed. It’s about her ups and downs through her remaining time including losing her mother. It’s touching at points and I almost think my biggest problem was with the audiobook reader rather than the actual material, but I can’t say for certain.

Movies & TV

Game of Thrones was the major TV event for us for the month. We watched every episode at least once and enjoyed almost every minute of it. It’s almost more enjoyable now that it is so far from the books that we can stop comparing details and character storylines. The lines are so blurred between the two, and as long as you can accept that, the show is so much more fun. The next to last season has taken away all the intrigue and journey and seems to be about the big wow moments, so a bit is lost in the process, but I understand the need to wrap the series up and not continuing to drag it out. I’m excited and a bit sad that there’s only six episodes remaining. We also started the second season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Such an excellent and heartbreaking show, but am so glad that her and Mike Rinder are out there exposing Scientology for the cult that it is.

Other:

Honestly, other than our trip, it was a pretty lackluster month without a lot of special get togethers or outings. After the busyness of the spring and early summer, it was nice to just relax and get some other stuff taken care of.

Yumi watching White Fang My cute little Yumi Waiting to go boating Yumi and a Rainbow

 

Slovenia: Summary

We just returned from an amazing 6 days in Slovenia (plus 1 day in Venice). We had chosen Slovenia basically from seeing a picture of Lake Bled at some point and that was about it. When researching flights, we realized it was half the cost to fly into Venice and drive the relatively short distance (less than 2 hours) to Slovenia. Since we planned on renting a car in Slovenia anyway, it didn’t make a big difference to us. Now if you don’t plan on driving yourself around Slovenia, it might be easier just to fly into Ljubljana as train connections and public transport between Venice and Ljubljana aren’t great. With flying in/out of Venice, we decided to spend our final day of the trip in Venice as Brian had never been and it was a good excuse to make a quick stop.

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Flashback: Santorini Beaches & Vineyards, Greece 2011

We spent the majority of our two full days in Santorini checking out as many of the unique and beautiful beaches and vineyards that we could.

Santorini beaches are almost out of this world beautiful. I have a soft spot in my heart for black sand beaches and Santorini is full of them plus a few others. Neither Brian or I are big sit on a beach for the entire day people, so for us spending 1-2 hours at one beach then moving to another works best for us. I know that’s not how much of the rest of the world feels about beach holidays, so if you want a more relaxing week on Santorini, pick a few choice beaches and spend at least a half day at each.

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