In 2015 I decided it was time to finally do something I had been wanting to do for as long as I could remember: leave the country. The first challenge was picking where I would go. In my endless internet researching I stumbled across a tour group called EF College Break. They specialized in trips abroad for 18-28 year olds and every single one of their trips looked phenomenal and full of possibilities. I finally narrowed the trips down to one: Greece. The second challenge was actually going. I had originally planned on really stepping out of my comfort zone and signing up solo but I discovered my friend Kate also wanted to travel and also happened to want to go to Greece. Great coincidence, right? We signed up for The Greek Islands tour that would leave in September 2015. The tour sounded like a dream. We’d fly into Athens and then cruise the islands making stops at Mykonos, Santorini, and Ios before returning to Athens for our flight home. By the end of April we had locked in our spots with deposits and anxiously waited for September to arrive.
As the time grew closer my anxiety level rose higher. That summer Greece was making headlines worldwide for being in the midst of a financial crisis. In case you’re wondering, it’s not easy to remain calm when you see the country you’re going to plastered all over the news with reports rambling on about the inevitable collapse of their economic system. We were assured that our trip would go on as planned and that if the situation changed our safety was their first priority. Luckily we were able to go and, as an added bonus, didn’t have any economy-related problems while there.
When we finally landed in Athens (after about 24 hours of traveling), we were exhausted but bursting with excitement for the next few days. I can honestly say that this trip exceeded all of my expectations. The 10 days there were a whirlwind of new cities, island hopping, historic landmarks, delicious food, bustling nightclubs, and great people. Our group of 26 mostly strangers morphed into a sort of family through our adventures and missteps in this country we all grew to love.
There were plenty of planned activities, like a visit to the famed Parthenon and watching a sunset like no other in the beautiful Oia (where The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed), but we still had free time to explore and venture off to find our own adventures. In Athens we split into smaller groups to explore the city. My group rambled through side streets, losing ourselves on the steep windy paths that climbed the hillside. In our aimless wandering we still made time for the Acropolis Museum, which features glass floors in parts to allow visitors to view the ancient city the museum is built over. We also stopped to purchase Greek sandals that were fitted to our feet by Stavros, the Poet Sandal Maker. On the islands we relaxed on the beaches, washed down our picnic lunch with a glass of ouzo, danced at the unbelievably fun Guapaloca at Paradise Beach on Mykonos, enjoyed a wine tasting in Santorini, snorkeled over a shipwreck, and got our fill of watersports on Ios.
I am so thankful to be able to say that my trip lived up to the hype. I had an absolutely incredible time making friends and creating lasting memories that will last a lifetime. Our tour director, Artin, was so much fun and my group was filled with people that I loved spending time with and getting to know over the course of our adventure-packed days. Greece is an absolutely beautiful country bursting with energy where picturesque moments wait around every corner.
Because of Greece, I finally crossed ‘go to Europe’ off of my bucket list. So now I wait and count down the days until my next adventure!
If you think EF College Break sounds like it could be a good fit for you too, please feel free to comment below with your email address or contact me via the ‘contact’ page and I can send you a referral code for some money off of any trip you pick. I’m not affiliated in any way with EF- I just really enjoyed my trip with them and am currently planning another 🙂