White washed houses.
Huge chunks of feta.
That is exactly what I remember when I think back on my quick jaunt to stunning Santorini, Greece this past Spring. I have been dreaming of this beautiful calendar worthy island since my first glimpse of it from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie from my younger years. I was fascinated with it then and hyped it up so much in my mind. Although Santorini was really out of the way on my trip, I made it a stop anyways. I just had to visit there! The one luxury of solo travel is choosing to do what YOU want and not that of fellow travelers. I arrived on the island late evening and it was a dark flight in from Athens. I had transportation from the airport arranged with my Airbnb stay. That was SUPER convenient. I was exhausted but I walked through the pathways of the dark village of Thira with an excitement. After dropping off my luggage, I went to grab some quick dinner and hunkered down for the night. I will share more on my cute cave house later below.
The next morning, I showered the travel grime away bright and early and made my way to the bus to go to Oia. If you are not familiar with the island of Santorini, Oia (pronounced EE-ah) is the most popular and touristy village on the island for good reason – it is just stunning. It has the (supposedly) best restaurants, prettiest buildings, but more importantly to everyone but me, the best sunset views. However, it turns out, my quick tour of Oia was my least favorite part of my trip to Santorini. I was so overwhelmed. It was awful trying to navigate the village with all the tourists and junk souvenir shops. It was way worse than Dubrovnik x 100! I know my opinion is probably unpopular but it felt like a “Disneyfication” type of destination. I learned this term in college and according to Webster’s dictionary it means the transformation (as of something real or unsettling) into carefully controlled and safe entertainment or an environment with similar qualities. I don’t know how to describe it another way. Of course it was real because I was on the island but was it authentic was my question? I don’t know. I walked around for a couple of hours in the HOT sun and made my way back to Thira where I much preferred to be.
Plus I had a photo session scheduled and I was the subject so I had to get ready for that – but that is for another post! Enjoy the pretty pictures of this spring day in Santorini. All of them were more-than-likely taken with my iPhone and edited via Photoshop. I was trying to conserve my big camera’s battery for my next leg in Switzerland since I forgot my travel adapters. And my injury story is regaled after the pictures. It is a bit long and I promise, my last time I will talk about it!
How to spend a Spring Day on the island of Santorini, Greece
Below was the entrance of my adorable little cavehouse in Thira. It was an Air B&B rental and I just adored its location and its simplicity. (Here is the listing for it.) I definitely recommend staying in Thira (or some other island villages) for your accommodations because it is cheaper than Oia and not as crazy busy. I found two great restaurants within walking distance and the food photos and sunset below are from it. If you are interested in $35 travel credit, click this link! Also, the bus is easy to find and cheap!
Perhaps my favorite meal was the greek salad. That chunk of feta alone was EVERYTHING. Perhaps the craziest part to me was the lack of lettuce in this salad. I had no complaints becaused I inhaled this in like 3 minutes.
Cannot have a Greek meal without a little Baklava and Greek coffee. The coffee was interesting. I must prefer the Croatian coffee though!
Unfortunately, this was my last real leg of my April 2017 adventure. Soon after this excursion while on the plane tarmac in Athens heading towards Switzerland, the weirdest freak accident occurred. Since I was traveling solo, when the nice gentleman beside me asked me to swap seats with his wife who was many rows up ahead, I readily agreed! However, when I went to stand up, apparently I twisted my knee totally wrong in the enclosed space and completely tore my ACL and partially tore one of my meniscus. Talk about a terrifying experience. I honestly just thought that I had dislocated my knee (and apparently that is a common thought because of how it feels) so I sat back down, the gentleman’s wife (who happened to be a doctor) examined by knee, and the sweet flight attendants brought me ice for the duration of my flight.
I remember distinctly praying that I would be able to stand and walk by the time I landed in Switzerland 3 hours later. But luck was not on my side and when I went to stand, I almost collapsed again. I had to hop on one foot all the way to the front of the plane and be wheeled around until I got to the Zurich airport clinic. At this time, I think I was crying pretty much non-stop for an hour. I called my mom and told her what was going on and I got several x-rays that obviously didn’t show anything. I think the poor doctor considered giving me a sedative. After spending 400 euros at the clinic and booking a hotel at the airport for another 400 euros, I hunkered down in my hotel room for the night. The sweet airport escort let me borrow their wheelchair, even thought it was against their rules, since I needed it to just get to the bathroom in my hotel room.
I was just exhausted and I had to take a tylenol for my raging cry-induced headache. A nap soon followed. All the while, my mom was trying to get my flight moved up a day early despite the time difference. Thank heavens for moms, right?? When I woke up, I felt immensely better. With my mom’s help in setting up the callback with the airline, I cried my way through the convo with the rep and finally got my flight moved up for an additional 22,000 miles (thanks Delta! *sarcasm*) I ordered room service and made the most of my stay.
The next morning, the amazing desk staff helped me roll down to the lobby, meet with the airport escort, and I was whisked away through security. Perhaps the only good thing that came from this crazy injury was the incredible speed I went through airport terminals, security, and customs. Since I couldn’t get up and walk through the body-scanner at security, I had to get a few thorough pat downs but I cannot complain. They were so accommodating. I think I apologized to anyone and everyone from airport workers, flight attendants, and even the captains. Everyone was so gracious.
I have zero complaints about the Delta flight from Zurich to New York. The Delta comfort seat was amazing, my seat mate was the sweetest Swiss guy who was my age, and the flight attendants doted on me. They kept telling me if I need help going to the bathroom that they would be more than willing to help me hop to it (since it was nearby). As nice as that was, I just drank very little on the flight so that never became an issue on the trans-Atlantic flight. The entertainment was great, the food even better, and it just made a crazy experience better. If I didn’t already love Delta, that flight alone sealed the deal. It was a much needed good thing in an otherwise bleak experience.
My parents met me in Atlanta and it was the best feeling ever to be home and hugged by my moma and daddy. There is something so comforting about having your parents with you when you are not 100% – especially my moma. Looking back, those first few weeks after returning home were HARD! I had to move back to my parents’ house since my apartment had stairs I couldn’t climb them. The struggle of not putting any weight on my leg was the most difficult part because I didn’t want to cause more damage to my (at that time) unknown problem. I had to hop (pun so intended) through so many channels just to get an MRI, official diagnosis, and get a orthopedic doctor to see me. American medicine. Showering sitting down was a real treat. Trying to dress after showering was even better. That took some learning.
Flash forward to now – August. Today, I am back in my apartment and climbing stairs with no problem. I thought for sure after hearing my diagnosis, I was going to have to have ACL replacement surgery but luckily, my ortho doctor said he didn’t recommend it unless it became a problem. I had many weeks of physical therapy to build up my leg muscles from lack of use and I was determined to get back to normal especially because it is hard to photograph little ones and families if I cannot bend and move! I am still overly cautious and I cannot bend for long periods of time. I try not to kneel at all on my bad leg even though I don’t think it will be an issue. If you are still with me, you may be wandering, Sami – why are you going into so much detail about your injury. Well I feel the need to tell you this saga for a couple of reasons:
- I think this is a great cautionary tale. My story is perfect example on why you should always have a credit card/extra cash on hand for emergencies like this. I even recommend travel insurance! I got so lucky that my injuries were relatively minor compared to some horror stories you hear. I thought I was invincible and that nothing could happen to me while I traveled. I cannot imagine what I would have done if I had to pay for major surgery and what not – especially in the expensive country of Switzerland. I don’t want you to be a pessimist when you travel and think that something is going to happen. Just be smarter and prepared. I think I spent an extra $1000 while in Switzerland + ~$2000 in medical bills when I got back. Luckily I have health insurance or it would have been several thousand more.
- My story is not over and I am not going to let my experience infringe on my future travel plans. Yes, I plan on traveling next year and solo if I cannot get anyone to go with me. I refuse to be scared. I refuse to let this dictate my life. Traveling is just something that is so freeing. Plus I HAVE to go back to Switzerland to see that gorgeous country like I planned. The 24 hours in the airport does not count in my opinion.
Thanks for sticking with me! Stay tuned for more adventures. xx,
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