My First Visit To Greece: Soaking In The Splendors of Santorini

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Now that the weekend was behind us and we had experienced city life in Athens, it was time to spend a week soaking in the splendors of Santorini. My first trip to Greece with my sister N and daughter A was about to get even better.

We packed our bags and headed for the Athens airport for a short flight aboard Aegean Air to Santorini. (Note 1: You can also take a ferry ride to Santorini but a friend recommended flying as a quicker and calmer option. Note 2: It is cheaper to book your luggage fee online before you get to the airport.) Upon landing, our transport was waiting to drive us to Nicoletta’s Loukia Cave House, our Airbnb booking, high up on the hill in Oia. OIa is at the northern tip and one of the most popular and picturesque villages on Santorini’s 15-mile-long main island.

Santorini; Oia; Greece

The Loukia Cave House was perfect for the three of us and could have fit up to six. The house had everything we needed for seven glorious days in Oia – comfortable beds, hot water for showers (as long as you remembered to turn the hot water on before you showered), a kitchen for cooking, a patio for sunbathing, and daily maid service.

Santorini; Oia; Loukia Cave House; Greece

Loukia Cave House; Santorini; Oia; GreeceOne BIG thing to remember in Santorini is that toilet paper must not be thrown in the toilet – it must go in the trash. The sewer system throughout the island is not very advanced. That’s why you need the daily maid service. Got it?

Exploring Oia
Not wanting to stay inside while the sun was shining, we lathered on sunscreen, put on our hats and visors, and ventured out to explore all that Oia has to offer. Despite the crowds of tourists from multiple cruise ships, we managed to find our way to the town center to scope out the shops and restaurants and bask in our spectacular surroundings. Continue reading

My First Visit To Greece: Climbing To The Top Of The Acropolis

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

It was day two of my first visit to Greece with my sister N and daughter A. As I mentioned in my previous post, “The Amazing Old World of Athens,” we were spending a weekend in Athens and then going for a week’s vacation on the island of Santorini.

It was a hot and sunny Saturday. We woke early and enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet, which was included in our stay at the Athens’ Electra Palace Hotel. There were eggs, fresh Greek yogurt, cereals, homemade waffles, fruit, croissants and more. With our tummies full, we were ready to climb to the top of the Acropolis, the most popular Greek landmark.

Athens; Greece; Acropolis

Touring The Acropolis
The Acropolis sits high up on a hill. We followed the signs and bought our tickets on site. It costs $20 euro for a ticket to the Acropolis and $30 euro if you want to see all of the monuments around the city. You can get your tickets in advance online or at the entrance. There was hardly any wait time on site. (Note: Wear sneakers and be careful under foot as it is not an easy climb. Plus pack plenty of water bottles to stay hydrated in the summer time.)

Athena, a local guide was offering tours for an additional $20 euro. We decided to join her and were very glad we did. There is so much to learn about ancient Greek culture and without a guide it would not be as interesting.

Athens; Greece; Acropolis

We ascended the rocky path to the Theater of Dionysos. “The first theater of the world was born in Greece. The Odeon was the auditorium. Theater means viewing things in Greek,” explained Athena. “The orchestra is in the middle. Actors are called hypocrites. Group therapy was the theater of psychotherapy. Soma means soul. The soul is the psyche. They improved the soul through the theater. ”

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My First Trip To Greece: The Amazing Old World of Athens

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50

“Let’s plan a trip to Greece,” said my daughter A the day after we arrived home from our summer 2016 family vacation to Italy. “I want to go to Greece,” followed my sister N. They didn’t have to twist my arm for me to say “yes” or “ne” as they say in Greek. I love feta cheese, spanakopita, and baklava. I knew it would be a great vacation as we had traveled together to Spain a few years ago and all gotten along.

Baklava; Greek pastries; Greece; Santorini

By January 2017 our flights were booked for a June journey.  We would spend three days exploring the amazing old world of Athens and a week in Oia on the magnificent island of Santorini.

Greece; Athens; travel; Santoriini; Oia

I went to Greece with my daughter A (left) and my sister N (right).

It was a wonderful trip and now that I’m back I can’t wait to share the details. For sure, you’ll want to book a trip to Greece when you’re done reading about our travels.

A Smooth Flight to Athens
We left from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Taking the train to the plane from Manhattan was quite easy to navigate, even with luggage. I packed light, using my favorite Eagle Creek compression bags (highly recommend these bags for organizing clothes in your suitcase) and a 21-inch Samsonite. Delta was our airline of choice with a non-stop flight – on time, clean plane, lots of movies, good food. Eight hours later, we touched down in Athens. Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – A Beautiful Day in the Black Forest

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It had been a glorious week on the Viking EIR, (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).* Our voyage on the “Rhineland Discovery” river cruise would soon be coming to an end. There was one last day to savor — with a morning excursion to the medieval village of Colmar, France and an afternoon exploring the beauty of Germany’s fabled Black Forest.

A Walking Tour Of Colmar, France
“Welcome aboard,” said our tour guide Rhona as we readied for the bus trip to Colmar. It was a brief ride and Rhona provided a history lesson on the way. She told us that this area of France was occupied by Germany during WWI and WWII.

Colmar, France; VIking River Cruises; river cruises

Colmar, France is a quaint village.

As we neared the roundabout there was a replica of the Statue of Liberty. “We have a tiny bit of New York City here,” said Rhona. “In 2004 an honorary statue was placed at the entrance of Colmar to honor it’s hometown creator Bartholdi, who designed the original monument as a thank you to Americans for their help in WWII.” Continue reading

My Travels On “Rhineland Discovery” – First Stop Beautiful Bruges

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Our first stop for our pre-trip on “Rhineland Discovery” (courtesy of Viking River Cruises) was the beautiful medieval city of Bruges, Belgium. My boyfriend L and I spent time exploring on our own and with a Viking guide.*

The night before we left home we watched In Bruge, a comedic thriller with Colin Farrell. (Note: It was the movie that prompted me when I arrived in Bruges to attempt to climb the 346 spiral steps up to the top of the Belfort. I never made it to the top – I was too dizzy after the first 173 steps. I still gave myself an A+ for the awesome view halfway up and allowed myself a few extra pieces of chocolate for the calories I burned climbing.)

Belfort Bruges; VIking River Cruises; Rhineland Discovery; boomer travel; Bruges; travel

The Belfort at night is breathtaking.

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My River Cruise on the Douro – Breathtaking Views

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50“Take me back to Portugal, I miss the picturesque villages, pristine waters, and magnificent vineyard covered mountains,” I said to my boyfriend L. I wished to return to the Viking Hemming, but instead spent time cherishing all the memories from our first-ever river cruise on the Douro.* It had been a fun adventure and there’s plenty more to share.

Lots To Do On-Board 
There were many activities on-board and unlike L, who enjoyed relaxing and reading on deck, I was eager to participate in all.

Viking River of Gold Cruise, Portugal, Douro, river cruise, over 50, life after 50, boomer travel

Como està,” I said to L when I returned from my Portuguese language lesson. L smiled and went on reading. Elia taught us how to say popular words and phrases, like bom dia (good morning), boa tarde (good afternoon), boa noite (good evening and good night), adeus (good bye), and olà (hello). “There are two ways to say thank you,” said Elia. “If you are a woman you say obrigada, but if you are a man you say obrigado.”

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