This was 2018 for me.
You may wonder why I have been so inactive on my blog and social media channels the past year (or maybe you don’t care at all). However, I do feel the need to give you an explanation and I think this post will clear things definitely up.
It was only January 2018 when my daily life still existed of a morning run across the coastline of Piraeus, Athens, Greece. After my morning run I would wake up Ben so we could get ready for work. As you may know, we both worked in a call centre in the same department. Some people wonder how we survived being together 24 hours each day, 7 days per week. But for us this worked perfectly.
The weekends where amazing! Weather was always good in Athens. We walked through the city, doing groceries at the supermarket with a view on the marina, the butcher and the bakery. We discovered the incredible views of Piraeus and the history of Athens some 2000 years ago. We went out for dinner in so many different tavernas where the food was always affordable. We enjoyed the food and talked for hours.
For working days, the bus station was across the street, some days we had to run, because I was late again, other days the bus didn’t show up, so we had to walk to a different bus station where we would meet one of our colleagues.
Our working days consisted out of taking phone calls or helping customer with technical issues through chat or social media, not the job I dreamed of, especially not as the circumstances in a call centre in Greece are nothing like I was used to in the Netherlands. This definitely was the reason Ben and I decided it was time to move back to the Netherlands. The idea was already there in 2017, but in the beginning of 2018 we really started working out a plan.
There was still so much we wanted to see of Greece, and we knew we had to do this before moving back to the Netherlands. So although the money we earned at the call centre was minimal, we did our outmost best to save money for one of my biggest travel experiences so far. Also we started making a list. Which places did we definitely want to so, which places where also on our wish list, and which places did we have to skip. Not an easy job I can tell. However, we ended up visiting Hydra (2 times), Delphi, Arachova (2 times), Chios and its eastern fireworks, Meteora, Crete (almost all parts of the island), Paros, Naxos, Syros and finally Corfu and Paxos.
I had planned out everything, I had read about the importance of every place we visited, I mapped out routes, searched for the best places to stay together with Ben and we booked all boat tickets, flight tickets, train tickets and rental cars we needed for the trip. As you may can imagine, my expectations were high after all this time I spend on preparing. Some may say this can only lead to disappointment, but that is not how it worked out for me. This was a 5 week during journey that where 5 of the happiest days of my life. I can talk about it for hours and never stop. However, I don’t think anyone will have the patient to read a blog that long, that’s why I will spend a few more blogs on this journey later this year.
For now I will only give you my top 5 memories of this trip:
Driving up to Meteora during sunrise
We had have such a long night in the night train, and there was nothing to do in the village when we arrived. I had given up hopes on a good day at Meteora, when a local taxi driver offered us a trip to the top of the mountains for only 10 euros. He explained us everything about Meteora, its monasteries and incredible nature. He took pictures of Ben and me and made sure we were on top of the hill exactly in time to see the sunrise and see one of the wonders our planet offers us.
2. Having dinner at Chios
You may think the best memories where only during the sightseeing tours and party events. However, the weekend on Chios was very special. Nothing did go as I planned it. It was Easter weekend, which meant no public transport to bring us to our apartment or to the great parts of the island. We rented a bike, but the mountains were way too high for biking, and Ben’s bike broke eventually. Also the island and especially the city of Chios seemed impoverished in a way I had not seen before in Greece. And to make the drama complete, the weather was horrible, we even had to buy ourselves some special coats. However, before the big fireworks started, Ben and I decided to eat something at the harbour. As it was Easter weekend, all tavernas and places seemed to be full, but after walking a while we found a place. We tried some Greek specials we didn’t had before, and they turned out to be incredible delicious, and somehow there was this special vibe coming up. Ben and I talked for hours and enjoyed our food, this moment is one I will remember forever.
3. Goats in my car at Balos Beach
Yeah, this actually did happen. And it was even more funny because it happened when I needed it the most. Ben and I wanted to visit the beautiful Balos Beach on Crete. What we didn’t know is that the road towards this protected area would be such a breath taker. Not only because it was so beautiful, but also because it was an bumpy sandy road, with on our right side a clear blue see some 100 meters below us, one mistake could end up very bad. So when we finally arrived at the parking place there where some very cheeky goats that had one mission: steel my banana. When I sat back in the car with only my banana peel left, the goat was dedicated to take it from me, jumped in our car, stole my banana peel and ate it. You may imagine that this situation made me start laughing uncontrollably as it was just so funny but maybe even more because I was still so relieved that I made it to the Parking spot.
4. Waking through the Cycladic islands
The Cycladic islands are one of a kind. To save some money Ben and I decided to walk as much of these smaller islands as possible. We definitely made some kilometres on foot. Each route was unique and each route was worth the pain on our feet. There were some climbs, some off road walks, some city walks and some coast walks. During one of these walks we arrived at a small path that was filled with salamanders at the side. Of course this was the day I decided to changes my walking shoes for slippers, and I was afraid that somehow I would step on one with my bare feet, however, Ben was dedicated to take the perfect shot with my camera of the biggest salamander he could find. He definitely took his time to achieve his goal.
5. Picking up my best friend on Corfu Airport
Our last destination was Corfu and I had asked my friend to visit me one more time in Greece, not in Athens, but this time in Corfu. I was really looking forward to this moment. But as I knew it was her first time flying on her own I knew I had to pick her up from the airport. Ben and I had already discovered the city of Corfu and it was so much fun showing her around in this incredibly cosy city.
As mentioned before, Corfu was our last destination in Greece. From here we took a flight to London and headed back to the Netherlands. We had no expectations at all for our return. We were very welcome to stay at Ben’s mothers. But after one week Ben found a job he liked. Only a few weeks later I started my dream job as a textile buyer. I had finished my textile study years before.
It was in the beginning of May that we arrived in Amsterdam, in June I started an amazing job and signed the buying contract of our house. It was the second day of August that Ben and I received the keys of the first house we bought together. Something we didn’t even dare to dream of while living in Greece. Of course there was so much more work to do on this new house then we thought. Months of hard working in our new house, while on the same time working 40 hours followed.
There where ups and downs and we had a lot of help from family and friends. The walls seemed to be so much more work than we thought, but we also had so much fun painting the radiators. We could relieve our frustration while breaking down the old kitchen and I definitely irritated my neighbours with my singing talent while I was painting my lovely table, they must be so happy with me. The back wall of our living room needed to be replaced in only one day. Which meant removing the concrete, and replace it with glass. The result however is amazing!
I know I am so lucky to be able to do all this, but on the same time it might was a bit too much for only one year.
In December Ben and his friends finished or floor and the house was finally ready to live in. It is still not completely finished, but it is already so cozy and I am so incredible grateful for it.
It is only December 2018 and my life now exists out of stepping into my pink car, driving from Utrecht to Amsterdam to start working on a job that every day is full of surprises. Ben and I mostly arrive at our home around the same time. We eat together in a house that is beyond our expectations. The days are rainy, but we are able to spend so much time with our friends and family. We can now save money, not only for a 5 months journey, but for a journey that will endure a lifetime.
Here is a small overview of the journey Ben and I made through Greece:
Sisi Palace at Corfu Island
Canal del Amor, Corfu Island
Heavenly views on Corfu island
More of these views on Corfu Island
Corfu old town
View on Cycladic Capital City, Ermoupolis Syros
Walking the Cycladic Islands (Syros)
More walks on Syros
And still walking through Syros
Impressive church, Ermoupolis Syros
Still walking, still in de Cyclades, but this time it’s Naxos Island
Dreamy sunsets on the historical site of Naxos
Monastery near Heraklion, Crete
Short stop during our road-trip through Crete