Tag Archives: Travel

Off Topic Thursday: Greece

26 Mar

I like to use Off Topic Thursday to talk about things other than books and reading. It seems there’s an obvious topic this month with the global pandemic, but I’ll save that for later and focus on the positives: my trip to Greece with my mom.

We left on a snowy Wednesday in Detroit. This proved to be problematic because we missed our flight in Paris and had to be re-booked. This became a small nightmare as we raced through the Paris airport with no boarding pass (thanks a lot, Air France!) and had to go through security three times. We did finally make it to Athens but our luggage was lost! We had only our carry on bags and were five hours later than planned. No matter, we found our AirBNB, dinner, and a bakery. Sleep was needed.

The next morning we stored our bags and went for an ebike tour of the city. This turned out to be one of my favorite things we did the whole trip. There was a mother-son pair from the states with us and our guide was amazing (and adorable). We saw a lot of the sights we planned to check out again later and got a great overview of the city. We spent a large chunk of the day getting our ferry tickets and some more clothing before venturing down to the port. We got ourselves only a little lost before finding our ferry to Santorini and settling in for the night.

The boat was supposed to arrive at 5AM but the captain announced around 3AM that we were unable to continue on due to high winds. We were in Mykos port and would be staying there until the national weather service gave us permission to continue. That ended up being 11AM so we did not arrive in Santorini until 3PM. It gave us just enough time to make it into Thira to watch the sunset while we ate dinner.

The next day was amazing. I went for a long solo walk in Thira before mom and I took the bus to Oia. If you’ve ever seen pictures of white buildings with blue roofs against a peaceful sea, it’s likely it was taken in Oia. The city was beautiful and we spent a few hours there just taking in the amazing view. We had a great breakfast on a balcony restaurant and I ventured a long walk down to the port at sea level. Exhausted, we made our way back to the hotel and to the airport to catch flights to Heraklion, Crete. We picked up my suitcase on the way and my mom’s was waiting at the hotel in Crete. Finally, we had our clothes!

I was surprised at how big a city Heraklion was. I hadn’t thought an island would have such a bustling city, but I should have guessed such a big island would! We spent the first day visiting the Archeological Museum and Knossos Palace. I had no idea that the oldest building from the most ancient civilization in the world would be a half-hour from our hotel! It was a great place to explore. We had fun that evening getting treats and watching people walk around the main square.

With our clothes returned, I finally went for a run the next day! The sea wall made for a great path and one that was hard to get lost on. We took a cooking class and sampled foods that we both fell in love with. We were surprised how many of the ingredients the women had picked from the mountains the day before! We just don’t have anything equivalent in Metro Detroit. We made our way to a beach so my mom could put her feet in the Mediterranean Sea and grabbed the biggest dinner I’ve ever seen before heading to the port to take another ferry back to the mainland. This one was massive and happily unaffected by the winds to get us to Athens bright and early the next morning.

It was Acropolis day! We started out early and took it slow due to a knee injury my mom has. We started with the new Acropolis Museum which was really informative and well done. It helped us understand a lot once we got to the buildings. There’s no easy way to access the ruins, you have to climb the hill. Once you get to the top, it’s really breathtaking. The remaining buildings are being restored to show their original glory. Some are further along than others and it made me really excited to see how much this will advance in my lifetime. We rode the tour bus for a full circuit to see the other sights from afar and used our city pass to see the Temple of Zeus ruins. I wonder if that monument will ever be reconstructed like the Acropolis.

We used our city pass to see a lot of remails the next day. We started at the stadium from the first modern Olympics which also serves as the finish line of the Athens Marathon (see picture 1). The Olympic nerd in me was in love. We saw the Lyceum, Hadrian’s Library, The Ancient Agora, and the Roman Agora. Needless to say, it was exhausting but absolutely amazing. We spent the evening on a rooftop bar, waiting for the lights to come on the Acropolis.

We used our final day to do a trip to Delphi and see the Oracle. We got on a tour bus and had a great tour guide tell us a lot of stories about the Oracle on our way there. The ruins themselves would have been lost on me if we hadn’t had the guide. She took us through the museum as well. The story goes that the women at Delphi were probably epileptic and were also exposed to methane which induced their ‘visions’ and accounts for the convulsions they’re said to suffer. It was amazing to see the artifacts that were found at Delphi from so far away because of travelers coming to the Oracle to hear their fortunes.

Our trip home was only a little stressful because of the Paris airport again. Honestly, I’ll never fly through PDG again if I can avoid it, it was horrible both ways. But we made it home on time and I got to see my loving husband again. It was an amazing trip and I’m so lucky to have made it home before the really crazy travel restrictions were put in place. I’ve been working from home since I returned, but that’s a story for another month.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!


Off Topic Thursday: Going to Greece!

26 Dec

Off Topic Thursday is a way for me to get a chance to talk about my life outside of books and reading. I appreciate the chance to give you all a little more insight into my life so please chime in with your thoughts!

I got an early Christmas/Birthday present this year. A few weeks ago, my mom called me with the startling revelation that I’ll turn 30 next year in March. To celebrate, she bought the two of us tickets to spend a week and a half in Greece at the end of February and beginning of March. I’m. So. Happy!

Here’s a little background on this. When I was 19, I studied abroad in the UK. In our program, we got three- or four-day weekends every weekend and we were encouraged to travel. I picked my destinations and I was looking to tack on a trip to Athens to one of my weekends. Uncharacteristically, my mom got angry and said, “You can’t go to Greece without me!” So I didn’t go. She promised to take me one day. My mom retired last summer and I reminded her of this promise. I think she was hoping I’d forgotten but I didn’t. When she quickly got another job teaching at a community college, I thought the trip was dashed but realizing I had a milestone birthday coming up, she booked the trip around her mid-semester break. She even asked my husband if he minded giving me up and he was glad to see me go.

We’re going in the offseason which means low numbers of tourists but also that the beaches don’t hold much appeal. Our rough plan now is to go to Crete for a few days and spend the rest of the time in Athens. We figured that Crete is large enough to support a year-round population and things to do and is also the furthest south so we can enjoy the warmest weather possible. I’m hoping for some great food and some good wine. In Athens, I’m hoping to do an ebike tour and take a day trip to Delphi. My mom likes doing the hop-on, hop-off buses to see the big landmarks.

I’m sharing this early to see if anyone has any additional ideas we should look at. My mom has a metal knee so she can’t walk a lot which cuts out a lot of overly-athletic things like hiking. We’re both adventurous foodies and history geeks so that kind of thing would be right up our ally. Of course, any insight on where to stay and where I can find a public lap pool to get a workout in would be greatly appreciated! I’ll be in the middle of training for my state swim meet so I’d like to swim once or twice.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: Europe Trip

30 Aug

I’ve been building up to this for eight months not but it finally happened! My husband and I took a two-week trip to Europe last month. Some called it a second honeymoon, others a 5-year anniversary trip and I thought of it as an early graduation present to myself. This was my third time traveling in Europe but it was only my husband’s first!

Our first stop was Amsterdam. A friend of mine from high school swimming now lives there so we were able to stay at his place. I really fell in love with the city and if I was going to return to any of our destinations, it would be Amsterdam. Some of our highlights include a bike tour of the countryside, the Anne Frank House, and the MOCO Museum.

Next, we went to Belfast. I planned this stop just to see the Titanic Museum. We spent 7 hours there, completely missing our lunch that day and it was SO WORTH IT! My inner Titanic nerd was well served and I give the museum my highest recommendation. We spent the second day on a Paddywagon tour to see Giant’s Causeway which was beautiful.

From there we moved on to Barcelona and all the paella I could eat. We enjoyed Park Güell and La Sagrada Familia immensely. I wanted to see the church before it’s finished (fingers crossed for 2026!) and I want to see it again when it’s done. We also took a day to relax on the beach and explore the Gothic Quarter.

We went to Belgium and met with a friend of mine from high school. He’s German and had been an exchange student at my high school and we kept in touch since. The last time we saw each other was for our wedding so it really felt like an anniversary trip here. We toured the Parlamentarium building, saw the Antonium and the Mannekin Pis. Really, we drank a lot of good beer and had waffles. The city was really beautiful and I was amazed by the history packed into the center of town that we ended up walking through to get anywhere.

Our last stop was Reykjavik. We got to see puffins and whales which was one of the things I was most looking forward to on that leg of the trip. The city is quite small so we got to see everything we wanted to and more. If you ever go stop in Icelandic Street Food for some amazing soup and the best hospitality I’ve ever experienced.

That’s my quick overview but I have a ton of pictures on Instagram that I haven’t included here. Please consider following me if you don’t already and check out some other great moments from my trip. It was incredible and something I won’t soon forget. I’m already planning something for my next vacation so stay tuned for more!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Bookstore Destinations for Travelers

19 Jan

I’ve got a couple great trips looming ahead of me this year and I’m really excited to for two staples of my travels: beautiful churches and books. Every time I travel over the weekend, I try to go to a local church (preferably the cathedral) and see the architecture of a different part of the country. Northern Michigan versus Arizona versus Florida, etc. I love to compare them and see beautiful buildings. The other part of my trips is going to bookstores. I love local and usually used bookstores. They reflect a great character of the area and often have tons of people excited to talk about books with you.

It seems I’m not the only person who does this. My friend Sue sent me an article before Christmas that shares some favorites of author Ann Patchett (see book review for Truth and Beauty). If you have some travels planned for this summer, take a look at this list for some suggestions and things to fill your itinerary. It’s always a welcome add to a trip.

This may be a bit early (except for those of you in Australia), but happy travels for this year! Bring a good book with you and see if you can find another one along the way.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!