Your first trip abroad is one you will never forget. The feeling of your first passport in hand, checking in for the flight with that stupid smile on your face. Every airline counter agent has seen it, the excitement written across the faces of virgin travelers.
My first trip was just about 10 years ago, September 2007. I was a bit of a late bloomer in the travel department but had thought long and hard about where to go. Everything seemed to point to Greece that year: IMAX was playing a Greece film, I saw brochures and commercials, posters everywhere. It wasn’t long before my first international ticket was booked, I was getting passport photos done, and standing in line at the passport office.
The next six months seemed to take forever. I started to gather all of the things I thought you needed to travel abroad. A money belt, a big backpack, a waterproof map (thanks, Monica!) and a few other things. I didn’t make an itinerary, I didn’t book hotels ahead of time, I had no idea about ferry schedules or bus schedules. It was the kind of trip that was totally unplanned, aside from an idea of the islands I wanted to visit.
Santorini was the first stop. After over 24 hours of air travel, my travel partner and I went straight to the ferry port in Athens. We boarded a 9-hour overnight ferry, without a booked cabin to sleep. Spending the night on the benches on the top deck of the ferry proved to be a terrible idea! It gets very cold at night, so if you don’t have a cabin to sleep in, plan to have warm clothing with you!
Upon arrival in Santorini, there was a beautiful sunrise to welcome us in. As I disembarked the ferry, there were dozens of vendors and people offering accommodation. After choosing one, we were shuttled off to beautiful little Villa Firostefani, only steps away from the center of Firostefani. It was clean and comfortable and perfect for a few nights.
Santorini is a picturesque island, where you can witness some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. It is everything one would picture when thinking about Greece: white painted buildings standing in front of blue skies and seas. The contrast of white and blue is incredible. Over the next few days, I ate some of the best Greek food I’ve ever tasted. I visited black sand beaches, swam in a hot spring turning the hotel towels orange, took my first cable car ride and walked more than I’ve ever walked before.
Over the next few days, I ate some of the best Greek food I’ve ever tasted. I visited black sand beaches, swam in a hot spring turning the hotel towels orange, took my first cable car ride and walked more than I’ve ever walked before.
Only a few months before traveling to Greece, I took my PADI Open-Water course, so I was able to go diving in Santorini. Having never swum in warm water, diving was an amazing experience in the crystal clear water. It was a bumpy ride out to the dive site, and my first time on a boat dive! It was so surreal to be submerged 30 feet and be able to watch my bubbles reach the surface! It felt like I was in an aquarium.
Santorini is so wonderful for those looking for an island with all of the amenities, but areas you can still find peace and quiet. It’s easy to rent a moped, ATV or scooter to travel around the island, and there are loads of amazing views, quiet beaches, and family owned restaurants, bakeries and shops.
If you travel to Oia, you’ll be sure to find a crowd, as tourists from around the world gather here to watch the incredible sunsets. One thing is for certain, Santorini is worth the hype. It was certainly the biggest highlight of the trip and the island that is clearest in my mind. It was the place that imprinted travel in my heart, and what I draw upon when I feel the itch to hop aboard a plane!
Where was your first trip and how did it impact you? Leave a comment below!