It's taken me over a month to get this Greece blog complete. I can finally share my experience with you including; my likes and favorite moments. Upon arriving home stateside I was asked, "Which retreat was better Bali or Greece?" I can't compare them because both were unique in their own way and two different cultural experiences.
Both trips were healing trips for me and great opportunities to see the world. What I can compare is both experiences offered a slower-paced lifestyle and moments of stillness. The natural ease of disconnecting from electronic devices was wonderful and the noise from the outside world was suddenly calm. I was surrounded by so much natural beauty and jaw-dropping views. I was able to sit in silence at moments throughout the trip and bring the focus back on what makes my soul happy.
The food and culture in both Greece and Bali were amazing, tranquil and fresh. My healing began in Bali, traveling only 3 months after losing my mother who has always been my support system. I felt so vulnerable and shaken during my Bali trip (my body was there but my mind wasn't). I was seeking a sign of relief and peace. Bali was the trip that allowed me to become mentally stronger, eager to continue traveling and planning more future trips.
The feeling of exploring the world filled me with joy and I learned this was an important part of my healing process. Fast forward to the present, Greece has always been a dream destination of mine. I never imagined the opportunity would be obtainable because it felt so far fetched and expensive. Somehow, I ended up back on my spiritual quest arriving at the beautiful island of Santorini and exploring the untouched island of Amorgos which is truly paradise on earth. My dream trip came true.
photos include: Santorini, Kamari Beach Hotel and Okra Restaurant
Amorgos, Greece is located within the Cyclades a group of Greek islands southeast of the mainland in the Aegean Sea. The island Amorgos is a Greek Orthodox region full of sacred Monasteries scattered all over the island in which you instantly feel spiritually uplifted. Full of deep blue skies and the warm sun that shines daily over the rolling mountains and sea. How can you not feel healing in Amorgos?
The island is a true gem and at times felt empty with only less than 1,000 residents on the entire island. We explored the island as a group during our Yoga Retreat by visiting the lovely Monasteries, hiking up the dusty unpaved roads, walking alongside wild goats (there are more goats than people on the island) and spending leisure time in Chora the islands main center shopping in the boutiques.
As I get older and travel more I'm learning that sitting poolside with a cocktail in hand is not considered "traveling." I want to experience the culture of each destination wholeheartedly. Yes, it's great to stay in and relax at the hotel and enjoy all of the perks but I'm left with a sense of curiosity of the people who actually live there and their way of life.
photos include: Ammoudi Bay, Santorini hike, Shopping and Gyros
My trip to the Greek Islands included; arriving directly to Athens mainland, 4 nights in Santorini splitting the stay between two locations Kamari Beach and Oia. Next, traveling by ferry to Amorgos spending 7 nights there for our Yoga Retreat and concluding the trip with a final night in Athens. Through all of the traveling, I truly enjoyed seeing the many different regions of Greece and Amorgos was my favorite island. I was debating if I had more time would I have visited one more island, if so maybe Mykonos. I left Greece with no regrets.
photos include: Amorgos, Aegialis Hotel, Chora, Herbal Tour, Goats
Places I stayed:
Costa Grand Resort and Spa Kamari Beach Hotel
Oia Mare Villas Santorini
Hotel Aegialis Hotel & Spa Amorgos
Holiday Inn Athens (near the airport)
Places I ate:
Best Gyro - Pita Souvlaki Grill House Oia | Santorini
Best Pizza - Okra Oia Santorini (be sure to sit outside on the patio during sunset)
Best Sunset Dinner in Amorgos
Karma (family-style authentic greek food)
Best Seafood - Ammoudi Bay seafood restaurants on the water (adventurous hike below Oia cliffs) Aegialis Hotel - the food and hospitality at our retreat hotel was beyond amazing (family style)
Best Dessert - Baklava (must try in Greece) homemade desserts in Santorini bakery on main road
Activities I did:
Herbal tour in Amorgos - must-do if you're into natural remedies, skincare and cooking
Distillery in Amorgos - we made our own sage essential oil a sacred herb only grown on the island
Visit a Monastery in Amorgos - a special and uplifting experience (must visit Sister Irene)
Athens half-day private tour - visit the main attractions Acropolis and Parthenon
In the end, my travels to the Greek Islands exceeded my expectations. I'd be grateful to return one day specifically back to Amorgos to see if the peaceful island remains untouched by commercialization. I hope this was helpful and informative for those who are planning a trip to Greece or just curious about my experience.
Until the next adventure! I've already started researching destinations for our next retreat in 2020.
Peace & Love,