When you hear Santorini, you automatically think of white buildings with blue domes, sunsets, beaches, gorgeous blue sky, and the typical touristy shots of the area.
What people leave out, somehow, is the OTHER things that don't appear too often in pictures. There IS MORE to do in Santorini than watching the gorgeous sunsets and hanging out at the beach. These include wine tasting, water sports, and the most intriguing thing? Climbing a volcano!
Before I went to Santorini, no one ever told me about a possible visit to a Volcano. I usually look to blogs for information, and none of the online website or the other blogs that i've read talked about a volcano visit. Somehow people just photograph (OOTD Galore!) in the typical areas of Fira/Oia. Maybe I haven't been looking in the right areas - oops!
So here's telling people searching out there: there is a volcano located off the main area of Santorini, and a day boat/cruise tour would bring you there and to see other islands as well!
Upon arriving at the volcano, we saw tons of boats docked side by side on the small docking platform of the island. My friends and I had to walk through several boats just to hop off the one right beside the platform. At the platform, we paid a small fee, and then we were free to head up the volcano.
The climb up the volcano was suppose to be an hour long, and so we all headed up with the hoards of people. Thankfully, I was in sneakers that day. The volcano surface was so pebbly and rocky, my scuffed up converse had severe issues with getting a decent grip on the ground. I had no idea how some manage to climb all the way up in slippers!
Top: Forever 21 | Shorts: SheIn | Shoes: Converse | Sunglasses: Accesorize | Watch: Nakedglory.com | Necklace: PrimarkI was so intrigued to see the heat and steam rise up from the ground and smell the scent of sulphur. Sulphur Oxides are toxic, so breathing in too much of that isn't great, but for that couple of minutes, it was kind of interesting.
Walking along the volcano, we also got to see different devices that were anchored into the ground probably to track seismic activity. Although there were these things that look somewhat like solar panels, so perhaps they were generating some kind of electricity - then again, looking at the size of it, probably not.
The nice thing about climbing this volcano in the volcano island, was the view. For the struggle to get up (no they lied, it took way more than an hour, and it was definitely more than a 2km climb!) but the view of the water around the volcano was lovely.
The volcano itself though, was pretty much just rocks upon rocks (I know, obviously, that's how volcanos are made.) Still, it was interesting to observe the red and maroon stripes on the rocks of neighbouring islands, to see all the interesting instruments on the volcano, and feel the hot air that was steaming out from various cracks and holes on the ground.
Indeed there is more to Santorini than the standard photo shot from Oia. The trip to the volcano island was pretty affordable, for a full day tour, it was only 33 Euros, it's something I'm really glad I got to experience!
The day cruise ended off back in the mainland of Oia, and just in time for tourists to witness the sunset over santorini! Here are some other interesting images from the town of Oia.
THE MOST INTERESTING BOOKSTORE EVER!
Even though the city and views from the main island of Santorini is beautiful, do take trips out to visit the smaller islands, and to climb the volcano, especially if you have never seen a volcano in real life. There is more to Santorini than beaches and sunsets ;)
23 November 2015 Santorini, Greece
Ah Europe. I miss the days I could book a flgiht/buy a train ticket just a couple of days in advance, hop on a plane (or train) on the Friday of that same week, and in 2-3 hours be in a COMPLETELY different city. As I study and scramble to keep head above the water with all the commitments and insane projects, tests, and deadlines I have in school, I find myself constantly reminiscing about the year that just passed. The time I was on my year abroad in London (read my tips on that here). It has only been only 3 and a half months since i've been back in Singapore, and already the memories from my exchange feel so distant.
Europe in a year. What a wonderful year it was.
From my internship in Paris to living for a whole year in London. I thought being away from home for a year would be too long, and that living in Europe for a year would give me sufficient time to explore the continent or learn more about the region, BUT I WAS WRONG. I could live here my whole life and still be fascinated - just like how after 21 years in Asia, I'm still as excited to go out and explore a different part of the region, and there is still SO MUCH I have yet to see!
Anyway, i thought i'd pay homage to my travels in Europe and come up with a list of 5 cities i'd love to revisit again.
I have been asked countless of times which are my favourite cities in Europe, and I never say just 1 city (the list goes on until I'm sort of telling my life story). So, are the 5 cities below, my favourite European cities (that i've travelled to/toured)? Maybe? But I can't say for sure. There were so many beautiful places I visited in Europe (Italy, Barcelona, Scandinavia - see what I mean about going on and on), and so many OTHER places I want to visit.
These 5 cities could be here because
a) I didn't spend enough time when in the city when I was there and had "unfinished business" or
b) I want to experience everything all over again, or probably both. All I know is, I enjoyed myself in these 5 cities, and would steal ANY chance to go back!
O N E: C O R N W A L L
With places like Cornwall, the pictures itself would make anyone want to go there. Seriously though. That gorgeous skies, the beautiful beaches and, cliffs and bluest of water. Everytime I read a cornish blogger's blog, I ask myself "why am I not living in Cornwall?!" Cornwall is so huge it doesnt really classify as one city. I've only been to west Cornwall, and even then I wouldn't mind going back. But i'd love to visit South Cornwall someday, heck maybe i'd jump on a plane, spend a couple of days in London, go to Cornwall and spend 2 weeks there. Someone please buy me an air ticket!
Cornwall is a place I will not hesitate to revisit if I get the chance to be back in the UK.
T W O: B U D A P E S T
If you saw my post titled Not Enough Time in Budapest, you would have guessed this. Budapest is a city I want to revisit just because there is so much to do, and I didnt get to do all that I wanted to. Also, the Daunbe River is but the most gorgeous thing ever. Walking around the river and looking on to the Buda (or Pest) side of it is something I could do over and over and over again.
T H R E E: I N T E R L A K E N
One of my biggest regret after my trip to Interlaken was that I did not get to go up the Swiss Alps.
Touristic or not, everyone has done it, and it has always been my dream to visit a mountain, experience what its like to see the snow caps of the alps. Learning about the mountains and rivers during geography lessons have only fuelled my appreciation and love for all things nature. Sadly, I didn't have that much time in Interlaken and it was rather pricy, somehow the situation led to me not being able to visit the Swiss alps.
I'll definitely have to visit Switzerland again someday - and Interlaken would be a stop in that itinerary!
To be honest though, one can never get enough of Switzerland. Its just incredibly beautiful! The landscapes are PHENOMENAL. Mountains, Greenery, rivers, the blue skies, it doesn't get any better than that!
F O U R: B E R G EN
I don't know why but despite spending the most time in Bergen during my Scandinavian solo trip, but I still want to go back! Visit the neighbouring fjords - another spectacle that one can see over and over again - climb another mountain, I don't have specific reasons why I want to go back, except... I just do? It's a really lovely, chill, city, if it wasn't that cold (and expensive haha!), i'd totally live here!
I must say though, I wouldn't want to go back alone. I'd love it if I had company so that I can try out the different cafés and food options in Bergen!
F I V E: A M S T E R D A M
Amsterdam...The first city I visited with Jerald, the first city I visited as a tourist, the city that made me fall in love with traveling in Europe! Amsterdam was so much fun, windmills, canals, autumn flowers, burgers, cheese markets, I would relive this experience again and again - I actually do, every time I see an image of Amsterdam's canals.
+ The people in Amsterdam are so nice and friendly, and they are EXTREMELY FLUENT in English - Yay to no language barrier.
Rotterdam is another Dutch city I'd love to visit someday, if I ever do, I'd not hesitate to stop by Amsterdam again!
One other country I loved that i'd want to visit again include CROATIA. Croatia is my ULTIMATE FAVOURITE European country. But I couldn't identify ONE city to revisit, plus, if I ever do go back, I would definitely want to see other parts of Croatia that i've never been to! The nature, clear blue waters, food and PRICE POINT is AMAZING in Croatia.
P.S. If you've never been to Croatia - just forget about the cities listen above and just go. Save up and go to Croatia! You wouldn't be disappointed!
Sadly, a return flight ticket to Europe would cost $1000 and my limited university student budget isn't going to cut it, so for now, it's more of exploring the neighbouring cities, seeing more of Asia learning the different cultures, visiting exotic places in South East Asia, and exploring the place I call home. Hopefully soon enough, I can make such a list for Asia!
Ah, selecting pictures for this post got me all nostalgic about my year abroad.
Explore, dream, discover indeed!
29 October 2015 Europe
After visiting many travel destinations, sometimes all you need is a day where you don't visit museums, you don't go on day trips to other places, you just chill out and have a leisure walk around the city. You people watch, you have a nice dinner, you do some shopping/explore a nice park, and then have a good night's rest.
That was what Ljubljana was for us.
Ljubljana was our last stop in slovenia and also our final destination for the whole of our summer Europe tour. After 17 days of non-stop traveling, lugging a 30kg luggage around, exploring new places, with a JAMMED PACKED Itinerary, and after a whole year away from home, my friend and I were both rather exhausted and homesick.
I never expected myself to be the sort to feel homesick, in fact I didn't think I was, not until I got on to my flight home to Singapore did I realise I was actually excited to go home!
Anyway, back to Ljubljana. We arrived in the afternoon and were tired from the heat as well as boat rowing in the morning so after resting for a bit in the hostel, we left around dinner time to walk around and explore the place.
The city centre of Ljubljana is pretty easy to navigate around - although I wasn't doing too much of the navigating because my friend took on that challenge haha! We walked around the main parts of the town, past some dragon statues on the Dragon Bridge, and a couple of interesting bridges.
The most famous bridge in Ljubljana is the Triple Bridge. Located at the centre of the town, it consists of 3 bridges side by side connecting the old town to the newer more modern part of Ljubljana.
We considered heading up to the Ljubljana castle, but decided against it because 1. We were far too lazy to be climbing up steps and 2. We weren't particularly interested in visiting another castle.
Instead we got some ice cream, walked along the bank of the river and did some shopping.
That evening, we headed back to the dorm pretty early to enjoy a nice quiet night.
The next morning, we woke up for our complimentary hostel breakfast, but did not leave the hostel just yet because I, unfortunately, decided to come down with some annoying period pains. Thankfully, the pain subsided after a few hours, and by afternoon, we were out exploring the town.
We passed by a large morning market near the triple bridge and then spontaneously decided we'd love to visit a park.
Looking on the map, there was a park located about a kilometre away from the main city centre and so we began walking there.
As expected of a typical day in the park in summer afternoon, the sun was warm, the weather was nice, and the park massive with so much green everywhere. We passed by a few cafés - sadly most of them were closed - and also saw a glass house. We tried to see if we could enter, but it was closed too.
Near a pond in the park was a pretty patio with a café that was also closed. We weren't looking for food at that time, so that didn't bother us too much. We just continued taking photos near the pond and of the hanging light bulbs and wooden floors.
What I WoreTop: Primark
Shades: Bought at a street side store in Ljubljana
We went from admiring one pretty flower to another, and hopped from resting on park bench to another. One surprising discovery I made was that at certain park benches, THERE WAS FREE WIFI. Only at certain specific park benches though, which I found really odd, but was pleasantly surprised!
After about and hour in the park, we started craving for some ice-cream because of the summer heat.
So we began our hunt for a café in the park that happened to be open on a Sunday afternoon.
Instead of finding an actual café we spotted some really unique park statues and more pretty flowers. In the end, we settled for Ice-cream at a regular ice-cream stand.
That evening, we went back to the old town for dinner, and ate at one of the restaurants along the stretch of the old town.
Even though there were no cafés in the park, the old town was, thankfully, was a place we could spend the evening at. Even though the shops were closed, there were families out having and early dinner, or tea break, kids eating ice creams, and several food places were opened.
It wasn't crowded, neither was it completely empty and lifeless.
Even after over a year in Europe, there are times where I cannot wrap my head around the fact that shops close on Sundays.
Growing up in Singapore, shopping malls, food courts, restaurants etc. are always operating as per normal on a Sunday, which makes it so much easier to go out. In fact, when I was living in London, it was pretty much the same. So whenever I visit other european cities/countries, I always forget that places are usually closed on a Sunday, and get caught with no food and nothing to do - happened on one too many of my travels to be honest.
But after a year of visiting different cities in Europe, my friend and I were pretty much used to the fact that there wasn't much to do on a Sunday (hence why we chose to go a park!)
Even with no intention of planning our day, we subconsciously realised that one shouldn't opt to go to a museum or go shopping on a Sunday ;)