Monday, April 1, 2013

Greece Spring Break

Traveling can be expensive, and doing a 10-day tour group quickly racks up a bill. So, my roommates and I set off to travel to Greece on our own. It took a bus, plane, taxi, 2 ferries, and a shuttle, but we got there!

The entire route from Florence to our destination in Corfu took about 32 hours. It was not the smoothest itinerary, but as soon as I arrived in Greece, things started to get better.

When we stepped off the first ferry in Greece at 5 AM, I literally followed the smell of fresh baked pastries until I found a bakery full of fresh-baked goods, where we bought our first meal in Greece. I got a delicious pastry filled with fresh feta—still warm from the oven. The sun started to come up, and we got on our next ferry to take us to Corfu.

By the time we arrived at the Pink Palace, we were beyond exhausted. Luckily, the sun was shining. Lying out and getting some much-needed vitamin D was a must. After spending my life never living more that 15 minutes from the ocean, I hadn’t realized how much I had truly missed the beach until I saw it. It was love.

We had flown Ryan Air, and therefore had only a backpack to last us through the trip. Needless to say, we needed to pick up a few things. After exploring the town a bit, it became apparent that Corfu heavily relied on tourism, and we were visiting in off-season. Basically, not much is open in the spring. Although our hostel was right on a beautiful beach, it was on the opposite side of the island of the main town. It ended up being a bit inconvenient, but it was interesting seeing the island in the spring. It wasn’t overly crowded and it was truly beautiful beyond belief.

Along with the typical spring break activities, including a toga party, a booze cruise, an ATV safari, and cliff diving, we also went on several hikes and spent time in Corfu Town. Everyone I encountered in Corfu was so friendly. Life was much more relaxed than in Italy. It felt more like home. Every time we were out hiking, I was constantly amazed at the scenery all around us.

In town, we filled up on fresh pastries, frappe, and Greek salad. There was no better meal than sitting in a little outdoor cafĂ© in Corfu Town, overlooking the park where children were playing in the sun and driving miniature cars, while enjoying stuffed vine leaves, wine, and a Greek salad with the freshest feta I’ve ever had in my life. Normally, I don’t even like feta cheese, but it was so incredibly fresh in Greece, I couldn’t get enough.

Every Saturday night at the Pink Palace, there is a giant toga party. Everyone dresses up in bright pink satin togas (making the night feel a bit like a cheesy 80s movie) for a night of traditional Greek dancing, plate smashing, and ouzo.

The highlight of the trip was the ATV safari. Both weekends during our stay at the Pink Palace were swarming with tour groups. Everywhere was a mess of overly excited Spring Breakers looking to shout YOLO at every opportunity. During the week, things slowed down a bit and we were able to relax. We strategically signed up for the ATV safari on a day during the week, and ended up going with a small group of 6 people. We rode all over the island for 5 hours, stopping at different vantage points to see all the best views from Corfu. We even got to see Albania in the distance!

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