2014 Travel Recap: The Year of Spontaneous Trips (Part 2)

Weekend in Paris

the Louvre's pyramid in the evening
the Louvre’s pyramid in the evening

I visit Paris twice or thrice a year. In 2014, I went to visit in August with a couple of friends to visit a best friend and her adorable little bundle of joy. It was a very relaxing weekend in Paris. We basically just shopped and eat. As all of us have been to Paris, there was really no need for sightseeing. I’m quite a morning person so, in the morning, while I wait for friends to wake up, I take the time to walk around the Tuileries garden which was very nice – it’s nice to see an empty Paris.

Morning walk in Paris around the Louvre area
Morning walk in Paris around the Louvre area
Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris' 6th arr.
Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris’ 6th arr.

 

Hiking in Zermatt

Our 5-turned-2-lakes hiking adventure in Zermatt - everything was so surreal, we looked like we were in a film
Our 5-turned-2-lakes hiking adventure in Zermatt – everything was so surreal, we looked like we were in a film

After coming back from Paris, another friend asked me if I want to join her for a weekend hike in Zermatt because a friend was visiting. Who can say no to Zermatt in summer?! Zermatt is quite nice and has a lot of hiking activities to offer in the summer. We rented a car, drove to Zermatt on a Saturday morning, went hiking in the afternoon, spent the time in the sauna in the evening and had raclette and fondue for dinner. On Sunday, we did the Matterhorn glacier paradise where we took the highest cable car in Europe and visited an ice castle.

Up close and personal with the famous toblerone mountain, the Matterhorn
Up close and personal with the famous toblerone mountain, the Matterhorn
A hike in the swiss mountains means meeting new friends
A hike in the swiss mountains means meeting new friends
view of swiss alps is always breathtaking for me
view of swiss alps is always breathtaking for me

Hiking in Annecy

view of the lake Annecy, France on top of a mountain
view of the lake Annecy, France on top of a mountain

The following weekend after our trip to Zermatt, my friends and I went to Annecy, France for a day trip. While looking for a coffee place a little bit outside Annecy, we learned that the place has a short hiking trail that leads to a very nice panoramic view of the Annecy lake and a waterfall. Not only we were not dressed for a hike that time but us, girls, also brought our shoulder bags with us. It was a short hike but was quite steep, especially the trip down was particularly a little scary since our shoes have zero grip. Of course, we also managed to take another trail down (without knowing it) and ended up in another town where we had to walk for another 30-40 minutes. At the end of the day, we had a really great time – I always enjoy a trip to Annecy.

 

The Ultimate Greek Adventure

When it was time for my solo travel, I was first initially thinking of visiting my friends in California again… but then I thought: the only time I’ll be by myself in California will be never. Also, since I didn’t want to spend so much time in the planes, I decided to just stick within Europe. One day, my friends and I were talking about our favorite holiday destinations and 2 of my friends mentioned Greece – voila! To my surprise though, most of my friends didn’t quite approve at first with me traveling solo to Greece (and island hoping). Greece is massive and getting from one island to another can be complicated, especially if aiming for the non-party islands. But with massive research, I managed to book my favorite solo adventure/summer getaway in Europe.

Athens

at the Acropolis Museum
at the Acropolis Museum

From Geneva, I first flew to Athens. If you read reviews and travel blogs on Greece (in fact, majority of my friends said the same thing), most will tell you that you that you only need 1 day in Athens because there’s not really much to see. Well, I say it depends on who you are talking to.

When I was about 10 yrs old, our neighbor gave me a book on Greek mythology. It was a big book with small texts that reminds me of the encyclopedia – actually, if I remember it correctly, it was more like an encyclopedia-type of book as it had the A-Z of Greek mythology. I first started by reading the texts with photos and I got really fascinated by it that I started reading really reading the book. I must say, I moved on from Disney princesses to Greek mythology. I forgot about my fascination with Greek mythology until Athenian democracy, the Peloponnesian war, Sparta, Persia, the Peace of Nicias, etc. became a part of my language again in college.

So, going back to my main point, when I got out of the plane, the first thing I saw in the Athens International Airport was an advertisement from visa or mastercard that says something like: plane fare to Athens, EUR 200. Seeing the things you only see in school books, priceless!

Yes, that’s exactly how I felt in Athens as I went to see the Acropolis museum, the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Theatre of Dionysus, etc.

the Theatre of Dionysus
the Theatre of Dionysus
the Erechtheion
the Erechtheion
the Parthenon
the Parthenon

Santorini

There’s something about the sun, the sea, and being on top of a cliff in an island that gives you peace. Santorini was said to be the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago and some even say that this was the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis.

I did spoil my self a bit in Santorini and stayed at the beautiful Rocabella Hotel.
I did spoil my self a bit in Santorini and stayed at the beautiful Rocabella Hotel.

In Santorini, I felt real tranquility – something that I haven’t felt for a very very long time to the point of it becoming something new. Click here for more of my Santorini reflections.

the breathtaking view Sunset of Santorini
the breathtaking view Sunset of Santorini
Oia, Santorini
Oia, Santorini
the beautiful town of Oia in Santorini is the "Greece" we often see in movies
the beautiful town of Oia in Santorini is the “Greece” we often see in movies

Island of Paros

my everyday dilemma in Paros: to hang by the pool or by the hotel's private beach... life is good!
my everyday dilemma in Paros: to hang by the pool or by the hotel’s private beach… life is good!

While everyone goes to Mykonos in summer to experience the fun and wild beach parties, I decided to retreat to the Island of Paros. Paros was just about 2 hrs boat ride from Santorini. The Island is known for its turquois-colored beaches and the town of Naousa is beautiful, quiet, fishing village. For 5 days, the Astir of Paros became my home – yes, I invested on a 5-star hotel and it was worth it! As I was one of the last guests of the season, I felt like I had the entire resort to myself. For 5 days, the only things I need to think about were: 1) where to hang? beach or pool side? 2) what to drink while hanging under the sun, reading my book? 3) what to order for dinner from the hotel’s mouthwatering selection of food? I also had the opportunity to meet the owners of the hotel resort and they are absolutely kind, warm, and welcoming.

having dinner at Astir of Paros is like having a birthday every night... everything in the menu were absolutely amazing
having dinner at Astir of Paros is like having a birthday every night… everything in the menu were absolutely amazing
Astir of Paros' beach side
Astir of Paros’ beach side

While I liked hanging out at the private beach and by the poolside, I also managed to actually go to a yoga retreat at a yoga centre in Naousa. There, I met Irana Ji An, an amazing yoga teacher at the Paros Yoga Retreats & Workshops. I found my love for yoga because of this yoga retreat. Before Paros, I was irregularly practicing yoga for the past 8 months and my yoga studio wasn’t really that good – I was often left guessing if what I was doing was right or wrong. After going to Irana’s retreat for 4 days, I finally understood what my body should feel during and after yoga and I really loved it. With this, I invested in a good yoga studio here in Geneva and have started practicing yoga regularly.

Inside the beautiful cobblestoned town of Naousa
Inside the beautiful cobblestoned town of Naousa
dine by the beach in Naousa
dine by the beach in Naousa
the Galileo ship docked in the main port of Paros
the Galileo ship docked in the main port of Paros

Back in Athens

After having a great time in Paros, it was almost time for me to go back to Geneva… well, almost. First, I had to transit overnight in Athens. It was a late night flight back to Athens so I ended up just ordering a Domino’s pizza in my room (I know, right?). In the morning, I had time to do some shopping around the Monastiraki area.

2014 was indeed quite an adventure for me – full of spontaneous trips and discovering places for the first time. Here’s to hoping for more trips this 2015.

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