Wrap Up: July 2017

Sunny Days in Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

Yassas – July was my first full month in Greece!

I know I’ve said this multiple times already, but I can’t believe how good it feels to be back in Europe. Besides it being more expensive than Asia, which was to be expected, there’s not much I’ve disliked about my summer move.

I immersed myself in all things Greek in July and my only regret is that I didn’t visit this country sooner. Greece was never at the top of my list as a destination I had to see, but now I’m imagining making it a regular summer spot from which to write for a month each year.

Heraklion, Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

I’ve been based in Heraklion on the island of Crete for most of the month, and I’ve quickly created a routine of sorts since I arrived.

I think that was mainly what I wanted through moving here – not only to unpack my bag for awhile, but to have some consistency in my life again. And that’s exactly what I’ve found here, it has been wonderful.

And Crete is beautiful you guys! Heraklion isn’t the prettiest place on the island, but it has been good for getting work done and not getting too distracted. It’s also the perfect base to explore more of the south and the east of Crete, which I’ve been doing on the weekends.

Amoudara Beach - Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

Without further ado, this is what I got up to in July, my first month of European adventures!

PLACES & MEMORIES

Athens | I spent 5 nights in Athens and although I was ready to get to a smaller city and back to island life, I could’ve easily spent more time there. I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed Athens.

I’d heard mixed reviews about the city itself and the question of safety. I mainly stayed in the city center and touristy parts around Monastiraki Square. I also avoided the notoriously bad spots of the city and I have to say, I didn’t feel unsafe at all. Of course, I also didn’t go out much at night unless I was in a group.

Maybe I was lucky to not have any negative experiences in the city, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

I saw the Acropolis, spent an afternoon in the Archeological Museum, strolled through the many markets, and really just tried to take in Greek culture as much as I could.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece - Europe Travel

This was my first stop in Greece and it was a good introduction to the ancient history, culture, and colorful street scenes that are a staple in the country.

Heraklion | I’ve been in Heraklion for about four weeks already, which is hard to believe – it feels like I just got here maybe a week or so ago. Time started flying as soon as I got into a routine, and from my first day of walking around the city I’ve adjusted to the ease of daily life here.

There’s not a whole lot to the city itself unless you’re into shopping, but just on the outskirts of the city there are quite a few attractions.

I went to Knossos my second week, which is considered to be the oldest European city. It was the ancient settlement of the Minoans and where the dynasty of Minos ruled. I also spent a day at the Heraklion Archeological Museum where the largest collection of Minoan art can be found.

Other than the ancient sightseeing, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the beach gazing out at the aquamarine water. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking long walks here as well, usually spending at least an hour and a half walking home from the city every day.

Amoudara Beach - Heraklion - Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

I’m staying around Amoudara right now, so it’s the perfect little suburb just outside of Heraklion city center to soak up those calmer beach vibes.

South Coast of Crete | I had an epic weekend with a group of fellow solo female travelers a couple of weeks ago, and we traveled all over the south coast of Crete. It was everything you could want from a girls weekend – wine tasting, donkey sanctuaries, and plenty of beach time.

We ended up going to Matala, Agia Marina, Agia Galini, and had a hilarious journey to get to the famously beautiful Preveli Beach.

Landscape in Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

There’s still more that I want to see along the south coast, it has arguably some of the prettiest spots in all of Crete, but my girls weekend was a good taste of just how much there is to see and do down there.

Rethymno | I stopped into Rethymno for the day last weekend. It’s about an hour and a half bus ride west of Heraklion and another beachy city to explore.

I found it to be more touristy than Heraklion/Amoudara, but you really can’t complain too much with any of the beach cities in Greece – they’re so damn gorgeous.

Rethymmo, Crete, Greece - Europe Travel - Summer

It’s not a place that I would say you have to see if you’re on Crete, but it was fun to spend the day walking around a new city and beach after spending so much time in Heraklion.

READS

My passion for reading came back full force in July. It’s interesting to see how much more productive I can be when I’m settled down in one place, especially when it’s a place that I genuinely enjoy living in.

My productivity has opened up more time for other things in my life again, like reading and cooking. I find my mind has been much clearer and less all over the place since I’ve settled in Crete.

I don’t have to constantly think about where I need to be next, navigate completely new cities every week, and spend so much time on travel planning.

It has made me realize how much I’d like to create a more permanent base for myself in the next year, that I can travel regularly from and come back to after each trip.

In any case – reading!

Reading in Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

Transitioning from the one anecdotal travel book I read in June, I was really into the powerful feminist books this month.

I read Spinster by Kate Bolick, which was about, well, being a “spinster”, choosing not to marry as a woman, and how it’s okay to accept that women don’t always fit into the mold of wanting marriage and kids. And that there are other things in life besides romantic relationships that can be just as fulfilling.

I also read Sex Object by Jessica Valenti, which I’m not going to lie, was an uncomfortable read. It’s not a book that makes you feel great every time you put it down, but that’s not the point of it. There were times that I actually felt sick to my stomach after reading some of her passages, or incredibly angry, or just sad.

Valenti tackles her own experience as a female in a sexist and over sexualized society. She discusses sexism in depth, and the types of advances and assault that women have to deal with on a daily basis from men.

Lastly, I just started reading Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, the same author who wrote The Happiness Project (which I read in college). It’s about cultivating your habits (I know, I’m obsessed with behavioral psychology and habits!), to be the type of person you want to be without having to think about it much.

PLANS

I’m planning on being in Greece for all of August, and potentially leaving Crete to finally do some island hopping to a few other places – namely, Santorini or Mykonos, Paros/Antiparos, and maybe Naxos or Icaria.

Travel plans - Crete, Greece - Europe

For now, I’m focusing on one month at a time, and I’m happy to be gradually planning where else I want to see in Greece over the next few weeks.

Until next month!

How was your July? What was one incredible or unique thing that you did this month?

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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