Wrap-Up: August 2017

Naxos Island in Greece - Europe Travel

August flew by in the blink of an eye, as a lot of this year has seemed to. It was a month full of enjoying more of a fixed-life in Crete, Greece, figuring out my plans for the rest of the year, and island hopping.

I was still based in Heraklion for most of the month. Toward the end of August I left for Santorini, Paros, Naxos, and made my way back to Athens to explore more of the country. I’ve been here for two months already now!

I’ve thoroughly adored my time in Greece, I know I’ll look back fondly on this summer. And I know I’ve said this before on here, but I can’t reiterate enough how glad I am that I followed my gut to Europe instead of staying in Asia for another couple of months.

With that said, I can’t believe there are only a few more weeks left of summer! Um, what? It sure felt like it would be endless with the amount of Mediterranean sun I’ve been soaking up every day.

Boats in Agios Nikolaos, Crete - Europe Travel
Boats in Agios Nikolaos, Crete.

Although I have to say, I do really love the fall, so I am ready to embrace the new season and my upcoming extended visit home to California for the holidays.

Without further ado, this is what I got up to in August!

PLACES & MEMORIES

Crete | I had a nice visit from my French friend Edouard, who I met in Thailand earlier this year. He was in Greece already for a friend’s wedding, so he popped over to Crete for the first nine days of the month.

Chania, Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

We rented a happy little car we named Bob and explored many parts of the island that I hadn’t been to yet.

We basically went to a different beach every day, ate our fill of souvlaki, and soaked up the summer vibes in Kato Gouves, Hersonissos, Agios Nikolaos, Plakias, Matala, Agia Galini, Preveli, Chania, Seitan Limania, and Heraklion.

Our last day together was spent acting like little kids again at the largest water park in Crete.

Seitan Limania Beach in Chania, Crete, Greece - Europe, Travel
Seitan Limania Beach – she’s a babe right?

Before I left for Santorini, I decided to solo hike the Samaria Gorge, a popular 13 km trail in Crete and the longest gorge hike in Europe. It ended up being one of my favorite experiences in Greece so far, and made me realize how much I miss just being outside in nature all day.

Hiking Samaria Gorge in Crete, Greece - Europe Travel

Santorini | I was ready to a) photobomb as many honeymoon photos as possible or b) be the unofficial regular photographer for said honeymoon couples during my two days in Santorini.

However, the island actually wasn’t as “couple-y” as I thought it would be. Part of this was probably because I was staying at a hostel with a lot of other solo travelers around my age, but I found the island to have a good mix of couples, solo travelers, and families.

And Santorini was even more beautiful than the pictures made it out to be, you just can’t beat those caldera views.

The view from Fira in Santorini, Greece - Europe Travel
The view from Fira in Santorini.

I made sure to do the quintessential Santorini experience, watching the sunset at Oia, but I actually enjoyed the sunset the following night in Fira more because it was much less crowded.

Unfortunately, my last day in Santorini I had my money stolen from my hostel. I accidentally left my wallet tucked away in my backpack when I went to dinner, locked the door, and when I came back three hours later, all my money was gone from my wallet (luckily not my bank cards though).

Santorini, Greece - Europe Travel

I’ve only had my money stolen one other time, on a night bus in Thailand a few years ago, but regardless it’s always a shitty experience.

It wasn’t the best way to end my time on the island, but overall I did really enjoy Santorini. The crowds of tourists were a little much for me though, so I’d say two days was perfect.

Paros | Paros ended up being my favorite Greek island, in addition to Crete. It was everything I imagined Greek islands to look like before I got here – whitewashed cobblestone streets, windmills, beautiful beaches, and cats everywhere.

Kitty in Paros, Greece - Europe Travel
Kitty in Paros, Greece.

I spent one afternoon in a traditional Greek village called Lefkes, eating orange pie and sipping on an ice cold lemonade in front of the historic church. It was perfect.

I walked or took the bus everywhere, and I loved getting lost in the winding streets that always seemed to take you where you wanted to go, eventually.

Lefkes Village in Paros, Greece - Europe Travel
White washed streets of Lefkes Village in Paros.

Paros was also the first place in Greece that I went on a proper date with a Greek guy. We drank good wine, walked around the little streets of Naousa, and he showed me the wonderful Greek creation that is Loukoumades.

How I didn’t try them until now is beyond me, but they’re basically donut holes with Nutella and ice cream on top – aka HEAVEN on a plate.

Naxos | Naxos is right next door to Paros and the largest island in the Cyclades. It was super windy the three days I was there, but apparently a lot of the islands in this part of Greece are like that toward the end of summer.

Similar to Paros, I walked most places around Naxos and stayed mainly in the port area.

Cheesy dishes in Naxos, Greece - Europe Travel
Naxos is known for its cheese – so you can probably guess that I took full advantage of being “cultural” while I was there. Aka devouring every cheese dish I saw.

On my first night on the island, I went up to the Venetian castle where they were having a festival and watched Mamma Mia with an open bar under the stars.

It ended up being one of my favorite nights in Greece, especially because everyone who was there knew pretty much every word to the soundtrack, so we were all gleefully belting it out and getting up to dance by the end of the movie. Maybe the alcohol helped too.

On my last day, I rented a car with a couple of guys from my hostel and we hiked up Mt. Zas.

The American guy who was in the group, Michael, had to take off after the hike to catch a ferry, but me and my German friend Felix spent the day driving around the west coast of the island, checking out a couple of popular beaches.

Beaches in Naxos, Greece - Europe Travel
The beaches in Naxos were pretty sweet.

Athens | And finally, I made my way back to Athens for a few days at the very end of the month.

I was mainly catching up on work after my island hopping extravaganza. However, I was able to squeeze in a fun night of dinner and drinks with another Greek friend who I met in Crete last month.

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece - Europe Travel

We had an epic traditional (and delicious) Greek meal at a local taverna, and he showed me some of the trendy nightlife that Athens has to offer. It only made me want to come back to the city soon to explore more of the quirky themed bars around the city.

READS

I did pretty well with my reading goals in August. I read exactly three books, all from the Divergent series. It’s a series that I’ve been wanting to read since one of my best friends told me how addictive it was when she came to visit me in Australia.

Reading in the little village of Lekes, Paros, Greece - Europe Travel
Reading the Divergent series while eating orange pie in Paros.

The books are definitely geared more for the young adult fiction audience, but they were easy (and yes, addictive) reads, and I found the story of a messed up post-apocalyptic Chicago to be unique and disturbing in an engrossing way.

PLANS

I’m currently on a train heading up north to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece.

I have just over a week left in Greece, eek! I’ll be flying to Belgium for a couple of weeks in mid-September, then Paris for about a week, before ending my 2017 European adventure in Ireland to network with some fellow travel bloggers at my second TBEX in Killarney.

Paros, Greece - Europe Travel

How was your August? Are you looking forward to the fall or do you wish there was another whole month of summer to look forward to? 

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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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