Why You Should Visit Slovenia

In 2019, I booked a trip with Trafalgar to visit Croatia. It was their “Best of Croatia and Slovenia” tour. I had wanted to go to Croatia for a while but I would always get overwhelmed when trying to plan so I kept pushing it off. This tour seemed like the perfect compromise. It also included Slovenia, a country I did not know anything about. I didn’t do much research about it before I left either, figuring I would learn about it along the way. Turns out, Slovenia is incredibly beautiful with wonderful people. It ended up being one of my favorite parts of the two week trip. I highly recommend visiting Slovenia when you have a chance. Here are the reasons I think why you should visit Slovenia.

But First, Some Slovenian Facts

Slovenia is located in Central Europe and is bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. It covers approximately 7,800 square miles and has a population of two million people. It has a mostly mountainous terrain. Slovenia was the first republic to split from Yugoslavia in 1991. It is now a parliamentary republic. Slovenia is a member nation of the EU, United Nations and NATO. Its capital and largest city is Ljubjana.

On the “famous people” front, the current First Lady of the USA is from Slovenia.

The Reasons Why You Should Visit Slovenia

It is not completely overrun with tourists (yet!).

Yes, of course there are many tourists in Slovenia, many of them part of a tour of Croatia like me. But unlike some other places I have visited in Europe, it did not feel like Slovenia was being overwhelmed by tourists.

I was able to walk around Ljubljana without feeling crowded. I snagged a table at a highly recommended restaurant in Bled without a reservation. Getting decent photos of Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj without a ton of people in the background was a breeze.

The only time it felt like there were a lot of people around was when we visited the island in the middle of Lake Bled. But it’s a small island and it’s popular. So it is to be expected.

I Felt Very Safe as a Female Solo Traveler

While I visited Slovenia as part of an organized tour, I spent much of my time exploring the area on my own and I never felt unsafe.

On our second night in Bled, I skipped the organized dinner and instead walked to Penzion Berc, a local hotel with a restaurant that was highly rated on Yelp and in Rick Steves’ Croatia and Slovenia travel guide. I went alone. I was able to eat at a table outside, where I had a delicious meal of lamb chops with creme brulee (my favorite!) for dessert. The food was very good but the thing I remember most about this meal was that I had a glass of wine with dinner but declined another one because I didn’t want to end up with a $100 dinner bill that night. It turns out, the wine, which was also very good, was only four euros a glass! If I has known that, I would have had another one for sure! Ha!

My goal was to be back to the hotel before dark but it didn’t happen. It also turns out that Bled does not have any street lights in town, probably to cut down on environmental pollution, which I understand. It did make walking back to my hotel a bit of an adventure though. Luckily, I had my cell phone and was able to use the flashlight on it to guide me along. Once I made it back to the hotel, I decided to enjoy the beautiful evening and found a bench along the lake behind the hotel and sat out there for an hour or so before turning in for the night. It was so calming and pleasant. It was perfect for a solo female traveler.

Lamb Chops in Slovenia
Lamb Chops from Penzion Berc in Bled, Slovenia
Creme Brulee – Yum!

Ljubljana is a Great European Capitol

Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city. It has a population of about 300,000 people. It is known for its university population and green spaces, including Tivoli Park. The Ljublianica River, lined with outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub.

We spent a few hours in Ljubljana and I believe it is worth a visit. It is small and therefore, easy to explore by foot. I don’t think you need to spend more than a day in Ljubljana. I spent my time walking along the river and the city center, popping into shops that looked interesting and admiring the architecture as I went. Eventually, I got an ice cream cone and found a spot in the shade to sit and people watch for a while.

One building I kept admiring was the Ljubljana Castle. The castle is perched on top of Castle Hill and it overlooks the city. Archaeologists believe that the area of the present castle has been continuously settled since 1200 BC.

The castle’s role has changed numerous times since its first mention around 1120. Aside from tourism, the castle now is used for weddings and cultural events.

Reasons to visit Slovenia
Ljubljana Castle
One of the buildings surrounding the city center in LjubLjana.
Ljubljana River
A selfie with the Ljubljana River in the background.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is probably the most well known area in Slovenia and is probably the reason that many people choose to visit Slovenia. Bled was our home base for the two nights we spent in Slovenia. We slayed along Lake Bled in the Hotel Park.  When we stayed there, I would say it was adequate. It was definitely not fancy but the location along the lake was perfect. I did see as I was looking the hotel up to link in this post that it is being renovated so it may be wonderful after it is redone.

The lake surrounds Bled Island, which can be accessed by taking one of the wooden boats shown below. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake so the boats are rowed by men to and from the island.

The island has several building on it, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, which was built in its current form near the end of the 17th century. We spent an hour or so on the island, wandering around, admiring the views and reading up on the history of the church.

In our free time, we were able to walk around the lake. It is about three miles around. While some people on my tour did the walk, I did not. To be honest, jet lag and lack of sleep for several days was starting to catch up to me at that point so I took the time to rest instead. It was much needed.

Another thing that the Bled area is known for is their cream cake. It is made with eggs, cream, milk and sugar. After visiting the island, we went to a restaurant where we were able to try the cream cake. It was okay. I was expecting more flavor to be honest.

The boats used to get to Bled Island
The pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary on Bled Island
The view from my breakfast table in the Hotel Park in Bled, Slovenia.
The famous cream cake
A view of Bled from Bled Island
Reasons why you should visit Slovenia
The area was so pretty with such amazing views!
I loved the clouds and the mountains in the background here.

Amazing Views of the Julian Alps

The Julian Alps stretch from northeastern Italy to Slovenia. Mount Triglav is the highest peak in Slovenia and is included in Slovenia’s coat of arms. The views we had of the Julian Alps as we were visiting and driving through the Bled area were spectacular!

Reasons to visit Slovenia
The majestic Julian Alps in the background.

Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj was a hidden gem that our tour guide took us to on our second day the Bled area. We had to walk through some trees and down a fairly steep hill to get there but boy was it worth it!

Lake Bohinj is possibly the prettiest lake I have visited. As someone who is always in search of the perfect reflection shot, Lake Bohinj delivered! The views were spectacular. The setting was so peaceful. The water so clear. This lake HAS to be in the list of reasons to visit Slovenia.

Reasons to visit Slovenia
Lake Bohinj in Slovenia. Absolutely stunning!
Me at Lake Bohinj

My Final Thoughts on Why You Should Visit Slovenia

As you can see, there are many reasons why I think you should visit Slovenia soon. I love that it’s a little off the beaten path and that not a lot of people have been there. In fact, many people get it confused with Slovakia. I would say I have made that correction to others about 25 times. If you get the chance, go to Slovenia. Add Croatia and Bosnia to the itinerary and you will have a great trip filled with good food, wonderful people and an interesting history lesson.

You can check out other posts from my trip to Croatia and Slovenia here and here.

Save this post to Pinterest!

Reasons why you should visit Slovenia

Two Days in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik

One of the highlights of our tour through Croatia and Slovenia was our visit to Dubrovnik. I think that Dubrovnik lives up to the hype you hear, particularly in the early morning and the late evenings when it is not so crowded. I loved the old buildings with the orange roofs and the walls that surround the old city. We spent two days in Dubrovnik, Croatia and here is a rundown of the things we did.

The History of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is on the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia.

It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, meaning it’s very crowded when the cruise ships disembark in the area. In 2011, its population was 42,615. Dubrovnik and its famed walls joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 1979.

In 1991, after the break-up of Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik was besieged by Serbian and Montenegrin soldiers of the Yugoslav People’s Army for seven months. During our trek to Cavtat, a neighboring village, on Day 2, we had a Dubrovnik resident telling us her first hand experience of being in the city when the siege took place. Their family friends from a town outside of Dubrovnik had sent their kids to Dubrovnik for school that morning. After the siege happened, her dad picked up their friends’ kids from school. The kids ended up staying with her family for over six months. How scary for everyone!

The city suffered significant damage from shelling. Repair and restoration work was completed in in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and now Dubrovnik has re-emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean.

Two Days in Dubrovnik Croatia

Day One

We arrived in Dubrovnik in the mid-afternoon and had some free time before going into the old town for dinner that evening. Our hotel was within walking distance to a rocky beach so that’s where I headed after checking into my room. Our bags hadn’t been delivered to our rooms yet but I didn’t let that deter me. I went in my jeans and gym shoes. I didn’t plan to swim anyway.

The beach wasn’t crowded and the rocks were smooth and colorful. It was so nice to chill and listen to the waves come in. Apparently I let myself relax too much though because I got so distracted by the waves that I didn’t notice a bigger wave come to shore until it was too late and it soaked my gym shoes.

Doh!

After hanging out by the beach for a bit, I decided to get a glass of wine and write some postcards to home at one of the outdoor cafes between the beach and our hotel. The nice thing about organized tours is that your tour mates are always nearby. After sitting for a bit, a couple of my tour mates walked by and asked if they could join me. We ended up spending the rest of our free time sharing travel stories and drinking wine while enjoying the beautiful afternoon. It was lovely.

For dinner, we headed to the city center for our group farewell dinner at Gusta Me. This wasn’t our last night on tour though. The weather was suspect that evening so our tour director switched the dinner with our sunset cruise. It was worth the change even though it didn’t rain until later in the evening (more on this later).

Day Two

The next morning, day two of our two days in Dubrovnik, Croatia, we got up early and headed back into the old town to explore. Heading there early was strategic because it allowed us to walk around and see what we wanted to see before the hordes of cruise ship passengers arrived.

We had a bit of a guided walking tour and then were on our own. I headed to the wall entrance. The walls around Dubrovnik are the largest and most complete I have seen so I was definitely wanted to check them out.

The Walls of Dubrovnik

The city walls that surround Dubrovnik today were constructed mainly during the 12th–17th centuries and are a source of pride for the city. The walls run an uninterrupted course of approximately 6,360 ft in length, encircling most of the old city, and reach a maximum height of about 82 ft.

One thing to consider before deciding to walk the walls is that it is not cheap. It was $30 USD (200 kunas) to enter. I thought it was worth it for the views and the exercise but if you are on a tight budget, this might be something you should skip.

The views. They were spectacular! The sea on one side, Dubrovnik on the other. It doesn’t get much better than that. The walk itself was fairly easy. The path at the top of the wall was well maintained. There were stairs but not too many after the entrance, where there were a lot of them.

I spent about an hour admiring the views and snapping photos. The thing I didn’t realize is that there aren’t many exit points. Once you enter, you are committed for over an hour. When I did finally find an exit, I took it. I was heading away from the city for an afternoon excursion to escape the crowds and didn’t want to miss the boat. I also wanted to get some lunch before we boarded.

Burek Deliciousness

For lunch, I had a burek with spinach. Burek is a family of baked filled pastries made of thin flaky dough known as phyllo and stuffed with cheese or meat. My favorite was stuffed with spinach and cheese. I would go back to Croatia just to have a burek. They were delicious! They are available at the bakeries you see along the streets. Make sure you have one when you visit Croatia!

After lunch and ice cream for dessert (when in Europe, you have to have at least one ice cream a day. I think it’s a rule for all tourists, right?), we boarded a boat and spent the afternoon in the village Cavtat, a much more relaxed, less crowded mini Dubrovnik.

The Sunset

For dinner that evening, we boarded a different boat from the local marina and set out for a sunset cruise. There couldn’t have been a better way to end our tour.

The food and wine on the boat were great! I had the fish and enjoyed it as much as the company. But then it was time for the sunset and it was FABULOUS! I love Hawaiian sunsets but the sunset on this night was even better. The colors were so vivid and were always changing. It was a great night. Several times I had to pinch myself to remind myself that I really was in Dubrovnik with a glass of wine in my hand while experiencing a stunning sunset. It doesn’t get much better than that!

It was the perfect way to end my two days in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The Rain and My Shoes

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that it rained overnight during our first night in Dubrovnik. Remember I also said that my shoes got wet when I went to the beach? Well, to dry the shoes out, I put them outside to dry. Clearly that backfired because it stormed for hours so they were wetter the next morning than when I put them out to dry. Unfortunately, they were my only gym shoes and since we were going to be walking so much that day, I had to wear them.

It was a squishy morning but overall, it was fine…

At least I thought it was until I got home a couple of days later.

I wore the shoes home as well (I always wear gym shoes when flying because I never know when I’ll be running to my next gate). I took them off when I got home and put them by the door. A couple of hours later, I walked downstairs and it smelled awful. I spent about ten minutes looking around, thinking that something was rotting or that my dog pooped in a corner…until I realized it was my shoes.

Yikes! So gross!!!

I ended up putting them outside until I could throw them in the washer. They are okay now but man, I considered throwing them straight into the dumpster in the moment.

Dubrovnik and Game of Thrones

I have never seen the Game of Thrones so the significant or interesting places related to the show that our guide mentioned during our walking tour didn’t mean anything to me. If you are interested in doing a Game of Thrones tour during your visit to Dubrovnik, this tour has great reviews. It looks like it sells out quickly though so buy your tickets ahead of time if you can.

Want to keep reading? Check out my other posts from Croatia here and here.

Save this post to Pinterest!

Two Days in Dubrovnik Croatia

Fortress Lovrijenac
Fortress Lovrijenac is built on a high sheer rock overlooking the sea, This detached fortress was of prime importance for the defense of the western part of Dubrovnik, both against attack from land and the sea. During its service fortress was manned by 25 man garrison and a Commander of the fort.
Dubrovnik Walls
Starting my walk along the top of the walls surrounding Dubrovnik
Two Days in Dubrovnik Croatia
Beautiful Dubrovnik.
Houses in Dubrovnik Croatia
The hill behind the buildings in this photo was where the Serbs’ bombs were fired from in 1991
My on the walls of Dubrovnik
I finally asked someone to take my photo 🙂
Two Days in Dubrovnik Croatia
Back to selfies
Walls in Dubrovnik Croatia
A look at the outside of the walls from the top
Dubrovnik Croatia in two days
The walls surrounding Dubrovnik from the outside
Burek in Dubrovnik
My favorite food find in Croatia – the burek. This one is stuffed with spinach and cheese. So delicious!
Dubrovnik from the water
Dubrovnik from the water
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik from the top of the hill. So pretty!
The Franjo Tu?man Bridge in Dubrovnik
The Franjo Tu?man Bridge in Dubrovnik. Construction of this bridge was interrupted by the fighting after this bridge. Its completion represents Dubrovnik’s triumph recovery from the war.
A picture of the bridge as the sun began to set.
Dubrovnik Sunset
A beautiful sunset and a very happy traveler.
Sunset in Dubrovnik
Those colors!
Selfie at Sunset in Dubrovnik
What a prefect ending to a great trip!

Packing for Europe in the Fall

Travel without Checking a Bag

Twas the night before I leave for a trip to Croatia and Slovenia and here I am; sitting on the couch, relaxing and writing a blog post after packing for Europe in the fall. Who am I?

This never happens. Usually at this point before a trip, I am scrambling to finish laundry and packing. It is common for me to be putting stuff into my suitcase as I am walking out the door en route to the airport.

So what is different this time? A few things. The main thing is I did my laundry last weekend and made myself wear what was left in my closet for work this week. This allowed me to pack last night without having to account for unfinished laundry. Also, in general, I am very relaxed about this trip. While I am going solo, I booked it through a tour so they do all of the planning. All I have to do is show up, which means no second guessing myself tonight about whether I booked hotels and day trips correctly.

Speaking of packing, I am turning over a new leaf there.  I am packing for Europe in the fall with only my backpack and a carry on suitcase. You read that right – no checked bag for me on this trip!  I am so proud of myself!

I am a big fan of Sarah Murdoch. Sarah works with Rick Steves and also plans and guides her own tours. She always stresses packing light in all of her blog and social media posts. I know how practical and correct she is so I am taking it to heart! While I’m not at her level of light packing yet (she travels with just a backpack), I have definitely downsized and am looking forward to how much easier I know it will make this trip.

So how did I do it? Here is a complete list of what I packed. (Note: Some of the Amazon links below are affiliate links which means that if you purchase anything through the use of my links, I receive a small commission).

In my suitcase…

  • 5 tops
  • 2 jeans
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 pajamas
  • Lots of socks and underwear
  • 2 bras
  • A rain/trench coat
  • 2 cardigans
  • A pair of athletic shorts and a T-shirt for lounging around
  • A swimsuit
  • My Cubs sweatshirt in case of cold hotel rooms
  • 4 pairs of shoes (my sneakers, a pair of ballet flats, a pair of nicer flat sandals and my flip flops for moving about hotels)
  • 3 pairs of fun earrings
  • Makeup
  • Zuca bag with my toiletries
  • A ziplock bag with my shower supplies
  • Outlet converters
  • A guidebook
  • Money belt (not sure if I will use it but I bring it just in case)

I *think* I included enough clothes so I will not have to do laundry while I’m traveling if I don’t want to. I wear clothes multiple times between washings at home so why not do the same when traveling? The list above includes key pieces I need to dress up for a nicer dinner or dress casually for every day activities.

There is a key to getting all of that in my suitcase and keeping it organized: packing cubes. These are the ones I have and they make a big difference for me. I love them and don’t like to travel without them anymore.

Away suitcase
My empty Away suitcase

My Away suitcase
All packed and so organized!

In my backpack…

  • My DSLR camera
  • Medicine (mostly allergy meds and some Advil)
  • A light fleece jacket for the plane
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • My Trtl pillow (the best travel pillow! I highly recommend it!)
  • A small crossbody purse with my phone, currency, passport, mints and chapstick
  • A book
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste, contact solution and case
  • My iPad
  • Compression socks for the plane
  • A folder containing our itinerary and Flat Stanley (courtesy of my 9 year old niece)

And that is it! I am happy with this list. It is minimal but complete. I cannot wait to take off tomorrow and explore Croatia and Slovenia over the next week and a half!

Want to read more? Check out my posts detailing my solo trip to Greece here and here!

Pin it!

A Day in Stettfeld Germany

One of my favorite parts of the trip to Germany was our day in Stettfeld, Germany. While in Stettfeld, we met with extended family currently living there.

The morning we met them, we went to church and then met up with George and his daughter, Annika, who led us to their home. George’s wife, Simone, prepared an amazing meal for us, including the powdered sugared doughy goodness in the photo below. The food was delicious and the company was even better, even though most of the German family didn’t speak English and we did not speak German. It is always interesting how people can still find ways to communicate. In this case, we bonded over beer. 🙂

George and Simone’s son, Andreas was there along with Simone’s parents and her brother. Her brother’s family joined us later on as well. Simone’s dad, Ludwig, used to work at one of the local breweries. He enjoyed explaining the different types of beers he brewed and letting us sample them.

A Day in Stettfeld Germany
All of us from the USA
A Day in Stettfeld Germany
Everyone at the house during our visit (except for me, I took the photo 🙂 )
A Day in Stettfeld Germany
I don’t remember what this was called but it was delicious!
A Day in Stettfeld Germany
Ludwig helping Tim choose a beer from the selection

After lunch, we continued our day in Stettfeld, Germany by walking though the town and then over the the church and cemetery. The town is tiny but it was nice to be out and walking.

The church (pictured below) is where my great great grandmother was baptized. The church balcony included old, wooden, uncomfortable benches and kneelers. Aunt Julie joked that it was where the sinners would sit so I slid on in. I figured it’s where I belonged.

A Day in Stettfeld Germany

DSC_0518

A Day in Stettfeld, Germany
The kneeler for sinners. I belong here. 🙂

 

DSC_0512

Yellow House in Stettfeld Germany
I love buildings with pretty flower boxes in the windows.
Court house
More pretty window boxes.

DSC_0498

DSC_0502

a Day in Stettfeld Germany
Just hanging out in the cemetery in Stettfeld

DSC_0533

DSC_0554

A Day in Stettfeld Germany
Julie doing research for her book.

The picture below is of an ancient canoe carved from a log. It was inside the Stettfeld courthouse building and was over 200 years old.

DSC_0556

Next up on our journey through Germany? Dachau and Munich. You can check out that post here.

Save to Pinterest!

Exploring the Greek Islands

After a couple of great days in Athens, it was time for my next adventure: exploring the Greek Islands.

First up, I stopped by Skiathos to meet Amy and her two friends for a few days. Amy lives in London and is originally from South Africa. I met her in 2011 during my first trip to Europe. We kept in touch and I saw her again when I was in London in 2012. I was excited to meet her in Athens this time.

Skiathos

The hotel we stayed at in Skiathos was just outside of town and had many beautiful flowers, grapevines and olive trees on the property. There was a wonderful college aged girl, Vanessa, working at the hotel. She was on the island for the summer and didn’t know many people. We invited her to go to the beach with us on the first day (she worked late afternoons and evenings) and she became part of our group for the remainder of our time in Skiathos, as shown in the photos below. Meeting new people from different places is my favorite part of traveling.

We spent most of our time in Skiathos at the beach and exploring the town. We also did a boat trip to other islands nearby one day. The highlight of the boat trip was the island where the “Mamma Mia” movie was filmed. We got to stop on the island and visit the church where ultimately, Meryl Streep and Pierce Bronson’s characters were married.

DSC_0557
The view from my hotel room
DSC_0574
Olives!

DSC_0714

DSC_0715

Photos from our boat tour of neighboring Islands

Exploring the Greek Islands
Chilling on the rocky beach

DSC_0591

DSC_0593

DSC_0614

DSC_0621

DSC_0657

DSC_0665

Mykonos

After several days in Skiathos, I ventured on to Mykonos because I seems no trip to exploring the Greek Islands was complete without visiting Mykonos and Santorini.

Mykonos is very beautiful! There was a great photo opp everywhere I looked. It was so great to set out and explore the island with no intended destination.

Exploring the Greek Islands
So many pretty colors everywhere!

DSC_0820

DSC_0779 DSC_0784

DSC_0799

DSC_0803

DSC_0859

One of the things I was most surprised about in Mykonos was how windy it was. At night in my hotel room, it sounded like a Midwestern blizzard was brewing outside. On my last day in Mykonoes, the wind ended up being a problem because it forced them to keep delaying the ferry I was supposed to take to Santorini. They finally canceled all ferries so I had to scramble around at 11pm to find a last minute hotel room.

Hotel rooms were hard to come by since it was busy season so I considered myself very lucky. I should have held that thought because I overslept the next morning and missed the 5:30am rescheduled ferry. Ugh!

While Mykonos is very beautiful and I was so lucky to be there, I was getting tired of being stuck on the island by that point. Dragging my luggage around while trying to find the ferry docks and a hotel was starting to take its toll on me. I decided at that point that if I wasn’t on a ferry heading to Santorini by noon, I was booking a flight back to Athens. I would spend the rest of my trip there.

Upon arriving at the port where the ferries departed (after oversleeping), I found out the next ferry to Santorini departed at 10:30am. But just my luck, it was fully booked. I decided to stick around the port to see if anyone canceled and realized after the ferry arrived that it was a situation where you got on and showed tickets later. I decided to get on, figuring they wouldn’t toss me into the sea en route.

The risk was worth it. The ticket taker wasn’t too pleased about me not having a ticket for that particular ferry but I talked so much trying to plead my case that I think he just wanted me to go away. He told me to pick any available seat and let me go.

Whew! My time exploring the Greek Islands could continue!

Exploring the Greek Islands
The ferry I took from Mykonos to Santorini

Santorini

The ferry ride to Santorini took several hours. On the ferry, I met a wonderful woman from Ukraine who was also traveling alone. It worked out well because we were able to save each other’s seats and watch each other’s stuff. Getting up to walk around or go to the restroom was so much easier!

Once in Oia, Santorini, we checked into our respective hotels and then met up to explore the island together. It was so nice to have someone to take photos for me (and vice versa). We also had dinner together. Any meal I don’t have to eat alone while traveling alone is a bonus.

One of the main attractions in Oia is the sunset. People arrived in droves on buses from other parts of the island to see it. It was overwhelming for me.

I scoped out my spot to watch the sunset early. As I was backing up to let someone past while waiting, my finger hit a metal piece in the wall behind me. Next thing I know, my finger is bleeding profusely. I borrowed some napkins from a restaurant and was offered tissues and bandages in four different languages from people around me. It restores faith in mankind when people are so concerned and helpful. Of course my mini first aid kit was in my suitcase at the hotel. I managed to get my finger to stop bleeding and bandaged without getting any blood on my white shorts (a miracle!) and enjoyed the sunset.

I spent the next day (my last full day in Greece) exploring more of the island in the morning and then relaxing by the hotel pool to avoid the massive crowds in the afternoon.

DSC_0911

DSC_0925

DSC_0936

DSC_0940

DSC_0942

DSC_0960

DSC_0971

DSC_0984

Exploring the Greek Islands
The famous Oia, Santorini sunset. 

Interesting in reading more about my trip to Greece? Read all about my time spent traveling solo in Athens here.

Save to Pinterest!

Traveling Solo in Athens, Greece

Anyone who knows me well knows I am almost always up for a trip and an adventure! Just name the place and I will be there. So what did I do when my good friend, Amy, invited me to join her and a couple of her friends on a trip to Greece? I requested the vacation time and booked pronto, of course! Amy and her friends were going to spend the entire week they were in Greece on the island of Skiathos. Since it is such a long trip to get there, I decided to split my time between Skiathos and other parts of Greece. I spent two days in traveling solo in Athens, met them in Skiathos and then finished the trip with solo visits to Mykonos and Santorini.

Greece is an amazingly beautiful country. The Greeks I encountered were very friendly and the food is delicious. I ate a lot of seafood and Greek salads, which were perfect for me because I don’t like lettuce and Greek salads have no lettuce, just veggies, feta cheese and seasonings. It was the perfect light meal!

Day 1 – Out and About in Athens

I figured since I was flying all the way over to Greece, I should spend a couple of days traveling solo in Athens to explore the city and visit the Parthenon. I toured the city using Rick Steves’ Walking Tour. If you do not know who Rick Steves is, he is the author of European travel guides and also has a TV show on PBS. His books are my go-to when I am booking trips to Europe.

I downloaded the app and then the audio walking tour (both for free!) onto my phone. When I set out on the tour, I used one of my ear buds to listen to him so I could also be aware of my surroundings at all time. It worked out perfectly! The best part of his tour is that I was able to listen and then stop the tour and take photos before continuing on.

My first stop along the walking tour was the Parliament House. This building was once the palace for the first King of Greece after the Ottoman occupation and now seats the members of Parliament.

The gentlemen in red caps are the guards, also known as Evzones. The Evzones is a special unit of the Hellenic Army who guard the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. Through the historical movement of Greece, the Evzones have become symbols of bravery and courage for the Greek people.

They have a Changing of the Guards ceremony similar to the one in front of Buckingham Palace in London (just on a much smaller scale). I love the uniforms these guards wore, especially their shoes! The pom pom on the end is awesome! According to Rick Steves, it is a huge honor for Greek men to be guards and they take their positions very seriously.

DSC_0296
A guard outside of the Parliament House in Athens, Greece. I love their shoes. 🙂

DSC_0304

DSC_0306
Changing of the guard ceremony at the Parliament House in Athens
Traveling Solo in Athens
Parliament House in Athens, Greece

After spending time at the Parliament House, I set off to explore other areas of the city. Athens reminded me a lot of Rome in that there are lots of ancient structures all around.

DSC_0335

DSC_0360

DSC_0369
Seen along the walking tour of Athens
DSC_0378
I loved all of the colorful buildings and flowers. I couldn’t get enough and have lots of photos of both
DSC_0387
And of course I loved all the blue that I think of when I picture Greece.

At the end of my walking tour was the statue below. This statue saved my sanity the next night after dinner.

I found a neat restaurant to eat at that evening and somehow took a wrong turn on the way back to my hotel. I ended up getting completely disoriented and could not figure out which way my hotel was. There was definitely a moment or two of panic where irrational thoughts set in – “I’m lost and am going to wander around this city forever, never to be found again.” My usual crutch when things like this happen – my phone – was not available which only added to my anxiety.

I pushed the thoughts aside for a bit and decided to keep walking. After a bit, I came to a courtyard area…and saw this statue, which I knew had seen earlier in the day on the walking tour. Once I saw him, I was able to orient myself and realized I was just a couple of blocks from my hotel. Whew! (And let’s face it, I could have stopped at one of the many restaurants around and someone would have helped me find my hotel…so I really didn’t need to worry).

DSC_0340

Day 2 – Acropolis and the Parthenon

My main goal for Day 2 was to visit the Parthenon. The Parthenon is located on a big hill overlooking Athens. I could see it from my hotel. It was a sight to be seen at night because it was all lit up. It is a hike up to the top of the hill so if you go, make sure to wear comfy shoes and bring water.

The Parthenon is the main ancient structure on the Acropolis, the hill pictured below. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the symbol of Athens and the most famous of the surviving structures from the world of ancient Greece. The building was originally built in honor of the goddess Athena, the city’s patron. There was a lot of construction going on while I visited because they are working to restore and preserve the site.

DSC_0436
The Parthenon from my hotel 

DSC_0438

DSC_0476

DSC_0485
These are 4 of the 6 women -columns of the Erechteion temple, which is located near the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis hill. They are named Caryatids and are copies of the originals (which are at a museum).

DSC_0484

With that, my time traveling solo in Athens came to an end. I know a lot of people skip Athens and head straight to the islands when they visit Greece. I really enjoyed my time in Athens and recommend you spend a day or two there when you head to Greece. It is worth your time.

To read about my time with Amy and her friends on Skiathos and my time on Mykonos and Santorini, including how I got stuck on Mykonos, click here.

Save to Pinterest!