This post is over 3 months late. I really wish I had gotten this all down  earlier, but I just wasn’t ready to accept that the whole experience is over (and I’m sort of lazy).

My last and final port was Casablanca, Morocco. Before I delve into my day-by-day recap, I’d like to tell you something you may not know. Morocco has a very distinct odor.. It seriously is like raw meat, dirty animals, sewage and fishy sea air all rolled into one. It was an exciting country with amazing culture and food, but honestly, I felt like pinching my nose for the better part of four days. Anyway …

Day 1 -
So, we ported in Casablanca around 8 am, but Morocco has a very strict entrance procedure and we didn’t get our passports cleared until around 12:30. By that time, all the trains into Marrakech had sold out. The only other option was to get a taxi to take us on the 3-4 hour long trip.

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The girls packed & ready to start our Moroccan adventure!

The taxi ride was easily the scariest drive of my life. Not only we get into a car with a strange man who we could not communicate with, but the car started overheating less than half way through the trip. We pulled over to the side of the road multiple times, and finally after my blood pressure reached an all time high, we made it to our riad ( a type of hotel) in Marrakech.

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The riad was BEAUTIFUL! Us girls were the only occupants besides the staff, which was really nice since the layout was very open and the locks on the doors were not very sturdy. (Except the main entrance which was locked 24/7 and the only person with the key was a staff member)

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Since we arrived so late, we didn’t do too much sight seeing. However, we did end up going out that evening. We ended up at Pacha – the largest nightclub on the whole continent of Africa. I’m not huge into the club scene, but it was definitely a good time!

Day 2 –
We woke up bright and early and were treated to a traditional Moroccan breakfast of pancake type bread with butter and jam. After that, Vic and I ventured out to conquer the infamous souks.
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I ate a delicious lunch at this roof top restaurant, only to get a mild case of food poisoning and throw it up just moments after finishing. Needless to say, the rest of the afternoon and evening were spent back at the riad.

Day 3 –
I literally have nothing good to say about this day, except for that I finally made it back to the ship. We went to the train station and they were sold out of first class tickets. We had to get tickets in the economy seating which didn’t even have enough seats. Not to mention the animals.  I don’t want to be a brat, but there was no air conditioning, we were sitting on top of our suitcases in the aisle way and constantly being walked over by other people. It really REALLY made me appreciate public (and private) transportation at home in America.

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The only reason we are smiling in this picture is because we are listening to “Party in the USA” – wish I was kidding.

After a nap and a hot shower, the girls and I decided to go to a  Casablanca landmark – Rick’s Cafe for dinner. We loved it! It’s based on the famous cafe from the movie Casablanca and was run by an American expat. The food & cocktails were exceptional.

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Day 4 –
The last day in Morocco was one I will always remember. In the morning, I went to the souks which were nothing compared to the souks in Marrakech. We did see some pretty cool stuff, though.

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After making a few purchases, the girls and I decided to  go back to Rick’s cafe for our last few hours in Casablanca. Victoria hadn’t gotten to go with us the night before, and we were more than happy to go back.

It was an amazing afternoon full of good food, laughter, and discussion of our summer adventure and the adventures we hope to embark on together in the future.

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By the time we  finished the bottle of champagne, multiple beers, and free round of Bloody Mary’s, we were quite drunk and ready to head back to the ship.

We were an emotional bunch, to say the least. DSCN1497 

I wish I could put into words what  this trip meant to me. Unfortunately, I just can’t communicate how amazing,  fantastic and utterly life changing the experience was. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Until the reunion voyage …

I think it is safe to say that I picked the best Egypt trip SAS offered. Hands down. If any future SASers are reading this blog, forget what everyone tells you to do in Egypt. One day in Cairo is more than enough, go to Sharm el Sheik. Thank me later.

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Sharm el Sheik is a resort town on the Sinai Peninsula – our hotel was right on the Red Sea. It was, like all things on this trip, AMAZING!

Day 1
So after spending the night in Cairo, the group of us SASers woke up bright and early for the short flight to Sharm.  Once we got there, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and then got on some jeeps to go on a safari though the desert. Our drivers were so wild, we were wearing seat belts but still falling on top of each other and banging our heads on stuff … they were fishtailing out of control and driving super fast! So much fun!

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Halfway through the ride, we stopped at the Oasis of Mandar and hung out under this tree. Our tour guide Iman (“mom”) talked to us about the the Oasis, which was really neat. This tree grows in the middle of the desert despite it almost never raining and terrible soil. 

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After lounging under the tree for a bit, we hopped on some camels.

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They were pretty happy to see us!

We rode camels through the desert for about an hour, stopping at a bedouin tent for some tea. The bedouins live in the desert and are a pretty interesting people. The men sit around and “watch the animals” while the women cook, take care of the children, make crafts to sell, repair their tents, and go get water from miles away. In the past few years, tourism has started to become more important to the men, so they take people on camel rides, offer them tea, then try to make them buy the crafts their wives make.

The afternoon livened up when I was almost taken by an Egyptian man with an automatic weapon.

In our jeeps, we obviously had a driver, but we also had an armed security guard. I was minding my own business enjoying the jeep ride when one of the SASers on the trip told a security guy that I can speak Arabic. That really caught his attention, and he proceeded to chat me up. I was so excited I was using my Arabic skills that I didn’t think twice about it. However, after getting out of the jeep and onto camels, I started getting a little nervous. He drove the jeep up next to my camel and asked me to ride with him back to the hotel. I played dumb and freaked out a little inside. He drove off and I had tea with the group at the bedouin tent. After the bedouins, he came up to me and tried to get me into the back of his empty jeep, asking me how old I was and if I was married!

I RAN.

After that incident, I got into a different jeep with my trip leader and she didn’t really believe me about the security guard until he peeked his head into that jeep, and asked again if I would ride with him!

After this first day in Sharm, I didn’t speak much Arabic… I learned my lesson!

Day 2
The second day in Sharm was spent enjoying the Red Sea. Some SASers went off to do their own things at churches and mosques, but after seeing every other church and mosque in Europe, I decided to spend the day at the beach.

One really nice thing about Egypt is that everything is pretty cheap. It takes almost 9 Egyptian Pounds to make $1. Everything from coffee, internet cafes, and parasailing was pretty cheap! My friend Amanda and I went parasailing and rented a little boat for less than $50 – total.

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It was the first time I’d been parasailing and it was so neat! The water in Sharm is so amazingly blue… the sand and sun were just so warm and perfect.

I spent the rest of the afternoon napping, reading and relaxing on the beach with umbrella drinks. (Minus the ice!!!)

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Ras Mohammed National Park was on the agenda for our third and final day in Sharm. Now, if you know me … you know I’m not an outdoorsy type of girl. So the thought of spending the day at a national park didn’t sound that appealing, but one thing that I really tried to do this summer was keep an open mind and try everything. I’m soooooo glad I did, because Ras Mohammed is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

(I know I say this about everywhere I go, but it’s TRUE!!)

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We swam in these crystal clear waters all morning and came out so salty! After swimming, our guides took us snorkeling. I had no idea before I got to Sharm, but it is known for it’s amazing sea life and well preserved coral reefs. The Red Sea has some of the best diving in the world.

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The fish and reefs were AMAZING!!!

The colors were so vibrant and there were so many everywhere you looked! I could have spent hours under the water just taking it all in.

After reluctantly turning in our masks and flippers, we headed over to the Shark Observatory. Once again, I could barely take in what I was looking at. Sharm was so surprisingly beautiful!

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The shallow area near the shore was about knee deep, but as soon as that ledge ends, the water instantly drops to depths of 300+ feet!

Sadly, we didn’t see any sharks from the top of the observatory.

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Sharm el Sheik was like the hidden gem of Egypt. Back on the ship, everyone was talking about how the pyramids and other historical stuff in Egypt was neat, but that they felt the rest of their trip was a bust. I didn’t feel that way at all! I loved my trip and I’m so glad I did this. I had an AMAZING time!

After two short days at sea, the ship reached Alexandria, Egypt. I was signed up on a trip through SAS, so right after we cleared customs and got our passports stamped, I got on a bus to Cairo, headed for the pyramids!

My trip leader was actually the same trip leader I had for my trip through Italy, and she was great, so I knew we would have a good time – she didn’t take too much seriously, and if you wanted to skip out on part of the day, she had no problem with it.  Our Egyptian tour guide was a hilarious woman named Iman, but she insisted we call her mom. She always addressed us as her kids, even to the hotel staff and waiters at restaurants.

Anyway, after a relatively short three hour drive, we reached Giza City and saw the pyramids in the distance. All 30 SASers on the bus were buzzing with excitement! Instead of heading to the pyramids straightaway, we stopped at a really nice hotel to have lunch. When we walked in to the hotel, a band was playing Jingle Bells for us! It was so funny, and obviously the only American song they knew.

After finishing our teas, we hopped back on to the bus and drove over to the pyramids! There are 3 main pyramids in Giza, and 2 are big, covered with granite to keep the structure intact. The 3rd one is smaller  because the pharaoh who is buried in there didn’t want his pyramid to be covered in granite. Anyway, since words can’t describe it, here are some pictures of my day at the pyramids!

Egypt 011 Me riding a camel in front of the two big pyramids

Egypt 023Me and my camel driver who was not a day over 10 years old.

At the pyramids, there are tons of locals who offer to give you camel rides, most of them are  young Egyptian boys.  They are usually fluent in Arabic, English and French. My tour guide told me they never go to school and will work their whole lives  at the pyramids. It’s actually really sad to see.

After about half an hour at the pyramids, we hopped back on the bus. It drove us about two minutes away to the other side of the pyramids where the Sphinx is. At the Sphinx, a little girl gave me a “gift” of a postcard and proceeded to follow me around. I was warned earlier that day to be wary of the kids giving gifts at monuments … they tend to be pickpockets! Luckily, it ended up okay. She did try to grab my camera at one point, but I yanked it away and she didn’t try it again. When my friend and I left the area, she started freaking out, yelling at these older Egyptian thugs about how we needed to pay her .. so we bolted. It was scary, but we ran out of there pretty fast and didn’t see her again.

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Egypt 038The Sphinx in front of the 2nd pyramid

Since it was getting really hot out there and we were all getting sandy and irritable, we all hopped back on the bus and headed to the hotel. We stayed at the Cairo Marriott on the Nile!

This was the view from my room:Egypt 040
Yep, that’s the Nile!
AMAZING!

We rested up for a little bit, then we headed back into Giza to see the Son et Lumiere – A really tacky light show at the pyramids.

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The pyramids were unforgettable!!!

Hands down, Istanbul was my favorite port. I was about two seconds away  from chucking my passport into the Bosphorus River and finding an apartment with Mollie. We were there for 5 days, but I wish it was 50.

Day 1 -
Mollie, Vic,Caitlin and I woke up super early to watch the ship come into port. I am so so happy we did this, because it was such a beautiful sunrise and the city of Istanbul was amazing to see from the water. So many buildings, churches and mosques were visible from the distance and it was such an unforgettable view.

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The girls and I headed out for a day of sightseeing. Victoria and Caitlin were going to be leaving Istanbul for overnight trips to other parts of Turkey, so we knew we had to hit up the major historical attractions of Istanbul.

After a traditional Turkish lunch including chai and baklava, we saw the Hagia Sophia which is just so amazing. It was first built as  a church when Istanbul was Constantinople under rule of the Roman emperor Justinian.   When Turkey was conquered by the Ottomans, the church was converted to a mosque. Today, it is a museum where you can see traces of both the mosque and the church. 

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After the Hagia Sophia, we crossed the street to see the Blue Mosque. I consulted with my wonderful Turkish friend Esra before I arrived in Istanbul, and she told me this was a must see – regardless of religious affiliation. She was so right. The mosque is called the “blue” mosque because the inside of the dome is painted with an intricate blue design.

Istanbul 052Mollie, Victoria, me & Caitlin in front of the Blue Mosque

Our next stop was a cafe/hookah bar down the street. We needed some fuel in the form of Turkish coffee to carry us through the rest of our day. Strangely enough, at that cafe, the waiter asked me if I was Arabic. He was the first of many to recognize my ethnicity .. most people in America guess Irish! Anyway, after our snack, we saw the hippodrome where the serpent column and the largest obelisk in Turkey are. (Can you tell I’ve been paying lots of attention in my Global Studies course?) When we arrived, we were pretty excited to see these monuments, but they were kind of … a lot smaller than our professor made them sound.

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The Serpent Column – made from Carthaginian armor  

Also, a prick from the BBC was filming some sort of travel documentary and asked us to stop speaking and move out of their way because they needed clean audio. Uhhhh last time I checked it was public space, but whatever. He totally soured me on the BBC because he was such a doucher.

At this point, we were all pretty exhausted so we called it a day. We went out for dinner that night at a great restaurant called Haci Baba in Taksim Square. Taksim Square is like the cool “downtown” district in Istanbul. It has tons of shops, restaurants, and a ton of nightlife.

Day 2 -
The second day in Istanbul was great! Mollie babysits for a Turkish family back in Massachusetts, and they were kind enough to offer their nieces to be our personal tour guides for the day. The girls, Melina and Myrna were sisters in their late 20s that were a blast to be around. They took us everywhere! First, they took us for a traditional Turkish breakfast.Istanbul 092

Melina & Myrna at breakfast

After eating, we headed over to the sunken cistern. It was a building we had passed the day before with our friends, but we had no idea what was inside. After climbing down a flight of stairs, we were astounded by what we saw. It was a huge underground room that had columns all over for support, but was filled with water. Terrible description, I know, but it was really neat to see. Today they put koi in the water and fill the cistern with artwork.

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After that, we went to Topkapi Palace which is where tons of artifacts are housed, like the royal jewels and tons of artwork.  However, the most memorable part of my visit to the palace came from our stop at the restaurant inside of the palace walls. The bottled waters were $5 and the coffees were $15…  which we  didn’t realize until we got the bill. Like, I guess thats how they make money to pay the security guards or something. It was ridiculous. Melina, our Turkish friend, was literally yelling at the waiter about it. I’ve never seen anything like it. She did not hesitate to tell him how she really felt. It was hilarious.

The famous Grand Bazaar was our next stop. It was filled with literally everything from scarves and jewelry, trinkets and glassware, teapots and hookahs .. not to mention lamps and rugs! There was something for everyone here, but honestly, the haggling and bargaining was not for me. Every corner you turn, people are telling you that they will make a good price for you, come drink some tea in my shop .. it was just so overwhelming!

We stopped for some Turkish ice cream called dondurma after the bazaar. It was … different! It was like a mix between taffy and ice cream, and definitely a must try.  After our ice cream, our wonderful Turkish friends took Mollie and me back to the ship where we said goodbye. It was so nice to be with Turkish girls for a day – we really got a good experience from spending the day with them!

Day 3 -
The first two days in Istanbul were jam packed with sightseeing. Victoria and Caitlin were gone on their trips and Mollie and I were left to our own devices. So naturally, we decided to wander. First, we hit up Starbucks where I got an ICED latte. Luckily, the ice in Istanbul was just safe and I was just fine! After getting caffeinated, we tried to find the mall. Unfortunately, we had bad directions and ended up lost, so we had to duck into a Pizza Hut to ask for help. Only … no one spoke English and it was super hot outside. We tried our luck and hopped in a cab.  God was on our side that day, because we were taken to the biggest mall I have ever laid eyes upon. It was six stories of pure shopping pleasure.  Mollie and I more than happily spent the afternoon there.

When we got back to the port area, we headed back to Starbucks to mooch some free wifi. Unfortunately, so was every other SASer in Istanbul. Mollie and I were made friends with this guy JP who is on SAS, and we all decided to hop on the tram down to a different neighborhood to try to get wifi. Going to the restaurant, Faros, was one of the best things that happened in Istanbul. The owner, Oscar, let us use the internet and skype for a long time before we ate or even ordered a drink.  We had a really great meal there, and he actually knew the owner of an awesome club and was able to get us in for free that night.

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Mollie, Me & Caitlin at Reina

We ended up having an awesome night .. the club was right under the Bosphorus bridge that separates the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side.

Istanbul 2 017 Istanbul is the only city in the world to lie on two continents!

Day 4 –
We all woke up a little hungover, but nothing a good Turkish bath couldn’t cure! We went to the oldest hammam in Istanbul. Once we got there, we stripped down and went into the steam room. Basically, there are a ton of naked women laying around on a huge stone waiting to get scrubbed down by an old Turkish woman in a bikini. After washing your hair, they send you into the jacuzzi/pool room to relax, then you get a hot oil massage. Strange experience, I know. It was .. not quite what I was expecting. Especially since the majority of the other women there were from SAS!

We had a low key afternoon of walking around the Grand Bazaar and doing a little souvenir shopping. That night, we went back to Faros to use the internet and have another amazing dinner. I was happy because I got to skype Rob for the second day in a row!

Day 5 –
On my last day in Turkey, I hiked through the Asian countryside of Ballikaya. Ohhhhhh, Ballikaya. While it was beautiful, I wasn’t that excited to go. I signed up for the trip because it was a requirement for my ecology class. However, in the guidebook, it was described as a “strenuous” hike through the mountainous countryside. I was a little nervous.

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It ended up being totally great! It wasn’t bad at all, even the temperature was fine! Plus, my ecology professor is awesome. Not only is he  funny, but he can identify pretty much every plant, animal and insect he sees! He stopped us a lot on the hike to talk about the ecosystem which actually made the trip a lot more interesting. 

Istanbul 2 096 We stopped for lunch at this beautiful little cove

And I think it should be mentioned that I was the first person back to the bus! This may or may not be due to the fact that there were stray dogs chasing our group .. but either way .. I was the leader of the pack!

After the hike, we headed back into Istanbul to get on the ship .. I was so not happy to be leaving such an amazing city. I saw and did so much, but I feel like I could have spent months there before being ready to leave.

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The Bosphorus Bridge

Early on the morning of the second day in Greece, Victoria and I woke up and headed to the ferry station to get tickets for our ride to Mykonos. Unfortunately, the fast ferry was sold out except for business class and the only regular tickets left were for the slow ferry. We made the poor decision to save some money and take the slow ferry. Never, ever again will I do that. Our ferry was 5 terrible hours. Once we got to Mykonos, we were bombarded with locals who had rooms and hotels for rent.Greece 058

   Vic and I were the epitome of backpack chic.

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Our other two friends Mollie and Caitlin were on the SAS trip to Mykonos so they had hotels and plans all booked up already. They got tickets on the fast ferry and were busy lounging at the hotel when we arrived in Mykonos. Vic and I booked a room at the hotel my roommate Mollie was staying at, so we hightailed it over there to meet up with everyone.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by tons of SASers and the two deans of our program! Turns out they were staying at that hotel too, so we all lounged by the pool and drank mojitos for the afternoon. The hotel was beautiful and the view from the pool was of the Adriatic Sea.
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Fun fact about Mykonos – the whole island only has 33 taxis. Our hotel was on the northern end. The town square and all the restaurants and nightlife are on the southern end. Luckily, when us girls headed out for the evening, we caught our hotel’s shuttle into town. We had a great dinner and then went out and saw what Mykonos Town had to offer.

It looked a lot like this: Greece 089

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Another fun fact about Mykonos – it is the gay capital of Europe!

Anyway, we spent the evening celebrating Caitlin’s 21st birthday .. which was successful by any American’s standards. Our girl went from … Greece 095to …Greece 118  then finally to … Greece 121 
But not until we waited in the world’s longest freaking taxi line!

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ONE HOUR WAIT.

The next day we woke up and were excited to go back into town to do a little shopping and then hit up Paradise Beach .. until Victoria fainted in the middle of a store and we had to go back to the hotel. The rest of the day we lazed around at the pool. Good news was since the hotel staff was so worried about Vic that they gave us a hotel room to use for the day! We got to nap, take another shower and relax in the room before our ferry back to Athens.

Catching the ferry back was a bitch. That whole 33 taxis on the whole island was a problem yet again. Mollie, Cait, Vic and I barely made it back to the port in time. Our hotel concierge was awesome and called in a favor to one of the taxi drivers and we got there with just a few minutes to spare. Three hours later, we were back in Athens. It was absolutely wonderful to see the M/V.

While Mykonos was an awesome island and our hotel was beautiful, our trip overall was kind of a bust. I feel like I had super high expectations for it, but it just didn’t deliver. I think the low number of taxis was definitely an issue, it really hindered us from getting around.  I absolutely loved Athens though!  Hopefully in the future I can go back to other Greek islands – all the local Athenians were saying that Ios and Santorini are much better.

I think it’s safe to say that Greece was one of the countries I was most excited about visiting. A combination of watching  My Big Fat Greek Wedding 500 times with my mom, a love of spanakopita, and excitement over visiting the Greek Islands made me thrilled to reach our port in Piraeus.

On our first day in Greece, I set out with my usual crew of Mollie (my roommate), Victoria, and Caitlin (the girls that live across the hall). Much to Victoria’s excitement, we had to take the metro into Athens. I don’t usually like taking the metro if it’s underground – just too enclosed for me – but the metro taking us into Athens was an above ground train, so it wasn’t bad .. except that deodorant apparently hasn’t reached Greece yet. Oh, and the fact that there are literally 100s of stray dogs roaming Athens. Not kidding. The locals feed them and pet them .. most are tame and don’t even bark, but man was it a shocker!

So after taking the tram into the Montastriaki area, we decided we needed some fuel before our day. We stopped for lunch at a great restaurant that I ended up going back to multiple times.

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    Going clockwise: Me, Caitlin, Mollie & Victoria

It’s really different the way you get the check in Greece. Each time you ask for something, they bring you a slip and put it in this little container on the table. For example, we ordered coffees before our food and we got the slip before we ordered our lunch. When we ordered our food we got another slip, and then we ordered more water and coffee and got a third slip! It was strange, but we got used to it by the end of our  trip. One thing we didn’t get used to was how difficult the receipts were to decipher. Greece 005

After lunch, the girls and I began the trek up the hill to the Acropolis. After a total of 5 minutes, we decided we needed a taxi. Greece is HOT! So, after one of the scariest taxi rides of my life, we finally reached the ruins. They were amazing! It was so neat to see the city from up above.

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Greece 018 Victoria, Mollie, Me & Caitlin in front of the Parthenon

I know it doesn’t look like it … but we were all hot, sweaty, messes. We were all dying in the heat and after a little while at the Acropolis, we decided to call it quits and head to the air conditioned New Acropolis Museum!  I wish I could have taken pictures in there, but it’s strictly forbidden. The Greek police will actually throw you in jail if you take pictures of some of the artifacts. I don’t know if you’ve seen the show Locked Up Abroad … but I have and it scared me so much that I didn’t even try to take pictures.

We spent the rest of the afternoon mastering the Athenian underground system. AKA we got lost after wandering around and thanks to Victoria, we made it back to Piraeus safe and sound. The girl LOVES the metro system in any country .. and once again she did me proud, getting us home faster than I ever could.

We went back to the ship and relaxed for a little bit before heading out for our first night out in Greece.  For dinner, I had literally the BEST Greek salad ever.Greece 042

After  dinner, we headed to a very authentic Greek establishment …the Irish pub down the street. haha, Piraeus, the area we were docked in, didn’t have too much to offer for night life.  The pub was decent, but were were catching a ferry to Mykonos early in the morning, so we decided to call it a night after a round of birthday shots for Caitlin, who had to celebrate her 21st birthday on the ship. Greece 043
Victoria: genie & cocktail waitress

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I know by the time Caitlin sees this it will be well past her 21st birthday … but HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY CAITLIN!!!

When I signed up for SAS, I didn’t really think that I would love Croatia. I didn’t exactly know what to expect. If you’ve seen Eurotrip … well I kind of imagined that desolate eastern European wasteland those guys get stuck in after hitching a ride with that trucker mixed with that one episode of Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches on the Travel Channel. I’m happy to say I was totally proved wrong! Dubrovnik, Croatia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. My pictures really won’t do it any justice. Since my expectations were almost embarrassingly ignorant and very low, Croatia definitely surpassed them.

Day 1
After getting off the ship, the girls and I exchanged some US currency for Croatian currency – the kuna. Let me just say that the rate is $1.00 = 5.7 kuna. So we got plenty of dinner bills for 400+ kuna .. while that wasn’t much considering there were a bunch of us splitting the bill .. it def took some getting used to! My first day in Dubrovnik was spent exploring Old Town and kayaking. Old Town is the walled part of the city that is right on the water. There are shops, cafes, and souvenir stands all over, along with churches and guided tours.

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Inside the city walls 

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Croatia! 103 View of Old Town Dubrovnik from the water

After a little shopping, we met up with some other SASers and our kayak guide, Marco. The kayak company actually overbooked for the day, so we ended up with a private guide who was supposed to take us on an easy kayak trip with a stop at a deserted island for wine and cheese before kayaking back to shore.

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I figured that it couldn’t be too hard of a kayak trip if we stopped for a little happy hour on an island. Boy was I wrong! We kayaked for FIVE HOURS! While yes, it was over crystal clear waters in the Adriatic Sea, it was still five whole hours. I started out the trip excited and full of energy.

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But by the end ….

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 I think the picture speaks for itself. 

Finally, the group made it back to shore around 8:30. After cleaning up and putting the kayaks back on the racks, we finally headed back to the ship around 9:30. I was salty, sweaty, and cold. I NEEDED a shower. I still can’t believe this, but when we got back to the ship, the water had been shut off!! We had known that it would be shut off at 10:00 pm, but we figured we would either make it back, or that it wouldn’t be shut off at exactly 10:00. We were wrong. And salty, sweaty, and smelly until the next morning.

To make matters worse, we were all super hungry  and the ship was done serving food for the night. We headed out to this little pizzeria near the ship .. the pizza was good .. the free beers were better! The owner was a  young guy named Murat.. he was nice and kept the place open late for us because there was no where else to eat!  However, like most things in life, it was all too good to be true. Right before our food arrived, we saw a mouse scuttling across the floor and into a hole in the wall.

I was way too tired, salty, and hungry to care.

Day 2
Obviously the first thing I did on the second day was take a longggggg hot shower. After that, Mollie, Victoria, Caitlin and I set out to find this little place called Cafe Buza that Caitlin had heard about on wiki travel. It’s basically a little cafe that is carved into the rocks on the seaside .. my pictures won’t do it justice. There are rocks that you can cliff jump off, lay out on, and there are places to get into the water and swim. It’s AMAZING!

Croatia! 054 View from the entrance

Croatia! 058  Caitlin & I on the rocks

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View of the water from our table

After spending the day swimming and laying out, we decided to see what Old Town at night had to offer. We went to a “pop lounge” called Gil’s which was so fun, I could have stayed all night. It had the cool vibe of a club, the lighting and music, but places to sit and chill while enjoying a drink, like a bar.

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After a round or two of drinks, we attempted to meet some other SASers at a different club, but we decided against it because we had early plans the next day.

Day 3
This may have been my favorite day in Croatia. Us girls woke up early and headed into Old Town to catch a ferry over to Lopud Island.
Croatia! 094 Croatia! 095

Croatia! 097  Jamming to cheesy techno music before leaving

Once we got to Lopud, we ate some pizza (for the millionth time), got some coffees, and did a little bit of shopping (not much mom, I promise!!). The island is very small and has two sides. The side we got dropped off on was more of a boating, shopping and eating side, whereas the other side was more of the beachy, lay out side. We ended up trekking over to the other side which wasn’t very far, but it was up a huge hill. Once we got to the top and could see the beach, it made it all worth it.

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The beach was a half moon shape in this little harbor. It was so cute! The water was separated so that boats could anchor off the shoreline, but there was plenty of space for swimming too. Unlike the beaches I’m used to at home in Florida, this sand was a mix of white and black and it was HOT. While the water was clear, there were tons of rocks littering the shoreline, so it made it a little hard to walk in. There were tons of fish, big and small, as well as sea urchins and crabs.

I did a lot of observing for my ecology class at this beach. I think it’s easy to forget sometimes, because I’m doing and seeing so much, but I  am actually taking classes when we are sailing between ports. I’m really learning a lot, but it’s not as interesting to write about, especially because there are no pictures of it.

Anyway…. after getting back to Dubrovnik that night,we went back to Murat’s pizza shop for some beers and to use the internet! (I finally got to skype Rob!!!) Murat was super friendly, and invited us to this club that a bunch of SASers were going to that night. It ended up working out perfectly, because when we arrived, no SASers could get in, but since we had Murat’s phone number, we called him and we got to cut the line and get in for free! Once we were in, he pretty much ditched out on us, but we were all kind of happy about that! We only saw him one more time that evening, and he asked us if we were having a good time and to have a good rest of the night.

Day 4
On our last day in Croatia, we headed back to Old Town to go to Cafe Buza. Only we didn’t  go to Buza, we went to another little cafe on the rocks that we thought was Buza. It’s hard to find these places because they aren’t marked. Finding them is like doing a scavenger hunt.
 Croatia! 048

Croatia! 053
The signs for Cafe Buza and the “No Nudist” cafe

Once  you see these signs, you have to kind of walk down alleys and up staircases until you find the right place. It’s actually really fun, and once you find the entrances, it’s such a feeling of relief!

Croatia! 038

So we finally arrived at the cafe, we put our stuff down and set out on our mission. We had to go cliff jumping. At the cafe, there are stairs to get in and out of the water, but to get up to the cliff, you have to climb the rocks and scale the side of the cliff to get to a “safe” spot. I think the climbing was a lot scarier than the actual jumping. The jumping was a total rush. I looked out into the horizon, had my friends do a countdown, and took the plunge.

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After jumping, we laid out, swam, and hung out for a little before heading back to the port. We had plans to go back to Murat’s for some pizza and to use the free internet, but the line was so long that instead we hit up the grocery store right by the port for some snacks and sunscreen before hopping back on the boat.

All in all, I don’t think 4 days here was enough. I feel like I did see most of what Dubrovnik had to offer, but I would have liked to head out to Split or into other countries like Montenegro. Croatia was so amazing.. if you’re thinking of going, DO IT! Seriously! Oh, and so unexpected, but EVERYONE here spoke English! I communicated with people so much better here than I did in Italy, I really wasn’t expecting that!

I think Capri has been my favorite place, but if I had to choose a favorite country, Croatia would definitely be it!

So far anyway …

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