Athens, Greece

Greece: My future honeymoon destination. I fell in love with this country while studying abroad in Athens in Fall, 2013. Walking those limestone pedestrian streets, gazing up at the illuminated Acropolis with a pink sunset behind it, or dipping my toes in the epicly blue Aegean Sea are all magical experiences. For me personally, it also brings up memories of feelings of excitement and freedom that comes with living abroad for the first time.

During my year of working as an Au Pair in the Netherlands, I took a long weekend to revisit Athens, and all the old feels rushed back immediately. I didn’t stop smiling my whole time wandering and enjoying the capital of this gorgeous Mediterranean country. I’m now sharing my favorite photos of the city, along with suggestions of food to enjoy, places to wander, and a hostel that I loved so that hopefully you will fall in love with the city too!

My Favorite Route to Wander:

Start the day for a rooftop coffee at A is for Athens in Monastiraki Square.

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After you are sufficiently caffeinated, wander through the streets of the Plaka area. Here you can just have a look around or shop for souvenirs- maybe some leather Greek sandals?! If you’re hungry, stop for lunch at whichever restaurant catches your eye (they tend to be pretty similar in terms of menus and prices in this area).

After you’re full of delicious Greek food, making sure to wander up hill through the neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, Anafiotika. This neighborhood was built in the same style of architecture as many of the Greek Islands. You may also feel like you’re not meant to be walking there, as the walkways are narrow and close to people’s front doors!

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If you still have energy at this point, continue walking up the hill to the entrance to the Acropolis and appreciate the monument and the views over Athens.

Tip: If you’re interested in ancient history and want to see a lot of these sites, purchase a ticket package that also allows admittance into a few other historical sites.

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If you still can’t stop looking at the Acropolis in amazement, finish the day off with a rooftop drink in Monastiraki Square. 360 is a good option!

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Food to Try:
  • Souvlaki, which is a gyro with chips, tzatziki, onions, and tomatoes inside. If you order it from a restaurant, though, it will be a platter rather than a pita wrap.

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  • Tiropita, bougatsa, kolouri, spanikopita, etc. Just order everything you can. 12764751_10153961221203980_143293300939617545_o
  • Greek Coffee. It tastes earthy but it definitely grew on me while I was studying abroad there!
  • Frappe- a delicious, milky version of instant ice coffee. Definitely worth a try!12768169_10153961232018980_3062510717028660372_o
  • Courgette or tomato balls as an appetizer
  • Greek Salad obviously. Don’t expect lettuce!
  • Moussaka, which is a lasagna-like dish with mince meat and eggplant
  • Fresh fish or octopus

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Places to Go Out: 
-Bretto’s bar in Plaka area- the oldest distillery in Athens, with a beautiful setup
-The Clumsies Bar: Trendy vibe, and there are a few other bars on the street to check out as well
-360 Rooftop Bar if you want to have a good drink right under the lit up Acropolis
-Psirri: a neighborhood next to Monastriaki Square with heaps of outdoor, street vibe bars, full of people chilling and smoking hookahs
-Gazi: the clubbing area
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Where to Sleep: On my most recent trip, I stayed in the City Circus Athens which I loved! Such a beautiful boutique hostel! It had a rooftop area to chill, a restaurant downstairs, comfy beds, and is close to a great area with bars and a metro station, Monastiraki. Another small tip- if you book directly through their website, you will get a free breakfast buffet!

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A few of my friends have asked me about places to stay in an Air B&B- A few options for neighborhoods to stay in would be Monastiraki, Plaka (touristy but nice) and Syndagma (city center), Kolonaki (a bit of a fancy reputation).

What was your highlights of your Athens trip? 

 

 

 

Melbourne: The First Few Months

I’m in love: I found my new favorite city!

Melbourne, the capital of Victoria in the southeast part of the continent, is an absolute dream to live in. The only aspect of Melbourne that I’m not thrilled with is it’s famously sporadic weather, but the weather’s really not even that bad. I have been here for six months on the Working Holiday Visa, working as an Au Pair and in a few hospitality positions.

Today I thought I’d write a bit about the reasons why I chose and fell in love with Melbourne. 

City Life: Before my move, people would always tell me that Melbourne is a cultural, artsy city with a European vibe, and I definitely understand this reputation now. There is always something fun to check out in Melbourne. Pop up beer gardens, food truck parks, art galleries, a variety of markets, gigs, festivals, outdoor movie cinemas…. the list goes on and on.  When the weather is behaving, people flock to beer gardens, rooftop bars, and sidewalk cafes. During winter, the fun continues as footy (Australian Rules Football) season starts. I’ve never seen a city come to life so much over a sport! It’s really exciting to watch the games, even if, like me, you get seats in the literal top row and don’t fully understand the rules.

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Western Bulldogs vs. Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or ‘the G’

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The Docklands Backlot Drive-In Cinema-  Passengers with a view of the moon rising over the CBD in my car with a blanket

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So stoked I got to check out the Australian Open in January!

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Melbourne’s Night Noodle pop up market was the perfect place to enjoy after work sunshine in November

Getting Outside the City:  I have had such a blast on heaps of day trips and weekend adventures to some seriously gorgeous nature spots. I will be writing a blog post about my trips in detail later, but here are photos of a few of my favorite spots, all within a few hours drive away from the city!

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Public Transit: The key to making a city liveable, in my opinion! The bus, tram, and train network is extensive and not at all difficult to figure out. I will say that it’s not exactly cheap, at $4.10 for an unlimited 2 hour travel period. This means that even if you are only going 1 km down the road, you are paying the full fare. However, a beach day down the coast will also cost you the same price!

Food: The brunch scene is unreal. Smashed avo, sourdough toast, poached eggs, and lattes are ubiquitous, thank god.  I could not be happier about the abundance of brunch spots to explore.  I honestly wasn’t one of those people who photographed their food until I moved to this city, but look what I’ve found!

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Both photos are from Top Paddock in Richmond

People: I have found Australians to in general be laid-back, smiley, and good-natured.  I think I’ve noticed the friendliness and sincerity in the tone of small talk. Every Australian I have met has put in effort to make me feel welcome, which makes it a great place to be a foreigner. I think this probably stems from the fact that Aussies tend to be world travelers.

All in all, I am stoked to be here, and I’m already looking into the Working Holiday Visa extension… more on that later 🙂

What’s your favorite part about this amazing Aussie city?!