Back last September, K and I made a trip to Greece.
We both think Greece is the most beautiful place in the world (and we’re both a little biased).
Backstory: K was born and raised in Athens, Greece. It’s where he intended to spend the rest of his life. That is, until he ran into me during my Study Abroad program in 2010…and both of our paths were completely rewritten.
K’s seen a lot of Greece, of course. And I’ve seen a pretty good little hunk of it.
But both of us were blown away by our visit to Monemvasia.
We began our 2016 Trip to Greece on the island of Mykonos (wrote a little about it here) to attend our friends’ beautiful wedding. We also spent a few days in Athens and Piraeus visiting family and friends, and we ended our adventure with a road trip down towards the Southern area of Greece—the Peloponnese region.
The drive itself was gorgeous. You’re on these winding roads that trail around the most dramatic mountains that are COVERED in olive trees. The route we took sent us through Kalamata, and I’ll never look at a jar of olives the same (in a great, awe-inspiring kind of way).
I didn’t know anything about our final destination except that we were going to stay “in an old castle on a small island.”
This sneaky one is full of surprises.
As you can see in the very first picture, Monemvasia is located on a small little island connected to the mainland by a bridge.
(Here’s an awesome aerial view of Monemvasia)
You drive up the bridge, park your car, and casually make your way up to the castle gate. (I was freaking out with excitement from this moment on).
Walking into the castle city was exactly like stumbling into a time warp and landing 1000 years in the past. (The town and fortress was originally founded in 583.)
It was like I fell into a Mediterranean post card. Little stone paths, red tiled rooftops, 10th century churches. You know, the works.
Our room was 100% up my alley. Charming, rustic, perched on the hill of an ancient castle town. That picture above is the view from our balcony.
I was pretty close to hyperventilating with excitement.
The town is incredible, and I was so impressed with how well preserved it was. And despite being a tourist destination, Monemvasia didn’t feel overly “touristy.”
The prices were super reasonable and it didn’t come off as commercialized to me. K said that was because most of the tourists are actually Athenians (who want high quality food and who won’t put up with overly inflated prices).
Which is why it pays to travel with a local (or get tips from one!)
Just so you know, I took a million photos in Monemvasia. So even though this post has quite a few, it was actually really hard to narrow it down.
Every inch of the city was so photogenic.
The churches were incredible. Many of them have changed from churches to mosques and back to churches through the years as different groups of people occupied the town.
They felt strong, and proud, and resilient.
The town of Monemvasia is built into the side of the rocky island. Our room had part of the mountain exposed, jutting into into the living room and the shower!
There’s something magical about walking around in such rich, deep history. I felt this way when I first landed in Athens 6 and half years ago, but the history of Monemvasia really swallows you up. It’s unlike Athens that has the old mixed in with the new.
Visiting Monemvasia was like vacationing in a museum. But not a stuffy, uptight museum. A lived-in museum. Preserved, cut off from the rest of the world, but still full of life.
Our good friend Joanna recommended a beach close to Monemvasia—about a 45 minute drive from where we were staying.
It felt like sort of a long drive because it was through THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
We were smack dab in the middle of what you might call, Bumfuck, Greece.
We had to stop the car to let a herd of goats pass through (!!!)
It was a really exciting moment for me, and I took way too many pictures. But I’ve restrained myself to sharing just the one.
WE MADE IT.
Our dusty road travels were worth it in the best, most incredible way possible. What you get when you take the unbeaten path is RAW, PRISTINE BEAUTY. (well, maybe not always. but certainly on this day)
We’d also planned our trip on the later end of vacation season, so any others who would have ventured this far had done so in August, not September.
We had this indescribably beautiful Greek cove all to ourselves (almost).
There were a couple of hippie folks camping on the far end of the beach, but other than that, it was completely empty.
It feels almost useless to try to explain how beautiful it was here. Pictures can’t fully capture it, and words can’t either.
I’m not a religious person, but I do feel a strong connection to Mother Nature (as we all do, I think, when we get the chance to be alone with her.)
The 2 hours or so we spent on this beach had me overwhelmed with emotions. I felt spiritually connected to something larger than life. I felt a deep sense of gratitude.
Grateful to be in this beautiful place with 3 people who have loved and supported me through everything—including the challenges I’ve been through with my health.
Grateful to experience this slice of heaven on Earth (and humbled to be in the presence of such majestic beauty).
And grateful that for all of the difficult times I’ve had trying to find my way back to good health, I could feel unburdened by them in this moment.
We found out right before our trip that I have a (non-cancerous) pituitary tumor. The pituitary gland plays a critical role in hormone regulation, so it was a big piece to the puzzle I’ve been trying to solve for the last few years.
The funny thing is, just knowing about it has helped me so much psychologically. It validated my struggles, and it gave me a physical point in my body where I could focus healing thoughts towards.
We’re still working on figuring out the best approach.
I know that one day I’ll have this behind me, and I’ll be better for making my way through it. But for now, I will embrace this situation that has shown me how much the people in my life support me.
And that includes you, sweet reader.
This space has given me so much joy and is therapeutic for me in so many ways. Thanks for being there for me.
It means the world.
A quick last word about our Greek Travels.
In a perfect world, we’d love to make it to Greece every year. For K, because his soul needs the family, friends, food, and sea that he unselfishly left behind 4 and a half years ago.
(And for me, because I happen to be quite fond of all of those things as well 😋)
We didn’t think we’d be able to make the trip in 2017 though, because plane tix were just too high. Then a friend from work forwarded me an email from a site he subscribes to called Scott’s Cheap Flights. Apparently this so called Scott hunts down super cheap flights, and sends notifications when a specific region dips really low.
So my friend emailed me because the deal of the day was to Athens, and he knew we travel there to see K’s fam. It was a CRAZY good deal from Swiss Air, and we booked our flight that night for August 2017!
OK– this is in no way sponsored but I wanted to tell you guys because traveling is the BEST thing you can spend your money on in my opinion, but I know it’s not always easy on the wallet.
So if you can get a good deal on air fare it really helps out.
The memories you make are truly priceless, so go scratch somewhere off of your bucket list!
(Greece is highly recommended by the both of us!)
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.