So this whole group travel thing — it genuinely took me by surprise. I didn’t expect how much I’d love getting to know my fellow Contikiers in Mykonos, how I’d love rediscovering Santorini with them, or how much fun my new friends and I would have raging and recovering in Ios. I couldn’t have anticipated how good it would feel — letting someone else plan the fun while I sat back and enjoyed. And I’ve loved sharing it with all of you, especially those that write to me looking for a way to ease into international travel.
But I’ve saved the best for last. This day, sailing on a pirate ship with my new crew around the island of Ios, was my absolute favorite of the entire trip.
Though this, like all activities, was an optional add-on to the tour, almost every single person had signed up. Two weeks in, and I felt like I was surrounded by old friends. The day started low key as we admired the scenery of tiny and sparsely populated Ios unrolling in front of us.
It didn’t take long, though, before things started getting silly. How could they not, when we were on a pirate ship in the middle of the Aegean?
Though for me and most others this was a sober outing, the boys simply couldn’t resist adding to their singlet collections — appearantly even boat excursions aren’t immune to this savvy marketing ploy.
It wasn’t long before we were docked in a beautiful bay, and taking part in one of my all time favorite life activities, Jumping Off High Stuff into Water. I was in heaven as I leapt off the second story bow.
I may have let out a cry of protest when it was time to pull up the ladder — what can I say, being told where to sleep, when to move and what to eat quite temporarily regressed me to my toddler years — but I shouldn’t have protested. Our next stop, a hidden cove in a place that looked suspiciously like paradise, was even better than the last.
One by one we jumped in and swam for shore.
For a girl with an incurable ocean addiction, no, I can’t really imagine how a day could be better than this.
It was just crazy, silly, amazingly carefree fun. One of those days where half of the things that come out of your mouth are some variation on the expression, “Isn’t this great?”
After a picnic lunch on the beach, some chose to hike to a nearby viewpoint, some chose to nap in the sand, and a few of us chose to don snorkel gear and go for a swim. While there wasn’t much to see, I had a transcendentally happy moment swimming as far out as I dared and floating on my back until I was in what I can only describe as a full meditative state, the sun and ocean making the perfect Alex sandwich. This is it, I thought, the two purest things I need in life, the ocean below me and the sun above me. I’ll just float somewhere in the middle.
Contiki indeed has a reputation for partying. But it’s worth noting that for me and many others, the highlight of the trip was a good old fashioned day of fun and friends, with a heavy heaping of sunshine.
I’m thankful to this trip for opening my mind to group travel, introducing me to some truly fantastic people, and allowing me beautiful moments like this in what I can now confidently say is one of my favorite countries to travel in.
Till next time, Contiki, and farewell, Greek Islands! Next stop, back to the mainland.
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Many thanks to Contiki for hosting me on the Greek Island Hopper. As always, you receive my honest opinion regardless of who is footing the bill.
A day on a pirate ship? That is literally my childhood dream!
Also, I’m loving all the fun in the ocean shots. Have to get myself a waterproof enclosure for my Canon!
One of my best purchases ever. Well, the holidays are coming… 🙂
I absolutely need to make it to Greece soon, it looks beautiful! And your pictures are phenomenal!
Thanks! It really is a stunning country — each island and city reminded me so in a different way.
Wholesome fun on a Contiki tour…who’da thunk? Are you sure those guys in the teeny tiny tank tops were sober?
Ha! As mentioned, they simply could not resist adding one more to the singlet collection 🙂
it just occurred to me that your contiki friends must be having such a blast reading all your coverage of their holiday! little did they know that along with their package tour, came a pro blogger to document it all.
Ha, they started to catch on partway through thanks to my obsessive note taking and photo documentation. Busted!
THAT WATER THOUGH
Ah, the Aegean!
So much joy! I love reading all these summer posts right now – totally craving the beach!
I’ve been back in New York 48 hours and I already agree!
Fun! I think it’s kinda cool that you were able to travel (and make friends with) complete strangers over two whole weeks. That definitely enables lots of bonding time. That water is gorgeous, too. It makes me realize just how badly I need to get my butt to the beach!
I can never be away from the ocean for too long. It just calls to me!
Sooooo much Fun! I reckon the friends you make on your travels are often the people that stay in your life. You break down barriers super quick and I guess they see you in your most natural state. Love the gorgeous blue waters and sunshine, how amazing is Summer. :)Have been hitting the gym up hardcore to ensure the bod is beach ready. Awesome post, your life inspires me. Cheers, Anna
Ugh, I need to get back on that right now, Anna! The holidays will conspire against me, though. But I’m determined to fight back!
I looove jumping off high stuff into water!! And lazy traveling sometimes. This all looks so awesome!
Me too! I don’t know what it is, but it’s one thrill I’m all about. I just like to have a reassurance about how deep the water is, first 🙂
I love jumping off high stuff into water. Except I almost always chicken out the first three times. Also how are you so fit? I’ve been terrible at keeping fit (not that I was to begin with) but yeah, I’ve seriously considered renaming my blog ‘walrus rules the world’.
Ha, girl, I’ve been there — in fact, I’m there now. My weight and dedication to fitness and healthy eating go through phases, and right now I’m on the lazy and heavy end of the spectrum. I’m hoping to use this time at home to refocus on the being active and eating clean, though the holidays may throw a wrench in that plan. We shall see…
I’m going to my parents place in Abu Dhabi for the holidays where it will be nice and warm so hopefully kick my *ss into gear in time for S.E. Asia in January! I’ll wish us both luck tackling holiday dinners! haha
This ship looks awesome and I can’t believe how clear the water is. That’s the type of water even I would snorkel and swim in. I don’t like it when I can’t see what’s below me. This looks like pure bliss though.
I’m with you. I almost never swim in lakes or rivers for that exact reason. The ocean though is a good friend 🙂
This is my dream day!!! I have always had a fascination with pirates, so spending a day on a pirate ship and swimming in water that blue in the Aegean would be a dream come true. I’m glad you enjoyed letting someone else plan everything, and I can’t wait to see where you do a group tour next!
I have a few ideas in mind, but we’ll see what plays out 🙂 Thanks Marni!
I’m so in lust with this Greece trip! Can you remind me again exactly what time of year you went…end of June? The weather seems beyond perfect. Side note: happy Thanksgiving and welcome back to the states! (Are you frozen yet? haha).
Hey Cheyanna, I was actually here in Ios at the middle/end of August. It was the most gorgeous weather! …Unlike right now in Upstate New York, where I am indeed freezing. Ha.
The weather is far better than out here in Utila (its turned my Caribbean dreams into a myth) 😛
P.S. Surely you know how much fun it can be getting to know new people 🙂
Aw, sorry to hear the weather isn’t cooperating right now! I’ve been to Utila and I know there’s not much to do when the sun isn’t shining!
Lucky we were only there for the diving 😉
Just completed our Advanced Open Water which was good fun!
I’m going to Ios this summer and your posts make it way more hard to not think about it. Love them all! I was wondering tho… what’s the name of that stunning beach you went to while sailing on the pirate boat?
Hey Elana! Congrats on heading to Ios! Unfortunately if I didn’t name it in the post it’s likely no one ever told me… or it was an unnamed stretch of sand 🙂 Good luck finding it!