Adventures in Iceland

Hi Everyone! My apologies for my lack of posting, but I had a lot going on with moving into a new apartment. Now that I am officially settled in (a month and a half later) I wanted to share a post about my trip to Iceland last year. A handful of friends and family are interested in visiting the beautiful country and I highly recommend it!

Last December, I took a trip to Iceland with one of my girlfriends. We did our research to weigh our options and found that renting a car was ABSOLUTELY the way to go. We even opted for the hotspot with our car rental, so we were able to navigate the country and streets. It was very cheap and allowed us to stay connected throughout our entire trip. We skipped the tours because they were overrated. Lucky for us, there wasn’t a lot of snow (just rain) and we made the best of our trip with our own schedules.

Our flight via Delta was pleasurable, we even got upgraded to first class and sat near Gregor Clegane, The Mountain from Game of Thrones! When we arrived in Iceland, we picked up our rental car and headed to the Foss Hotel, Iceland’s largest hotel chain. The airport is only 45 minutes away from Reykjavik!

Once we settled into the hotel, we took a walk into town to visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum. I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen so many male parts in my life. From whale penises to horses, and more, you certainly will be entertained for an hour or more!

When reading this post, keep in mind that we went early December (near Winter Solstice) so we were basically chasing daylight. We had to wake up very early every morning to be able to see the natural wonders of Iceland in daylight.

Our first full day, we went to Thingvellir National Park and the Golden Circle- a popular tourist route with three landmarks. The 190 mile route leads you to the national park, a geyser, and Gullfoss, Iceland’s most famous waterfall. It is a long drive from the capital but worth it. Here are some pictures below. We stopped and fed horses too!

On our second day, we woke up VERY early to drive to the Jokulsarlon, which was 4 hours away from the capital. The drive is long and you’ll see how desolate and quiet the country really is. Majority of the drive consists of moss-covered lava for miles on end, however; the glacier lagoon was hands down, THE BEST, part of the trip. Seeing glaciers in person is a once in a lifetime experience, and absolutely breathtaking. On the way back, we stopped at the various waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. All of these scenic landmarks are in Southern Iceland, accessible via Route 1.

On our last full day, we visited the Blue Lagoon. Even though it is man-made, the lagoon is quite awesome. You can spend hours on end in there, with free face masks and endless photo opportunities.

Last but not least, we attempted to see the nothern lights, but due to the weather we were unsuccessful. I hope to travel again soon back to Iceland to try again!

Best places to eat:

  • Caruso
  • Svarta Kaffio- can’t go wrong with beer and bread bowls!
  • Baejarins beztu hot dog stand

Few tidbits:

  • If you rent a car and stay in Reykjavik, make sure to get coins for the parking meters! Icelandic parking meters don’t take American credit cards.
  • When you need to put gas in the car, you need to get a prepaid gas card to activate the pump. This can be easily done inside at any gas station.
  • If you are looking to “pregame” bars or even drink in your hotel room, buy alcohol at the Duty Free Shop at the airport. We never crossed paths with a liquor store, and drinks at the bars are expensive!
  • Food and drinks are expensive in Iceland, so try to make the most out of your complimentary options in your hotel (if you have any) or your kitchen in your Airbnb.

Things we would have done differently:

  • Stayed at multiple hotels around Iceland. Since there are various landmarks around Iceland that are hours away, it would have made more sense to book hotels throughout the country as opposed to driving back to Reykjavik every night.
  • Travel in January/February. We only had a couple hours of daylight in December, so it was hard to squeeze everything into a few hours a day.
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How to save money on traveling!

LDo you have a travel bucket list but fear blowing your savings?

There are multiple ways to save money. First, look for hotels that don’t compromise your budget or your safety. You could also try an Airbnb. They are great especially when you want to live like a local! My first Airbnb was in Paris and I loved it.

Second, look for flash deals. Plenty of airlines and websites offer flash deals that you can take advantage of. For example, I scored a great flight and hotel deal through Expedia for Iceland. I promise, good deals are out there you just have to look for them!

Third, If you want to make the most out of your money, sign up for a rebates site. They work with popular travel sites such as Expedia.com, Booking.com, Hotels.com and Agoda.com to give you money back for just booking through them.

I’ve made some great savings so far on my online shopping. I recently booked my flights to Thailand and received $16 cashback on the flights and more than $20 on the hotel stays. There are no catches, and it’s completely free to join.

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Top Travel Hacking Tips

  • Acoid traveling during peak times like morning rushes. I typically fly at night to avoid crowded airports.
  • Shop last minute deals on websites, Hotel Tonight and Cheap Caribbean.
  • Plan your travel itinerary as much as possible so you know what you want to see at your final destination. It helps organize your thoughts and your plans!
  • Pack light but smart. During my trip in Greece I only had a carry-on size backpack and it was plenty for the whole week! I rolled my clothes instead of folding to optimize space.
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Must-Have Items


  • Bathing suit- The one pictured is from Forever21, but any one piece would suffice. I prefer one pieces, especially while galavanting around town. Plus, you don’t need to worry about anything coming untied!
  • Bluetooth speaker- perfect for hanging out on the beach or the boat deck. Purchased from Brookstone
  • AquaVault Portable Outdoor Travel Safe– I highly recommend this item since it is portable, and can be attached to the back of your beach chair! I was able to store and travel with all my valuables without worry about them getting stolen.
  • Fur Pool Slides- I purchased mine at Urban Outfitters but I’ve also seen them at Forever21. Super comfortable and chic.
  • Summer-themed phone cover- My favorite summertime phone cover is the Tory Burch Snow Cone iPhone cover, which can be purchased at Neiman Marcus. Who doesn’t love a snow cone?
  • Don’t forget the lip balm! Whether you purchase chapstick or an EOS Lip Balm, remember to pack something for your lips. The sun can damage your lips, so make sure you have something with SPF in it.
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Sail in Greece? Try Fail in Greece

Disclosure: This post includes information experienced firsthand by passengers of Sail in Greece cruises. You are entitled to form your own opinions on the company.

One of the main reasons I started my blog is to share my experiences so other travelers don’t make the same mistakes. Last fall, my friend and I booked a trip to Greece to sail around the country. We originally considered Yacht Week, but noticed the prices were steep for boats that didn’t sail to the popular islands (Mykonos, Ios and Santorini). During our research, we stumbled upon Sail in Greece operated by YOLO Cruises. Like everyone else’s thoughts, we wondered why there weren’t any negative reviews. Is this too good to be true? We found out the hard way there is always a catch.

Pictured above is a photo of the first time we encountered the boats.

    • First off, Sail in Greece advertises all boats have ensuite bathrooms, wifi and air conditioning. never had wifi (totally understandable because it is after all, a sailboat), not all rooms had ensuites and the crew rarely turned on the air conditioning. What is the point of advertising this if they cannot provide these amenities? We The cabins were so hot that most nights the passengers slept on top of the boat.
    • Passengers were subjected to 2-4 hours of no plumbing onboard due to excessive flushing of toilet paper. Even though the Greeks invented the modern-day plumbing system, it looks like they haven’t figured out how to progress their archaic system.
    • We couldn’t sail to all the islands (which is totally normal due to wind and unpredictable conditions).
    • Passengers were disappointed in the organization and communication between hosts and headquarters. The itinerary was changed due to weather. As promised, we were supposed to receive “comparable accommodations” and the company went back on their word and only covered 20/75 passengers’ accommodations, leaving the rest of us to pay for our own hotels and ferry tickets.
    • Half of our boat got sick from boat fumes and left with chest colds and wheezing.

The hosts and crewmembers try to be as nice as possible, but they get awful, unethical directions from HQ. Greece is easy to navigate, so do it on your own!!

    In addition to the underwhelming experience, there are a couple red flags on the company online.

  • Sail in Greece deletes negative comments on their social media pages and blocks angry customers from leaving reviews.
  • Sail in Greece leaves fake reviews online to boost their reputation. Therefore, you only see positive reviews and little to no negative reviews.
  • I’ve also been told Sail in Greece bribes old passengers to take down negative reviews.
  • Present and future cruisers reached out to me to ask about my experience. I’ve also had cruisers message me while on the boat explaining their mishaps. Check out the countless reviews by other passengers who sailed with Sail in Greece this summer:I hope this review gave you extra information on the charter.

To see more reviews, visit Google Reviews.

You can also view more negative, accurate reviews here: http://www.stridetravel.com/tour-operators/sail-in-greece

I wish I stumbled upon a similar review prior to making a commitment to sail with fail in Greece!

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It’s all Greek to me!

Welcome to my first post! I wanted to start this blog on a positive note, so what better way then to talk about my recent excrusion in Greece?

Greece is a beautiful country, and I am so thankful to have finally crossed it off my travel bucket list. From the great, tradiional greek food, to the beautiful scenery, and meeting new people, I am counting down the days until I return!

Day 1

  • The first day we arrived in Athens, we had a wonderful guy named Nikos picks us up at the airport to bring us to our hostel. He gave us a quick rundown of Greece, and the cool places to check out while we were sailing to different islands. I am genuinely surprised at how friendly everyone in Greece was, and we never ran into a language barrier. We arrived at the hostel to meet with the sailing group and put our luggage into a room. My friend, Sam and I, were placed in the dungeon of the hostel aka the basement. At first we were a little skeptical sharing a room with 9 other girls, but it turns out we had the best spot in the whole place since it was cool down there. Did I forget to mention that Athens was roughly 105 degrees? Sam and I ventured around town after putting our bags down. We found a nice little restaurant for drinks and food. We could not get enough of the fresh tzatziki sauce. By the end of the trip, I am convinced our bodies were made up of 95% tzatiki sauce. Due to the heat, the acropolis was closed but we took a walking tour with our hostel group to check out other sites. We got to explore the town, the subway system, the Parliament and Temple of Olympian Zues. Greece is also home to stray cats, so you better believe I tried to pet every single one of them! We ended up going to bed early in Athens so we could wake up for our 7:30 am ferry ride to Mykonos.

Day 2

  • Prior to boarding the ferry, I realized I misplaced my ticket so I tried to reprint one at the kiosk. Unfortunately, the company could not locate my name in their system so I had to purchase a first-class ticket on the ferry. Luckily, it was only 50 euro. Sam upgraded and we were both pleasantly surprised! The chairs were much bigger and more comfortable, and we had a nice little cafe in the area to eat breakfast. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the ferry. My luck it could have been a small, dingy ferry and the person sitting next to me was a farmer with his goat. The ferry ride to Athens was roughly 5 hours, but we didn’t mind it. Once we arrived to Mykonos, we were told to meet at a local bar where we would meet the rest of our group and hosts. We sat there for a couple of hours, mingling and waiting for the hosts to arrive with our boat.We took a bus ride over to our boats and saw them for the first time at Paradise Beach. Paradise Beach is a big party spot. I recommend checking it out at least once. We learned a lot about the boats (like be careful climbing boat to boat because someone died when he fell between them). I got my room assignment and was split up from Sam and had to bunk with 3 Australian guys. Mykonos was a great party town, and we had a great time swimming and partying! Since the cabins were too hot to sleep in, we wound up sleeping on the deck cushions on the front of the boat. Even though it got to be a hassle, the first couple of nights were awesome, falling asleep under the stars.


Day 3

  • Early in the morning, we set sail for Paros. We had to leave due to weather. Sam and I rented a quad with the group and toured around the island! We made a few stops on the way to swim and eat. The restaurant we stopped at had great food and we tried a traditional Greek plate, Greek Baked Feta Cheese in Phyllo and Honey- it was delicious!We quickly returned to the boats because they were setting sail for Ios. The trip from Paros to Ios was a bit choppy, so I read while the boat sailed. We arrived in Ios and the port was super cold! It was very windy and most of us had to sweatshirts in the port for the remainder of the trip. When we arrived the hosts told us we had 10 minutes to get ready for a bar crawl. Instead, we took our time and met up with everyone later. We hopped from bar to bar for the majority of the night and headed back to the boat for some much needed rest.

Day 4- Happy 4th of July

  • The Americans on board certainly celebrated in style.


Day 5-6

  • The days started to blur together, as we were stuck in Ios for a couple of days; however I wasn’t upset about it. There were so many beautiful things to see! We went swimming on the other side of the island and checked out an awesome restaurant called Harmony, which serves Mexican food. The weather was drastically different on the other side of the island, warm and no wind!If you get the chance to travel to Ios, I recommend a couple of things: definitely check out the sunset at Pathos Bar. It has an infinity pool, exotic drinks and a DJ that plays music timed with the sunset.I also recommend paying for a water activity at the beach. We rented a private boat for only 120 Euros and got to go cliff jumping, snorkeling a shipwreck and explore caves.

Day 7

  • After some miscommunication (you will read about it in my second post) we said goodbye to the boat, captains and crewmembers and jumped on a ferry to Santorini. After all, we were not going to miss the iconic Santorini. A group of us rented a car to get around the island (which I definitely do not recommend due to the narrow streets. Stick to a quad) and we went to the black sand beach, the Santos Winery with amazing views of the island, and to Oia (white structures with blue roofs).

Day 8

  • We had to say goodbye to some of our friends and catch the 8-hour ferry back to Athens. It was Sam’s birthday that day, so we celebrated by drinking on the ferry and playing Uno with friends.


Last Day

  • We stayed in the hostel and woke up early to see the Acropolis before the Athens heat took over. We lined up before the Acropolis opened and waited in line. I recommend going early in the morning since the cruise ships come in around 9 am and make it difficult to get around. We explored the Parthenon and even saw a proposal!All in all, we had a great time and I cannot wait to go back. I am biased because, after all, it was one of the top destinations on my bucket list. I made beautiful friends and had a great time exploring the country! 

 

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