Enjoy guest posts from IGE readers describing their best vacations ever while I’m away on mine! Check out my Italy travel page which I’ll be updating with links to videos, pictures & posts throughout my trip!
Name, Blog: Kristen, Indulge Inspire Imbibe
Who, what, where, when and why: My boyfriend Adam and I traveled to Athens and The Greek Isle of Santorini in late September / early October of 2007. Our adventurous spirits met a year earlier in 2006 and we’d always talk about taking a vacation together. I had never been to Europe and he always wanted to explore Greece. On Santorini we stayed in the town of Imerovigli at Sunny Villas.
My favorite part of the vacation was:
-Exploring the island via ATV. Adam driving, me clutching into him, the wind in our hair, not a care in the world, taking in every incredible sight and breathtaking view we passed.
-Lounging on the beach and swimming in the Aegean Sea. Intense teal and midnight blue crystal clear waters, sparking black sand, pure relaxation and contentment.
-Watching the sunset from our villa patio every night with drinks (Greek beer or Santo wines) and appetizers.
My best travel tip for this location:
Getting there: The ferry ride from the port on the mainland of Greece is a total of 8 hours! (Fast ferry = 5 hours.) If you are taking the regular ferry – spend the extra money on a cabin. There is an airport on the island so flying is also an option, but we actually enjoyed the ferry experience! The cabin allows you some downtime to nap, shower, and a safe place to store your luggage while you roam about the ferry.
Accommodations: Stay on the Caldera (cliff) side of the Island. The three centrally located towns are Fira (capital of Santorini), Firaostephani and Imerovigli. Oia is another gorgeous town on the caldera at the tip of the island. These towns are the best locations for which to explore by foot, watch the sunset, eat in one of the local taverns and party at various bars or clubs. From there you can rent ATVs or Mopeds and tool around to the different beaches and other parts of the island.
The thing you MUST do at this location:
-Watch the sunsets. Every night.
-Ride a Donkey up or down the stairways embedded in the cliffs.
-Visit the Volcano + swim in the hot springs (short boat ride/day trip)
-Visit the Black Sand Beaches in the towns of Kamari and/or Perissa.
-Visit Kokkini – the Red Sand Beach.
-Take a wine tour. Santorini is famous for their wines. We visited Volcan Wines and took a self guided tour of their tunnels which were incredible.
The thing I want to do next time I return: Never come home.
Name, Blog: Amanda Stevenson, Vegacious
Who, what, where, when and why: Our college choir went on a European tour in 2006 to England and France for 10 days. We performed in many places (mainly around London & Paris for the most part). I had just graduated college, and this trip was the perfect ending to my college career before starting my new teaching job.
Sunset cruise on the Seine River in Paris
My favorite part of the vacation was: My favorite part of the entire trip was in France, visiting the Palace of Versailles. I remember it was unusually warm, but that didn’t seem to bother most of our group. We spent an entire day and I felt like we only were there for 15 minutes. It was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been – especially the gardens.
Palace of Versailles in the Gardens.
My best travel tip for this location: Make sure to not over-plan what you are going to do, because you will want at least a couple days to browse around the cities, shop and visit those places you randomly find. I love going on trips without a huge agenda, and sometimes it is those kind of trips that I have the most fun!
The Latona Fountain – outside the Palace of Versailles in the Gardens.
The thing you MUST do at this location: You can’t visit Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower! Also: visit the Palace of Versailles! I’ll say it again – it really was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I also loved The Louvre, and of course experiencing French food like I never had before (yes, that was before I was vegan)!
The thing I want to do next time I return: Stay longer! We were in France for 5 days, and England for 5 days. Also, I’d love to have more unplanned time. Because I was on a choir tour, we had performances all around Paris and surrounding areas. While the performances were some of the best experiences of my life (especially at Notre Dame and Chartres Cathedral), I would have loved to spend more time at The Louvre, see an Opera, visit the Arch of Triumph, and Champs-Elysees Avenue. So much to do and see with not much time! I can’t wait to return (currently planning a month-long European adventure in 2 years for a special occasion)!
Inside the Palace of Versailles
Name: Megan J.
Who, what, where, when and why: My best vacation ever was to St John, US Virgin Islands, for our honeymoon in May 2004. In addition to the solitude and pristine beauty of the beaches, the island holds a special place in my heart because Trunk Bay is the where my husband proposed and the island was our vacation spot several years later when we were expecting our first child.
With very few hotels, no cruise ships and preserved national park land, the island is the perfect relaxing getaway. On our honeymoon, we stayed at Gallow’s Point Resort, which is within walking distance to Cruz Bay. We spent our days exploring the island, snorkeling at the various beaches and traveling to nearby Jost Van Dyk’s Soggy Dollar Bar and the Baths of Virgin Gorda. At night, we enjoyed gourmet local dinners at Asolare, Le Châteaux de Boudreaux, the Lime Inn and the Fish Trap. Of course, the lobster is incredible!
My favorite part of the vacation was: Snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay; we saw nurse shark, sea turtles, and sea urchin and even a barracuda. On our walk back to the rental car, we ran into very friendly wild donkeys.
My best travel tip for this location: Travel to the lesser known beaches, even if the roads aren’t clearly traveled. You can even rent a two-man boat and paddle around the island. I’d suggest bringing a cooler of Caribe (beer) and snacks from one of the local restaurants/markets for a picnic lunch.
The thing you MUST do at this location: Be sure to have a bushwhacker and fried conch at Woody’s Seafood Saloon. And, spend a weekday evening at Chateaux de Boudreaux for a romantic quiet dinner with beautiful views of the island.
The thing I want to do next time I return: Relax on the white sand beaches with a drink in hand…not a care in the world!