Friday, October 9, 2015

santorini [through the lens of my iphone]

While I own two very nice cameras (a Sony DSLR and a Samsung point and shoot), my iPhone camera is my go-to camera. Combined with the fact that I feel more knowledgeable with my phone picture editing capabilities than I do on my computer, I thought I'd share a bit more about our trip based on the pictures you may have seen on instagram.

gigi new york PASSPORT CASE
Packing / Traveling: 
My old Walmart suitcase has seen better days, so I took this trip as an opportunity to finally upgrade. I spent a lot of time on googling suitcases, and fell in love with the Delsey cream/cognac model. Once I saw the inside, I was sold. I own the 28 inch model, which seems to be the typical suitcase size. I love the two separate compartments, the rich red inside, the easy locking mechanism on the outside, and how it looks with my other traveling accessories (what, it's important!). Of course, because it is a lighter color, it is more prone to get a bit dingy after it is handled by the airline, but I found a quick scrub with a magic eraser takes care of almost all of it! Also worth noting is that I purchased one of those portable luggage scales - I got mine on Amazon for under $10, and found that it is only about half a pound off from what the airline said it weighed. Definitely worth the price if you plan on flying on a cheaper airline with a lower maximum luggage allowance, like we did to fly from Hamburg to Santorini.

In addition to my suitcase, I also finally purchased a passport cover. As a permanent US resident, my greencard is the most important piece of documentation that I own. Losing it would cause so much stress (as my younger sister found out 15 years ago), so I've wanted a way to make sure the card and my passport stayed together. In the past, I was just neurotic about checking ever 15 seconds to make sure it was still tucked between the pages. This passport cover from GiGi New York not only holds my greencard in place next to my passport, but it's also monogrammed. A bit pricey for sure, but I'm just in love with both it, and the fact that greencard is less likely to go missing!

On the airplane, I wore my comfiest jeans, sneakers, and my new faux-layered top from Loft. I brought along my new Old Navy coat, an old blanket scarf, and my trusty Madewell tote. I was comfortable, but felt a little bit more pulled together than if I had worn leggings and a sweatshirt.

What I Wore:
Like I mentioned earlier this week, although I didn't plan on my vacation becoming a work trip for blogging, I did want to bring along some cute clothes. Dresses on vacation are such a life saver because you look cute and pulled together, but with minimal effort. Besides my gingham dress, I really loved wearing my new J.Crew Factory dress (that is now on sale!). I found it to be comfortable, flattering, and easy to walk in. As you can see, I also used my new Sole Society bag every day - it was the perfect size for holding my camera, my wallet, and souvenirs!

I generally don't plan outfits ahead of time for traveling (I really should though!), but I brought the following with me for our 12 days of traveling: 5 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, 4 t-shirts, 3 blouses, 2 sweaters, 1 pair of birks, 2 pairs of sandals, one pair of flats, and my crossbody bag.

As a side note, I carry a wrinkle releasing spray with me whenever I travel. While not the same as using an iron, it does a great job of removing some of the bigger wrinkles acquired through being stuffed into a suitcase. I generally use it on the clothes once at night, and then again the next morning. I bought mine in the travel sized products section at Target!

Where We Stayed:
This was a family vacation, so our accommodations were a bit fancier than I am used to! We stayed at the Cliff Side Suites in Firostefani.  My parents were generous enough to pay for the room that my sister and I shared, and it was honestly the loveliest place I've ever stayed in. Every room overlooks the sea, the breakfast every morning was delicious, and the staff was kind and so helpful. Of course, going with a hotel is not the only option. Tamara and her husband rented a cute little place in Oia that had the perfect little deck to watch the sunset. You can read more about her experience in her post here. In the end, staying at the Cliff Side Suites was a really wonderful experience, and if I were ever to come back to Santorini, it would be at the top of my list of places to stay!

What We Did:
We were in Santorini from Wednesday night-Wednesday night, and we tried to do as little, and as much as possible at the same time. Because our hotel was so nice, and I'm in a family of sun worshippers, we spent quite a bit of time just lounging outside, taking in the views, and relaxing. We mixed that up by trying to see as much of the island as possible! We rented a car for the week, and used it most days. We were staying in Firostefani, which is on the coast about in the middle of the island, and that put us in a good place to see both sides of the island. Here are a few more details of what we did:

Scuba Diving: My father, my sister, and I are all all scuba certified. My dad has gone on diving trips all over the world, while my sister and I are a bit less experienced (I haven't gone diving since 2009). We went through the Volcano Dive Center, and it was such a fun experience. We did two dives - one along a wall next to the volcano, and one by a reef. While we didn't see a ton of wildlife (although we did see a starfish), it really was more just about the experience of being under water. Here's a picture of me and my dad - don't I look like I know what I'm doing? ;)

Walking to the Red Beach: There are tons of beaches along the island, and while they aren't the typical "white sand beaches" you'd think of, they are unique and beautiful. The Red Beach is one of the more famous of these beaches. We choose to drive near it, and do the trek around the rocks to reach it, but you can also go on boat taxis to go between the three larger beaches. I thought this was a fun way to get a bit of exercise in while still getting to spend some time on a beach!

Eating! Obviously, my favorite part. Breakfast was included at our hotel, so we were on our own for the other meals. Trip Advisor was a big help in finding places to try, but honestly, half the time we just stopped at places that looked good. Highlights included Floga when we went to dinner with Tamara (I had an amazing ravioli I'm still dreaming about), as well as getting gelato at Lolita's (I got the more traditional strawberry + hazelnut, while my sister got rosewater with pink pepper!). We also had tzatziki at every restaurant we went to - so so good!

Sea Cruise: This is one of those activities that everyone recommends doing while on the island, and I completely agree! We were debating between a day cruise versus a sunset cruise, and ended up going with a daytime cruise with Santorini Sailing. We spent six hours in the boat, drinking, meeting new people, learning how to make traditional tzatziki, went swimming in several different locations (including the hot springs), and had a full multi-course lunch. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

Exploring: We all spent a lot of time exploring the different cities on the island - comfortable shoes were definitely necessary! We stopped at wineries, hiked up to old light houses, and explored the less traveled areas.

Pictures: Santorini is one of the most picturesque places I have been to, and I tried to capture those memories as best as I could. Highlights included all the white + blue buildings, the amazing sunsets, and all of the cats!

I hope you enjoyed the mini-recap of our trip. I'm headed to NYC on Monday, so feel free to follow along on instagram and snapchat (@fhasselhof)!