OUR DREAM HONEYMOON| Santorini, Greece

Since I was a little girl, I always said Santorini was my DREAM destination. I always said that with the mindset that it will never happen… that it was never achievable. That it probably cost thousands and thousands of dollars… AND MAN WAS I WRONG!

If you do not know me, I am terrified of flying. Yes I have an airplane tattoo and that’s just a reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to. But Ryan and I knew if we were going to Europe for our Honeymoon, we were going to make it a trip that would last a lifetime. I am also a super big “fly cheap” kind of person so I will find out if it is cheaper to fly from another City, Country, or etc. Hence why we flew to London to fly back to Miami, USA because rather than a $1,000+ flight from Athens, Greece to Miami. We paid $26 from Athens to London and then $200 to Miami.

So I found a $50 flight from Milan to Santorini, Greece. We flew Aegean Airline to Athens and then a small plane from Athens to Santorini. There is only one Airplane strip on the Island and a tiny airport with one luggage carrier pickup. We also noticed we did not go through any customs from Italy to Santorini. I also forgot to mention that in my Italy Blog… I never got a stamp from Italy because we never went through customs!

As soon as we got to Santorini the sun was beginning to set. We did not book a transfer to our hotel as we did not know how transportation was going to be as many people we know have never flown to the island. So as soon as you leave the airport you will see a few pop up tourism buildings. The best way I can describe Santorini is like being on a cruise. Everyone on the island is hired to work for 9 months straight and then have 3 months off for off season. But… we went to the transfer booth and asked about the transfer to our hotel which was in the city of Oia, the city of the best sunsets. This was about a 30 min drive to the other side of the island. We paid $45 for a private transfer round trip to the hotel and back to the airport. Our driver was the same person there and back and was extremely helpful and kind. We were dropped off at the tourism center where we had to check into our hotel.

When we checked in we were then greeted by a extremely nice gentleman and his dog Roxy, who wasn’t his dog but you will see the island is filled with dogs and cats EVERYWHERE! They seemed to all be extremely taken care of and are allowed in most stores. They helped us carry our bags to our hotel as it was a 10 min walk up and down flights and flights of stairs. The whole island is stairs as it is mostly cave like buildings. We got to our hotel and BOOM! No power! They were experiencing their second power outage on the island. We traveled there mid November which is just about when offseason is going to begin which I did not even know was a thing as well before our trip. When we got there a lot was closed but there were a lot that was opened. The island was pretty empty compared to what you see and read on the island. We did not have to wait to enter any restaurant, bar, or store. We got the best seat in the house, with the best views on the decks. It did not rain but twice late at night the whole trip. We ate at beautiful restaurants and I literally can not say one thing negative about anything I had ate or drank. Even the apple juice was the best!!! They say they grow everything on the island which is how they get the sweetest and greatest flavors.

Restaurant Recommendations-

Our Hotel had the best view and hot tub and was my favorite part of the whole trip! We stayed in the honeymoon suite and was greeted with a note and a bottle of wine! One thing to also remember when traveling to Santorini is since it is an island plumbing is different and difficult. You can not flush ANYTHING! Not even toilet paper… which is really hard to remember when you are half asleep to not throw it in the toilet when you’ve been raised your whole life to do so… So yes it is disgusting but they provide you a trashcan that is inclosed for you to throw away anything. Our hotel provided a coffee bar every morning. We had our own table and hot tub but the hotel also had a beautiful deck with huge chairs and two in ground infinity life pools with an amazing view for all guests to enjoy as well! Our hotel was literally in the center of Instagram photoshoot EVERYONE came a few steps from hotel to take their IG pics with the beautiful water and white and blue churches. Which we also learned on our tour that the churches are blue on top to represent the heavens.

We decided in order to see the rest of the island, as Oia is on the other side of the island and Fria was more in the middle, and that the only way to see the Red and Black beach on the other side was to take a bus tour! We booked it at the same place we checked into our hotel which was at the tourism center. Which I forgot to mention the tourism center is also filled with convenience stores, restaurants and bars. We booked it and a Big Private A/C Short VW Tour bus came and picked us up! We were the only ones at the Oia Bus Stop and was the first of passenger pick ups. We picked up the rest of the passengers which was a lot of fun as the tour guide had everyone introduce ourselves and see where everyone was from we had people from Jamaica, UK, Ireland, America, Canada it was really awesome to get to know everyone and their cultures and come together as a tour group to make our experience the best! Our first stop was at the highest point of the island. We went up a huge mountain and was able to get out of the bus and see the whole island from this point, which was extremely awesome to do!

Our next stop was to the oldest city in Santorini, Greece that was preserved into a museum that you are able to even walk through! This was fun as Ryan is 6’3 and the Greeks are known to be short, our tour guide said the tallest greek person is usually 5’2 which is what I am. So all the doors Ryan had to duck under haha! This was a lot of fun and was an extra $6 but worth it to see original history of the city!

Our next stop after was to the Black Sand Beach, the black sand is made from lava which makes the sand warm! We were able to eat at a nice beach restaurant where Ryan was able to try Greek Octopus! We played in the sand and water after and then headed to one of the world famous Wine Museums! We were able to try Greek Dessert Wine which is what they are mostly know for as their grapes are grown to be sweet and they build unique nest like vines. After our tasting we were able to go into an underground Wine museum where you can visually see how they produce their wine and also purchase wine to bring home. When ever you are drinking wine in Greece they always say “Yamas” which basically means “Cheers!” before every drink or meal!

I really enjoyed this trip and the last stop was Oia which is where we stay anyways but for those not staying in Oia they were able to experience the world’s best sunset! I would highly recommend this tour. It was very well paced and we were able to explore at times at our pace rather than feel like we were being dragged along, very personable and worth it. It was $22 but worth every minute! The tourism center offers different tours all the time as well, for example, they also had a volcano tour as well! Just do your research and make a list of must haves and see what season they are offered at in Santorini. Our main goal was to relax which I think we were able to achieve.

On one of our last days we decided to go down the 300 steps which this is where you can go to see the beautiful sunset if you do not have a villa facing the water. We went down and we decided to walk it ourselves, you can get a donkey but we did not want to do so as they are kinda abused. We walked down and all it was is restaurants and a pier. We just sat down and enjoyed the view and then struggled on the way back up haha We got ice cream to make it worth it as well.. which to me Greece had better Ice cream and Pizza than Italy.

We made friends with lots of locals who worked at stores and restaurants and felt like we were at a home away from home. I can not wait to one day go back to Santorini and even though we went on an offseason with everything not completely open I completely loved it as it was quiet, romantic and wasn’t interrupted by thousands of tourists.

Remember we are two recent college grads and we paid for our honeymoon ourselves. We researched cheap flights and flew to Italy to go to Greece, you do not have to pay $3K to get to this island just be smart and you can travel on a budget!

Hope you enjoyed and if you have any questions I may of not had answered in this Blog I would love to try my best to answer it!

Hope you one day can experience this beautiful Island!!!

The TRUTH about our Italy Honeymoon|Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan

It has always been a dream of mine to go to Italy and specifically go with my husband! Movies always showed Italy to be Romantic and Rome to be the city of love. I found extremely cheap tickets to go after our wedding. So we booked our $150 ticket on Air Portugal from Miami to Rome and head off to Italy before our week in Greece.

I would recommend this airline and we paid for extra legroom since Ryan is 6’3 and needs all the room he can get! Luggages, Food and wifi were all included in the price for economy.

Our flight to Italy was a breeze! We had one quick lay over in Lisbon, Portugal and then landed in Rome, Italy. When we got to Rome, our luggages were in a whole separate terminal so we had to walk and try to figure out where our luggages were and after an hour we found them! We took our taxi to our hotel into the beautiful Vatican city. The hotel we stayed at was Suites Giulia and was in an amazing location.

Our first day we spent the day napping and getting adjusted to the time change. We went out for Dinner and Gelato and went right back to sleep.

The next day we started our Journey of exploring! We took an uber which I believe is now illegal in Europe but was the easiest way for us to get the train/bus station in the heart of Rome where we needed to get to our Bus. Which fun fact we found out even though it says you have to get on the bus for the first time at the Bus station you actually can start at what ever stop is closest to you. We got on the Bus went to the colosseum and waited for our tour time! We decided to do a tour because you can skip the LONG lines and when I say long it was hours long and we went during the end of season travel. So extra money is so worth it. We waited and we showed up 30 mins early to check in and found out you had to be there 45 mins early and they wouldn’t let us on the tour. They rescheduled our trip and we got an even better tour as they added the Palatine Hill and Gladiator Area and Walk through the Loser gate. We began to wait for the next tour time which was only an hour and a half later but I began to feel extremely sick. I have never felt so fatigue and sick to my stomach. I have never wanted to faint or felt dizzy in my entire life. We went to the check-in counter and explained to them how I felt and they reschedule us again for the next morning. We quickly called an uber and headed back to our hotel. We ate Tums, ate a meal and slept for hours. After sleeping I began to feel like myself again and we decided to continue exploring. We walked to our closest bus stop and headed to the Spanish steps, Fountain of Trevi and walking around the whole city before we went to Dinner.

The next day we spent going to the Colosseum and the Vatican. We did not do the Skip the line tour for Vatican or the Sistine Chapel. The line looked long but it was only because no matter where you go in Italy you will go through extreme security. Most places you have to be wearing proper clothing, can not carry weapons, can not bring in liquids, must take jackets off and go through metal detectors. We waited in line for 20 mins and the line moved extremely quickly. We then walked to the Sistine chapel to go and see the famous Michelangelo painting. Which is about a 20 min walk from the Vatican that turned into a 2 hour walk for Ryan and I as we got lost and because of the language barrier it hard to ask for directions. Once you enter the Sistine Chapel it was hard for us to get around the crowds and explore in our paste, also the Museum is HUGE!!! Bring your student IDs, yes even from America or any country, as you can get a discounted ticket. Once you make it to the famous painting at the end of the museum, You can not take photos of the famous painting and they will have security everywhere watching and yelling at people who do.

… Now for my favorite part of Italy Florence!

Florence, Italy

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Florence! It has romance, kind people, shopping on every corner. It is a city where you can feel safe walking around and exploring. Amazing foods and views! We stayed at Palazzo Alfieri Residenza D’Epoca Alfieri Collezione and they kindly upgraded us when they found out we were on our Honeymoon to the Executive Suite and gave us free Breakfast! I mean it when I say the SWEETEST PEOPLE WORKED HERE! The room had an amazing waterfront view and was the perfect location to be in it was directly in the middle of the city! We were able to walk everywhere!!! We also found out that Florence is where Gucci is made, which is the reason they have so many Gucci stores and the Gucci Museum and Cafe! Ryan and I obviously had to purchase and when I say that I mean Ryan convinced me that we deserved it for all the work we have done and as graduation gifts haha Gucci as it is also cheaper since it is where it is manufactured and since we are Americans we get our Tax money back as they include tax in all their prices.

No matter what you buy in Europe… SAVE YOUR Receipts! once you are at the airport about to leave any place in Europe to go back to the states you can go to the exchange desk and get back your Tax money. We got back $300 and we didn’t even save everything. Pro tip is though they will ask to see the items you want to receive money back on.

We decided to go on a Wine tour!!! The tour was a small group, on a small private A/c Tour bus and it was the best! The bus was comfortable, had wifi and the tour guide Leo was extremely entertaining and knowledgable! We learned that almost everyone in Florence speaks english and Rome is one of the only places that speak Italian. Every city is almost a different language speaking city.

We also visited the Duomo and the Accademia Gallery where we got to see the Statue of David!

The whole city is literally beautiful and filled with restaurants that are authentic and beautiful unlike Rome where you mostly eat outside under a tent.

Restaurant Recommendation:

Venice, Italy

We were only in Venice for a day. We got off the train and walked to our hotel (A/C Marriott) which was only a one big bridge and one small bridge from the train station we did not need to take a water taxi or walk miles of stairs and bridges to get there. I spoke to a friend before going to Venice and did not realize how it is not easy to get around venice. So be aware where you book your hotel because you will have to carry your suitcases up and down stairs/bridges for miles to get to your hotel. Venice is like one big circle as well! We arrived in the morning, checked into our hotel and walked around the big circle till we got back to the hotel and got ready for Dinner. We went to an “exclusive” reservations only restaurant called Hostaria Osotioosopra and it was delicious!!! We noticed it was raining which is why we bought an umbrella from Rome with us as it was rainy there as well. However, we noticed that earlier in the day we saw EVERYONE with bags on their feet and rain boots on and they have a portable elevated flooring kind of like a stage but literally throughout the WHOLE city. We did not realize, nor were we told by anyone, that the city was about to FLOOD! As we were walking back to our hotel, the same route we just took to get to Dinner was completely flooded!!! We had to take a different route with bridges and such and made it back but… We spent the next hour in our hotel blow drying our shoes dry so we didn’t have to pack wet shoes. So the next morning we decided okay the city is flooded we saw what we came to see.. besides go on a gondola which I was SO excited about until I saw it in person and realized it was nothing like the movies due to the weather the water was extremely rough and you can see the captains were struggling and no one seemed to be enjoying the experience so we decided to use the cash we took out to buy souvenirs for our family. We decided to book a last minute trip to Milan, Italy. We booked a stay at the Milan Airport which we were flying out of to go to Greece anyways so we decided let’s explore the city a little!

Milan, Italy

Milan is filled with stores you would see in America. It was a little bit of fresh air. Starbucks and Uniqlo and the beautiful Duomo !!! We ended the night of shopping by getting gelato and then headed to the Hotel which was an hour train and bus ride back to the hotel. While we got on the train I was randomly selected by Italian police, 4 Military members and a cop approached me and asked for my passport and questions of where I am from and where am I going and what I am doing in Milan. Once they got word from their boss that I was cleared they got off the train and we were off to our stay at the Moxy Hotel in the Milan Airport! This is a Marriott hotel and was extremely clean, up to date with technology, modern looking and had good quick food that you can heat up and eat!

What I learned about Italy and would suggest to anyone going to Italy.

First tip: Study and ask anyone if they have been to Italy and ask what they suggest to eat in that city! Trust me you want to find these authentic restaurants. Do not waste your time just going into a restaurant to eat just because trust me it is not worth it!

Always carry your passport with you! They literally have military everywhere and like stated before I was randomly selected to be checked, don’t know why but I was.

Do the HOP ON HOP OFF BUS in Rome!!!

and Have Fun!!!

Hope you enjoyed the Blog about my trip to Italy!!! Hope it helps you on your next Italy trip!

Up next is our Blog about Magical Dream of a Trip to Greece!

HOW I TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH NO MONEY

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Hey!!!! I know you are reading this because you are thinking “I want to travel but my bank account says stay home.” When ever I see someone after a trip I also get asked “How do you travel so much?” or “omg you must be rich because you travel a lot” or “do you even work?” and the answers are always, “really because I feel like I haven’t seen enough of this beautiful world” and “no I am also a broke college student like you” and “yes Ryan and I work normal jobs like you.”

Honestly HATE when people say “ugh you are so lucky you get to travel” or “I wish I had money to travel like you do.” BUT IN ALL REALITY YOU CAN!!!!

But let’s skip the BS thoughts some people have and get into what I do and my tips and tricks.

 BE FLEXIBLE!!!!!

Now when I say be flexible I mean with your travel dates and travel locations. You may really want to go on a weekend but in reality it may be cheaper to leave on a Wednesday or a week later than when you wanted to travel.

SIGN UP FOR ALL THE AIRLINES MILES PROGRAMS!!!

FIRST OFF WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOT SIGNING UP FOR THESE!!! THEY ARE FREE!!! You get free miles every time you travel with that airline!!! If you travel with that airline often you may be able to get free upgrades, food or even better FREE FLIGHTS!!! I traveled to LA for free because I saved up my miles and got a free round trip ticket!!!! It is so SIMPLE!!!

IF OVER 18!!! GET A TRAVEL CARD!!!

If you are over the age 18 and is responsible and have cash! Get your self a travel credit card because this way you are able to get more discounts on hotels and flights, along with perks like priority boarding but you get DOUBLE MILES sometimes MORE!!! After you spend $1,000-2000 you get 40,000 miles- 60,000 miles!!!! That is multiple roundtrip flights for free. Again only use if you have cash to pay it off and be responsible!

MAKE TRAVEL TICKET HUNTING A PART TIME HOBBY

A lot of the time I travel is because I just so happened to run into a $50 dollar plane ticket to a place or city I have never traveled to and want to go. I literally make it a hobby to constantly check airplane tickets and studying the best times to travel. I use the skyscanner app to see what airlines travel to what cities and when the best times are to travel to certain areas. This allows me to say okay Delta travels to LAX and then you can go directly to Delta’s website and purchase the ticket from the. This app also this cool feature where you click “EXPLORE” and you put “ANYWHERE” at “ANYTIME” from a specific departing airport and it tells you THE CHEAPEST PLACES TO TRAVEL ANYWHERE WITHIN A 6 MONTH PERIOD. This is how I found my families $230 roundtrip ticket to Iceland and back!!! Just from exploring my options. (ps wish this was sponsored but it’s not I just REALLY LOVE THIS APP)

TIP 3: GO TO THE AIRPORT TO BUY YOUR TICKET!!!!!

When you go directly to the airport you do not have to pay all the crazy service charge fees!!!!! Ryan and I saved $70 for going to the airport to buy our ticket for our latest NYC trip we paid $29 for a one way ticket and $42 dollars back!!! IT IS SO CRAZY BUT IT WORKS!!!!

DO NOT BE SEAT PICKY!!!

If you are traveling alone or with a buddy as long as you booked your tickets at the same time you will be seated next to or very close to that person. I say skip the expensive “seat selection” that for some reason always changes… and get your seat for free!!!!

TRAVEL LIGHT!!!

I KNOW! I KNOW! I can hear you all screaming at me! How can you pack light when you have to take a pic in all 20 outfits sitting in your closet right now!!!  My tip for this is TRY ON ALL THE CLOTHES and make outfits that can be reused in different ways. Sometimes you think an outfit may be cute as well and it might not actually be cute… it happens to me all the time and then you think that could of been space I could of saved. Try to pack as much in a backpack or carry on so you do not have o pay for the luggage space on the airplane.

DO NOT ALWAYS TRAVEL BUT AIRPLANE OR UBER EVERYWHERE!!!

ALWAYS!!! Look for what the city’s or states public transportation options are because you may be able to say HUNDREDS of dollars. For example, Last year Ryan and I flew into San Francisco and we wanted to visit family in Sacramento. An airplane was $211 for a one way ticket for ONE PERSON!!! Instead we found a Gray hound that cost $11!!!! The Greyhound has plugs, wifi, and comfy seats!!! We paid $11 and got more than what most airplanes provide for $100s! Yes Greyhounds may seem scary to some and I would recommend you do your research for certain bus stop areas but I just brought my neck pillow and closed my eyes and feel asleep for 3 hours and we arrived!  Also Trains!!! Trains may cost you $3-10 dollars and can get you anywhere from city to city to state to state!!! Just do your research before you jump into a $50 uber. Who knows you may get lost and find somewhere beautiful!!!!!

DO NOT STAY IN THE BUSY CITIES 

I feel like this is a common tip because it’s like common sense, sometimes looking for a place to stay 5 mins away from the main cities may be more peaceful and a hella lot cheaper!!!

AIRBNB OR STALK BOOKING.COM

So I have not personally been able to use Airbnb because people take too long to respond or cancel… but I hear good things and the prices look cheap! but I use booking.com because you can find apartment and hotels and it tells you straight forward how much it is going to cost for the amount of days you are staying. You also get $20 credit when you refer people!!!

Hotels.com

If you use Hotels.com every 10th stay is free!!!

TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS

Who doesn’t love travel buddies!!!! You get to travel with friends and you can split cost of rooming, transportation and what ever else you do!!!

MEET PEOPLE WHERE YOU ARE TRAVELING

I am saying this for two things… one if you meet someone who knows the area they will tell you all the secrets of what to do or where to go for cheap or just for fun! and TWO so you can stay somewhere for FREEEEEE!!!! I know some people may think it is weird but I promise this may be the best thing you decide to do and may lead to long time friendships! Ryan and I’s friend from High school who we didn’t speak too regularly opened her house to us when we went to Vegas and now we consider them to be one of our best friends and love them so much!!! So do not feel scared to step out of your comfort zone and you may friend a life long friend!!!

USE AAA IF YOU HAVE IT!!!!

IF YOU HAVE AAA YOU SOMETIMES GET CRAZY TRAVEL DEALS THAT ARE AMAZING SO USE IT!!!!!

Also keep the option of Renting a car

This again depends where you are traveling to because if you do not have to pay for parking everywhere and there is not crazy traffic and the rates for renting a car is cheaper for a longer travel period then do it!!! (AAA can be used for this as well!) Also if you are under 25 but older than 21 you can rent a car with AAA or the app called Turo!

SAY NO LESS AND SAY YES MORE!!!

Hope all these tips are useful and help you travel more!!! The key to traveling is in your hands it is up to you to save the few dollars of coffee or video games and travel! There is nothing better  than exploring and seeing the world!

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