Archive of ‘Wanderlust’ category

Paris Diary

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The Paris travel didn’t start well. An email that landed in my inbox was telling me that there are strikes in France that will affect the flights and that I should check my flight status before I get to the airport! On 9th April, there were 6 flights scheduled from Vienna to Paris by the airline that I had booked the ticket and the only flight that was cancelled that day with that company was mine! What happens in that case? I didn’t know because it was the first time that my flight got cancelled. You just have to call the airline immediately and ask them to give you a seat in another flight if possible. So, I called them and they booked me for the flight at 7.00 am. which was a nightmare because if I had to be at the airport at least 2 hours before the departure, that means that I had to leave home at 4am. Bad luck didn’t stop there. As soon as I arrived at the airport of Vienna, the airport ground staff told me that my flight to Paris was through Frankfurt although I had booked a direct flight. But the guy in the counter fixed that for me and I finally checked in. When I arrived in the French capital I was literally about to faint because the night before I didn’t sleep not even a minute. But the sun was shining above me and I was so happy to be in the city of lights for the third time in my life.

Those are the first pictures that I took in Paris and represent a sneak preview of what will come up on the The Viennese Girl blog in the following days. Follow my Paris adventures…

Bad Waltersdorf

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Photos by: V-Light Photography

Bad Waltersdorf is a thermal region located in the south-east of Styria in Austria. As we had three days to spend in the Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel in Bad Waltersdorf, we were given the chance to do several things and discover the surroundings.

Hiking with Erich, organized by the hotel, was exactly what we needed after the breakfast to help with digestion before diving again into the swimming pool. He showed us around, told us nice stories, and was very patient with us while we were taking hundred of photos between the trees in the forest. The morning light combined with the fog was the perfect scenery for some magical shots, and as always, we didn’t miss the chance.

E-Bikes were available for guests in the hotel to explore the surroundings, so we grabbed two of them and went to visit the dairy farm Hofmolkerei Thaller. The owners of the dairy farm gave us a warm welcome and treated us with a fine selection of some of their products such as cheese and milk. They showed us around the stall and told us about their business and farm life. Another day, we visited Weinhof Pichler for wine tasting. The owner of the winery showed us the wine cellars and offered different wines to taste while he was explaining the winemaking process.

Visiting Bad Waltersdorf, exploring the countryside around the Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel, and engaging with local people was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of our everyday life and a good way to recharge.

Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel Bad Waltersdorf

Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel Bad Waltersdorf
Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel Bad Waltersdorf
 

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Photos by: V-Light Photography

It was my first stay in a Falkensteiner Hotel and I can say I was pleasantly surprised. The hotel is about two hours and a half from Vienna by train, which makes it the perfect idea for a weekend getaway.

If you visit Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel Bad Waltersdorf, one thing is for certain: you will not get bored. There are so many activities to choose from, both indoors and outdoors. Yoga, pilates, aerobics and water gymnastics are just a sample of the wide range of activities on offer but what we especially enjoyed was the spa and wellness facilities.

The thermal spa water was a boon for our body and soul and the wellness treatments helped us find our biorhythm: we opted for the Aromatherapy with fragrant oils, which was so relaxing that you can hardly keep yourself from not falling asleep. The shockwave therapy was the ideal treatment to say goodbye to cellulite. Who doesn’t need to pamper herself like this now and then?

By the time we set foot in the hotel till the time we had to leave, we enjoyed not only the water world but also the five course dinner and the smashing breakfast every morning. It was both wonderfully cooked and served, and as you can see from the photos above, the choux pastry in the shape of two swans kissing each other was picture perfect.

Overall, three things were highly appreciated. First, the hotel accommodated our special dietary preferences. Second it was possible to do a late check out so we could enjoy the day and depart with the last train to Vienna. Generally the staff made efforts to make our stay special. They made us feel right at home and as we started to get used to this entire pampering treat, however, it was time for us to say goodbye. We left with two bottles of wine, cheese, fresh juices, one honey jar, rose lavender bath salts, but above all we left with good memories from our stay at Falkensteiner Therme & Golf Hotel in Bad Waltersdorf and a wish to come back soon.

Every summer has a story

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Photos by Antonio Giannakos

Every summer has a story, Santorini has the best…

The first time I visited Santorini was in 1998 with my pen pal friend from Holland (Bianca, if you are reading this, where are you?). Second time I visited Santorini was in 2003 with another friend of mine. Now I am about to tell you a crazy story. That friend of mine, in the summer of 2003, fell for a guy whom she met in Mykonos. That guy told her that at the end of August he would be working in a bar in Santorini. So now you can imagine why I went to Santorini in August 2003. I had to sacrifice myself to accompany my friend who was in search of her love. It was the last weekend of August, the end of the summer. My friend and I were sitting in the living room and the school was closed. There was nothing to do, we were listening to radio music, we didn’t talk. We were little sad that the summer was coming to an end and that the school was about to start again. Suddenly someone (I don’t remember whether it was me or her) popped the idea to go to Santorini for the weekend. It was around 18.00 and the ship was departing from the port of Piraeus at 22.00. I went home, put some things on a sac voyage and we both met at the harbor, a little bit before the departure of the ship. Don’t ask me where we found accommodation because I don’t remember at all. We had a specific mission to carry out. We didn’t even care that much for issues such as accommodation. But don’t worry, we didn’t stay on the streets.

10 years later I am back to Santorini. What is that thing that makes you love a place forever? What is that thing that makes you keep a place forever sealed in your heart? What is that thing that makes you wanting to come back to a place over and over again? I guess that magic in the air in combination with the mind-blowing landscape. Once I arrived this summer in Santorini, I pinched myself, still hardly believed it, but yes I was back again.

You might wonder now if we met that guy, the reason for the trip to Santorini in 2003….No, we didn’t. It was just a summer love. It stayed in my friend’s memory like that. You know, one of those summer loves that you wish you could have next to you in the cold winter nights.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Dreams come true in Ikies

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Photos by Antonio Giannakos

I have been dreaming of that specific place for a long time and have been patient till that day the cobblestone alleyways in Oia would lead me to the extraordinary scenery that would take my breath away. I did my research on the internet, I couldn’t be wrong. I wanted something special for the last weekend of August and I knew where I could find it. Once I arrived there, I closed my eyes, I reopened them, I pinched myself and later on I thought…Oh yes, dreams come true in Ikies.

Ikies and the view in front of its apartments is the dream of a photographer. I wanted to take pictures of each and every small detail of our beautiful maisonette, pictures of each and every angle of Ikies traditional houses. If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen some of my pictures that were uploaded real time. I even took a selfie while I was waiting for my friend to come (generally I never take selfies, although that kind of photos seems to be very popular lately.) We then snapped some pictures together, trying at the same time to be quiet and discreet for the other guests of the hotel.

There are many luxury boutique hotels in Oia that have a panoramic view of caldera. What makes Ikies Traditional Houses different and stand out from the others is its key position. It is situated exactly on the edge of the village Oia, which means you don’t need to go out and walk around. You don’t need to leave your maisonette to go to the other part of the village to see the sunset, like loads of tourists do. Just sit in your balcony, and you will have all that you need that will make your stay unforgettable. A better position cannot be found in Oia.

Needless to write more, just to thank the lovely girls at the reception and the whole staff for their kind welcome and their excellent service.

Another day in paradise

travel stories in Greece

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Another day in paradise

Another day in paradise

another day in paradise

On Instagram I found some other Samos lovers and I am glad to share with them the excitement of being here. I hope the rest of you also enjoy my photo journal as I travel through the Greek islands. It is literally one more day in paradise for me here and it’s one more day in paradise for you as well, wherever you are.
I borrowed the title for this blog post from one of my favorite songs “Another day in Paradise”, although the song of Phil Collins is referring to a social problem and aim to raise awareness about the countless number of homeless people living on the streets world wide.

Oh think twice, it’s another day for
You and me in paradise
Oh think twice, it’s just another day for you,
You and me in paradise

Life is a beach

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Have you ever been to a desolate island? Samiopoula is such an island, a Greek islet situated on the south of Samos Island. All you can find there is one beach, one church, one taverna and a drove of goats that want you to feed them. I usually visit Samiopoula once a year. This time 24 friends of mine and me were gathered at the port of Pythagorio and they told us that we had to be there at 07.00. The plan was to stay there until 19.00. So you can imagine one day before, we prepared food supplies like we were about to go to a war. We made sandwiches, toasts, baguettes, we bought watermelons, bottles of water, soft drinks and beers, and we also brought cooked food on a baking sheet.

If it happens that you are in Samos on holidays, take your friends and make a one day excursion to Samiopoula. Small boats depart everyday from the port of Pythagorio. They leave you in Samiopoula, then you have to walk a little bit to get to the beach in the photo below. There are signs that indicate the path to the beach. Since there are not so many things to do in Samiopoula other than lying around in the sand, playing with a beach ball, taking some pictures or swimming all day, life there is a beach..but probably only in Samiopoula.

La isla bonita

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We usually get up around 11.00 or 12.00 and the weather is very hot in “la isla bonita”. Then we slowly head straight to the beach, where we spend the rest of the day. Around 18.00 or 19.00 we go for a dinner to a taverna, preferably next to the sea listening to the waves. Our favorite outfit is of course….the swimsuit. When we come back home, we have a shower and later on, a glass of sweet Samos wine makes us dizzy and looking at the stars is the perfect way to end one more day in this paradise.

With all this beauty around me, it is difficult to sit in front of the computer and gather my thoughts, concentrate and write something for this blog. I see vivid colors and happy people everywhere. We have 3 turtles in the garden, cats and a Chihuahua dog, with big eyes and ears, called Lady. The neighbor wakes us up with his loud folklore music, the dog barks every time a stranger comes in, the turtle doesn’t like to be touched, the cats make the dog nervous but at the end of the day we all have good time in “la isla bonita”. I think I am literally in heaven.

Dear Greece

dear greece travel stories

My father comes from Athens and my mother comes from Samos. Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, the birthplace of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. When my parents met, they decided to settle down in Athens. Consequently, my life was divided into two places. As a family we used to spend the summer in Samos and the winter in Athens. I consider myself very lucky having grown up in a Greek island because those experiences in Samos have influenced and shaped my life in a very positive way.
How I ended up living in Vienna is another long story. The situation now is even worse because I feel that my life is divided in three countries, something between Italy, Austria, and Greece. Sometimes I have an identity crisis (you know, who am I, where do I belong) but I think to myself that I am just a girl who went international and it is absolutely fine like that.

There are two ways to reach the paradise aka Greek islands from abroad. Either you fly with a direct flight from your country to your desired destination, or you fly to Athens and then you take the ship from the harbor or the airplane from the airport Venizelos. Usually direct flights from abroad to the islands costs more but they are more convenient. On the other hand, taking the ferry from the Piraeus harbor to the islands takes more time to reach your desired island but it is more adventurous and you can hop the islands around. You have options; it’s up to you to choose what suits you the best.

I have always been asked which Greek island tourists should definitely visit. That’s a hard to question to answer for the reason that there is no correct answer. Greek islands vary and have a lot to offer. I am not able to know which one you are going to like most. They are all beautiful, each one for different reasons. It always depends on what you want and what you like. And they are so many. For romance, go to Santorini. For summer beach parties, go to Mykonos. For history, go to Crete. For the most carefree holidays that you have ever experienced, go to Ikaria. If you like small islands go to Paxi or Antiparos. For a less touristic island, go to Patmos, Skiros or Samothraki. For beautiful beaches go to Zakynthos, Skiathos or come to my paradise, to Samos.

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