Mariah Mikel is a student at Iowa State University. She is an ISA Featured Photo Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Athens, Greece.
A year ago I was just a girl with dreams of visiting you. The months following, my dreams turned into a reality when I applied to study abroad in Athens! With high anticipation, I planned out every single thing I wanted to do when I arrived. Including what to eat, what to see, what islands to go to, where to go to get the best pictures and the list goes on and on… and on. I google searched Greece day and night to try to learn everything I could about your gorgeous country before the day came. It is crazy thinking about those giddy moments when here I am now about to leave to go back home after spending a semester here. I definitely did not do everything on my list but spending four months here taught me so much more about you than Google ever did! I learned the correct way to pronounce my new favorite food, gyros (you say it “year-os”). More importantly, I learned how amazing you are and that there are many things I will miss when I leave to go back home and here are five reasons to prove it!
Oh boy talking about leaving Greek food is hard for me. I loved traveling to new places, but I was always excited to get back and eat Greek food! Gyros are my one true love. I honestly could not even count how many I had, but I definitely had at least one (and many times more than one) per week. Another thing that I’ll miss is the Lays tzatziki chips! Those were my favorite snack food and I am sad we do not have the in them states. My favorite dessert was loukoumades! They are fried dough balls usually topped with honey and other yummy things. My favorite place to get them was at Lukumades in downtown Athens!
Pork gyro no tomato, please! Here is a picture from my favorite gyro place, Food Academy. What makes it the best gyro is because they use a corn flour pita instead of a regular pita!
For everyone reading this in the states, I am so sorry that you do not get the opportunity to try these chips. They are like a Greek version of sour cream and onion chips but 100 times better!
Sadly I could not find a picture of the actual loukoumades (probably because they were gone soon after I got them) but here is a picture of the cute shop they are sold at! My favorite topping on them was honey and cinnamon.
Greece is known for its islands and rightfully so as they are amazing. I only got the chance to visit three islands, but will definitely be coming back in the future to explore many more! I am going to miss the islands because I had so much fun there. I love how each island has its own characteristics that make it special and unique.
Aegina is the perfect island to rent an ATV and explore as it is a pretty small island with lots to see. You can drive along the coast and see the amazingly blue water (pictured above) or you can drive inland and see the monasteries and temples!
Santorini is known for its cliff buildings with famous caldera views! A caldera is a large volcanic crater. Did you know Santorini was formed by a volcano?
Santorini is also well known for its blue dome churches located in the town of Oia.
The last island I visited was Mykonos and it was my favorite of the three. This is a picture of “Little Venice” in Mykonos. This was the best place to watch the sunset from!
Walkway to heaven? I was amazed by this path that I stumbled upon in Little Venice in Mykonos. Little wonders like this are why Mykonos was my favorite island so far!
Greece is filled to the brim with history which was so fascinating to me! It was so crazy seeing lots of ancient ruins and archeological sites that were built hundreds and thousands of years ago still standing today. I will miss getting to stare at ancient relics and learning about their interesting past!
The iconic Acropolis built in 448 BC is the jewel of Athens! Built high up on a hill it is visible from many areas around the Athens area. Out of all of the archeological sites that I saw, this was my favorite. Not only were the ruins breathtaking in and of themselves, but also the views of the city from the top of the hill were spectacular as well.
This is a picture of the first modern Olympic stadium built in 1896! It is still in really good condition and they still use it today. Every year the Olympics is held, they have the torch handover ceremony there for the country hosting the Olympics that year.
In this picture it shows the Acropolis hill and a bit of the Plaka district. Plaka is a historical neighborhood in downtown Athens right below the Acropolis. It features winding streets filled with shops of all kinds!
I will most definitely miss the American College of Greece campus! It is so beautiful and so different than my school back home. It was so cool to walk from class to class and see mountains!
Here is a view of the soccer pitch from the campus open-air theater.
This is the view from one of my buildings on campus!
Coming from the Midwest, I do not get the chance to see beaches all that often so I will miss going to beaches on my days off of class! Greece has so many beautiful beaches to see and explore. These three beaches were some of my favorites that I saw during my time in Greece.
The Red Beach in Santorini was the most interesting beach I saw all semester. The red rocks were stunning!
I have been to black sand beaches before but I found this one in Santorini to be the best. The sand was super fine unlike the others and the water was so blue!
Lake Vouliagmeni, just south of Athens, is not a beach but it is still a great place to relax under the sun. There is no sand, but there are sun loungers to lay in and take in the beautiful view. Not pictured are the hundreds of little garra rufa fish that like to nibble off dead skin! So skip the pedicure and come to the lake for your spa day.
So yeah, Greece, I am going to miss you a lot. These are just a few of the reasons you made my study abroad super special. I am so glad that I got to spend my past four months in your wonderful country. I am sad to be leaving, but it is time for me to go back home. Like they always say, it is not goodbye it is a see you later! So see you later Greece!