Athens 2023 Athens, Greece MSMU Travels

Island Hopping

Hello to all those who are reading!

One of the many amazing things about Greece is the islands. Each island is different from the next, and it makes exploring them so cool! Unfortunately, our trips through CYA did not include any islands. However, many of the students studying abroad in Greece, including me, wanted to explore the various islands.

I went to Crete, Aegina, Hydra and Corfu, while some of the other students on the trip went to Santorini, Mykonos, Chios and more. Each time I went to an island I explored with a group of kids from the trip, so it was really fun. The good thing about taking trips around the islands was that we could ride on ferry boats (for most of them), which was much cheaper than buying plane tickets. Traveling in groups also meant we could save money on lodging by splitting the cost of an Airbnb.

Exploring the islands has been a great way for me to learn about the culture of Greece as a whole and about the culture specific to each region. Each island is unique, and it is shown through the people, customs, regional values and even exports. It was interesting to see the differences between each of the islands and Athens.

In Crete, we visited the Minoan palace of Knossos, located far from the city centers of Crete. We also found a tour through some sights in Crete and up the mountain to the Cave of Zeus. We saw snow at the top of the mountain which wasn’t going to last long because it was something like 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The people in Crete were very nice; we later learned, from Panayotis, our bus driver on CYA trips, that they are very bold and brave. Panayotis told us that when he was driving through Crete, he encountered a man sitting in the middle of the road as a show of strength. The people of Crete are very proud to be Cretans and want to show the strength of Crete.

We took weekend day trips to the islands Aegina and Hydra because they are both close to Athens. Aegina is the closest island to Athens and was once a rival port. Today, Aegina is famous for its pistachios. While exploring, we were given many free samples of different pistachio products to try. I had never thought of so many ways to prepare pistachios. Needless to say, I purchased some pistachio products for later.

The island of Hydra was also very close to Athens. I wanted to go to Hydra for its beauty and because of its unique transportation practice. Hydra has no cars, instead, people travel by donkey or walk. While the donkeys were cute, we opted for walking around the island instead. The beautiful island is made to be explored without any cars.

I knew from the start of the trip that I wanted to go to Corfu for Greek Easter. The island was beautiful, and the host of our Airbnb was very nice. We rode into Corfu town on the bus. On the days leading up to Easter, there were many celebrations throughout Corfu town. We attended the processionals with parishioners walking through the street singing and playing music to mourn the death of Jesus. It was a very powerful feeling, with most of the town out in the street to watch the procession.

The next day the tradition of breaking pots took place. People lined the streets as apartment dwellers threw down pots filled with dirt and water. This tradition is to prepare for the coming of Jesus on Easter Sunday. It was really amazing to see all these people come together for this tradition.

Each island in Greece holds something special, and it was cool to witness some of it in action. I’m glad that it was easy to travel around Greece because I feel like I got more out of the experience than I would have if I stayed only in Athens. The professors and people at CYA were also really helpful with TRAVEL suggestions.

I hope that you will continue reading! Thank you and goodbye,

Rosie Ballmann

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