It was 8:45am. We had just touched down in Athens, but still hadn’t decided where we were going once we cleared the airport. We had options, plenty of options, but couldn’t make up our minds between them. So we decided to just let the wind take us along. It would be one of those, “I wonder where we’ll end up” kind of days.
Leaving Asia, we kept debating what to do with our three months in Greece.
Should we hit the islands first? It’s totally touristy and cliche, but we’d have to see Santorini and Ohia, that famous white and blue village where so many movies had been filmed. And it would be super neat to visit the island of Patos, where John wrote Revelation. And Rhodes and Crete deserved a look too… But then again, island hopping sounded tiring and expensive.
Maybe we should be practical and spend our first few days getting over jet lag and visiting the main sites right in Athens. But then again, it was October and if we waited until November, all the museum and entry prices would become half price. Score.
Or we could be even more hippy dippy about it and just go to the bus station. Maybe a bus would be leaving to somewhere historic on the mainland like Delphi, Mount Olympus, or the monasteries at Meteora.
But we were closing in on our 2.5 year travelversary. And after so much movement, we were tired.
In Thailand, I found a great blog on Greece called greecetravel by Matt Barrett. Hours of reading about the many regions and sites to see in Greece later, I stumbled upon a little article about Pelion. Pelion is the most beautiful part of Greece, it read. Okay, sold. All my research is done!
Unfortunately travel doesn’t always work like that. There were so many places to see! If we got near Pelion, we’d give it some priority and check it out, I figured.
But then again….
Why not hunker down in one, gorgeous, spectacular, re-energizing spot for one to three months? What if we stayed in one spot the entire length of our visa and immersed ourselves in the culture that way? We could develop favorite spots, meet our neighbors, pretend we were locals. Well, I’m not sure about that last one. But one thing was for sure, we were in need of some good, deep rest from moving around so much.
Before we left the US, my mom had visualized our travels as something quite different than what it became. She thought we’d travel slowly, spending three months to a year in the locations we went to. We haven’t done that even once. The longest we spent anywhere was six weeks house/pet sitting in Manila, Philippines. (Which was amazing. Thanks Mandy and Ari!! 🙂 )
Maybe now it was time to try slowing down.
After hitting up the little information counters in the airport, we had ourselves a map of Athens and still no idea where to go.
Feeling weary from the long flights, layover, and lack of sleep, my mom made the decision to go straight to Athens city and take a breather. Out to the bus ticket window we went, finally with a plan. The 45 minute ride to the city would cost six euros, the ticket guy said.
Six euros! (That would have gotten us half way across any country in SE Asia.) So it would be 12 euros each to go to Athens for a few days, then to the bus station or ferry.
Or, also for six euros, we could go straight to the bus station right now!
And that’s what we did. Let’s go to Pelion and, if it’s nice, find ourselves an apartment maybe, we both decided. Having chosen our path, we realized it was what we both wanted to do most.
What I didn’t realize was that Pelion referred to an entire peninsula. When I asked to go to Pelion at the bus station, the lady just kindly directed me to the booth that said “Volos.” Oh, Volos, I thought, I saw that town on the map next to the area where Pelion is supposed to be. The ticket lady at the Volos booth said we’d have to change buses at Volos to get to Pelion.
Volos happened to be only four hours away from Athens, but instead of taking another bus to “Pelion,” we decided to get some rest in Volos, then carry on the next day.
It took a while of asking around, but we finally found what seemed to be the cheapest hotel room in Volos: 45 euros for three people. We didn’t want to spend that much every night. So before recharging on sleep, I found out exactly what Pelion was and searched for somewhere we could stay affordably.
By October most campgrounds had closed in Greece. But two were still open in Pelion, and they just happened to be right next to each other. (The two campgrounds were called Hellas International and Sikia, fyi~!) They were only 17 kilometers south of Volos. YES.
We ended up, thanks to the super convenient bus system in Pelion getting us there, staying at a stunning, posh camping spot for four nights, which totaled 22 euros/night for the three of us. It tied with a campground in New Zealand for best camping spot ever.
While exploring one of the towns next to our campground, we asked around for a room or apartment to rent for a month. Initially we were being quoted 20-25 euros per day as a monthly rate, which was at least cheaper than camping, but still kinda high for Greece. Mostly we wanted a place that would allow us to cook and had a great view of the Pagasetic Gulf.
On our walk around town, we started to pass a beautiful hotel/restaurant right across from the water, its court yard peppered with flowers. “Let’s get some ice cream here!” my mom suggested. This was always a solid plan of action. We went in.
My mom decided to ask if the hotel knew of anywhere we could rent on a monthly basis. The guy working there ended up helping us rent a room in the hotel for two months. He showed us three rooms, one of them with a view of the pool for 300 euros/month, the next with a view of the gulf for 400, and a very large third for 450. Since all three rooms were within my price range, I felt like I was in a game show having to pick between doors 1-3, each of them with a great prize. Thankfully, it was an easy pick. The room with the gulf view was perfect for us, and had a cute kitchenette.
Where we are is super nice. These hotel rooms rent out for 100 euros/night in the summer time. The employees here, even if most of them don’t speak English, are incredibly kind and accommodating. They gave us utensils to cook with right from the restaurant kitchen and even do our laundry once a week. And I’m still paying US$5/day, just like in Thailand.
So now we are hunkered down in what has become my all-time favorite location.
Here’s a little part of why: 😉