The ultimate guide to Greece from your favorite Greek.
Acropolis- Must go at sunset. Wow. No matter how many times I see this place it still astonishes me. Although they are mostly finished with the large construction work, there will still be some restoration over the next few years. However, they work on one side at once so it is not very obtrusive! I spent 2 weeks total overseas and it took me 2 days to hit the highlights of Athens, and you want to be sure you plan enough time to visit the capitol.
Sun Set Oia Sailing- white beach, red beach, and sulfur springs. It was a 5 hour trip that included snorkeling! Well worth the money- and they made us dinner! It was the best food we had in Santorini.
Oia, Santorini- Shopping and exploring via ATV. We rode all over the island via ATV (to Fira too!) and attended a wine tasting at Domaine Sigalas Winery (would HIGHLY reccomend). Stayed in a Airbnb with access to a black beach that was right outside downtown Oia!
Knossos and Museum in Heraklion- Do not miss the new meuseum. It houses the majority of art and artifacts that were found at Knossos and is absolutley beautiful! (Including the Phaistos disk!)
Thessaloniki- my hometown, family (Yiayia and Papou, and my uncle Savvas), cousin Miltos, and the Church I was baptized in as a little girl.
Crete- Balos is incredible- prepare for a hike to reach the beach! Loved spending time here, the nightlife was incredible. There are several famous beaches all over Crete, and the best ones require a hike so pack tennis shoes.
Views of the Acropolis from Placa. Do all your souvineer shopping in Placa- it's cheap and a great walk. This view is from a large rock that is towards the base of the entrance to the Acropolis!
Acropolis Museum- GO. It's one of the top 10 museums in the world!!! Also- here's some treats we had after- seriously my sweet tooth grew several inches.
I have been getting asked quite frequently about my summer and the cruise Ryan and I went on- and our engagement story (squeal)- so here is a little peek into our trip.
We didn't plan initially on going on a cruise, but after spending a month in Tampa we realized that we wanted to go one one more trip before school started again for both of us (Cleveland Chiropractic for Ry and last semester at UofA for me). There were several great ports for cruises near us- but we had to plan to leave the weekend my internship with GM ended (I got my full time offer!) so we chose the Carnival Victory to go to the Bahamas!
It was so depressing packing up our life in Tampa- I have a great love for the city and the people that I met over the summer. However, our cruise was the perfect way to wrap up our summer. We went on excursions in Nassau and Freeport- we swam with sting rays on the Sandals private island first, and the following day we went on the VIP Luxury Sail. Ryan asked the ship capitan to take photos of us while he proposed to me in the middle of the ocean! It was the sweetest moment of my life. I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with Ryan!
Here are some photos of our trip as well as our engagement photos.
Here is a short update for friends and family who are curious about how my transition to Florida has been. I was placed in Post Rocky Point apartment homes by our relocation company, and I have an awesome apartment with a garage on the bay side. The weekend of my arrival tropical storm Collin was blowing in, so I battled home through the rain and wind the first few days of work. I had to adjust to my company car really fast, the driving here is crazy compared to Northwest Arkansas. So far I have loved everyone in my office and General Mills has continued to prove itself as a fantastic company with a great office culture. I have already had lunch with our Senior manager and have a lunch set up with our Director also. That have all shown great interest in helping me develop my skills and have contributed to my learning. I would encourage anyone to intern in a new city, and to intern with GM if they want to have a great experience and are willing to learn quickly. I am the only intern in the Tampa office, so I am working very hard to catch up with the other young employees and start my reporting as quickly as possible. I am super excited for the possibilities of a future with GM, and am looking forward to the next 9 weeks in Tampa, Florida! It has been interesting and challenging moving 18 hours away where I don't know anyone, but very worthwhile. Anyone wanting to visit let me know! I also have tickets with some Oxford friends for the Keith Urban concert this weekend, and I am looking forward to spending time with old friends.
Also, short list of places I recommend if you are vacationing or just visiting for the weekend:
xoxo, Florida Girl
Puerto Rico is the only Carribean island owned by the United States, therefore it is easy to travel in and out of and a fabulous place to stay! You don't need a passport to go through security and the flight time isn't bad at all. If you're ooking for a Carribean getaway, Puerto Rico is just the right amount of fabulous.
Our first night we stayed on Ashford Avenue in downtown San Juan and ate at one of the street vendors on the beach! They made chicken on a stick and fresh lemonade (with rum and brown sugar). If you have the opportunity, eat from the street vendors because that is the true local food and it's cheap! I drank a lot of fresh coconut water- they keep whole coconuts and just slice the top off!
The following two nights we moved to a villa in downtown Rincon (more of a local vibe than a touristy one!) and it was fab. We booked this through air bnb and it was such a great place! If you're traveling in a group I would say try to use air bnb- since you meet the owner privately. There are so many incredible places that are not your basic Mariott that will help you experience a town and its culture. This was by far my favorite place we stayed! It had a full kitchen and balcony and pool with a view. While we stayed here, we hiked the El Yunque National Rainforest, and ate at a local beachfront restaurant, Copa Llena, every night! I would definitely get a mango mojito anywhere you go- Bacardi is made in Puerto Rico, so it's their specialty!
The last two nights we went back and stayed in downtown San Juan and toured the San Juan National Historic Sites. We walked through the Fort San Juan de la Cruz, which is where the Spanish spent 250 years fortifying the Island of Puerto Rico and controlled the Carribean with. We also walked down to the SJ Gate that evening, I would recommend walking in the evening when it is close to sunset. Also, the Capitol building has one of the most fabulously painted ceilings I've ever seen. If you have time, walk through the churches too. No matter what religion you are, you can appreciate the beauty.
These are some of my favorite bible verses for encouragement. I usually keep them on index cards and put them on my mirror and in my car where I see them on a daily basis. They remind me how small I am, but how powerful my God is. Always remember that and that he rejoices over you, and has the ability to forgive anything. I have to remind myself how blessed I am, and how little I deserve his overwhelming love and affection for me. His love is everlasting and all consuming.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all else, love eachother deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
If you know me, or are my Facebook friend, or have read my blog... you know I have a passion for traveling. Here is a top list of my favorite trips- and places I would recommend going before you are out of college! Some of these trips can be seen in the galleries in my travel blog! Also, I have added some of the great concerts I have been to- and some I have tickets for that you shouldn't miss out on!
1. Washington, DC
My dad and I walked around the capital at night and it was so beautiful! The Wax Museum is amazing and so is the Mongolian food! There is always something interesting going on in this city.
2. Miami/South Beach, Florida
South beach has a vibe like no other place I have ever been. Everything is so different and the people are friendly and the FOUNTAINBLEU hotel is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed. If you go, swim at night! All the pools and hot tubs have tiny twinkle lights in the floors that turn on at night and look like stars. Also, there is a Hermes store in the hotel (gasp!). I ate gelato every night on this trip. Dad and I also snorkeled off the coast of Key West. The island is so quaint- you can walk the whole diameter in about an hour.
3. Athens, Greece
My grandparents and father are from Thessaloniki. Athens is the capitol and is where the Parthenon (now newly restored) is located! There is nothing like a real Gyros with lamb. When I was little, I used to help my Yaya make dinner and stuff grape leaves. My most vivid childhood memories are all from spending summers in Greece.
4. Los Angeles/San Diego, California
The gas lamp district is the second-largest shopping district in Cali, second only to Rodeo Drive. San Diego is my favorite city in the US! There is an amazing Spaghetti Warehouse right by the Hard Rock Hotel where I stayed! Coronado island is such a beautiful beach and a taxi drive from downtown!
In LA I walked everywhere I went! Everything is accessible and the weather is amazing. Huntington Beach is such a great place for beach sports and surfing!
5. Vancouver, Canada
My dad and I had so much fun here! We rode bikes all around Stanley Park one day and stopped and ate oysters on the pier! The weather was beautiful and the Olympic monument was really neat to see in real life! We also rode the ferry and ate ice cream across the bay.
6. Philly, Pynnsylvania
Never had so much good food in one trip in my entire life. went to see the liberty bell and rode a double decker tour bus around the whole city!
7. Dallas/ Houston, Texas
There is nothing comparable to the shopping here. There is a gallery up of my last trip to Houston for SB! I also love walking around the bayou (everyone takes their dogs and there's beautiful wildflowers!) and reading books from the Little Free Library!
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
I went once for a dance completion around Christmas time in 2013, but explored only the Burbon street area (we stayed in the Marriot). I just went for the second time this year and loved the Defend New Orleans store! I got an amazing shirt there and all the products is made by local artists. All the shops along magazine street were so cute and had amazing art! I got a few prints while I was there (working on framing them!) and had an AMAZING catfish sandwich. My other favorite pizza/salad place was Olive Branch! The nightlife and music along the French Quarter was fantastic! We also walked along the riverfront and visited the oldest tree in NOLA and visited the aquarium. The Jazz and Heritage festival was incredible! I saw Jimmy Buffett and Lady Gaga, and met one of my favorite actresses Caroline Acola (from Vampire Diaries!).
9. St. Louis, Missouri
Hopefully going back this summer for the Alt-J tour! Loved the first time I was there- the City Museum is fun no matter how old you are! I want to go in the arch next time I go!
10. Memphis, TN
My boyfriend's fraternity had their formal here! The Peabody is the most ELEGANT hotel, and the only one of its kind!. It is also a historic location and the ducks are too cute. Beale street is a popular local bar strip, much like Dickson in Fayetteville.
11. Breckenridge, CO
I am almost always a beach girl, but Colorado stole my heart on this trip. I loved skiing and running to the hot tub at night in the freezing cold snow! The town has so much character and is full of lots of great food- my personal favorite was Rasta Pasta! I hope to go back to CO sometime this summer to go to a Red Rocks concert!
12. Northwest Arkansas!
My hometown and where I grew up, of course this should be a place to visit! I have included some photos of amazing people I met from the Bentonville Film Festival this year (characters from Scandal and X-men Wolverine). I also LOVE going to Crystal Bridges. Not to mention, SEC tailgating isn't too bad either!
A shorter list of trips I have planned for this SUMMER: will have galleries up soon!
1. Watercolor/Seaside, Florida
One of my good friends turned 21 this year and our trip was one of her presents! Our beach house is BEAUTIFUL, will post photos in 2 weeks!
If anyone has good food recommendations, please send me a message! Going this summer!
3. Puerto Rico
Can not wait to go on this trip with my dad this summer! The bio-luminescent bay is going to be my first stop!
4. Destin, Florida
I have the privilege of going on my second trip with my best friend since childhood and her family for two weeks this July! They have a condo and we will be rolling in the sand the whole time. I can't wait! I have stayed in SanDestin twice and been to Florida a million times, but it never gets old!
1. Michael Buble- BOK
2. SOMO- George's (met him!!!)
3. NOLA Music Festival- Jimmy Buffett, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett
4. Dan & Shay- George's (Shay is one of the nicest people I've ever met!)
5. Trey Songs -Bentonville
6. Ed SHEERAN- BOK
7. Shwayze- Fayetteville, amazing guy.
Concerts I have tickets for- and you shouldn't miss out on!!!
7. Hozier- Walmart AMP
8. Rae Sremmurd- Cain's ballroom
9. Chris Brown- BOK
For all my fellow high school girls:
I know this topic is so cliche, but living in a college town my entire life has opened my eyes to the many perks and flaws of Greek life. The media often gives us a bad rep, and sometimes rightfully so, but being a part of a Greek organization can not only be rewarding but can fulfill your inner desire to belong. My sorority has been a huge part of my life for the past two years, and I would hope to pass down some of what I have learned to any young girl worried about their future.
SORORITIES: After all, that's what they're about, right? A home away from home, a bond, a group of people that consider you to be family?
College is very different from high school. A lot of serious life changes happen all at once, and weather or not you want to admit it, you change too. It is crucial to feel like you have a place to belong. This is not a post to glorify Greek life, but rather to encourage everyone to be open minded and confident in whatever path they chose.
Sororities are not what they look like on TV. It's not a bunch of bleach blonde models throwing parties with their perfect fraternal counterparts. It's not about booze. It's not about being perfect. While these movies and shows are often funny, they push that you have to be a stereotype to fit in. This is so far from the truth.
I have learned so much about myself being an active member of a Greek organization. We are a chapter of around 350 girls that are all different. Not a single one of us is the same. We are a group of people from all over the U.S. with different backgrounds, different stories, and different lives. Yes, we all enjoy wearing XL size t shirts, and yes we enjoy our functions with fraternity boys. But there is meant to be something more.
I have written a list of the top 3 reasons you should go through recruitment, at whatever school you attend.
1. Recruitment will test your limits.
Sometimes it's a great experience. Usually, it's hard. The "system" isn't perfect. Maybe you don't end up where you want. It's exhausting. It's frustrating. But if it was easy, why do it? There's no good way to sort out 3,000 girls in 5 days. But, no matter where you end up, you have an opportunity to make your experience exactly what you want. recruitment was rough form me. I am not an innately loud or super outgoing person, and it seemed like everyone else was. The first day passed, and I thought I had it together. But, the next morning came and I got my card back. I didn't get asked back to the "top" house I THOUGHT I had wanted since high school. I knew so many of the girls and had been told I had nothing to worry about! I was heartbroken. I spent most of the week confused, upset, and standing around in the Arkansas summer heat wearing the same t shirt the other 3,000 girls were wearing, wondering what the hell I got myself into. Every house I walked into was a bunch of screaming girls chanting annoying songs at me. Why did everyone look the same?! Bid day was anti-climactic for me and I was still stressed at the thought of starting class the next day. But, by the end of the first week, I had been taken to dinner twice, texted almost a thousand times, met the girl who would be my future big, and met more girls (that surprisingly did NOT look exactly alike when they weren't wearing matching shirts and chanting in my face) than I could remember the names of. Someone waved at me in every class. Someone sat with me everywhere I went. This is what's worth your time. I was welcomed with unconditional love by girls that had never met me. This is the beauty of Greek life. Campus is too large of a fishbowl to go through without some fellow fish to swim with.
This word is almost a joke. Yes, this is the first (and only) time in your life that you will be thrown into a group of rambunctious, crazy girls that ALL what to talk to you and be your friend. But at the end of the day, you are NOT going to like everyone you meet. That's the point. Your sorority is meant to be a means of making friends, not all 350 of them are going to be your dearest friends. The ones that do, that's what the system for. I have made 3 friends that I think will last a lifetime. Not all 350. And it wasn't overnight that these things happen. Learn patience. These girls are all just as excited/scared/overwhelmed as you. When the chaos subsides, you will see who is standing with you. Keep those girls. They will love you for who you are. These girls will take you on road trips, eat ice-cream with you, sir by the fire with you at 2 am and complain about boys, dress up with you when you don't have a date for a function, and be the first number in your phones "favorites" list. I am still meeting and falling in love with the amazing girls in my sorority!
The girls in your sororities are all going to graduate someday and you will all be in the workforce together. Some of them may even end up being your competition, or even your bosses. Their parents are all working, just like yours, and can be valuable assets when your older. I encourage everyone to start a LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/elenilenore) when you are a freshman. Add your friends, your sisters, and any people you meet! Attend networking events with other sororities. Go to all the career fairs your college has to offer. More often than not, the employees in the area were alumni of your school, and possibly your Greek organization! Use this to your advantage. You share a bond with these women! The older girls have internships and can help you pursue your academic career as well as your future career! Ask them for advice. Ask their parents for advice! They can give you better information than anyone else can. You have access to hundreds of girls who have just experienced the classes and teachers that you will. They know! They will help you. They are an invaluable amount of knowledge that will help to guide you. One of the juniors in my sorority not only gives me advice weekly and shares my major, but she takes me to club meetings and pushes me to do everything I can to better my Walton College of Business experience. Some of my friends parents have helped me get interviews and introduced me to people in their offices. These people care about you. Take the time to get to know them!
Overall, you may still not like Greek life. IT IS OK. All good things take time. My advice to everyone is to give it at least a year. Don't give up just because you haven't met your perfect best friend. Branch out. Meet as many people as you can! Go to all the events that you can fit into your schedule (without sacrificing your grades!) and introduce yourself to everyone. Remember that people will only go so far to pursue you. Make an effort back! Sometimes all it takes is a text or a call. This is the only time in your whole life that you will have this many opportunities to make friends. Take advantage of it! Live in house. You will never live in a mansion with 80 girls again! Push yourself, and find people that make you happy. Sororities are not meant to replace your family, your religion, your high school friends, or anything else for that matter. They are meant to make you a better person and help you find girls that will love you for the rest of your life!
The Vagabond Blonde
I have lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas my entire life. Although I love to travel and have an incredible amount of wanderlust, I want to take some time to introduce you to my hometown, Fayetteville, Arkansas. There are many popular college and tourist spots, but being a native, I have had a long time to explore NWA. Whether you are in town for the weekend or a fellow UofA student, check these places off your list! For my first post, I would like to share the wonderful things I have discovered here and encourage you to visit them all. Also, follow me on Instagram at @eleni_and_stellacat to keep up with my daily life and see more great photos of places like these!
Pigmint: Every girl's dream shop. Peony season is right around the corner! If you love flowers and pretty things, this is the place for you. My boyfriend (who is amazing!) always sends me Pigmint flowers! If your closer to Bentonville, they just opened their second shop and are now delivering! Great for any occasion; I just got some two weeks ago for Valentine's Day! Like them on FB or follow on Instagram: @pigmintdotcom
Bouchee French Bistro: Macaroons and fruit tarts. Need I say more? Earl grey, raspberry, chocolate, black current, pistachio, orange cream, and lavender are some of my personal indulgences. If you have a sweet tooth even half the size of mine you will fall in love. I frequent the shop at least 5 times a week. Feel like Blair Waldorf as you taste some of the finest pastries in NWA! Their Instagram alone is mouth watering... follow @boucheebistro
LaVida Massage: Get the membership, you will thank yourself later. I have gone here for over 4 years and never been disappointed. My boyfriend Matt and I go for couples massages and it's such a calming experience! I always get the mandarin body oil- it smells amazing and moisturizes so well! I love going in the winter- its a great treatment for dry skin and sore muscles. My roommate Liz and I have even gone together for a girls weekend. Book now at http://www.lavidamassage.com/
Lauren Blair Photography: This lady is as talented as they come. We met 3 years ago when I was a senior at Fayetteville High School and planned our first photo shoot together. We have shot in locations all over NWA, and I have never seen a photo of hers that I haven't liked. Most of the galleries on my modeling page were projects we worked on together. If you are a senior anywhere near NWA, Lauren is the most creative senior photographer in Fayetteville! She makes everyone comfortable and creates absolute magic behind her camera! Check her blog out (and me!) at http://www.laurenblairphotography.com/blog/page/2/
Vetro 1925: Incredible. Best date or wine night location off the Fay Square! I recommend the red snapper. The service is stellar and the wine list is absolutely to die for. I have gone here with my girlfriends just to get dessert! Tiramisu or creme brulee is a must.
Arsaga's at the Depot: Get an Arsagachino. It will change your life. If your hungry, a sweet or savory crepe is exactly what you need. One of my favorite dates ever was on their back patio; my boyfriend and I got brunch and took our Bengal cat, Stella, with us! She licked the whipped cream of my drink- so she was one happy feline! Super friendly stop along Dickson and they have a mouth-watering roast. They also recently installed bike racks for the locals to stop along the bike trail! Voted best coffee in NWA in 2014!
Emilia's Meddeteranian Resturant: If your looking for a cozy and classic dining experience, this adorable restaurant is top-notch. Local to Fayetteville (and prime location on Dickson) it is an evening you won't forget! I am having my 20th birthday dinner here! The service is incredible- I recommend the salmon and the hummus platter.
Mount Kessler: Just a few minutes from UofA campus behind the Fayettechill smokehouse (also a necessary stop if your in the market for some cool comfy clothes!), you can find the greatest hiking and biking trails in Arkansas. My personal favorite location is "Rock City" along the main trail! If you have a dog, take it. The trails are pet friendly and even better with a companion. It is my favorite way to blow off steam after a long class or exam. If you have more time on your hands, my other favorite hiking locations are Lake Linclon and Hobbes State Park (outside Bentonville). Check out this great video of Mt. Kessler on the Fayettechill website: http://fayettechill.com/pages/wander
Matt Miller's Art Studio: Matt's artwork is featured all over NWA in many restaurants (Kennedy Coffee in Bentonville, and Mojito's Mexican- some of my regular eating destinations). His studio is a loft right by Jammin Java on the square. It is a two part studio: downstairs is where he works on his art and upstairs is a very eclectic style longboarding store. He is a man of many hobbies, and his studio is reflective of his lifestyle. I personally own some of his artwork that I bought from an art auction I attended last year celebrating local artists. Check out his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mattmiller.artist
Pesto Cafe: This joint has just as much personality as downtown Denver. The meal is incredible and the restaurant very cozy. I recommend the Pesto Pasta and any of their pizzas! They don't take reservations, but it is well worth the wait.
21 C Museum: The Hive: WOW. This innovative place is known not only for their five star hotel, but their art and their food! Triple threat. Guaranteed to have a great time. Their menu is very unique and eclectic and so is their art! A must have experience if you are in the Bentonville area. The green penguin is their signature- request one to sit at your table while you eat! Anything on the menu is incredible- and the complimentary cornbread is to die for. Book your stay! http://www.21cmuseumhotels.com/bentonville/?s_kwcid=AL%214331%213%2159761000154%21p%21%21s%21%2121%20c%20bentonville&ef_id=VN2hVQAABUwcQR3%40%3A20150223061143%3As
Crystal Bridges Meuseum: If you simply are an art guru (like myself) or are looking for an amazing afternoon walk through the trails, this is your place. I couldn't count how many times I have found myself here admiring the architecture and the gardens. Sign up for their emails to be notified about new instilations and special events! They also have spectacular New Years Eve's celebration that I look forward to year round. The tickets are currently being sponsored by Walmart- so you can book them for free! http://crystalbridges.org/
Blakeman's Fine Jewelry: Since you are already in Bentonville to visit Crystal Bridges and 21 C, stop by Blakeman's for the best Rolex and David Yurman selection in Arkansas! I am a brand representative for this store because it is simply top-notch. If you are in town near the holidays, be sure and stay posted for their Rolex party (you will probably find me serving Dom Perignon)! Ben and Don are NWA's finest and will help you find exactly what you want! I currently have two DY bangles from them- in Aquamarine (my birthstone!) and Prasiolite!
Check out some of my photos below!