Everyone has a story. THIS IS MINE!

Bugs LOVE me; mosquitos, sand flies, ants, you name it. I’m always being eaten alive. (Seriously! Just ask my fam).

But the biggest bug that has stung me is the travel bug, and no, I haven’t found a cure yet.

I caught it 6 years ago when a broken-hearted girl wanted to leave the country ASAP… I mean, isn’t that how all the good stories begin? *Cue violins and sobbing girl in the cab with raindrops on the car window* Did you get this image? No? Only me? Tragic to say the least as time rolls and you think how pathetic it was to be so heartbroken over the bluntest tool in the shed. But hey, that’s how the story begins.

I randomly bought a ticket to the other side of the world and I would leave in just a couple of weeks! I arrived in a city that I could barely pronounce “Thessaloniki” and nobody spoke English. I was clearly lost in translation. Walk on the street – Greek signs, walk into cafe they speaking Greek, turn on the T.V – why is Spongebob speaking Greek? Guy on the street was telling me about some mountain and it’s Greek history of course he was able to communicate somehow in English.

Why is everything in Greek? “Because you are in Greece my darling and what a wonderful adventure you will embark upon” my heart yelled.

People back at home constantly asked me why I didn’t go to other places in Europe, since I was gone for a month and so close to the European fishing ground. I just knew in my heart I’d be back… and that I did.

I visited many parts of Greece when I was there for 4 weeks: Thessaloniki, Athens, Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, Ios and Rhodes.

Although it was an expensive trip I learned that self discovery cannot by bought. Sometimes you need to travel so far away from home, that you can only experience these parts of your inner self. You truly feel like you’re living in a dream. One where you feel all shook up and you can’t believe this is real. You want to pause this part in your life because you never want it to go away.

Thessaloniki was the first city I visited in Greece. But why Thessaloniki you might ask? Well, I thought that I would start my trip here because there was an Emirates open day in this city. I thought might as well kill two birds with one stone right? Interview – then holiday, Perfect! Little did I know that Greece was going through a recession with mass unemployment and I was sitting in a ballroom at the hotel with over 1,000 people. No surprise here I didn’t make it through.

I spent the rest of my week in this city exploring, traveling alone, eating out alone and just being completely out of my comfort zone. Being jipped by gypsy’s, riding on that obvious tourist big red bus and also being stuck in a lift thinking “This is how I’m going to die!” were all part of the experience.

My last night in the city before I joined the Greek island tour I hoped onto an old styled boat cheesy-tourist-money-stealer. These two ladies sitting side by side were on the other side of the boat. I asked them if one wouldn’t mind taking a photo for me and that’s where it began. We went out drinking, walking the streets of Thessaloniki and driving around the city with no seatbelt on.. mind you these ladies were two lawyers. From here on in I knew that life was priceless. There was a lot to learn.

Paros for me was one of those places that truly took me by surprise. Their cheap €2 Gyros and BEST baklavas ever, laid back lifestyle, culture and history of churches and green side getaways.

They also had a part of town that was slightly inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean.

Not only did I open the shutters to my hotel room with this spectacular view

I also learned how to smile… with my teeth. We were a tour group of 11 travellers; 10 females and 1 male. They noticed that in our group photos I was the only one who didn’t smile with teeth. Here, they encouraged me to smile. Truly smile. Okay I admit, I was laughing because I didn’t know how to smile with my teeth. But from this moment on I learned to smile from the heart. A happy smile, and for that, I’m truly grateful.

I learned that the places that everyone harps on about aren’t truly the best places to visit. That it was the small experiences, people, food and culture that truly make a place – one that pulls on your heart strings when you reminisce and think back on. That the biggest life lessons (yet small simple pleasures), cannot be learned in the books or in your routine back at home. Like learning how to smile. That there was a world out there ready to teach you, force you to grow and just be free. This is my story and this is me!

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