The Last Hurrah – Greece and Italy! (Semester Recap)

I wanted to do one final blog to close out my last few weeks and recap my experience in Stockholm with DIS. I ended the semester with a trip to Greece and Italy with my boyfriend, Eric. It was absolutely incredible, as these were some of the countries I definitely wanted to visit during my semester abroad. We sandwiched a few days in Stockholm and the beginning and end of our trip as well!

Eric arrived right when all the goodbyes had started, which left my emotions in a jumble of excitement to see Eric but also sadness with the semester ending. Some of my favorite end of semester activities were a common room potluck, brunch with friends, making friendship bracelets, and a final gymnastics session with SSIF. Once everyone had moved out, we visited the big Stockholm sites! We toured our way through Gamla Stan, Ice Bar, the Vasa Museet, and Skansen, as well as two visits to Hornstull’s Marknard. I finally ate at Meatballs for the People, which is worth the hype! We spent the last night in Stockholm on the Södermalm lookout, watching the sunset over the water. I finally got to complete my Stockholm bucket list by checking off a few restaurants, Ice Bar, and Skansen!

May 16 marked the start of our Greece tour! We had an early morning flight, a 6-hour layover, then ended up getting to our AirBnB after midnight – long day! Day 2 was much more eventful; we started the day off on an Athens food tour! We tried sooo many foods and had the best tour guide, Sophia! The tour could hold up to 8 people. But it ended up only being us, which was so great to get to know Sophia more. We wandered through Psyri and tried spanakopita, dolmades, koulouri (the staple breakfast), authentic coffee, cured meats, souvlaki, and so much more! Afterwards, we explored Monastiraki Square, the Library of Hadrian, and the Roman Agora. After a quick nap, we headed to the main event: the Acropolis! On the walk up to the Parthenon, there’s many sites to see, like the Theatre of Dionysus, Sanctuary of Asklepios, Odeion of Herodes Atticus, and more. We took our time getting to the top, and the views were stunning every step of the way. We spent over an hour near the Parthenon, then left and made our way to Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Zeus. We also wandered around Syntagma Square, where we saw the Changing of the Guards at the Hellenic Parliament. We ended the night eating gyros with a view of the Parthenon. 

Day 3 was our Santorini day! We woke up at 2am for our early flight, which we missed, but we were able to get another not too long after! Once in Santorini, we ate, napped, and explored Fira. Fira, home to the famous church Three Bells of Fira, was beautiful, and definitely a cheaper alternative than staying in Oia. There were buses on loop for 1.60eu/ride between Oia, Fira, the airport, and other locations on the island! After wandering around Fira for a bit, we headed over to Oia, the main tourist area. We spent hours walking around Oia and watching sunset, then had dinner overlooking the water and picked up some baklava for the way home. Santorini definitely lived up to the beauty I’ve seen in photos. 

The 19th was another long travel day to get to Venice with 3 flights. Once we landed, we got caprese at a food stand then crashed for the night. We had a walking tour the next morning, which was lovely; Venice is such a walkable city! We had an on-the-go breakfast of some pastries and espresso, then spent a few hours with our great tour guide learning about the city. Some quick facts: Venice has 124 islands and 438 bridges, and while the city used to have 10k gondolas, it now only has 300. After the tour, we wandered around more saw the Rialto, then had lunch and headed to St. Mark’s Basilica. Our goal was to stay out all day, so we stopped for breaks in the shade and gelato. Once sunset hit, we headed over the Ponte dell’ Accademia and made our way to Dorsoduro. This area definitely had a more university feel to it. We had reservations at the Venice Jazz Club, which was absolutely incredible; one of my favorite nights of the trip for sure! 

May 21st started with a late morning and a long walk through different areas we hadn’t seen the day before. We passed through Santa Croca, which felt much more residential than the more touristy parts we had seen earlier. We stopped at a little cafe called Majer, which had the best pizza and atmosphere. We then went to T. Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, a shopping mall with a free rooftop lookout! We headed up then realized we needed reservations… but we got lucky and were allowed onto the roof! The views were spectacular as expected; the red rooftops contrasted so beautifully with the water. We then went back to St. Mark’s Basilica, this time to go inside. We headed back to Academia for lunch, then just wandered around til it was time to head to the airport. Upon arriving at the airport, we found out that our first flight was so delayed that we’d miss our second to Milan; after some stress, we booked it to Mestre station and were able to get on a 4.5 hour bus to Milan! We ended up getting there before the flight would’ve, and we even caught the last Milan metro of the night, which was perfect. 

May 22 was our day to explore Milan/Lake Como! After seeing the Duomo in Milan, we headed straight to Varenna by train. Varenna was the prettiest place we visited this trip; the lake is nothing short of stunning, and everywhere you turn is so picturesque – it didn’t feel like reality. We explored a few of the big Varenna sites: Piazza San Giorgio, Church of San Giorgio, Riva Grande, Villa Monestaro, and the Botanical Gardens. We had a lovely dinner with a view, then got a train back to Milan. Upon getting back, we realized that a soccer game had just finished, meaning that we couldn’t transfer at our normal stop. All of a sudden, people were throwing smoke bombs and screaming, which you could call an authentic experience haha. After getting re-situated, we went back to the train station and got the Malpensa Express to the airport at 11:30pm for a 7am flight (unfortunately this was our best/cheapest option for getting to the airport. 

On May 23, we flew back to Stockholm! We both got our covid tests (negative!), then went to Mr. Cake one last time for their red velvet croissant. We had lunch at Herman’s, which has a daily vegan buffet that was absolutely incredible – with a beautiful view of the water as well! We took the ferry to and from Djurgården one more time, then went to the Espresso House on Gamla Stan for a final farewell to Stockholm. 

This semester was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. I grew as a person and in my independence, and I became more comfortable doing things on my own. Stockholm was definitely my favorite place I visited – the public transport is superior, the archipelagos are absolutely stunning, and the whole city feels so calm yet alive at the same time. I wouldn’t trade anything for this experience, and I am so happy and grateful it worked out. Thank you to everyone who has followed along and supported me on this journey – my heart has been so full with love and emotion. Finally, thank you to Stockholm – you have given me an experience I will truly never forget. ❤

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