despite having a pretty emotionally-meh night last night (in which i skyped with my mum for over an hour and facebook chatted with two of my greatest friends), i woke up with a fantastic attitude about today. cameron (the professor who takes us on all of our excursions) picked us all up at the apartment at 10am to go on a full-day tour around the island of paros that we would be living on for the next 3 months.

all eight of us hopped into a slightly-broken navy blue van and headed off to  kolympithres beach on the north side of the island. we arrived and soon realized that this wasn’t just any beach, it was covered with beautiful rock formations stretching out into the water. they weren’t jagged like most of the rocks on the island are, instead they sloped with such grace that one might think that they had been sculpted by hand and not nature made. we spent a bit climbing all over them and then headed back to the van!

next on the agenda was a nearby monastery with wonderful views of the aegean and a shipyard nearby. i swear, everyone in our group loves to climb and so we made our way atop the abandoned building and started snapping pictures like crazy. the building itself was breathtaking, and the area around it made it even better. i’m so glad that cameron seems inclined to take us to all of these monasteries for the views, though that’s probably not due to any kind of religious leaning but owing more to the fact that they all seem to be strategically placed to have the best views on the entire island.

after that we headed to naousa, a nearby fishing village with an old russian military base from the 1700’s as well as a picturesque cafe scene and port area. we spent an hour or so wandering the winding streets and taking pictures like crazy. we all eventually got hungry so we spent the end of our time there sitting near the sea eating at a small cafe (which makes mealtime 20 times better by the way!).

soon after we drove through a cute little town and headed up towards what looked like a large hill. cameron told us that there was another monastery up there and that he really felt like the van could make it and that the views were spectacular. welp, i’m scared of heights and don’t like driving along cliffs on large inclines. surprise, that’s what the entire ride up was, during which i took many deep breaths and tried to stay calm. after many shiesty spurts of slowing down by the van (during which i thought for sure that we would slide back down the mountain and disappear into the void) cameron finally pulled off to the side and declared that we would be walking the rest of the way up. whew, those roads were steep! by the time i made it up i was sweaty as hell and looking a bit disheveled (though i tried not to dwell on this too much). the views were indeed spectacular, and i took many wonderful photographs, but for all the stress that the ride cost me i think i could have lived without it. after everyone had taken a satisfactory amount of pictures we got back in the van and headed slowly down the hill to get more water from the town and then be on our way.

next up was a beach on the southern side of the island where we took a path away from the normal relaxation area and instead led us to a cliff bending towards the sea that we could jump off of and then swim into a sea cave, and jump we did! i don’t go cliff jumping often, but when i do, i’m a huge wuss about it (as phrased brilliantly by one of the girls on the trip). i ended up going to a lower area and only falling 6 or 7 feet into the water, but still, for me that was huge! (especially since i’m scared of heights!!) the water was around 60ft deep and we could see straight down to the rocks on the bottom; it was absolutely beautiful! i didn’t even think that water like this existed in the world! this also meant that i would be able to see any approaching scary sea creatures/monsters, though (to my delight) none appeared. we all swam over to the sea cave and floated around on our backs, gazing up at the jagged rock above. floating in the aegean really is delightfully easy (due to more salt in the water and thus an increased buoyancy) and i’m not going to lie, I FELT LIKE A FREAKING MERMAID! it was stellar. we swam around a bit more and then eventually climbed the sheer rock face (which was scary as hell) to get back out.

from there we hiked another 10 minutes to a secluded lagoon that we climbed down into. cameron took some of the kids over to a huge bolder to climb up and jump off of, but i stayed in the calm part and floated around enjoying the water (and if i’m being honest, i just wanted to prolong the mermaid feeling).

from there we trekked back to the van and headed into the closest town for some ice cream before the drive back to paroikia. it was such an amazing day filled with sights and experiences that i will never ever forget. who would have though that the island i’m staying on in greece would be so damn cool! i mean, of course i had hoped that it would be, but for it to actually be this amazing is just fantastic! i feel like everywhere we went on the island i could picture (like in a movie) a pirate ship sailing around the bend or a quest taking place up the mountain or (!!) mermaids lounging and swimming in the sea. holy hell this place really is picture perfect. i’m so lucky to be here and be able to experience all this for three months. i’m in awe!

oh, and i tried putting pictures into this post like 7 times and it somehow failed every single time. so if you want to see pictures you’ll have to check out my facebook! i’ve put up lots!! https://www.facebook.com/kearstin.bailey. orrrrr maybe they’re working now?? but half the time i still can’t seem to find them.. check facebook for more reliable and easy to find photos lol sorry gang.