AWC member Susanne Ollmann dreams of taking her young daughter around the world next year. They came to Berlin 3 years ago from the US so Elise could learn German and get to know her German family (Elise’s maternal grandparents and paternal grandfather were born in Germany) and have not looked back.
In preparation for their one-year adventure, Susanne has been taking trips around Europe to test their habits on the road and build up her daughter’s stamina. Here we asked Susanne to share tips and impressions from her three-week visit to the Greek islands this summer as travel inspiration for “Berlin Americanas”.
Click here for her short video:
This summer, my daughter and I spent three weeks exploring Crete and island-hopping in the Dodecanese. We saw ancient ruins, explored medieval cities, swam epic beaches, hiked the 16km Samaria Gorge, sampled delicious and healthful Greek food, and island-hopped from Crete to Rhodes to Kos to tiny, but magical Symi.
Best beach in Crete? Elafonisi, with its perfectly turquoise water, powder soft sand, and gentle waves – though Falassarna and Balos Beach are close contenders. In Kos, for us, it was Agios Stefanous Beach, with its picturesque 5th century ruins right on the beach, and photogenic islet sporting a tiny church. In Symi, it was Nanou Beach, with its emerld green water, dramatic clifs, and dreamy, tree-shrouded beachside cafe surrounded by tame goats.
Best trek? Samaria Gorge, where you wander through cypress forests, past ancient chapels and abandoned settlements, and zigzag over the river via rickety bridges and stepping stones. We lucked out and saw a kri-kri, a rarely seen endangered goat. Don’t believe the travel shops touting tours. You can do it on your own by taking the bus to Omalos and the ferry back from Agia Roumeli.
Best medieval city? Rhodes Old Town, an ancient walled city of derelict mosques, cobbled alleyways and romantic restaurants in hidden courtyards with glowing lanterns hanging from giant trees. We loved the Jewish Quarter, which felt like a ghost town, inhabited only by cats.
Susanne’s blog World Travel Mama documents her adventures in luxurious details for all the senses – here’s an excerpt:
Ah, Symi – that last of the islands we’re visiting, and perhaps the most picturesque, particularly the harbor at Gialos, with its custard-colored neoclassical villas lining the hillside, and its stunning beaches with turquoise and emerald water set against dramatic cliffs. We took a water taxi to Agia Marina beach, which had water so crystal clear that I could see the ocean floor more than 10′ below me. Elise urged me to swim across to the tiny island with her, where she had a blast doing cannonballs off the pier. Later, we visited Nanou Beach, which had tame goats and a dreamy, tree-shrouded beachside cafe. I floated endlessly in the emerald water, listening to the pebbles rolling over each other with each gentle wave (underwater, it sounded like the crushing of ice), while Elise developed her water ballet routine in honor of the Olympics. In the evening, we passed Agios Georgios beach on the way back, where one last glorious sliver of light electrified the turqouise water. Back in Gialos, we climbed the 500-step Kali Strata to reach a hillside restaurant.
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