A few stops in Greece - The end of the journey with my sister

Still traveling with my sister, Kiyoung, we entered Greece through Santorini.

I had a grand time here. Every angle of this place was visually satisfying and inspiring and I couldn't put my camera down. My sister, however, was not as enthusiastic. This was probably the most touristy stop on our entire trip and she was less of a fan of the conspicuous opulence than I was. To each their own, I suppose.

Some shots from Santorini:

Despite that fact that it's a small island, it's a bit hard to get around Santorini. Outside the towns, the roads become a nightmare to walk on - what with the complete lack of sidewalks and high volume of vehicles speeding past. So I convinced my hesitant sister we should rent an ATV. This turned out to be so much fun.

After an unmemorable layover in Athens, we headed further North to Meteora, a small cluster of monasteries built on cliff-tops.

Just like Turkey, Greece has no shortage of absolutely adorable stray cats. I realize the prior cat picture has no relation to the rest of the story but I just had to insert it in there because, come on, look at that cutey.

After another unmemorable stop in Athens, my sister and I parted ways so she could get back to this obligation she has she calls a job. I then headed North to Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki. The city is famous for many historic events. But it was probably the graffiti that made the greatest impression for me.

It's funny, but I don't think I really understood Greek hospitality until the very end of my time here. The realization struck me while in Thessaloniki as I chatted with a 25-year-old boy who likes to hang out at my hostel all day.

Neither a worker nor a guest at the hostel, I had a hard time figuring out what his presence was for. I initially wrote him off as one of those guys who likes to hang around in waiting for young, European girls to check-in like a shark looking for their next prey. Not that I'm saying he isn't one of those kinds of guys, because I'm still sure he is. But during one unlikely sober conversation, he started telling me about the diversity of people he was able to meet through the hostel. The overt story was that he got to sleep with women from all over the world. But beyond that, I could sense his satisfaction in being able to help ignorant travelers - whether guy or girl - see the very best of his city; done in exchange for nothing more than a temporary social connection. Just the very act of sharing a connective experience with others gave him great joy.

And this is the sticking point I could never get past before. To me, it's impossible to comprehend this level of hospitality which comes with no strings attached. It made me feel bad because perhaps I'd been acting too cynical this whole time in both Turkey and Greece.

I had swung even further into cautiousness while travelling with my sister, who loved chatting it up with everyone, including the obviously shady guys. Those were some harrowing times for me. I'm sure my sister will give a completely different tale.


Tomorrow, I'm heading back to Istanbul via an 8-hour bus. I'll spend 4 days there and afterwards, take a flight to New Delhi, booked last minute. I learned a bit late that Diwali is taking place October 23rd so I'm getting into India just in time for the end of the festivities.

I'm having a hard time envisioning New Delhi as even more frantic than when I was last there but I've been warned it will be. I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing to be honest. Like meeting an old friend I haven't kept in touch with. I wonder what it will be like this time around. Will it welcome me back into its chaos? Hopefully so but maybe it'll swallow me whole on top of that.

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