Some of my most rewarding travel experiences have been the ones where I’ve had very little control about the outcome of where I’m going and what’s going to happen when I get there.
Typically this means relying completely on following my instinct to guide me.
Sometimes, following my instinct hasn’t worked in my favour, but for the most part, I’ve been gifted with some of the most rewarding travel experiences when I have simply surrendered to trusting that the path I have chosen to take will lead me somewhere amazing.
It’s not hard to find somewhere amazing when you travel through the Greek islands. The country is rich in beauty, striking landscape and crystal blue waters. There’s hidden pieces of paradise scattered all over. What’s important to remember is that when listening to the advice of fellow travelers that you might bump into, always remember, everyone’s impressions of beauty and what’s special is completely different and at the end of the day, don’t listen to and follow everything you hear…cause sometimes you might just miss out on experiencing the most spectacular beauty that will impart something special about that particular place that will stay with you for life.
Here’s a sample of some of my most rewarding experiences traveling through Greece and why not listening to the opinion of another worked completely in my favour:
Sifnos: I followed a rocky trail that led to this isolated cove. I didn’t know exactly what I’d find when I got there, but the rocky boulders in the distance gave me the impression that I’d find something quite stunning. There are close 100 steps to make it down. I was half way through when a gentleman was making his way back up. “There’s a lot of stairs” he starts, pointing out the obvious. “Yeah, but it’s worth it” I replied optimistically. “Nah” he says back, “don’t bother. It’s just rocks”. Not convinced, I went on till I reached the end. When I got there, the rocky steps led to the waters edge and a stone platform you had to climb over to eventually make it in the water. From time-to-time the sun would emerge between clouds and light up the sea with the most stunning shades of blue and green I’d ever seen. There’s was hardly anyone there. It was the perfect metaphor in revealing how rewarding our efforts can be when we bother to try and trust ourselves. Thankfully this man and I have very different impressions of beauty. The raw, rugged and untamed will forever speak to my heart…
Patmos: I took the roads less traveled and left my map behind. One early morning I followed a sign that had caught my attention some days earlier. I knew I had to venture there so I decided that I will be following my instinct. I didn’t know what would happen. Where it led. For the most part I was the only one on the road. I took this as a good sign. Soon enough, the road veered to a slight incline. The land flattened out and I found myself up high, overlooking the islands edge. The blue of the Aegean stretched into the distance. The cliff face jutted out in the most unusual shapes and stretched into the water like extended limbs. The earth here was lush green. I had the chance to see a side of the island so different to what I’d been experiencing. It felt completely untouched. It was a gift to be standing on the cliffs edge…
Serifos: The one place I felt the greatest diversity in landscape. I drove around this island for days, often taking the same roads just to completely soak in the experience. It was here I experienced a shift in scenery that led me to feeling like I was on the one hand in the arid outback and then suddenly somewhere other-worldly. There is an intense presence in the mountains that impose themselves and feel like the guardians of the island. The rocks here shimmer. There is an unusual beauty here that completely pulled me in. I didn’t experience that sensation anywhere else on my travels. Serifos felt like my soul home.
Nisyros: Resorting to almost being homeless arriving during a freak peak weekend. I managed to secure the last hire car on the island. A couple of locals tried to help me with accommodation. They gave me a few options, but there was one place in particular they suggested I avoid even bothering to ask. “They’re too expensive” was their feedback. It’s my stubborn nature to sometimes not listen. Being stubborn comes with its pluses and minuses. Fortunately for me, in this instance, being stubborn resulted in a great outcome. Securing accommodation at the only place left on the island and meeting the most generous and compassionate locals that made me feel like I was part of the family. Unable to help me with one of the nights, they insisted I stay at the property and arranged room in the office for me to sleep on the sofa. I was welcomed into their home and treated as though I had always known them. This gesture alone summed up for me the essence of the Greek work philoxenia. There is no English translation and the word belongs to the Greek spirit alone. But it loosely represents the ability and importance of always prioritising our human connection. When someone is in need, we try and help as best we can. This is one thing I have experienced time and time again throughout my travels in Greece.
Intuitive travel allows you to be completely present in your experience of a place. Following my instinct while traveling strips away any sense of expectation and allows me to just be. Sure, it’s great to have some idea of where you’re going, but from time-to-time, it’s enjoyable to allow unexpected moments and experiences to guide you.
Following my instinct, it always takes me to the right place…
Happy travels, Paula x