Destination: Santorini, Greece

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to Effie who pens apieceofbliss. Born and raised in Greece, her name actually means "bliss." Effie works full time while earning her PhD in linguistics. She's lived in and traveled to faraway places and currently resides in Abu Dhabi with her husband. I can't think of a better person to take us on a quick tour of Santorini. Let's get to know her first.

Q: Dogs or cats? 

Definitely dogs.
Q: Tea or coffee? 
Coffee in the morning. Tea in the evening. 
Q: Cooking or baking? 
Q: Spring or fall? 
Q: Beach or mountains? 
Anywhere as long as I can gaze at the sea even from far. 
Q: Favorite city? 
Dubai (without the traffic and the complicated road system), London and Chicago.
Q: Funniest travel experience? 
While flying back to Greece from the States on July 4,  2004, the Greek national soccer team scored the winning goal at the Euro Cup final game. The pilot announced it. I don’t need to tell you how all the Greeks on the plane responded to the announcement, do I? 
Q: Best meal you’ve ever had? 
One of the best: Seafood pasta at Gustavino in Florence. And mom’s food of course.

A few more questions about expat life...

Q: What you miss most about home? 
My family and friends.
Q: What you miss least about home? 
The list is long. 
Q: What you love most about your home abroad? 
That it is a multicultural, clean and safe city. 
Q: What you like least about your home abroad? 
The driving, that things can change overnight without any warning and that we are very often reminded that this is not our home. 
Q: Tips for others who take the leap? 
Be patient when relocating. It personally takes me 1-2 years to adjust to a new place. If you don’t feel like you belong there after a couple of years, then you probably don’t. 

Santorini, Greece

Last July, my husband and I visited Santorini for three days. We stayed at a picturesque little hotel called Athermi Suites in Megalochori, a few minutes outside the main city, Fira. It was the perfect combination of style, atmosphere, service and breathtaking views at an affordable price.

 {our room}

{the bathroom in our room. great idea for a sink!}

{view from our hotel by day}

{and at sunset}

We spent most of our time lounging by the pool basking in the sun and taking in the views. Of course we did all the tourist things, like watching the Santorini sunset, visiting the towns of Fira and Oia, as well as the archaeological site in Akrotiri

{looking up at Oia from the Bay}

{church bells in Oia}

{infinity pool at a very expensive hotel in Oia -- spectacular view}

We spent our last day in Ammoudi Bay.

{fresh fish taverns on the Bay}

{Ammoudi Bay -- not easily accessible, but great if you are into cliff diving}

Needless to say, the food in the area is amazing. The owner of our hotel recommended two hidden gems Metaxi Mas and Mousiko Kouti where we had our most memorable meals.

{fresh dorado}

{fresh fish, greens and fava (Santorini delicacy)}

If I were to do it again, I would take a sunset cruise. 

{blissful Santorini sunset}

A few travel tips:  If you’re staying outside of Fira or Oia, you probably need to rent a small car or squad. Don’t go for a big car as the roads are quite narrow. You can stay at a hotel like the one we did with a great view, but half the price of what you’d pay if you stayed in Fira or Oia. 

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Thanks for stopping by to share your Santorini experience with us, Effie. Here she is strolling in Fira after sunset. As you can see, she is quite beautiful. Having not me her in person, I just know she is super nice too.

Don't forget to stop by Effie's blog for more on her travels, interiors, food, fashion and more. 

Beach blues…

I've got a major case of the blues. Back to reality after another fabulous week in Rosemary. It's as hot as Hades in Atlanta. Swim team is in full swing -- my full time job for the month. And, I got some unfortunate news at my 6-month post-op appointment last week. No tennis until October. Say what? I went to a few clinics at the beach and felt fine. And I had already told my fearless captains that I'd be back for the fall ALTA season. A quick update on my team while we're on the subject. They were demoted not once, but twice during my absence. I was obviously missed. We have gone full circle. Back to D1 status.

To lift my spirits and add a bit of bliss to your Monday, I present the perfect blue/green beach palette.

Coastal window shopping...

A closer look...

 {beach treasures -- star fish, sea biscuits and driftwood}

Sweet ride…

Blue picket fence…


Have a seat in the blue-washed rocker upstaged by the blue glazed pot. Adorable mini palm...

I loved this cute sea foam gate. You can see straight through to its twin on there other side...

Love this one too. Such a welcoming side entrance...

An arched vine makes a huge difference...

Or over a pergola. Pretty blue trim on this house.

Nice color combo for your coastal garage doors….

It doesn't get any better than this. The door, windows, gas lantern, shutters, landscape, creeping vines. All inspiration for my future beach house.

Happy Summer!

All aboard the blog train...

Over the past 12 months I've taken two Blogging Your Way e-courses. In addition to lessons taught, we were encouraged to team up with partners on home work assignments. Home work was not mandatory, but like everything in life, effort counts. We randomly met homework partners in a class forum. My first partner in a class of 700 plus students was a delightful Australian blogger Tammy of Lady Tam-Tam who relocated to Washington, DC for her husband's job. She lives a few blocks from where my husband lived when we moved from DC to Atlanta. My second partner in a class of 300 plus students Kristiina of A little of A lot lives in Virginia. To say that we lead parallel lives is an understatement. What are the chances, right?

We could post questions in the forum section called "members helping members." Through this forum, I met so many talented, creative and friendly bloggers from all walks of life all over the world. By the end of each course it was clear to me that not only were we learning from each other, we were all supporting each other's success.

One of my fellow classmates, the daydreamer started a blog tour. The tour works like a chain letter. Each blogger answers the same four questions, and then passes them on to a few other bloggers. And so on.

Effie of apieceofbliss graciously invited me on the tour. I won't say too much about Effie, because she's guest blogging for my travel column soon.

The four questions:

Q: What am I working on?
A lot. Among other things, I'm working on stretching my writing muscles. To that end, I'm participating in The Daily Post's Writing 101 challenge. The Post presents a daily topic with a twist for those who are up for the challenge. Using what I learned on Day 5 "Be Brief," I'll be as succinct as possible here. My college Shakespeare professor used a heavy hand with his red editing pen. He encouraged us to use strong verbs and avoid any form of the verb "to be" (ironic for a Shakespeare class). He loathed certain words like "really," "truly" and "sincerely." Coincidentally, Day 8 was "Death to Adverbs." The assignment was to write an adverb-free post. Try it. My goal is to do at least one lesson each week. I've also subscribed to grammar girl's quick and easy tips to brush up on grammar.

{new illustrated version! via}

Q: How does my blog differ from others in this genre?
My own voice and style. I think it's important to feel comfortable using your unique voice without worrying about being liked by everyone. I'm opinionated and not afraid to show it. I also write about things I loathe with liberal abandon -- something I seldom see other bloggers do. When I was a corporate writer, one of my colleagues and I talked about writing a book called "Corporate Bullshit." All talk and no action. Someone else beat us to it. I always encouraged my clients to use straight talk. They always ignored me. This is my chance to tell it like it is.

Q: Why do I write this blog?
Because it's fun, and provides me with a platform to practice my writing skills.

Q: How does your writing process work?
I wish I could say that I have a streamlined process. But I don't. That's part of the fun. I do keep a notebook to jot down ideas. I always have draft posts in the hopper, but they often get trumped by a project I'm working on or something I've seen, read or talked about with my friends that I find interesting or makes me laugh.

Enough from me. I'd like to introduce you to my tour guest:

Hi, my name is Barbara. I’m an Italian-based graphic designer and freelance photographer with a penchant for traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. My blog momographica narrates adventures and misadventures drawn from my daily creative routine.

Barbara writes her blog in Italian. If you don't speak the language, I encourage you to pop over anyway to see her stunning photographs, especially if you like flowers. She will be back here soon to show and tell us about her home town near Milan.

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Thanks, Effie for inviting me on the tour. Barbara, we look forward to seeing where you take us next!

Home remedy for yellow fly bites...

Yellow flies are evil creatures. They can make your life miserable. Beware if you're headed to the beach, especially the Florida Panhandle this month. The yellow flies were so bad in Rosemary and Alys last week that we were forced indoors. The beach itself is safe because of the breeze. After several days of severe itching, we found this home remedy for yellow fly sting relief, as well as mosquito, chigger and jelly fish bites. Note: Some people are highly allergic. I met one girl who had to be taken to the emergency room for a cortisone shot.


1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup ammonia (Windex is mostly ammonia)
1/3 tsp. papain (meat tenderizer)
1 crushed aspirin

Mix thoroughly and store in refrigerator. When needed, shake well, apply with cotton swab and rub briskly.

If you're planning to hang at the beach -- or woods -- this summer, you can rig one of these super-sized fly traps up in a tree close to your house or tent.

These were hanging in Alys. As you can see, they work.

A closer look…

Instructions for how to make one.

I hope this helps those of you headed to the beach or camping. My advice is to whip up a batch of this remedy and have it on hand for the summer.

Good luck!

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