Istanbul, Athens, and Crete

I needed to be in Munich in October for a trade show, so I figured I’d head over to Europe a bit early. Well, 5 months early to be exact. I scoured Google Flights, did the Schengen calculations, and booked a one way flight to Istanbul. I landed, checked into my apartment for the week, picked up some pilsners, and got ready to explore my new home.

Istanbul Skyline.
Istanbul Skyline

When I arrive in a new place I often sequester myself in the apartment and catch up on work. Istanbul was productive and after working all day in the apartment I’d set out to explore. I visited both the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, saw the Obelisk of Theodosius, wandered the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, watched the sunset behind the Galata Tower, and drank tons of Turkish coffee. I even joined a gym and got a good workout in each afternoon. I’m not much of a city person, but Istanbul was pretty cool!

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia In Istanbul

After a week in Istanbul I was off to my next destination, and the real reason I flew over to Europe 5 months early. My buddy is a bit of a superstar in the WordPress world, and since I spend most of my time in WordPress, for example, writing this blog post, he told me I should join him for WordCamp Europe. The event happened to be in Athens this year and as I’d not been to Greece, it worked out well. I landed, checked into my new apartment, and met up with Kevin for a pre-event dinner.

Kevin and Chris in Athens.
Kevin And Chris In Athens

The event was amazing and I learned a lot and met tons of incredible people, but definitely one of the highlights had to be the happy hours at rooftop bars overlooking the Acropolis and wandering the city streets to experience the vibrant nightlife in Greek cafes and bars.

Greek night life.
Greek Nightlife

After the event Kevin and our friend Julia stuck around town and we spent some time enjoying the good food, strong drink, and Mediterranean beach vibes.

Athens Beach Day.
Athens Beach Day

When the WordPress world departed, I had a day alone to catch up on work and prepare for the next impending danger. I checked out of my studio apartment, walked with all my luggage for an hour across town, and moved into a 2 bedroom place. Nearly out of nowhere my buddy Rob McCool from Born To Run showed up in a taxi. I thought he was arriving the next day and he immediately took a nap before we headed out for happy hour. While sitting at a local bar my phone pinged with a text, my brother Tyler just got out of a taxi and was wandering around looking for us. Just like on the Chamberlin Ranch, when the three of us get together you know there will be shenanigans!

Chris, Tyler and Rob.
Born To Run In Athens

Because 3 ain’t enough, the next day my past roommate and running buddy Tracy arrived. He moved in with us and we spent a few days rambling around town from the original Olympic Stadium to the Acropolis, through back alleys and tourist traps. We eventually wandered into Brettos, which is hands down one of my favorite bars in the world!

At th Brettos Bar.
Brettos Boyz

On afternoon while standing on the summit of the Acropolis we could hear what sounded like a wild party far below. We scoured the skyline and spotted the festivities on a street about a mile away. Not wanting to miss out, we left the plateau to see what was going on.

On the Athens Acropolis.
On The Athens Acropolis

We wandered the winding streets while keeping the shouting and chanting within earshot. As we rounded a corner we arrived at an Irish bar with fútbol fans spilling out into the street. Not wanting to miss a party, we grabbed a few pints and joined in. As we made friends we learned that Ireland was playing against Greece that night and this was just the tune up to the game. With no other plans we hopped in an Uber, made our way to the stadium, and enjoyed the soccer game separated from our new Irish friends by massive metal gates and security guards.

Irish football fans.
Irish Bar With Fútbol Fans And The Acropolis In The Background

Athens wasn’t our final adventure destination though. With a footy hangover we packed our bags and headed to the airport. A short flight brought us to the island of Crete, and after visiting Knossos we checked into our beachfront apartment in Rethymno. Rob’s girlfriend joined us and we spent several days exploring town, visiting nearby beaches, doing a sunset sail on a pirate ship, and drinking way too much ouzo.

The sunset cruise crew.
Sunset Sail

Being endurance runners, we couldn’t pass up hiking to the top of the tallest mountain on Crete. Early in the morning we packed our bags and drove up to the base of Mount Ida. After a few hours of rock hopping, avoiding sheep, and enjoying the stunning ocean views, we stood atop the summit at 8,058 feet, just about 8,000 feet higher than our beachfront apartment.

On top of Mount Ida.
On Top Of Mount Ida

Unfortunately, just like that our time was over. Tracy and Tyler were heading back to the States, Rob was off to Coratia, and I was back to looking over my Schengen calculator. I needed to be in Munich for the trade show in October, so I couldn’t use up all of my 90 days, and trying to be more safe than sorry I browsed Google Flights for a non-Schengen destination.

Back in Thailand I’d heard mutterings about a quiet little mountain town in Bulgaria, so I booked a one way flight to Sofia and an apartment for a week to check it out. Little did I know that I’d be staying for 2+ months and cannot wait to get back!

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