A Quick Breakfast/A Quick Workout

Good morning! It’s Fridddayyyyy! We all made it to the weekend. Phew!

So thank you again for all of the incredible support that I received regarding my Career Change. I cannot express how much everyones’ comments/emails/messages meant to me. Thank you thank you thank you! (If you are just getting caught up, here is Part 1 and Part 2 of my Career Change).

Ok so let’s lighten things up around here shall we? Enough heavy posts for the week. Today I want to just show you a quick breakfast idea and a quick workout that I did yesterday. When I came up with my schedule of classes for the fall, I thought I would have so much time on my hands. I envisioned myself cooking legit meals, being really organized, having time for long workouts, etc. Well, turns out my “down time” is constantly packed with things to do and I am still very much in “I need a quick meal and a really fast workout” mode.

I had this breakfast yesterday before heading to the gym. It’s sort of another version of my Toast with Greek Yogurt and Grilled Peaches that I made earlier this week. Here, I just toasted up some Ezekiel Bread (the bread I always buy), added some 0% Fage Greek Yogurt, topped with a banana, and then drizzled with some warmed up Barney Butter Almond Butter. I heated a little dish of the Almond Butter for about 20 seconds to make it all drippy and then spooned it over the banana.

I have to say I was really disappointed when I opened up my brand new jar of Barney Butter yesterday morning. I have been a loyal purchaser of Barney Butter Almond Butter for about a year now and absolutely love it. I’ve tried many peanut/almond butters over the years but this is my favorite. However, when I opened this jar yesterday, it was almost rock hard. It’s like the really hard, sticky part that you usually find at the bottom of the jar had filled the entire thing!  For $10 a jar, I was not happy. Has this happened to anyone before? I actually emailed Barney Butter to see if they changed anything about their recipe, but haven’t heard back yet. We shall see!

After breakfast, I headed to the gym for a really quick workout that still left me feeling worked! I did about 23 minutes on the elliptical but at a high intensity so that my legs were really feeling it. I hopped off and headed to the mat for some abs. Here is what I did:

** Place Card Between Your Legs Crunches: obviously not a technical name but it’s something I remembered learning a long time ago. Basically, start in crunch position but with legs slightly apart. Start with arms outreached over your head. Bring arms up with your entire torso and act like you are placing a playing card down on the mat between your legs. Then go back down and start over. It gets your entire abdomen which I like!

I am all about the fast workouts. This workout left me feeling sweaty, yet energized and ready to take on the day. Exactly what a workout should do!

I don’t think you need to spend hours at the gym and personally, I get bored if I am there for more than 45 minutes or so. I’d much prefer to workout more often (more days of the week) but have the workouts be shorter rather than doing really long workouts a few days a week.

How long are your typical workouts? Do you prefer going for a short amount of time most days or a longer workout only a few days a week? 

Have a great Friday!

P.S. I updated the Recipe page so that it’s easier to find recipes.

Advertisements

On Career Change Part 2: I Am Back in School

Gooood morning!

First of all, thank you to everyone who commented and/or reached out to me yesterday. I really appreciate it– I was nervous to post something so personal and detailed, so thank you.

And now for Part Two. If you missed Part One of my Career Change, you can find it here.

Sooo…. I have decided to go back to school for Nutrition! This has been something I have thought about for years, as I have always had a huge interest in nutrition, even as a kid. Putting the pieces together to make it happen over the last several months was daunting at first, but little by little, I was able to get it together.

If all goes as planned, I am going to become a Registered Dietitian and also get my Masters in Nutrition. I have decided to pursue both degrees because there is so much overlap between the two degrees, and getting my Masters is only about an additional semester. Plus, I figured if I am going to go back to school, I want to be sure to get a Masters Degree.

The process of becoming a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) is a very complicated one. They really do not make it easy, so it took me a lot of time and conversations with people to understand what I had to do and when it all had to be done by. I can write a post with more details on the steps I took to understand the degrees, the field in general, and what I needed to do to make it happen, but here are the basics:

  • I had to take the GRE.  I went ahead and got this out of the way back in April, just about at the time when my thoughts to pursue this started to get serious. Your GRE scores last for up to five years, so I figured I might as well get it done. I took an accelerated Princeton Review class and attended classes one night per week and on the weekends for 5 weeks. I studied a lot, thankfully did well, and was able to put it behind me.
  • I spoke to a lot of people. I set up meetings/calls/emails with people who I knew in the field to understand the various degrees and what was needed for certain jobs after school
  • I researched programs. Without going into a ton of detail, I basically looked for “coordinated” programs where I could get both my RD and Masters degree at the same time. With these two criteria in place, my search was very limited. Only about 15 schools in the whole US fit the bill. I then looked into each one and figured out how they differed, their various requirements, etc. I narrowed down my list and now have 3 or 4 schools that I am interested in applying to for a Fall 2013 start.
  • I figured out which pre-requisite courses I needed to take this year. I was a Finance major in college, so I didn’t take many of the science courses needed to go into Nutrition. Since I am looking at various schools, I need to take about 8 pre-reqs to satisfy all requirements at all possible schools. That means this semester (Fall) and next semester (Spring).
  • I signed up for pre-reqs and started taking them. After a lot of stressful weeks, I was able to get into the pre-reqs that I needed, but because I am a non-matriculated student at these schools, I got last pick. It was a scramble trying to get these classes and I ended up taking 4 classes this fall at 4 different schools (including one online)! I am literally all over the place.

My current classes are:

  1. Anatomy and Physiology with Lab @ Pace University
  2. Intro to Psychology @ NYU
  3. Intro to Nutrition: Facts, Fallacies and Trends @ Columbia University
  4. Organic Chemistry @ Berkeley Online

So that is where I am at! Trekking around the city to three different schools in three different areas, plus teaching myself Organic Chemistry online. I will be applying in December to the various programs and will hopefully hear by March if I got in. Then, I will start the actual program next Fall (2013).

All of this has been a HUGE lifestyle change, and basically a big change in every way, but I am so happy. I’m learning about some really cool stuff (my favorite class so far is definitely Intro to Nutrition… I could sit there and listen all day!), and taking it all in.

People keep asking me what I am going to do with the degrees and truthfully, I don’t know. I have a lot of ideas and could see myself doing a lot of different things. When this is all said and done, it will be over three years from now, and I’m sure that something will come up that I never even thought of. So I am just in it for the ride and trying to follow my heart and figure it out along the way.

I will say that one of my goals in the mean time is to keep developing this little blog. It’s been almost 9 months now that I have been writing. Sometimes weekly, sometimes daily. During the time that I was still working full time, the blog offered me a creative outlet and a way to express myself and connect to others in a world so different from where I was working. Now that my career is aligned with my blog, it may lead to a different direction or focus, but again, I’m not really sure.

And that’s that! I feel incredibly thankful that I have the opportunity to go back to school and be in the position I’m in. I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it and will hopefully make a difference to someone out there someday!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all concerning going back to school for Nutrition or anything that I mentioned. I’d be happy to help!

Thanks again for reading and for all of your support 🙂

On Career Change Part 1: I Quit My Job

This is a tough post for me to write. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s not until now that I feel ready to actually write about it. I haven’t been totally upfront on the blog about a big change in my life, but here goes:

After more than three years at my corporate job in the finance world, I gave notice this summer and slowly but surely wrapped up my career and left. August 23rd was my last day.

Just writing this is making me once again emotional, as this was undoubtedly the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I started at my company almost straight out of college as a consultant. I traveled all over the southeast, creating relationships with clients who used our financial software and trying to do everything I could to help them, impress them, and represent my company as best as I could. During my last year there, I became a consulting manager, where my role was to mentor and develop younger consultants and help guide and improve our group in New York.

I take pretty much everything in my life very seriously, and my job was no different. I put everything I had into it. I worked really hard, created a lot of amazing relationships, and got a ton out of it. The growth that I went through during my three years there can largely be attributed to the responsibility I was given and the people who helped manage me and constantly help me become better. I know that  I wouldn’t have been able to make such a bold decision this summer had it not been for the way I was able to grow while with my company.

As much as I loved my job, I now and then had this sinking feeling deep down that something was missing. I guess it’s hard to pinpoint, but I think you know when you know that something isn’t totally right. I had conversations with my friends and family about exploring other things, but it never really felt right to leave. So I stayed.

However, about 6 months ago, my thoughts really started to take over in terms of leaving. I think I had finally gained the confidence to admit to myself that I wasn’t totally happy and that I could be if I changed my career to something else that I had in mind. There was this passion that I had since I was young, this thing hanging over my head that I was too scared to just grab on to. Really, it was a dream that I had thought about but didn’t really know if I had what it took to try to turn it into a reality. It was risky. But I started to think that maybe I could do it…

I thought about it over and over and over and over.

I don’t know if I will ever forget the moment that I knew, 100%, that I was going to make the jump. I was in Charlotte visiting a friend and we were out at dinner. We were 1 mojito in, discussing this decision I was trying to make. All of a sudden, it’s like it just clicked. I remember thinking to myself, yea, I am doing this. 100%. It’s the right decision, there really is no other option. And that was that. This was going to happen and now it was just up to me to put the pieces in place to get ready.

Most people give two weeks notice. I gave three months. Because of the nature of my role and the incredible amount of respect that I had for the people I worked with, I gave them ample time to prepare. Telling my managers, the people who I am closest with and who have had such an affect on me, was so hard. I told them separately, one after another, the lines that I had rehearsed to myself countless times. There was definitely shock, but they knew that I had to do this and that I had my mind made up.

These past few months have been a whirlwind of emotion. Like I mentioned before, I put everything I have into anything that I do. My heart was so invested in the people I worked with and I feel so grateful and lucky to have had the opportunities I did. Walking away from a place where I really felt at home was just really hard for me. I cried a lot this summer. Tears of pure sadness to leave, but also tears of relief that I was finally giving myself this chance to follow a dream.

This is one of the quotes that stayed with me throughout the decision process:

During college, it’s hard to know what you really want. During your first job, you learn so much and have a chance to figure yourself out professionally. For me, I learned that while I was good at what I was doing, I wasn’t being totally true to what I wanted to pursue deep down. And that what I actually wanted to do was completely different than what I was currently doing. So I picked up my pen and decided to write a new story.

So that is Part 1 of my big life change for the summer. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on Part 2–what I am doing with my life now! 🙂 Stay tuned.

Caramelized Banana Pancakes (Packed with Protein!)

Paaannncaaakkkesss! I can’t even remember the last time I had pancakes prior to this weekend. Usually I’m not a huge fan because I feel like after a couple of bites, I get bored. I also don’t love a huge hunk of flour sitting in my stomach. Girl needs some protein and something interesting! My solution? Protein pancakes with caramelized bananas.

My sister came over for brunch on Sunday and I was doing the cooking. Jenna isn’t too picky but she also speaks her mind and the last thing I wanted to hear was that she didn’t like my food. I couldn’t let her down. Coming off of a Saturday night filled with a few glasses of wine, pancakes sounded like the perfect lazy morning brunch food. I remembered making a protein filled pancake back in the day, made with just oats and egg whites, and I decided to bring it back. With a twist.

Caramelized banana. Yeaaa, I went there. I texted Jenna to pick up some bananas, and threw them on the grill pan right when she walked in. I let them sit for just a few minutes on each side so that the heat brought out all of that delicious natural sugar. YUM. They were so good just by themselves!

The pancakes were ridiculously easy to make. And are pretty much the healthiest pancakes you can put together. No flour, no sugar, no milk. Just some oats and egg whites, cinnamon, and vanilla. I did however cook them in a little bit of butter because butter makes everything better! You can’t be TOO healthy after all. That’s no fun.

We caught up while I cooked and set the table all pretty. Served with some maple syrup and some solid sisterly bonding. I love my sister and was so happy to be able to serve her this homemade meal that was not only tasty and delicious but also good for us on the inside.

This is a great quick recipe that has all of the components of a well rounded breakfast. Some healthy carbs from the oats, protein from the egg whites, and a full serving of fruit from the banana. I basically took this recipe straight from Kath, and only modified it by caramelizing the banana first. I hope you make these and enjoy them! You can also make several of these in bulk and freeze them individually. Take them out on a weekday and pop them in the microwave.

P.S. A little tip for using syrup on pancakes: instead of spreading syrup all over your pancakes, put some syrup into a little side bowl and dip each bite into it! It helps you use less syrup and get a little bit on every bite 🙂

Protein Packed Caramelized  Banana Pancakes (made with Oats and Egg Whites): 

This makes 3 large pancakes (serves 2 because the pancakes are pretty big and hearty)

  • 1 cup of quick oats (I used Quaker)
  • 1 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 bananas, sliced.
  • 1 or 2 T  butter (I used Earth Balance), depending on size of skillet. You just need enough to line the pan while cooking the pancakes.

1. Get your bananas cookin’. Heat up a grill pan or skillet and add some cooking spray. Once hot, lay down the sliced banana. Let these hang out for a few minutes over medium heat. Then flip, and let them cook on the other side for a few minutes until soft and browned.

2. Mix up the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.

3. I had to make one pancake at a time, but if your skillet is large enough, just do it all at the same time. For one pancake at a time–heat up a skillet and lay down about a 1/3 of the butter. Let it melt and swirl it around.Lay down 1/3 of the pancake mix and add slices of banana to the uncooked side. Once the uncooked side starts lightly bubbling, flip the pancake. Let it cook for another minute or so and then take it off. Repeat until pancake batter is finished.

4. Top with maple syrup or use my little syrup trick (above).

Enjoy!

 

 

A Simple but Special Breakfast: Toast with Yogurt and Grilled Peaches

IMG_3934.JPG

On Saturday morning I had to wake up and work on Organic Chemistry. What a way to kick off a Saturday, huh? It was not fun. If anyone has taken this class before, you know how painful it can be. It literally seems impossible to wrap your head around the material.

At one point I got so frustrated that I threw down my pencil, noisily pushed back my chair and stormed into my kitchen. Clearly, I needed brain fuel. It was almost noon and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. That MUST have been the reason I couldn’t wrap my head around stereoisomers, chirality, and stereogenic centers (um… yea).

IMG_3940.JPG

It was Saturday and it was absolutely beautiful outside. I refused to let the Saturday morning slip by without it being special and different from any old weekday morning. So I opened up my windows to let in the breeze and decided to cook something a little different. I took out my brand new grill pan, heated it on up, and sliced a peach. A couple of minutes on each side and I had those amazing grill marks that put a smile on my face.

IMG_3935.JPG

I took two slices of Ezekiel bread, spread it with Fage Greek Yogurt, and topped it with my warm grilled peaches. A drizzle of honey on top, and I had a special breakfast, something worthy of a Saturday.

Served alongside piping hot coffee, and I had myself a delicious breakfast that took no more than 5 minutes to prepare.

IMG_3938.JPG

This was the perfect study break and allowed me to kick back and leisurely enjoy those 20 minutes on my Saturday morning. And then it was back to the books…

The Man Can Cook: On Being Told to Stay Out of the Kitchen

There are few things in life greater than when someone tells you to sit the heck down, relax, and they will cook you dinner.  I cook all the time, and while I do enjoy it, it definitely does take a lot of effort and planning. So when my friend Ken said he wanted to have a couple of us over to cook us dinner, I couldn’t wait. This wasn’t like, “oh let’s cook dinner together”. This was like, “I am going to cook you dinner. You are going to sit there and chill out and not help at all whatsoever.” Well, okay! I was totally on board.

I walked in at 7:30 on the dot and the delicious smells were already starting to fill the apartment. Ken hadn’t revealed what he was going to make prior to us going over, so he finally told me what was on the menu: smoked salmon scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and arugula salad. Breakfast for dinner! One of my favorites.

He had to kick me out of the kitchen about twice, and I finally got the point that I really wasn’t helping. Katie brought over some wine, so we happily sat there sharing some wine while Ken cooked (in his pajamas I should add), taste tested, and had total control over the kitchen.

IMG_3910

I asked Ken why he chose this dish. I mean, having a couple girls over and cooking for them must have been QUITE the pressure. Smile He said it’s all ingredients he loves and it resembles what you may find at a NYC brunch. In fact, one of his favorite dishes ever comes from a restaurant in NY called Veselka, where they serve your typical Eggs Benedict on top of potato pancakes. Ken likes to eat really healthy, so he took that inspiration and created this dish, making each component slightly healthier.  For the eggs, he started by sautéing the onions, then added the eggs (about half egg whites/half whole) and at the end added the smoked salmon. IMG_3919

The capers were added to the eggs for flavor. He also said that he added a lemon vinaigrette to the arugula (just lemon juice and olive oil) to add some acidity to the meal since the salmon/capers were salty. Um, wow! That is a lot of thought he put into it right there. What a smart guy. IMG_3917

For the ‘taters, he simply roasted them in the oven with a little bit of olive oil, S&P. Served alongside ketchup made this girl quite happy.

IMG_3918

Overall, the entire experience was awesome. Not having to think and not having to touch anything in the kitchen was a welcomed change. The food was delicious and satisfying, and I loved every bite. Although I doubted that Ken was ever going to actually cook for us (he had talked about this before), he totally pulled through and really  impressed me. Thanks again, Ken  Smile

Baked Orzo with Snap Peas, Corn and Gorgonzola

I used to LOVE baked ziti when I was a kid. Anytime I was at the mall ( which was a lot…I also loved shopping, what 13 year old girl doesn’t?), I’d go to Sbarro and get a portion of the ridiculously good, ridiculously cheesy baked ziti. How I stayed stick skinny as a kid? I do not know.

Now I am all grown up and I like things like vegetables and whole wheat pasta. So boring, I know. The other night I set out to make baked pasta but in a much healthier way. The idea came to me as I surveyed my fridge and basically just used what I had on hand. I knew that I loved corn with pasta, and luckily had one ear of fresh corn in the fridge. Cheese-wise, I only had gorgonzola, so I thought, Why not? Cheese is cheese. I also had leftover whole wheat orzo staring at me. A few thoughts and my recipe had formed.

I knew that this had to be delicious or my 13 year old self would have been extremely let down. I can’t do that to her. So I took out the butter (well, Earth Balance) and started with 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan. It got all melty, and then I added in chopped up sugar snap peas, some fresh corn, and then after a few minutes, the already cooked orzo pasta. Mixed it all up and added it to my dish:

IMG_3876IMG_3877

IMG_3878

I then added some crumbled gorgonzola on top:

IMG_3879

IMG_3880

And finally, added on the breadcrumbs. These were also whole wheat! I am so grown up, look at that. In order to make my 13 year old self happy, I did sauté these in about 1/2 a Tablespoon of butter before putting them on. Compromises, people.

IMG_3881

IMG_3882

Baked in the oven for ten minutes and there we had it!

IMG_3884

Mixed it all up and we had a nutritious meal with some cheesy goodness:

IMG_3888

IMG_3890

By the way, this is so easy and can be changed in many ways. Add some different veggies, a fun shape of pasta, a different type of cheese, some shrimp or chicken, some pasta sauce. I really just used what I had on hand, but the concept is simple. Cook your pasta beforehand, add it to your veggies, place it all in an oven safe dish, top with cheese and breadcrumbs, and bake until cheese melts. So simple!

My 13 year old self said she was really proud. So long Sbarro.

Baked Orzo with Snap Peas, Corn and Gorgonzola

  • 1 cup cooked orzo pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • about 10 sugar snap peas
  • 1 ear fresh corn
  • 1.5 T butter or substitute (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 T cheese
  • S&P

1. Melt 1 T butter in a pan. Add in chopped up veggies and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

2. Add in cooked pasta to the pan and mix it all together. Add in a touch of Salt and Pepper.

3. Add mixture to an oven safe dish. Top with cheese.

4. Sauté the breadcrumbs in the remaining 1/2 T butter in a pan. Sauté for just a minute or so, until the breadcrumbs have soaked up the butter.

5. Add breadcrumbs to dish.

6. Bake in 350 oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese melts. Enjoy!

Ultimate Healthy Snacks for Traveling

During my first two years at my job, I was a consultant and traveled almost every week for a solid two years. I was not really expecting the travel component when I took the job; most of the consultants at our firm stay in New York, but I was given the opportunity and so I took it. I covered the Southeast and had the chance to visit so many places that I never would have seen otherwise. Although the travel was exhausting and I was ready to be done after two years, I wouldn’t change my decision to do it.

When I first started traveling, I didn’t really know how to stay healthy while on the road. It was really hard.  Unlike some other consultants, I was in a different place every week, staying at various hotels, seeing new clients, and basically had a very unpredictable schedule. IMG_3704

Overtime, I started learning what worked for me, and gradually became pretty darn good at figuring out how to travel while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It never got easy, but it got easier.

So when it came time for our trip to Greece/Turkey, I quickly took the role of making sure we had some good travel snacks for our long flights and trip. I’d love to share with you some tips and tricks that I have picked up along the way about good things to have in your bag when you head to 10,000 feet.

IMG_3705

Almonds– I have to start here. Whether you are going to class, standing in line at the DMV, or boarding a plane, almonds are the best travel snack. They are so easy to transport, they have fat and protein, and they actually can fill you up if you really need them. I almost always have almonds in my bag, no matter what!

Fresh Veggies for Travel Day- Obviously fresh veggies don’t last very long, but I got in the habit of bringing them for the day that I traveled. Airplane/airport/hotel food can get old really really fast, especially if you are someone who is used to having fresh food all the time. I started packing some cut up carrots, pepper, or cucumber for the day that I traveled. It feels so refreshing to whip them out while you are mid-flight and craving something fresh. We ate the entire bag of carrots on our long flight over to Athens and they really hit the spot.

Fruit– Similar to the veggies, it’s nice to have fruit for its freshness. Fruit can last longer than veggies, so pack some apples, a banana, some oranges, whatever you have. They are a great snack while on the road, and you can easily transport them anywhere.

Tea Bags- I am constantly cold. Part of traveling is being in varying temperatures that you can’t control. Hot hotel rooms (the WORST), freezing cold airplanes, cold airports, etc. I love always having tea bags on me so that I can ask the flight attendant for cups of hot water and can actually add my own good tea instead of whatever the airline has on hand. This is especially good if you are traveling at night and want decaf tea; most airlines won’t have any decaf tea so you can be prepared with your own. I also frequently used the little coffee/tea machine in hotel rooms and would brew some tea while I was doing work at night or just hanging out. It’s nice to have an assortment so that you can choose whatever you are in the mood for, so I usually bring several kinds. Not to mention how transportable tea bags are. They take up hardly any weight and can fit anywhere.

Granola Bars/Granola- I’m not a huge fan of granola bars or processed snacks while I am at home, but they definitely come in handy if you are in a bind on the road. I like to pick out a few that are less processed such as the Gnu bars or Bumble Bars (my favorite!). In this case, I brought two Odwalla bars that I got from the Healthy Living Summit plus two small single portion bags of Love Grown Granola. My friends and I loved all of these and they definitely came in handy during a layover and fed three very tired and cranky girls!

Single Serve Coffee Pouches- We didn’t end up using these, but I have used them on other trips. Similar to the tea bags, it’s nice to be able to have Starbucks in your hotel room if you’d like. These days, you don’t really go anywhere without a local Starbucks that you can just go and get a real cup of coffee at, but it’s still nice knowing you have these if needed.

Dark Chocolate- You know those nights when you just want a little piece of chocolate after dinner? Or after lunch? Well, when you are at home that is easy. You just break off a piece of dark chocolate that you have on hand. On the road though, where are you going to get that from? Easy! Just bring a bar with you and it’s there for you when those chocolate cravings get ya. This bar actually made it through almost our entire trip, in part because it is super dark chocolate and neither of my friends liked it. Smile I am a weirdo who LOVES really really dark chocolate. Anyway, I always like having one of these on hand for whenever I want a bite of dessert but don’t want to go buy a huge thing of it.

IMG_3706

And those are my tips! From a consultant who has traveled extensively, these are some of the little tricks I have learned to help me stay healthy. Not only do all of these items help me stay healthy, but it just feels so nice to have some pieces of home on your trip. When you pull out that tea bag from your kitchen, or that apple that you picked up at your local market, or those carrot sticks that you cut in your own apartment, it feels comforting to have little pieces of home with you while you are away.

Please let me know if there are other snacks you like to keep on hand for when you travel! I’d love to hear.

Greece and Turkey Recap

Hi everyone! I planned on doing this recap last week but wasn’t able to put the time into it that I wanted. So here it finally is. If you’ve been reading, you probably know that I was in Greece and Turkey with two of my best friends for 10 days.  Sit back and relax… here is the full recap mainly through photos with a short reflection at the end!

First stop: Santorini.

Our first cup of coffee during our layover at the Athens airport. We didn’t spend any time in Athens; instead, we quickly boarded a plane to Santorini.

DSC01108

Our amazing hotel in Santorini, the Dream Island Hotel. They treated us like family and were amazing hosts!

DSC01111

DSC01116

We. Were. Jetlagged. We felt so terrible in this picture but tried to power through the jetlag and make it till at least 9PM local time.

DSC01118

Our eyes finally laid eyes on the gorgeous cliffs we had seen in the movies and read about!

DSC01120DSC01129DSC01123

DSC01138

Grilled Calamari. They always serve the whole fish when you order fish in Greece. So fresh!

DSC01137

One of many many many Greek salads that I enjoyed.
DSC01135

DSC01151

Our favorite restaurants in Santorini was one called Salt and Pepper, owned by an amazing woman named Irene. She treated us like we were life long friends and served us up two incredible meals. Salt and Pepper is in the main town of Fira but is just outside the main area (couple minutes walking). This keeps the restaurant quiet and homey.

DSC01169DSC01170DSC01177DSC01180

Sunset at Oia—this is one of those things everyone told us we had to experience. The sunsets at Oia are said to be some of the best in the world.

DSC01197DSC01199

DSC01209

Crowds gather and watch from the tip of the island:

DSC01211

DSC01216

We rented a car for a day and drove all around Santorini. This is definitely something I would recommend doing! You can go from one end of the island to the other in about 45 minutes. It is a tiny island.

DSC01228

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited Amoudi Bay, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is a tiny fishermans village that you would never find unless you set out to go to it. There are a few waterside restaurants and it has a very laid back vibe.

DSC01273

DSC01275

DSC01285DSC01300

Second Stop: Mykonos

Beach Party time! Mykonos is known for their beach party scene, and after 3 days of relaxing in Santorini, we were ready for it. I have sparse photos from this part of the trip. Let’s just say I was having a really fun time and didn’t really think about my camera too much. Mykonos consisted of mainly a lot of this:

Deva

Here are a few more tame pictures I captured though:DSC01349

DSC01365

The lobby at our hotel:

DSC01389

DSC01408

DSC01409

Last Stop: Istanbul

Our last stop was completely different than the first two. Istanbul is an intense city, filled to the brim with culture. There is a very religious part to the city, but also a very laid back, purely fun atmosphere. The juxtaposition of the two made Istanbul really unique. We all had a hard time leaving.

Istanbul was also all about the food, especially the Turkish bread. We chose restaurants based on their break basket Smile

DSC01421

DSC01422DSC01428

DSC01438

DSC01440

DSC01447

Hagia Sofia: a famous museum to visit. It was formerly a basilica, then a mosque and is now a museum. It was built in the 4th century! The architecture and detail that went into every single piece of it was mesmerizing. DSC01465

DSC01467

DSC01482DSC01474

DSC01477DSC01489

The Blue Mosque: famous Mosque to visit in Istanbul. You have to cover your heads, so we sported some very fashionable styles.

DSC01494DSC01497

DSC01508DSC01510

DSC01513

DSC01517

Washing stations outside of the mosque:DSC01548

Turkish Ice Cream called “dondurma”:

DSC01534

Turkish coffee (they keep the grinds in there):

DSC01537

DSC01506

DSC01559

We found the non-touristy areas of Istanbul and spent two days wandering the streets. We did some vintage shopping, relaxed and read our books in their sidewalk cafes, went to a Hookah bar, and just roamed around aimlessly for hours.

DSC01572

DSC01595

DSC01607

DSC01610

DSC01624

DSC01625

Our last dinner (and one of our best meals) was had at Datli Maya:

DSC01631

It is a small restaurant, and you walk through the kitchen on your way up to the seating area:

DSC01635

DSC01654

Amazing food!

DSC01652

DSC01655

And that’s a wrap! The trip was the best trip I have been on. It was extremely relaxing, and we lived in the moment for every second of it. It felt like we were away for a month because we did so many things and truly enjoyed every part of every day. I couldn’t have asked for the trip to be anything more than it was. The three of us bonded in so many ways, and I definitely laughed more on this trip than I have in a long time.

On our last night, I sat on the balcony of our hotel and wrote in my journal for a while. I wanted to take a second to process the trip. Here is a line from my journal that sort of sums up the trip:

“The experiences I had here were so rich- every sight we saw, every person we met who had such a rich background, every restaurant we ate at. It’s like every bite of this trip was filled with so many intense and beautiful flavors”  (of course I related it back to food… Winking smile).

We really saw some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. Breathtaking views every day. And I think the depth of culture in Istanbul really impacted all of us. My favorite part of the trip was all of the people we met along the way. I loved hearing peoples’ stories and learning about the culture from a local perspective.

If anyone has any questions about any of the places we went, please ask me! I’d love to provide more detail or advice on anything.

Thanks for reading… phew you made it through!