Eat Travel and Repeat Story Series #1

Last summer, I went on a three week vacation to Europe which was very exciting as this was my first time traveling Europe. The first part of the trip was a very fast-paced, country-hopping journey, where I was extremely eager to collect new passport stamps and scratch off as many new countries as I could off my travel map tracker.

In case you were wondering, by the end of the trip, I was able to scratch off 7 new countries on my map – a number that excites the travel addict in me. After an intense start visiting six different countries in a week, we decided to take it easy and spend the next week island hopping in Greece, enjoying our time at the beaches and soaking up the sun.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but when my vacation starts extending past that two week mark, it starts feeling less like a vacation and more like a lifestyle. And at this point, I was settled in deeply into that tropical vacation lifestyle.

When you are traveling from island to island, the best way is by sea so we were taking ferries across the ocean every morning. And as someone who is fascinated by the ocean and loves boats, this was a great way to start the day. Every day, we would get on a ferry and arrive at a new island, bright and early in the morning with a full day ahead of us to explore the scenic landscapes and relax on the beautiful beaches with crystal clear blue water and clean sand – drink in hand (obviously).

We eventually found ourselves at Sarakiniko Beach, on the north shore of Milos Island. This beach is one of the most beautiful and unique beaches I have ever seen in my life and is actually the most photographed spot of the entire island. The beach is surrounded by a white rock surface with eroded volcanic rock that gives it the lunar landscape look its so famous for, and that many people say feels just like walking on the moon.

Aside from the mesmerizing white rocks and caves surrounding the area, the thing that excited me the most was getting into the water. For those of you who haven’t traveled to a Greek island before, the water is amazing! Unlike the freezing cold waters of Pacific Ocean on the coast of California that I’m accustomed to, the waters of the Mediterranean Sea are a lot warmer and refreshing, like getting into a pool on a hot summer day. You can swim in the waters of Greece for hours, which became a habit of mine during our vacation.

I was so excited to explore the waters, GoPro in hand, to see what cool footage I could capture of this incredible beach. My friends and I spent hours swimming in the slightly deeper waters, chasing down fish swimming by and jumping off the sculpted white rocks that weren’t quite high enough to be considered cliff diving. Tired out, we headed back to the shallow end of the beach which reminded me of a less crowded and more spacious version of a Vegas Pool party. The water was only chest deep here and a lot warmer, and everyone seemed to be having a great time laughing, some with a beer in hand.

After taking a break to rest, we were pumped to continue taking cool GoPro shots and were trying to record videos of us doing handstands and cartwheels and simply posing on the super unique rock formations. During one of the shots, I felt my thighs and ass rub against something relatively soft and didn’t think much of it as I assumed it was probably some moss growing on the rock. About 30 seconds later I felt an intense stinging feeling crawling up my thighs. Was there a crab or lobster in the waters that pinched me? Or perhaps a small eel or a biting fish? I was perplexed because the waters were so clear I should have been able to see anything crawling around. After about 5 or 10 minutes the pain was not receding and I began slightly panicking, so I told my friend about the pain. I couldn’t see the back of my thighs, so I was shocked when she took a picture and showed me red streaks across my thighs with swollen, raw skin.

We left the beach quickly and headed over to a pharmacy where an employee took one look and gave a knowing nod and handed me some sort of cream that was supposed to reduce the swelling and relieve my pain. In that moment, my friend had a sudden realization and tells me “Oh my god!! I know what that was. You got stung by a sea anemone. This happened to me once when I was little!”

Sure enough, when I googled the words “Sarakiniko” and “anemone” my results page was flooded in reviews and tips from other travelers with the same messaging: “Watch out for the stinging sea anemone at the beach!” Luckily for me, my swelling went away rather quickly and the pain wore off in a couple of days. Looking back at this event I find it hilarious. I even captioned my instagram picture from that day same sense of humor claiming that Sarakiniko Beach was still one of my favorite beaches of all time despite getting stung in the ass by a sea anemone.

From this adventure, I’ve learned a valuable survival lesson I will take to heart on any future travel adventures, especially as someone who is extremely spontaneous and does things like jump into lakes or swim in unknown waters. Be cautious in areas you are not familiar with. At the end of the day, safety trumps fun and spontaneity. Although this situation ended up being a hilarious travel story, in hindsight, being in a foreign country experiencing physical pain is a really scary thing and could have easily turned into something worse.

For all my fellow adventurers out there, I hope you remember this story next time you are about to jump into an unfamiliar lake or wade into the waters of a foreign beach and take a second to assess your safety before plunging into the unknown. Look before you jump and have a great and safe adventure that fulfills your eleutheromania.

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