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Celia Corbin

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If you’re thinking about getting a scuba dive refresher course, here are 6 simple steps you’ll learn through the course.

The dive refresher takes about one full day. I’m not a dive instructor (yet), so please always follow the direction of your instructor, but I did recently go through my dive refresher course around Komodo National Park in Indonesia after 15 years since my last dive. I’ll try to explain it in laymen terms without all the technical talk about the simple steps you’ll review when going through your dive refresher.

1. Buddy Check

In the buddy check, your instructor will show you how to safely check your buddy’s gear and essentially being their second set of eyes. This requires checking their BCD (the jacket that keeps you afloat) and seeing that it inflates and deflates properly, making sure the breathing apparatus is functioning on the regulator, and making sure all the harnesses are in place for a quick release, and that their weight belt is on.

2. Giant Step Entry

This is an easy step, literally! If you’re on a dive boat, or I imagine on a pool ledge, you just take one giant stride into the water holding having one hand on your weight belt and the other holding your mask and regulator. Once you fall into the water, you inflate your BCD and make clearance for the next diver after you.

3. Regulator Clearing

There are two methods of doing this. The first one is you take the regulator out of your mouth (pointing the breathing part down, so air doesn’t escape) and then placing the regulator back in your mouth. Once the regulator is back in your mouth, you’ll want to exhale as hard as you can until the regulator is clear.

The second method is following the exact same method, but instead of blowing air into the regulator, you use the purge button on the regulator. The purge button clears this for you.

4. Regulator Recovery

Again, there are two ways to recover your regulator if you happen to lose it. The first is to lean to the right and, then in a sweeping motion, use your right arm to grab it. It’ll likely come over your shoulder making it easy to recover.

The second method is to reach over your head or shoulder with your right arm and recover it that way.

Don’t forget to clear your regulator as needed.

5. Mask Clearing

There are 3 ways to clear your mask. I don’t know why I had such a hard time with this. Maybe it was my new mask and the silicone.

Partial mask clearing is you allow a little water to clear into the mask. Once it’s 1/2 filled, you open the bottom of your mask breathing out until the water clears. Repeat as necessary.

Full mask clearing is pretty much the same as the partial mask clearing but instead of filling your mask with only 1/2 the amount of water, you fill it completely.

Open mask clearing you take the mask completely off remembering to only breath with your mouth and not your nose then putting the mask back on and clearing the mask as above. You’ll want to make sure you always take a deep breath before clearing so that your breath is more powerful clearing out all of the water.

6. Neutral Buoyancy

Buoyancy is one of the most important skills you can learn while diving. If you can master your buoyancy, you can avoid damaging our ecosystem when diving underwater. In this step, you’ll essentially learn the difference between positive buoyancy (too much air in your BCD), negative buoyancy (too many weights or not enough air in your BCD), and then neutral buoyancy, which is what we want to strive for. In this step, you’ll observe your buoyancy and how to control it when inhaling and exhaling under water.

That’s about it! There are YouTube videos to give you a better visual. Just type in one of the 6 simple steps to getting your dive refresher. And, remember, to always follow the instruction of your guide when taking a refresher course.

Auckland’s city landscape is breathtaking. It maintains a balance between nature and modern structures. It is known for its high culture, food, and beautiful sights. It is also the home of playful dolphins and whales.

From the Airport

It is best to take the shuttle from the airport to your hotel. This could cost you around $23.75. But if you are in a hurry, it may be a good idea to take a taxi which could cost around $53 to $64.

You can exchange your currency at a reliable money exchanger called Travel Money, which is located at the ground floor of the Auckland International Airport. It is open from 4 a.m. to 12:59 a.m. every day.

You can buy Vodafone, Two Degrees, and Spark NZ SIM cards at the airport. SIM cards usually cost $3.60.

The Auckland airport has a baggage storage system that you can use to store your luggage which will cost you around $13 per day.

How To Get Around Auckland

You can go around Auckland via bus, train, taxi, shuttle, or ferry. You can also rent a car. You can also check https://at.govt.nz to find out which transportation option is best for you. This website allows you to plan your day and get discounts. The Auckland Transport System also has a text messaging service which you can use to find the next bus, train, or ferry.

Auckland is a car-dependent city. So if you want to get around the city easily, the best option is to rent a car. New Zealand laws allow you to drive in the city for one year if you have an international license or a license in your home country.

Culture

Auckland is the land of sophisticated people. If you’re into performing arts, it’s best to visit Edge. Edge is a series of performance venues where you can catch the performance of prestigious cultural organizations such as the Auckland Philharmonic and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra. You can also visit Galatos if you’re into edgy video art and cinema.

Spots for Foodies and Adventure Seekers

If you love food, you should definitely visit the Auckland food neighborhood called Mt. Eden or the Maungawhau Domain. It features beautiful cafes such as the Ironiqu, Frasers, and Circus, Circus. You can also visit the Return of Rad.

If you’re up for some adventure, you should definitely go canyoning and rafting in Canyonz. You can also try Auckland’s skywalk and sky jump. You can even do bungy jumping and skydiving via Skydive Auckland (www.skydiveauckland.com).

Couchsurfing is an amazing community when utilized the way it was intended. Unfortunately, some give it a bad name. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about using the Couchsurfing community to support your travels and the 7 types of Couchsurfers you either need to be wary of or grateful for.

1. Your Highness

The “Your Highness” host is pretty easy to identify. They have dozens of positive references to paragraphs and paragraphs of rules in their profile. They expect you to read through their entire life story, and they run their account like a business. You fill out an application that feels like pages of essay writing explaining why you’re the right surfer for them BEFORE you even know if they have availability. If you don’t follow each of their rules, they’ll shred you a new one throwing their pompous “I’m a veteran Couchsurfer and have traveled all over the world” in your face, and it’s people like you that are the reason they’re so downright annoyed. When you apologize for not reading through the entire profile and explain you were traveling between countries, they fire back saying all the other Couchsurfers made them a priority followed by a  “Patooey! You despicable nobody!” in your face. Ouch. Forget that you’re a newbie getting a feel for the community, or that you’re in limited wifi zones with little accessibility to email. You’re scum in their eyes if you don’t follow THEIR rules!

2. The Moocher

These are the takers. They rely on the kindness of others to support their freeloading lifestyle. They will stay at your home well past the initial agreement drinking all your booze, scavenging through your cupboards, asking for rides, and skillfully using your money instead of their own because they’re just too damn cheap and entitled to have to use their own money. They’re the ungrateful type and like a leech sucking all your time, energy, and money. You don’t even understand how they convinced you to sleep on the couch while they slept in your comfy bed. But what they will offer you are “insightful” conversations on why they don’t need money to travel. Yeah, that’s because they’re taking advantage of the kindness and money of others you self-absorbed bastards! 

3. The Flake

The flakes are the inconsiderate wishy-washy type. After receiving dozens of email requests from people asking you to host, you finally select one who seems genuine and feels like cool peeps. You decline all the requests to help others because you’ve locked in this one. You give them directions to your house mapped in detail and even take a day off from work because their flight gets in the morning and you don’t want to leave them stranded with all their luggage. All is good, and you’re waiting for them to land while you finish up washing linen for them so they can have a nice, pleasant stay at your home. You’re waiting for a couple of hours after they said they would arrive but no sign of them. You’re wondering if maybe their flight was delayed or if something bad happened, but you checked, and their flight arrived on time. You email them, and then they reply, “Oh sorry. I found somewhere else to stay.” Assholes.

4. The Creeper

Eww, the creepy perverts. It was only a matter of time before the creepers found it’s way into a trusted travel community. These pieces of filth are the type who will be so enthusiastic about you staying at their home offering you a ride from the airport, show you around town and even take you out to dinner. There’s only one problem, though. They only have one bed, and it’s a twin. Somehow their couch disappeared from the living room, and that means you’ll have to share the bed with them. Oh, shucks! But, hey, why don’t you have some cheap whiskey to relax you. These situations usually turn out bad when they use Couchsurfing as a way to get sexual favors in return for them giving you a place to stay. STAY AWAY FROM THE CREEPERS.

5. The Closet Surfers

These are an interesting bunch. All is good when you arrive, but things get sketchy real fast. You come in at an odd hour of the evening and are required to stay in their room during the stay. Schedules get locked in about what time you can use the shower or even brush your teeth. You have to keep real quiet, so their roommate doesn’t hear you. Wait a minute? Doesn’t your roommate have a right to know that some stranger is staying in their home? Then it’s further explained that their roommate doesn’t agree with Couchsurfing, and they don’t want them to know. Awkward! 

6. The Jaded

The poor jaded people. I really empathize with them after hearing their stories. These are the early adopters who have seen the community changing and now have to put up with the “Your Highness,” moochers, and creepers. They rarely go on Couchsurfing anymore because their experiences are more often a waste of time for them because the people no longer lack sincerity. I guess this is what happens when a community gets too big. You get a lot more sour apples that ruin it for the bunch.

7. The Small Percentage of Cool People

This is the tiny percentage of cool people left in the Couchsurfing community. They’re the type who bring you a little housewarming gift as thanks for allowing them to stay at your place, offer to take on house chores or even cook you a delicious meal. Anything they can do to show gratitude. You exchange interesting stories, lots of laughs, and the type you’ll find yourself wanting to be lifelong friends with. Or if not lifelong friends, a great experience to add to the memory book with a full belly. The experience was a win-win for everybody.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last month with the Wicked Diving Komodo team working on my certifications from Advanced to Divemaster. It was nearly 15 years (yes, that dates me!) since my last dive and now I get to immerse myself fully at one of the greatest dive locations in the world (raise the roof!).

Because it had been so long since I’ve been back in the diver life, I had a lot of questions. What is a BCD and regulator again?? Octo-what?? I hope I don’t have any trouble equalizing. But then one of Labuan Bajo’s finest instructors, Marsel, introduced me to the underwater world again with a few simple steps in a refresher course, and since I put my mask on the right way, I knew I was off to a great start!

Our first dive was in Siaba Basar, also nicknamed Turtle City, and it was pretty easy-peasy for beginners. I’m feeling like a natural. Fins are appropriately placed on both feet, and I remembered how to breathe without using my nose again. We saw a some tropical fish and my confidence is up. In other words, I got this! Like a true champ.

Now that I’m feeling all mermaid status, it was time to step up our skills and visit a more interesting site – one with [drum rolls] MANTAS! I’ve never seen mantas before, so I know this is going to be freaking awesome!

On our way to our second dive, I hear Ilham, one of the other dive guides, screaming, “Whaaaale shark!!!” We all run to the side of the upper deck and see a baby whale shark swimming next to the boat. “Stop the boat!” The guides grabbed their masks and then jumped into the water without hesitation. I’m watching from above and then I see other divers following suit. I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity and jump on the whale shark party train with only my mask being able to see it for the last 10 seconds before it drifted deeper into the sea.

At this point, we’re feeling ecstatic. We get back onto the boat and continue to our second dive site before mantas came flying out of the water from a short distance away. Now I’m even more mindblown. What an incredible thing to witness and we’re not even in the water yet! This is surely a good sign.

Everyone is pumped and eager to get in. Andreas, one of our other dive instructors, was trying to give us a dive briefing, but we couldn’t help but take our attention off of him to see the mantas flying from different directions. But once he said the sooner we get through the briefing, the sooner we can see these mantas underwater, he had our undivided attention.

The second dive was at Makasar Reef that is known for being a cleaning station for Mantas. It started off with a light drift dive. I’m trying to be cool and mimick Marsel’s perfect buoyancy looking ever so relaxed and keeping my arms in place instead of like an amateur doggy paddling under water. I think I did okay!

We passed along some brown bamboo sharks, sweet lips, Little Nemo, and even unicorn fish – but it wasn’t until we saw four mantas between 3-4 meters circling that we decided to lay low and observe these majestic creatures for about 10 minutes.

Nothing compares to the very first time seeing a manta ray – especially when it hovers so close above you that it could touch you. I remember being in awe as we watched these guys get closer and closer to us, one of them even spouting out something from it’s rear in sets! I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one. At that point, aside from nature’s sense of humor, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. No other world existed but this one at this very moment.

We have one more dive for the day, and we ended it at Tatawa Besar. This was another low-key drift dive with plenty of coral to see. We saw both white tip and black tip sharks, Hawksbill turtles, and many other great marine life. A nice and relaxing way to end the day after being filled with so much excitement as we chase the sunset back to Labuan Bajo.

It was into my first 3 months of traveling and my hair was bugging! The last time I had a proper (I use that term loosely) cut and color was almost over 6 months prior during my trip to Argentina in the small town of Puerto Madryn. I never got around to cutting my hair before I left, I had split ends, and the color was looking pretty washed out and blah. I needed a new look.

It was the first time I wasn’t working in about 8 years and my previous job was pretty conservative with the dress code, so I thought it would be fun to get a little wild with my hair to express the creative freedom I was feeling. I found myself in one of Kuala Lumpur’s multi-level malls and I passed this one hair salon that looked pretty hip. The female hairstylist had an asymmetrical bob cut with inspiring highlights of blue. I knew right away she wouldn’t play it safe with my hair and that I could trust her. So  I make an appointment and she has me come back in an hour.

I really didn’t know what I wanted. At first, I was thinking highlights of red with fiery highlights of copper. But then I told her to just get creative with it. She brings out some hair swatches and then we decided to get crazy with pink! I never had pink hair. This is kind of exciting! What if I hate it? It’s pink so I know it won’t be long before it eventually washes out. After a couple of hours, my hair is cut shorter and my hair is red with one big pink highlight. I take one look in the mirror and take a deep breath. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I pay the woman, walk out of the mall, and am feeling a little self-conscious about what the locals might think. I’m not sure how Malaysians react to such radical hair, but if she can have blue then I can have pink. It’s late when I get back to my guesthouse and I sleep it off.

The next morning I do a little city exploring, but a torrential downpour of rain hits and I scurry inside the closest building I could find inside of a bank. There was a little cafe open and I decide to grab some tea and wait for the rain to stop. I started looking at my hair again and began to really like it. It was bold, risky, and fun – just like how I was feeling at the moment. I’m going to rock this do! Not long after, I take a selfie of me with my new look and post it to Facebook (drum rolls). I initally thought I might get a few “meh’s” from my conservative friends but I also knew I’d get some support from my liberals. Boom! Posted.

It was only a matter of minutes before I get my first comment from a friend I’ve known for almost 10 years telling me how ridiculous I looked. At first, I thought he was being facetious and I jokingly respond back about how much I like it. Then he continues to throw some rather harsh feedback telling me that pink is for kids and that I need to change it back. Ouch! Thanks for your very blunt remarks. So I send him a private message asking him what’s up and he ripped me a new one. Yikes! Really? Well, I’m feeling expressive and this is how I’m expressing my creative mood. If you don’t like it then keep your feelings to yourself or stop being friends with me. Not long after I found out we were defriended from Facebook. WOW.

I began feeling a little self-conscious after that thinking maybe I do look ridiculous, but I like it and I know it’s only about a month before it washes away. I started observing Malaysians in stores to see if I’d be treated differently and it was quite the opposite. I actually received a couple of compliments! Why couldn’t my friend be accepting of this temporary phase of mine if this very conservative country could be? Later I checked back on my Facebook account and received an overwhelming amount of support from friends and family telling me to “do me” and forget his harsh criticism. So I did and I didn’t lose any readers like he said I would because of it.

Unless you come from a Hindu culture or just a resident of Malaysia, the chances are you probably don’t know what Thaipusam is all about. I sure didn’t, but then my recently acquainted Malaysian friend asked for me to come up for it in Kuala Lumpur. So what is Thaipusam? It’s an annual festival held on the full moon of the 10th month of the Hindu calendar and celebrated by mostly the Tamil community where thousands (and I mean THOUSANDS) of people gather at the popular Batu Caves attraction to watch devotees demonstrate their vows in elaborate costumes and piercings.

I wasn’t initially a fan of the idea being sandwiched between smelly armpits and being herd like cattle, but I knew it was probably the only time I’d get to see something like this, and it would be a great photo opp to share with my peeps. I was also feeling a little sensitive to terrorist attacks with the recent Jakarta incident even though I knew the police officials had it all under control.

I was in Malacca at the time and took the early morning two-hour bus ride to KL make it on time but later found out that the big day wasn’t until the following morning on Sunday. So I meet up with my local friend anyway, and we spend the day doing what girls do: shop, wine, and dine.

We were partying a bit late the night before so we got a pretty late start on the day and made it to the festival at around 2:00 pm. The local transportation (MRT) line was packed (as predicted) that even men were sitting in the ladies’ only car – which made me feel a little perturbed as they all sit comfortably in our car while elder women were standing for 20 minutes before we get there. It was later more comforting to hear these weren’t “real Malaysians” and obviously they were a bit clueless, but you get where I’m going with this; the crowds!

As soon as we step off the railway, masses of people! I’m looking at the crowds packed like sardines (and probably smelling like them too) on the other side all waiting to leave the Batu Caves. This made me feel a bit uncomfortable. If there were any real state of emergency, those people weren’t going anywhere.

I let my feelings pass, and we make our way to the Batu Caves. There were dozens and dozens of vendors lined up, carnival rides, and again, TOO MANY PEOPLE. I’m sweating balls in this heat, and I just can’t wait to get to the other side so I can get my few pics and run!

I’ll admit it was a bit intriguing to see, but each of the devotees was usually swarmed by clicking cameras all trying to get the same picture I wanted. My friend wanted to get closer to the steps, and I’m whimpering inside but remain a trooper and fight my way through the crowds elbows and all. I couldn’t believe how many people they allowed walking the stairs to the caves. Again, sardines! If there were any sort of emergency that broke out, I could imagine a lot of helpless people. Why do I feel like I’m talking like an overprotective mom right now?

After we grab our few shots, we squeeze our way back out of the crowds and decide we had enough. The lines back to the MRT hadn’t changed, so we got a couple of henna tattoos that pretty much smeared by all the sweat and shoving through people. The AC was nice on the way back to the city, though?

I hoped to have some crazy inspiring story to share with you, but sometimes the crowds are just crowds. I didn’t feel a sense of awe nor did I feel emotionally taken. But if you are looking for a couple of cool photos, then this is definitely worth the trip!

 

Met A Space Pod brings the Chucky Cheese back into adulting and a perfect place for VIP backpackers or space cadets. It’s the only themed hostel you can find in Singapore, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable in my tiny space pod quarters nestled up to my (not one, but TWO) down pillows and comforter with frequently flowing air ventilation and fold-down TV. It’s such a nice break from all the cheap and sometimes lousy hostels I’ve stayed at. For approximately $50 USD per night (I never said it was cheap), you get a space pod (or coffin, depending on how you look at it) perched along the famous Clarke Quay river where you’ll find plenty of nightlife with dozens of bars and restaurants.  If you’re the party type and don’t plan on bringing home any company, then this is a perfect solution for you. You can get rowdy at one of the bars and then crawl back into your space quarters at the end of the night.

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I’ve never stayed at a themed hotel or hostel, so I was pretty intrigued by the idea being a solo traveler. There were so many modern upgrades like USB outlets that made me kiss the sky. The restroom facilities were very clean (albeit as tight as the pod), and I even had a little privacy screen when lights were out.

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It gets pretty rowdy in the neighborhood, so if you’re a light sleeper they offer earplugs, but honestly, if noise is the type of thing to stir you into Grumpy, I wouldn’t recommend it. That being said, I’d say Met A Space Pod is for a very niche group. If you’re tall (over 6′), you probably won’t fit. If you’re a larger than average size couple, you probably won’t fit. If you don’t like noise, you’re probably not a right fit. Other than that, all others welcome to apply.

 

Indonesia has everything. They have impressive volcanos for trekkers to world-class beaches for mermaids, but what they don’t have is a strong culture in is meat – especially beef and pork. If you lean heavily on the carnivore side, take into account my perspective on 5 reasons to avoid meat in Indonesia.

1. It’ll Never Taste the Way You Expect

Indonesians don’t understand beef and pork like Americans do. Unless you’re in someplace like Bali that’s swarming with restaurants opened by foreigners – that tenderloin you just ordered is only going to disappoint you. It’ll either be too tough to eat, a sorry slab of cardboard, or grey in color.

You might be thinking, “That’s okay. I’ll find something familiar like a McDonald’s.” I remember my first trip to Bali in 2000 and it was my first time in a country so different from the Western world. I went weeks eating all the street food I could find until I eventually suffered a week-long sour stomach in Ubud. When my friend and I made it back to Kuta Beach, I was stoked to find a McDonald’s (something familiar). I ordered a McChicken sandwich and, when it was given to me, my sandwich was much smaller than it’s original stateside version, the meat looked super skimpy, and it didn’t taste like chicken.

Are you enamored by all the free-range chickens running around? Very organic, right? Wrong. Some of that plump chicken breast you’re so used to eating will come out looking like a weenie runt on that chicken satay you just ordered,  if it is even chicken meat. It could be chicken organs too.

2. It’s Hard to Find

If you find yourself in the countryside of Indonesia, what’s the first thing you see? Likely rice fields and skinny chickens, but almost never cows or pigs.

If you can’t stomach another plate of chicken [organ] satay, that flyblown fried fish will be served with all of its organs and head still attached. Eat the eyes for good luck!

3. It’s Low Grade

Cardboard slabs of grey meat. Need I say more?

4. Mystery Meat Posers

I spent one month of volunteer teaching English in a small village outside of Yogyakarta. I stayed in a beautiful home with an upper-class family who had a personal chef. They wanted to please me so badly that when they asked me what my favorite meal was, I gave them an honest answer of filet mignon. The chef went out of his way to please me and one night surprised me with the most tender filet mignon I ever cut. There were a few white circular rings on it that I was trying to overlook. Is it ringworms? It’s Indonesia and the quality is never that good, so whatevs. It’s super tender to cut and when I put the most delicious piece of steak in my mouth, I almost vomited it right back onto my plate. Something is not right.

The next morning my chef asked me why I didn’t finish my meal. I told him it tasted funny. It was then later explained to me that it was cow lung that I was served and not filet mignon. Gross.

5. A Constant Disappointment

On my first night staying with an upper-class Indonesian family on Java, they welcomed me to some local snacks they prepared themselves. It was my first night in Indonesia after spending two months in Thailand (imagine all that yummy foodie goodness I just came from). There were two plates on their living room table. I didn’t want to be rude and picked up a small piece of omelet with a couple of other snacks. I take a bite of the omelet and I’m not really that impressed. I unintentionally put the egg back on my plate upside down and notice a bunch of tiny black things mixed in with my egg.

They see me staring and examining, and then respond with, “Termites.” in Bahasa language. Later it was explained to me that during the rainy season they catch them to add extra protein to their meals. I think I’ve had enough protein for the night. Thank you.

Who loves bacon? Nobody does bacon better than ‘Merica. Extra crispy? Apple chip smoked or maple flavored soaked? Bacon vodka. Bacon chocolate. Bacon Bloody Mary’s. We have too many delicious variations in our motherland that when you order it here and are served a flaccid looking piece of near pink meat, it’s just screaming disappointment.

Needless to say, the meat selection in Indonesia is not Travel Marinade approved.

Santorini is a beautiful volcanic island that is part of the Cyclades group of the Greek island. It is famous for its stunning sunsets, breathtaking view, and natural beauty. There are a lot of things that you can do on this fantastic island. You can explore the alleys, paths, and beautiful stairwells of Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Fira. You can also enjoy the beach and dine with a fantastic view. But, before you go to Santorini, Greece, here are the things that you should know:

Airport Transfers
Santorini is a small but busy airport. Visitors from the United States and even in other parts of Europe have to travel to Athens first and then book a plane to Santorini. There are a lot of shared and private airport transfers in Santorini airport, but to avoid a long line, it is necessary to book in advance long before you go to Santorini.

Getting Around the Island
You ride a public bus from the main station at Fira to get to the different destinations around the island. The bus ticket costs around $3.33. You can also take a taxi that typically costs you around $5.21. If you’re more of an adventurer, you can also rent a car from the following car rental companies like:
• Avis
• Budget Rent-A-Car
• Sixt
• Hertz Rent-A-Car
• Cool cars
• SantoriniCarHire.com
• Vazeos
• Santorini Holiday Cars

SIM Cards
You can find many SIM cards around Greece. You can actually buy a Cosmote pre-paid SIM card at the departures hall of Athens airport for about $5.55.

Airport Lockers
The Santorini airport does not have luggage lockers, but some travel agencies have luggage lockers that you can rent for a fee.

Money Exchange
There are many money exchange stores around the touristy areas of Santorini but these stores have high commissions, so it is best to do the money exchange in the bank.

Neighborhoods for Foodies and Adventurers
You can find a lot of delicious eggplant dishes around Santorini. When you’re on the island, it is essential to try the delightful Greek dishes such as taramasalata, dolmades, moussaka, and courgette balls. You can find a lot of restaurants in this beautiful island, including:
• Metaxy Mas: this is probably the best restaurant in Santorini. It serves excellent food and has a beautiful view of the Kamari beach.
• Argo: Argo does not have a scenic view of the island, but it serves really amazing food. The interior and exterior of the restaurant are also captivating.
• Remvi: this restaurant is located in Firostefani. This restaurant serves tasty food and gives you a beautiful view of the sea and the island.
• Avocado: this restaurant is located in Imerovigli. This restaurant is charming and serves fantastic food, too.

If you’re up for some adventure, here are the things that you can try in Santorini:
• Sunset sailing tour
• Watch a movie in an open-air cinema in Kamari
• Hike to Oia
• Swim in Amoudi Bay
• Sailing
• Wine Tour
• Swim in the hot springs
• Go on Volcano boat tour

Culture
Greece has one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. The 98% percent of residents in Santorini have Greek ancestry. Most people in Santorini speak Greek, but they can speak English. To discover the culture of Greece, you can visit museums within the area, and you can also visit the Akrotiri ruins.

Santorini is definitely one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It is filled with wonder, beauty, and friendly people. But, before you go to Santorini, it helps to do a little research. This is to ensure that your trip is hassle-free.

Fish spas…the good, the bad, and the, “I don’t think I like this!” in 60 seconds!

I probably went to one of the worst fish spas you could go to. Oh, you know, planted right in the middle of a tourist trap in Bangkok on Khao San Road. It’s a street filled with pubs, elephant pants, and “Same Same” graphic tees. It’s a party spot that it’s no wonder it attracts hundreds of drunken tourists looking for debauchery. Thank God I’m not in my twenties anymore or I’d probably be one of the hung over despicables parked and drinking a bad excuse for a Bloody Mary and then washing it down with a Chang beer because I don’t want to waste the money I just spent on it.

I’m not even sure why I’m here…oh, wait, my mother did some research and wanted to take me here because she thought I’d enjoy it. Yes, mum is in town for two weeks to see me off at the beginning of my round-the-world travel adventures. We begin window-shopping looking at all the same graphic tees before I overhear my mother (God bless her) pull over a backpacker and ask him, “Excuse me? Do you know where the backpacker’s ghetto is? I want to get to the backpacker’s ghetto.” Not surprisingly he didn’t know, and she got a very questionable stare. We get to another shop, and she proceeds to ask the vendor the same question. Where on earth is she getting her info from?! Why is she so curious to check out a “ghetto”? I’m beyond feeling embarrassed and bury my head into the rack of clothes until we’re in the clear.

To derail her from further embarrassing me, I see a fish spa. I read about these on Trip Advisor and on the internet. It seemed novelty, and I’m drawn to novelty, so I figured, “When in Thailand…”

My mother seemed apprehensive about doing it but decided to join me since I was able to knock off an extra 50 baht ($1.50 each) off the 200 baht original price for 15 minutes. It seemed a bit pricey considering I saw that equivalent to a one-hour massage, but, “What the hell. YOLO!” I’ll never be able to try this in the states.

I was wearing skinny jeans, but the lady at the shop had some pants for me to change into. Sweet! I walk upstairs into a little changing room area so that I could put on these adorably attractive yellow and lime green capris (notice sarcasm). As I’m getting my last leg in, I hear screaming from below. Who is that?? Then I recognize it’s my mother’s voice. We’re the only ones in the shop, so it has to be my mum. “Oh, quit being a baby!” I’m thinking.

I make my way back down, and she has this squeamish look on her face with her feet propped up over the fish spa. It can’t be that bad.

She looks at me, and I’m laughing at her for being such a sissy and sit down so the lady can wash off my feet in a bucket of water before going for it. Mum gets ready to video me, and I get my camera ready too. I put one foot in followed by the second one seconds after.

I see them each of them starting to make their way slowly to my two feet…but mostly my left foot. I’m not sure why they like my left foot better.

A few of these feet-sucking feeders are now on my feet. This feels kind of weird. Then dozens more slowly follow suit. Okay, now it’s starting to feel really weird. And then the dozens begin to triple all mostly attracting on my left foot. What gives?! Eeeeeek! Okay, I don’t think I like this. Wait, I definitely don’t like this!

I’m trying so hard not to overreact, holding my breath, my face getting flushed, and my eyes closing tighter and tighter. “Eeeeee-heeee-heee-heee!!” I can’t tell if I want to scream, laugh…I’m scraughing. That’s what I’ll call it! Scraughing! I’m totally scraughing squeamishly.

I’m practicing my breathing as if I were preggers with frequent shallow inhales and exhales, “Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!” Okay, I can’t take this anymore! No more! My feet are out. The fish win and I’m TKO’ed this first round.

But, wait, that was like only 60 seconds. I still have another 14 minutes of this ish. My mom has this, “See? I told you so.”, look on her face with her feet still on the surface of the water.

I’ll show you, Mom!

I get my feet back into the water after the blood proceeds to rush off my face, and these fish-sucking guzzlers are back at it in the same routine, all back at my left foot. What the hell?

I’m panting like a dog without water with cold sweats coming from my forehead hyperventilating again.

“Eeeeee-heeee-heee-heee!!”

“Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!”

All right! Vampire fishies, you win! You TKO’ed my ass. I’m out!

Clearly I did not make it the full 15 minutes and weeks later I can say I didn’t suffer from any weird foot fungi from unsanitary conditions sharing the dirty waters with a million other feet, but it is a twisted story I get to share with my friends. Would I give it another try? While I did have a dream (aka nightmare) that same night about fish sucking on my body and suffering from a slight PTSD from the experience, I would consider giving this another try in the future, preferably at a spa where I’m warmed up with a glass of champagne first.

You Suck Fish Spa!

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