Paradise beach – the name says it all

After getting lost in the streets of Mykonos and watching the most perfect sunset I’ve ever seen in my 27 years Dom and I were ready for a chill out day to put our feet up, cool off in the ocean and personally, I needed to shake off the jet lag that had finally set in my whirlwind ‘Wellington – Auckland – Shanghai – London – Athens – Mykonos’ 3 day odyssey. To earn our rest, we got up at 7am to walk around the waterfront, beating the crowds and the heat of the sun. We walked around to the old port and found more beautiful views, the most delicious bakery and how the other half live – the super yachts parked in the port were next level. I could probably afford one of the door handles! I love walking around new cities – its a great way to get off the tourist track, find some hidden gems and get some exercise. 

After showering and eating our delicious breakfast – fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt and the BEST thing i have ever eaten from a bakery, a cheesy, pancetta flat bread that was still warm – we caught a bus into town to Paraga beach were new friends of our were staying. This was the situation at their hostel:   WARNING: parts of Paraga beach and paradise beach are nudie beaches!! People don’t tell you these things and all of a sudden there is a stark naked leathery Greek man with his junk out straight ahead and it’s awkward as….it was awful!! After successfully navigating through the sea of nudies, we set ourselves up on the beach to read, swim and catch some rays (yes mum I wore my sunscreen!). We also went for a quick hike to the highest point we could find to get a view of the beach – it was stunning!!

  
 And had a few cheeky selfies while we were up there  

  
 After a fair bit of sun bathing, reading and dips in the sea/ pool we headed to paradise beach for a few cocktails and whatnot. Paradise beach is only a 5min walk away from Paraga beach so we literally went straight from beach to club haha. I was a sunscreen covered hot mess but I didn’t care, I just wanted a fruity cocktail in and around my mouth stat! The first bar we walked past we were offered free shots and a free bucket (?!!) of alcohol – SOLD! This club also had a strange Zumba party going on – Mykonos you are cray cray. After too many shots and buckets of alcohol we were all eventually up on the stage getting our dance on!

  
   We didn’t have a massive night in Mykonos, mostly because we had a morning ferry to Paros the next morning – who wants to be hungover on a boat…not me! Two of our new friends got home at 5am and had to be packed up and at the port at 8am – I think the whole ferry felt so sooo sorry for these chickies, there were 2 very green babes and we all learnt from their lesson not to drink the night before a ferry crossing!

Mykonos – you wee gem!

After exploring Athens all day I was relived to check into my air conditioned, wifi’d hostel – Athens Style. Our room was super luxurious compared to my prison cell the night before (I a seperate hostel). I’ve quickly come to appreciate the small things hostel surfing!

Athens Style was the recommended accommodation for the busabout Greek island hoping package as we were leaving from the foyer at 5.30am the next day. They also threw an optional meet and greet in the hostel bar the night before we departed so we could meet our guide (Danielle, whose equal parts awesome, knowledgeable and funny – we win having her as a guide!) and the other travellers on the tour. This was a great opportunity to meet the friendly faces we would be spending the next few days with*   

View from the hostel roof bar 

(*we chose Busabout because it’s a very flexible tour – with the island hoping package you go to Mykonos, Paros, Santorini and Ios and your ferry and transfers are all included but you book your accomodation and decide how long you want to stay on each island. The standard is 2 nights on each which is what we are doing but we realised lots of people mix it up – 2 nights Míkonos and Paros, 4 nights Santorini and 6 nights in ios (you poor poor souls). Because of the flexibility you don’t have the same group the whole way through or guide if you do more than 2 nights on an island.)

That night I had my first gyros – this quickly escalated to a daily habit…oops    

 Fast forward to 5.30am Wednesday morning…we were on the bus to our ferry to Mykonos. I was expecting an East by West kinda ferry but this was an Interislander and was more like a small cruise ship! We had packed snacks (duh!) but there was about 5 cafes on board, big leather chairs and TVs throughout the boat. The ferry stopped at 2 smaller islands before Mykonos and they both looked absolutely idilic  When we finally got to Mykonos (about 5 hours later) we checked into our hostel and headed straight out to find some lunch and scenic treasures. The blue doors and shutters, red domes on churches, cafes on the waters edge, small cobblestones streets you can get lost in, vibrant flowers and bushes snaking up white abodes, wicker windmills and cats drunk on the sun lazing in doorways…I was in a Mamma Mia heaven!!! 

 I spent hours and hours roaming the streets of little Venice – taking in the waterfront, the windmills, the great shopping, and smells of good food and sounds of locals probably just chatting about the weather but sounding like a passionate lovers tiff.    That night we went for a group dinner – Dinner = 2/5. The place was great but it seemed like token, tourist Greek instead of the taste bombs I was expecting and have since had. I also found it overpriced and quantity over quality. There are so many amazing looking restaurants in Mykonos I was pissed to waste a meal on not yumminess. But the company was great. We then walked down to the windmills watch the sunset and woah – talk about natural beauty! I can honestly say the pictures don’t do the colours justice and I had to take a minute to soak it in a say to myself ‘don’t worry about the perfect picture, this is perfection right in front of me’.  

Geeking out in Greece

I arrived in London late Sunday night and was waited on hand and foot by my amazing friends Anna and Jono who had dinner, wine and lots of cuddles waiting. I was feeling a tad overwhelmed (more on this later) that I was finally in my new city but before I press play on London life I smashed the pause button on life and jumped on a plane to Athens on Monday night to start a 7 week adventure around Europe. I managed to avoid the tube for my whole first day in London and caught a cab to Heathrow for £35 which was money well spent to a) avoid the tube again and b) make sure I got to the airport on time. 

Because of the time difference between London and Athens I arrived at 3.10am! Turns out Leah and Jason had taken the same flight when they visited Greece and gave me the heads up the cab to our hostel would be €60+. The thriftiness in me kicked in and I quickly explored to see if there was a cheaper way to get into town. Turns out there is a bus running 24/7 into the city centre for €5! Do I fork out for a cab and get dropped door to door or get on a bus in the middle of the night with a non English speaking driver and see how I go? I went with the cheaper option (sorry mum). Turns out it was totally fine – i was dropped a 5 min taxi ride from the hostel and it took about the same amount of time as a cab as there aren’t many stops along the way at 4am!

My hostel was a shock – it was actuallay like a prison cell. A tiny single bed with only a sheet, a cupboard and a sink in the corner. Being my very first experience in a hostel I started to worry that this would be the common decore for the next 7 weeks but I’ve already been proven wrong! The room was clean, I had a place to snooze for 4 hours and a hot shower in the morning so I can’t complain too much – but for $60 nzd for a prison cell for 4 hours rest – who cares?! I’m in Athens!!! And this was the view from the balcony I got up at 8am the next day to shower and start my Athen adventure. I wanted to beat the crowds and cruise tours at the Acropolis and other famous monuments and the heat of the day!! It was only a 15 walk to the Acropolis entrance – the #1 reason I booked my hostel was the location. 

When I got to the top of the hill I was fizzing at the bum with excitement to be so close to these amazing architectural achievements  that I had studied at school and university. I now wish I had hired a tour guide because the bits and bobs of information I overhead was super interesting but I picked a lot of info up at the museum. Back to the Acropolis, I marvelled at how these building have stood for so many years and was angered to think they were beaten up so bad in times of war and sadden to think beautiful buildings and countrysides are still being blown to bits right now. It just makes me want to see as much as I can before Mother Nature and/or human kind wipe out these sites for good and the only way to experience them is in the pages of books (or worse…websites!)

After the Acropolis I headed down the other side of the hill to the new Acropolis museum which was AWESOME!! Fact: parts of the Parthenon were stolen by an Englishman back in ages ago and taken back to England. They were sold for a few £ to the British museum where they are still housed today. When Greece asked for them back Britain said ‘well it’s not like you have anywhere to display them!’ So Greece built their fancy pants new Acropolis museum! (PS the British museum still have the artefacts). 

I was a total geek – taking my time to look at every artifact, trying to guess the scenes depicted in the ancient vases, plates and statues – Miss Spears, my high school classics teacher would’ve been proud! I don’t want to bore you all day with what you can see and learn at this museum – just promise me you’ll go there yourself! 

After the museum (which now had a line out the door, down the drive and around the corner in the heat of the sun – get there early people!) I followed my nose to a number of other amazing famous monuments including the Panathenaic Stadium, the stadium which hosted the first modern Olympic Games (and the only Olympic stadium I’ve set foot in!), Parliament House, temple of Olympian Zeus and also saw the changing of the guard which was pretty special – those guys must be soooooo hot in that get up!

I retired back to the hostel at about 3.30pm – having walked about 24,000 steps in the day, sweated approximately 5L of water and a full heart and mind. Dominique arrived from Dubai at 4.30pm and that night we met our busabout tour group who we will be bouncing around the Greek Islands with from tomorrow. 

Thank you Athens for being such a great start to our adventure – you were everything I dreamed and more 

    

  

Getting back into the zone 

Been a bit quiet on the old blog lately, few things going on, new training schedule to adjust to, new job, family things and a few holidays here and there, meaning the blog has taken a bit of a back seat. To be honest with the end of the crossfit open (a while ago!) I have been struggling with what my training goals are and haven’t had any direction, which tends to throw my training and nutrition mentality off completely. I eat whatever, and don’t have my usual drive in training.

When I have clear goals and a clear end game it makes ‘the grind’ all worth it. Don’t get me wrong, 90% of the time I love training and want to be there more than doing other things, but on those days when I ‘just can’t be bothered’ it’s my goals and the ‘why’ that get me there. And lately, there has been more and more of the ‘just can’t be bothered days’. With this lack of drive for training has come less than optimal nutrition, which then leads to average performance in training when I am there (less energy, motivation etc). It’s a vicious cycle!

I now have some clearer goals training wise and am feeling more motivated, but my nutrition has been all over the show (letting those ‘sometimes’ foods creep in much more than sometimes!).

At the end of last year I had some really good success with ‘The Zone’ eating plan. And, after a message today (kick up the bum!) from Emma from Embracing it, we decided to support each other in starting on the zone.

I have said to myself a few times over the last couple of weeks ‘ok, today is the day, back on track now’ and then gone back to less than ideal eating rather quickly. Somehow there is something about saying it out loud to someone other than yourself (hi everyone!) that makes it a lot more real.

We both have different reasons for wanting to get back on track. Mine being to have more energy to support my training and lose a bit of weight to make gymnastics movements easier and try and drop weight classes for weight lifting. Emma wants to support her training as well eating within the guidelines of her food intolerances to balance her hormones.

Emma and I decided that by doing it together and sharing our stories with you all, this could be the catalyst to keep us on track. And, hey, maybe some of you will even join us too?!

So, apologies in advance for a whole heap of food/meal posts and pictures (yes, more than usual). But that goes both ways, if you do want to join us, please share your pictures with us too – we love seeing your creations!

Emma and I will take before photographs and measurements to monitor our progress. We know it wont be easy, but Emma and I will share how we’re going as we commit for the next month – I’ll be ready to weigh in underweight at my competition and Emma will be treating her body as a temple and looking hot for her engagement party in a month!

Find Emma on facebook here: www.facebook.com/embracingit