Ahh. The infamous breakdown. A lot of people always ask me if I use a travel agency or if I book things myself. So from now on, I’ll be giving a breakdown from all of my travels.
Technically, we did this trip a little on the wrong side. We saw what we thought was an epic round trip deal into Europe but completely forgot that US citizens need a visa to visit Russia. So, long story short, we tried to cheat the system and the system beat us. We thought we were saving $200 but instead ended up spending about $100 more than what we would have spent if we booked a round trip to Athens.
Now that the back story is out of the way. The downer of our planning was the Russian visa process. If you follow me on my personal facebook account you likely saw my many feelings about the Russian Visa process. We were told by multiple sources multiple things that we would need to do. After going to the Embassy in DC we were yet again, told incorrect information and instead of needing a Transit Visa our specific journey required a Multi-Entry Tourist Visa. Obtain the visa itself wasn’t hard or long at all. It was the journey of obtaining accurate information that was the downfall. And the cost. It costs a whopping $160 for the tourist visa but apart of the Russian Tourist Visa requirements is to obtain a letter of invitation to Russia. Usually obtained either via hotel or travel agency. So add $30 onto the $160 we were looking at a total of $190 just to switch a plane. We were a bit fed up with the process but in all honesty. It was our mistake.
Fast forward 3 weeks, Val and I both have our visas and are just counting the days until we leave. The more trips I take the better I get at packing but no matter how little I feel like I am taking, I still ended up not wearing a nice chunk of what I brought with me. Typical! They say its best to roll your clothes and that I have found to be completely true! Even when I am packing my carry on suitcase, always roll! Helps with wrinkles too I suppose.
2 Dresses, 2 shorts, 2 bicycle leggings, 2 long leggings, 5 tops, 2 camis, 1 bathing suit top, 1 bathing suit bottom, 4 bras, 6 undies, 2 bandeaus, 3 socks, 1 sarong/scarf, eye mask, ear plugs, power adapter/converter, various cords/chargers, travel straightener, baby wipes, 2 sandals, 1 sandal/water shoe and a hat. Make up bag filled with make-up, q-tips, various beauty items. Travel approved liquids bag with shampoo, conditioner, lotion + dry shampoo. Brush, Deodorant, master lock + pillow. ALL of that was INSIDE or attached to my back pack! Woosh! Not including what I wore on the plane – 1 leggings, top, cardigan, socks + chucks! crazy what can fit inside of a kelty 44 backpack!
Now my camera bag – canon 5d mark iii, 24-70mm, 50mm, charger, memory cards, batteries, clutch/shoulder bag inside, portable travel charger.
I need to realize how often I don’t change my clothes when I am traveling. I know that sounds awful but when you spend time on planes and then have just layovers you usually don’t change just to get on your connecting flight. I had so much room left over in my backpack that I felt like I was a packing wizard on this trip. Needless to say, my next trip will be lighter!
I also am going to purchase some packing cubes. I hear they are great for staying organized and help save space! Winning!
Off to Paris we go!
We only have what was supposed to be an 11 hour layover in Paris while in route to Moscow. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed leaving DC and then delayed again pulled into the CDG in Paris. So our 11 hours ended up only being about 5.
Thankfully Val and I are very similar in what we wanted to see and experience and we both decided we weren’t big fans of Paris. I am not a city girl at all, I am all about those small towns and country sides. We both knew all we were really worried about was seeing that grand baby! The Eiffel tower! She was a beaut for sure! SO high in the air and it was crazy seeing the people walking up and down the stairs and walking the observation decks. I was personally more fond of watching all of the tourists with their selfie sticks. The angles and the things people were doing for photos was quite comical. I was glad we were able to knock that off both of our bucket lists.
Our flight from Paris to Moscow was only about 4 hours or so. That’s a pretty quick and painless flight. We were landing at 12:30 in the morning though so we knew we would be sleeping in the airport until the sun decided to show its face. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous about visiting Russia. I personally, have never been a fan of how their government runs things and our past experience with the embassy but I landed with an open mind. And let me tell you. It blew my mind. I was not expecting what I saw. Well sort of. The airport was plain, boring, no life to it at all. Its exactly how the embassy in DC is. Just no personality. Ps- We slept in the burker king that was under construction haha – The city on the other hand. Woosh. It was incredible. The Metro is a bit dated but the Aeroexpress from the airport to city center was a breeze. Though, asking which direction to go in a country where no one speaks a lick of english, not so much a breeze- although amusing.
The moment we stepped off the metro we were greeted by art. The street had art literally hanging above it. We pretty much had no map, nothing of the city to show us where to go or how to get to the Red Square. We relied soley on the metro map and the way the buildings looked. We saw what looked like some cool buildings and walked that way and BAM. We made it the Red Square. This is when the trip got a bit bumpy for me as my chucks gave me two really bad blisters on the pad of my foot making it extremely painful to walk. Even though I am sure Val wanted to punch me for walking slower than a damn sloth, I conquered through it and saw some of Moscow.
We finally made our way to the whole point of our entire trip. GREECE! We landed in Athens in the evening and snagged a cab over to our Hostel in the heart of Athens – Athens Backpackers. It was Vals first hostel experience and I think it was a sweet ass hostel to stay in. We roomed with some kids from Colorado who were really nice and super attractive guy from England who was off to meet friends in Spain. Its the people you meet in hostels that makes it so worth it.
Our hostel was located two blocks from the entrance of Acropolis and right next to a hot street with plenty of night life and shopping. They even have a roof top bar with MESMERIZING views of Acropolis + Athens. Anyhoo, we got a bite to eat and went to sleep in an actual bed for a good nights rest before exploring Acropolis.
Acropolis is everything I knew it would be. Massive, jaw dropping, inspiring and yet enough to drive you up the wall. Like how were you able to build something of that magnitude in those days. HOW I TELL YOU! The walk up was hot but the views were EPIC. Athens is incredible. The views, the architecture, the people. I could have stayed there most of the trip and would have been happy. We had to pack up shop that night so it was a very quick stay in Athens for us, had to hit the metro before it closed and yet we still had to take a cab as the metro in Athens closes and it doesn’t matter if you are at the last stop yet or not. haha. A bunch of us foreigners were confused about why the metro closed 3 stops away from the last stop – which was the airport.
I love you Athens, forever.
Now, the island that people dream of. What Val + I had dreamed of. Santorini. The first thing that comes to mind when people think of Greece is usually a post card image of Oia and the caldera. Those blue domed churches. We were actually about to be there. Still crazy to think I was there, just two weeks ago. Our hostel was a bit questionable but thankfully we had a 4 bed private dorm so our area was much nicer than the public quarters- fire your maid! eesh! Anyhoo,, we roomed with two guys from Australia, Chris + Alex. Strangely, Alex wasn’t talkative at all but I could lay out Chris’ life story for you. He was the coolest guy ever. He showed us his video of his sailing trip around the south of Croatia and that he was leaving to go on a sailing trip around the coast of Turkey. He was traveling 6 months and hoped to travel for 3 more. Just coming from South America. I told you, his life story. I am really sad I didn’t get his info via fb to keep up with his travels. He was such a cool dude.
Our Hostel was located in Perissa just a 5 minute walk from the beach. We were surrounded by rental companies and opted to rent an atv for the day- which turned into 3 days because its the most awesome way to drive around an island…. ever. This was about the time that Val’s little bump in the road decided to make an appearance for the remainder of the trip for her. The tables had turned. They turned.
All in all, Val and I felt like we were dropping money like crazy and it reality…. we were. But at the end of our trip, we sat our butts down and figured out our total spending for the 11 days we were traveling. On average, we were spending about $57 and some change a day. And thats on food, atv’s gas, medicine, water, little things here and there like sunblock, a hat.
When you think about that, $58 really isn’t bad at all! Feeding your self 3 times a day, keeping hydrated, splurging. Thats a damn good price for daily spending. Technically, we were spending a bit less as the $58 a day factored in the cost of our hostels too so. We did pretty good. I had an additional cost to add to my trip as I purchase a travel pass with Verizon for my trips so that I can use my phone when I am traveling. Its a way for my to stay connected, gps, find restaurants, etc. Pending on where you go its $10 a day if you actually use your phone. There is wifi EVERYWHERE in europe so its not often that you actually have to use your data.
Here is the complete breakdown of our trip to Greece.
Round trip flight DC-Moscow – $622.52
Round trip flight Moscow-Athens – $312.10
One way trip Athens-Santorini – $46.70
One way trip Santorini-Athens – $50.18
Flight total- $1,031.50
Athens Hostel – Athens Backpackers – $50.05
Santorini Hostel – Youth Hostel Anna – $62.84
Added Russian Hotel- SkyPoint – $25
Accommodation total – $137.89
Russian Tourist Visa – $160
Invitation Letter to Russia (Visa support Docs) – $30
Additional Costs- $190
Greece Getaway Total – $1,359.39
Average daily spending $55 (food, drinks, metro, etc )
All in all, this entire trip only cost Val + myself around $,1550. For 11 days, thats not too shabby. Its a bit more than I would prefer to spend for how incredible it was, I’ll take it!
As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I do most of my searching via Google flights + Kayak/Expedia. Most flights are booked directly through the airline. Hostelworld for the hostels!
I leave with you the grand daddy of them all. The video. I love making these.