Cioccolato, Chocolat, Schokolade of Europe

I’m a chocoholic. I’ll admit it. If I could eat chocolate with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I would. I’ve loved chocolate for as long as I can remember.

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Italian and Greek chocolates

These days, I actually prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate. Tastes better to me, and apparently has some health benefits. Strangely, though, I’m not a fan of white chocolate.

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Icelandic and New Zealand chocolates

I like certain combinations of chocolate…chocolate with banana, chocolate with raspberry. My ultimate favorite combo is chocolate with peanut butter!

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Finnish and Latvian chocolates

Not only do I indulge in chocolate regularly at home, but I also make it a point to try chocolate in every country that I am traveling in. Chocolate that is locally made!

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German and Lithuanian chocolates

I have found great chocolate in every country. Of course, there is the infamous Belgian and Swiss chocolates that I have sampled.

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Belgian and Swiss chocolates

Gelato in Italy became an addiction! In Vienna, I ate a piece of the Sacher Torte in the café that it originated from.

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Chocolate museums make for some fun and interesting facts about chocolate. Not to mention the free samples!

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To prove that I have indulged, I usually keep the wrappers from the chocolates so that I can put them in my scrapbooks, which I share with you in this blog.

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Ecuadorian and Russian chocolate (the Russian chocolate was given to me by one of my sisters who went – she knew I would like it!)

As I always say at the end of my blogs, and especially at the end of this one,

Sweet Travels!

All chocolates eaten by Debby

Santorini, Greece: Destination by Sunset (Part Four)

I finally made it to the end of the town of Oia on the island of Santorini, where if I wanted to walk much further, I would have needed to learn how to walk on water, as I was overlooking the vast blue seas to the east.

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scenes on my way to Oia

From the end of Oia, I was able to turn around and look back to see where I had been during my daylong journey through one of my favorite places that I have ever traveled to. I was able to see my starting point, the town of Fira, and the curvature of the island that I followed to reach my destination by sunset.

During my glances back, I felt like I was looking at the famous scenes of Santorini that I had just experienced in the wonderful, diverse artwork.

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looking back from Oia

During the cooler evening air, I searched and found the best seat in the house, so that I could finally watch what my goal of getting to my destination by sunset was all about, and what Santorini is famous for – the sunset itself. I sat for over an hour watching the sky as it faded from the blue of the day, to the oranges and reds of the sunset, to the darker star-filled nighttime sky. The sunset was breathtakingly beautiful, and now I know why so many people flock to this area for this experience.

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other Santorini scenes with churches

I focused on taking pictures of one specific cross on the top of a church overlooking the water, using up the last of the film that I had brought with me.

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When the show was complete, I did not want to walk all the way back to Fira in the dark. I opted to take a bus back, and during the half-hour ride, I reflected on my day as I watched the places that I had walked through go by my window.

I thought about the blue domes and the pastel colors of the churches; I thought about the church bells and the steeples; I thought about walking on the rooftops; I thought about the whitewashed homes; I thought about the blue seas and the blue skies; I thought about the zigzagging of the cobblestone, the paths, the trails, and the roads; I thought about the layering effect of the hillside towns; I thought about the “summits”; I thought about the wildflowers and the views; I thought about the local Greek food; and I thought about the expertise and sheer talent of the artwork.

I was glad that I brought my hat, sunscreen, water bottle, snacks, and sunglasses with me on that day. I was especially thankful that I brought my camera and all that extra film! And I was truly delighted that I reached my destination by sunset…

Sweet Travels!

All photos taken by Debby.

Santorini, Greece: Destination by Sunset (Part Three)

As I approached the middle of my journey on the island of Santorini, with the glorious 80 degree weather still apparent; still outfitted with a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses; still carrying a water bottle that had been refilled several times, although the snacks that I had were gone; my camera fortunately still working; and although my supply of film was dwindling, I still had plenty left, I found myself on what I called the “summits of Santorini.”

Two hills, strewn with wildflowers and spectacular views. I felt like this was the “hiking” part of my walk as not only did some of the paved and cobblestoned roads that I had been walking on turn into a rocky trail, but also, I had reached the highest vantage points of my day. From here, I was able to see the curvature of the island of Santorini; I could look back at where I had been, Fira; and I could see ahead to where I was going, Oia, my destination by sunset.

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a “summit” marker; where I had been, and where I was going

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wildflowers, spectacular views, and the curvature of the island

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churches on the hillsides near the summits

A couple of times throughout my day, especially because those snacks I had with me had been eaten, I stopped to dine on some local Greek food to sustain me. Yum! There is nothing like the combination of eating the local food while looking at local scenery of this beautiful island!

After most of my day had passed, I arrived at the town of Oia, almost attaining my goal of reaching my final destination by sunset. I wandered slowly through the town, glancing into several shops to see what the locals were selling. There were many souvenir shops, some music shops, and lots of art shops. It was these local art shops that I found to be fabulous.

The theme of the wonderful artwork that I was looking at was mostly the same – the amazing scenes of Santorini with the whitewashed homes; the blue splashes of color of the church domes, the seas, and the skies; along with the occasional pastel colors of some buildings. But the mediums used to create the artwork, as well as the artistic styles, varied widely, from paintings of watercolors or oils, to postcards, to sculptures. The diversity of this artwork was just as beautiful as the scenery itself!

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samples of the diversity of Santorini artwork

One of my favorite mediums for the Santorini scenes were paintings that were actually made out of pieces of earth, including the volcanic rock that the island itself is made of. These paintings looked three-dimensional, and really impressed me, with their earthy tones and depth. I called this local “earth art.”

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local “earth art”

During my meandering around Oia, ironically, I then came across this building that looked to me like this “earth art” that I had just seen in the local shops. I took my own “artistic” picture for comparison.

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my “earth art”

Earlier in my day, I even had a wonderful opportunity to stop and watch an artist at work creating his paintings of the very towns that I had been walking through. Such expertise and concentration!

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artist at work

Please read my final blog for more about my Santorini journey, including more photos, as I finally reach my destination by sunset.

Sweet Travels!

All photos taken by Debby.

Santorini, Greece Destination by Sunset (Part Two)

I continued my journey on the island of Santorini, still experiencing the glorious 80 degree weather, and still armed with a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, an almost-empty water bottle, half-eaten snacks, my camera, and fortunately plenty of film still left (although lots of photos had already been taken). As I walked, not only did the churches of Santorini catch my eye (see my blog, part one), but I also noticed the layout, namely the way that the buildings and streets were arranged, of the hillside towns that I was walking through between Fira and Oia.

This arrangement made it easy and fun to explore. The streets themselves varied from being paved or cobblestone narrow streets and paths, to rocky trails, to roads that were wide enough for cars. Many of those narrower streets were organized in such a way as to make it seem as if I were wandering through a maze, zigzagging around and through and over and under the homes and churches, allowing for many options of which direction I could travel.

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Narrow Path and Rocky Trail

Not only did the layout of the towns give me plenty of choices for exploration, but also because the towns were built on hills, there was this layering effect of the homes and churches. As I would walk on one street, not only were there buildings next to me at my level, but there was also a layer just above me, and a layer just below me.

And because of this layering effect, there were actually a couple of times when I was able to walk right from my layer right up on the top of the roofs of some churches of the layer just below me. I’m not really sure if I was supposed to do this or not, but it allowed me to walk right up to the steeples and church bells to see them up close! I loved that! And it made for some fun and artistic photos.

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Church Bells and Steeples from the Roof Tops

These walking-on-the-rooftop experiences not only made for great views of the architecture of the churches, but also gave me fabulous landscapes right through the steeples of the churches to other Greek islands, and to the blue skies and blue seas beyond and below.

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Greek Islands and Blue Skies and Blue Seas Beyond

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Blue Seas and Boats Below

Good thing I had that extra film with me!

Please read my next blogs for more about my journey, including more photos, to my destination by sunset.

Sweet Travels!

All photos taken by Debby.

Santorini, Greece: Destination by Sunset (Part One)

At 700 feet above sea level, and temperatures around a glorious 80 degrees, with a hat on my head and sunscreen on my skin, I set out for my day’s journey. Armed with a water bottle in one hand, and a camera in the other, I had a snack and sunglasses in my pocket, and extra film ready to be used at a moment’s notice. I knew that the shoes on my feet would let me walk on the variety of terrain that I would be encountering. My goal was to get to my destination by sunset!

Well, ok, this wasn’t some epic hike to the top of a mountain, or across some sandy, hot desert. But it was to be a walk of beautiful scenery, some adventure, and a mission to witness one of the most breathtaking sunsets in the world. During my day, I would be wandering through several small towns, amongst the local whitewashed homes. The blue domes and pastel colors of the churches and other buildings would add color to my excursion.

I would have opportunities to walk on the rooftops of local churches, where I would see the church bells, domes and steeples up close. The vast blue seas below, and the wide blue skies above, would fill my background. I would even be able to shop in local stores along the way, eat local food, and watch local artists create paintings and other forms of art of the very towns that I was walking through.

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Santorini, one of the many picturesque islands in Greece is where I was; where I took this spectacular day-walk from the town of Fira in the middle of the island, through small towns built on hillsides, to the town of Oia on the north end. It can be a three-hour walk, but I took all day, because I wanted to take my time and really experience the splendor of the island.

My Santorini journey has made it to the top of my list as far as one of my favorite places that I have ever traveled. (Along with Venice and The Cinque Terre in Italy. See previous blogs.) From the very first steps of my walk, I was in awe of the scenic architecture, churches, homes, seas and skies surrounding me. It looked very much like the pictures of Santorini that I had seen in brochures and postcards, but it was much better in person!

I shall now take you on a photojourney of my day in Santorini. It was a good thing that I took all that extra film with me, as photo opps were definitely available at a moment’s notice!

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The churches of Santorini, from the very beginning of my day-walk to the very end, were the biggest subject of my photos. I became completely entranced with the architecture and sheer elegance of these structures. With their blue domes and other pastel colors; with their various shapes and sizes; with their church bells and steeples; with their spirituality. I wanted to take pictures of every single one of them. And I practically did. Many of the pictures I took were of the fronts of these churches.

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Some of the more artistic pictures I took were of the church bells and steeples up close. Notice the blue dome and cross in the background of these photos.

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The famous Santorini blue domes are the subjects of these photos.

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Notice the shadows in these more creative pictures that I took.

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Or how about a close up of the colorful door and windows of this church.

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And one of my favorite photos: four church domes and steeples in one photo!

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Please read my next blogs for more about my journey, including more photos, to my destination by sunset.

Sweet Travels!

All photos taken by Debby.