For me, this journey started with a Google search for “adventure travel groups for young people.” Yomads Travel was exactly that.
I’ve always wanted to go to Greece, and the itinerary looked amazing. I booked the trip pretty quickly and convinced my roommate to tag along as well. Three months later with our bags packed, we set off to join a group of 13 other strangers in another country with only an outline of what to expect. We soon found out that we had 8 different nationalities in our group of 15!
After 20 hours of travel, we finally made it to our first hotel. We were the last to arrive and were greeted warmly by the rest of the group and tour guide in the hotel’s bar. Introductions were made, and our guide Jerome began explaining what we could expect the next couple of days. We then headed off to dinner down the road where we enjoyed our first Greek meal, full of bread, olive oil, and wine. It was what all our meals would include, and it was wonderful!
The next morning, we set off on our bikes, out of the village and up into the mountains. Jet leg and staying up too late hit me hard, and the last steep hill was ROUGH. Thankfully, there was a small café perched at the top. Here we got our first incredible view, with mountains behind us and the water spread out in front us. After taking plenty of pictures and hydrating, we set off again, this time on foot.
Walking to the next village, we passed farmers working outside and wild grapes (which we definitely sampled). This was a place fixed in simpler time, and it was beautiful. Arriving at our designated lunch spot, we collapsed in our chairs, ready for plenty of water and bread.
After reviving ourselves with nourishment, it was time to get back on the bikes. We went up (again) and found where we would be staying the night – a campsite owned by a local resident that was somewhat up in the mountains. After quickly setting up our tents, and with nothing else to occupy our time, we started talking (and drinking). Our host made homemade wine and had a HUGE bottle of his vintage ready for us. I was lucky enough to be the first to sample, and it was quite yummy!
Our host then cooked us a delicious dinner of grilled peppers with feta, pork chops, and later, homemade baklava. We were all gathered around the fire talking when all of sudden two visitors showed up and began performing classic Greek music. It wasn’t long before we were led into the road to participate in a traditional Greek dance. This was done with much laughter and little grace, and it couldn’t have been more fun. We retired once more to chat around the fire late into the night. It was the perfect first day, and our group had now officially bonded! Each day was somewhat similar to this, filled with hiking, biking, and plenty of laughter. After our second full day, my roommate looked at me and said, “What did you get me into?! I’ve never exercised so much in my life!”
Each activity was rewarded with a spectacular view, and that was the extent of his complaining. Though several of us had blisters and we were all sore, nobody fussed. Every single one of us was just too appreciative of this amazing trip. I got to stay in a feuding family hotel whose garden was divided with a wall. I saw shopkeepers start their day with a cigarette, latte, and gossip. I ate the BEST bread and olive oil every single day and didn’t feel guilty about it at all because of all the exercise we were doing. I got to kayak seven miles on the Ionian Sea.
Our second night of camping was even better because it was on a gorgeous, secluded beach. The only sounds were the waves and the jingle of the bells attached to the goats. After another tasty meal around the fire we awoke to an amazing sunrise! I was so sore at the end of every day, and yet still so invigorated by all we had seen and done. One afternoon, we got to swim in blue caves and jump off of a nearby cliff! I loved how authentic our trip was.
We did get funny looks when we would ride into town on our bikes, and we joked that there was a new biker gang in town. I’d have to say that the theme of this trip was “Up up up” and “Yamas (cheers).” Jerome always let us know there was going to be a hill (aka mountain) with his phrase of “Up up up.” Yamas was for every meal that was accompanied by table wine or one of their local beers, Mythos. With the exception of ferries, we were our own transportation. There is something so satisfying about that, and I am hooked on all my future trips being this active!
My only advice is to make sure you bring padded biking shorts and plenty of band aids. We were so sad to leave this wonderful place and these wonderful people!
Post and photos by @darladarling82.
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