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So this whole group travel thing — it genuinely took me by surprise. I didn’t expect how much I’d love getting to know my fellow Contikiers in Mykonos, how I’d love rediscovering Santorini with them, or how much fun my new friends and I would have raging and recovering in Ios. I couldn’t have anticipated how good it would feel — letting someone else plan the fun while I sat back and enjoyed. And I’ve loved sharing it with all of you, especially those that write to me looking for a way to ease into international travel.

But I’ve saved the best for last. This day, sailing on a pirate ship with my new crew around the island of Ios, was my absolute favorite of the entire trip.

Ios Harbor

Ios Harbor

Though this, like all activities, was an optional add-on to the tour, almost every single person had signed up. Two weeks in, and I felt like I was surrounded by old friends. The day started low key as we admired the scenery of tiny and sparsely populated Ios unrolling in front of us.

Ios Island, Greece

Ios Boat Trip

Ios Island, Greece

It didn’t take long, though, before things started getting silly. How could they not, when we were on a pirate ship in the middle of the Aegean?

Ios Boat Trip

Ios Boat Trip

Contiki Ios Boat Trip

Contiki Ios Boat Trip

Leigh Browne Pirate Boat Trip, Ios

Though for me and most others this was a sober outing, the boys simply couldn’t resist adding to their singlet collections — appearantly even boat excursions aren’t immune to this savvy marketing ploy.

It wasn’t long before we were docked in a beautiful bay, and taking part in one of my all time favorite life activities, Jumping Off High Stuff into Water. I was in heaven as I leapt off the second story bow.

Contiki Ios Excursion

Contiki Ios Excursion

Leigh Browne Pirate Boat Trip, Ios

Ios Sailing Trip

I may have let out a cry of protest when it was time to pull up the ladder — what can I say, being told where to sleep, when to move and what to eat quite temporarily regressed me to my toddler years — but I shouldn’t have protested. Our next stop, a hidden cove in a place that looked suspiciously like paradise, was even better than the last.

One by one we jumped in and swam for shore.

Ios Sailing Trip

Contiki Ios Boat Trip

For a girl with an incurable ocean addiction, no, I can’t really imagine how a day could be better than this.

Contiki Ios Excursion

Ios, Greece Boat Trip

Ios, Greece Boat Trip

It was just crazy, silly, amazingly carefree fun. One of those days where half of the things that come out of your mouth are some variation on the expression, “Isn’t this great?”

Contiki Ios Boat Trip

After a picnic lunch on the beach, some chose to hike to a nearby viewpoint, some chose to nap in the sand, and a few of us chose to don snorkel gear and go for a swim. While there wasn’t much to see, I had a transcendentally happy moment swimming as far out as I dared and floating on my back until I was in what I can only describe as a full meditative state, the sun and ocean making the perfect Meihoukai sandwich. This is it, I thought, the two purest things I need in life, the ocean below me and the sun above me. I’ll just float somewhere in the middle.

Snorkeling in Ios

Snorkeling in Ios

Snorkeling in Ios

Snorkeling in Ios

Contiki indeed has a reputation for partying. But it’s worth noting that for me and many others, the highlight of the trip was a good old fashioned day of fun and friends, with a heavy heaping of sunshine.

I’m thankful to this trip for opening my mind to group travel, introducing me to some truly fantastic people, and allowing me beautiful moments like this in what I can now confidently say is one of my favorite countries to travel in.

Ios, Greece Boat Trip

Contiki Ios Boat Trip

Leigh Browne Pirate Boat Trip, Ios

Till next time, Contiki, and farewell, Greek Islands! Next stop, back to the mainland.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to Contiki for hosting me on the . As always, you receive my honest opinion regardless of who is footing the bill.

3-devide-lines
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32 Comments...
  • Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide
    November 23 2014

    A day on a pirate ship? That is literally my childhood dream!

    Also, I’m loving all the fun in the ocean shots. Have to get myself a waterproof enclosure for my Canon!
    Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      One of my best purchases ever. Well, the holidays are coming… šŸ™‚

  • Bayyinah
    November 23 2014

    I absolutely need to make it to Greece soon, it looks beautiful! And your pictures are phenomenal!
    Bayyinah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Thanks! It really is a stunning country — each island and city reminded me so in a different way.

  • Leah
    November 23 2014

    Wholesome fun on a Contiki tour…who’da thunk? Are you sure those guys in the teeny tiny tank tops were sober?
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Ha! As mentioned, they simply could not resist adding one more to the singlet collection šŸ™‚

  • becky hutner
    November 23 2014

    it just occurred to me that your contiki friends must be having such a blast reading all your coverage of their holiday! little did they know that along with their package tour, came a pro blogger to document it all.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Ha, they started to catch on partway through thanks to my obsessive note taking and photo documentation. Busted!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    November 23 2014

    THAT WATER THOUGH
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

  • Silvia
    November 23 2014

    So much joy! I love reading all these summer posts right now – totally craving the beach!
    Silvia recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      I’ve been back in New York 48 hours and I already agree!

  • Justine
    November 23 2014

    Fun! I think it’s kinda cool that you were able to travel (and make friends with) complete strangers over two whole weeks. That definitely enables lots of bonding time. That water is gorgeous, too. It makes me realize just how badly I need to get my butt to the beach!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      I can never be away from the ocean for too long. It just calls to me!

  • Anna @ shenANNAgans
    November 23 2014

    Sooooo much Fun! I reckon the friends you make on your travels are often the people that stay in your life. You break down barriers super quick and I guess they see you in your most natural state. Love the gorgeous blue waters and sunshine, how amazing is Summer. :)Have been hitting the gym up hardcore to ensure the bod is beach ready. Awesome post, your life inspires me. Cheers, Anna
    Anna @ shenANNAgans recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Ugh, I need to get back on that right now, Anna! The holidays will conspire against me, though. But I’m determined to fight back!

  • Karen
    November 24 2014

    I looove jumping off high stuff into water!! And lazy traveling sometimes. This all looks so awesome!
    Karen recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Me too! I don’t know what it is, but it’s one thrill I’m all about. I just like to have a reassurance about how deep the water is, first šŸ™‚

  • Danni @Leftnleavin
    November 24 2014

    I love jumping off high stuff into water. Except I almost always chicken out the first three times. Also how are you so fit? I’ve been terrible at keeping fit (not that I was to begin with) but yeah, I’ve seriously considered renaming my blog ‘walrus rules the world’.
    Great pictures!
    Danni @Leftnleavin recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 24 2014

      Ha, girl, I’ve been there — in fact, I’m there now. My weight and dedication to fitness and healthy eating go through phases, and right now I’m on the lazy and heavy end of the spectrum. I’m hoping to use this time at home to refocus on the being active and eating clean, though the holidays may throw a wrench in that plan. We shall see…

      • Danni @Leftnleavin
        November 24 2014

        I’m going to my parents place in Abu Dhabi for the holidays where it will be nice and warm so hopefully kick my *ss into gear in time for S.E. Asia in January! I’ll wish us both luck tackling holiday dinners! haha
        Danni @Leftnleavin recently posted..

  • tammyonthemove
    November 24 2014

    This ship looks awesome and I can’t believe how clear the water is. That’s the type of water even I would snorkel and swim in. I don’t like it when I can’t see what’s below me. This looks like pure bliss though.
    tammyonthemove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I’m with you. I almost never swim in lakes or rivers for that exact reason. The ocean though is a good friend šŸ™‚

  • Marni
    November 25 2014

    This is my dream day!!! I have always had a fascination with pirates, so spending a day on a pirate ship and swimming in water that blue in the Aegean would be a dream come true. I’m glad you enjoyed letting someone else plan everything, and I can’t wait to see where you do a group tour next!

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I have a few ideas in mind, but we’ll see what plays out šŸ™‚ Thanks Marni!

  • Cheyanna
    November 25 2014

    I’m so in lust with this Greece trip! Can you remind me again exactly what time of year you went…end of June? The weather seems beyond perfect. Side note: happy Thanksgiving and welcome back to the states! (Are you frozen yet? haha).

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Hey Cheyanna, I was actually here in Ios at the middle/end of August. It was the most gorgeous weather! …Unlike right now in Upstate New York, where I am indeed freezing. Ha.

  • Chris
    December 6 2014

    Looks stunning!

    The weather is far better than out here in Utila (its turned my Caribbean dreams into a myth) šŸ˜›

    P.S. Surely you know how much fun it can be getting to know new people šŸ™‚
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 10 2014

      Aw, sorry to hear the weather isn’t cooperating right now! I’ve been to Utila and I know there’s not much to do when the sun isn’t shining!

      • Chris
        December 10 2014

        Lucky we were only there for the diving šŸ˜‰

        Just completed our Advanced Open Water which was good fun!
        Chris recently posted..

  • Elena
    May 24 2016

    I’m going to Ios this summer and your posts make it way more hard to not think about it. Love them all! I was wondering tho… what’s the name of that stunning beach you went to while sailing on the pirate boat?

    • Meihoukai
      May 24 2016

      Hey Elana! Congrats on heading to Ios! Unfortunately if I didn’t name it in the post it’s likely no one ever told me… or it was an unnamed stretch of sand šŸ™‚ Good luck finding it!