How to show your Grandma Greece in 7 days.

My Grandma is 80 years old. She hasn’t traveled much outside the United States. She went to the UK once, and I’m pretty sure she has visited the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But my grandma is amazing. She’s sweet, fun to be with and incredibly spry. So I said to her, you know Grandma, we could fly to Greece and stay for 7 nights for under $1000. She bit. We went for one awesome week in May.

Days 1-3: Santorini

In the months before the trip, my Grandma suffered some medical issues. She ended up unable to walk without a roller. We both thought, okay, there’s no way we’re not doing this trip, so we are going to make the most out of it roller or not. It started off great – that roller got us zooming through the airport. Did not have to wait in line at all. We got to Santorini and everyone treated us so sweetly. We decided to stay in Fira at Aressena Spa Hotel & Suites. The staff treats you like family and this view is just steps away:

View from Fira

Grandma rested and I walked the long stairs down the side of the island. There are a lot of blue doors in Santorini.

And bells everywhere.

The next day, we hired a young guy to drive us around the island for 4 hours. He was on staff at our hotel. He was a great host and showed us all around the island. He took us to some small villages where our car didn’t fit down the streets.

Grandma loved that there were flowers everywhere.


You might also notice that she is not using her walker. After one night in Santorini, she was feeling so good, she decided not to use it. More to come on that later.

Perissa Black Sand Beach

He showed us the famous Perissa Black Sand Beach that has both black sand and weird porous rock formations.

I thought this was pretty cool, but I have to say that I felt no urge to sit on this beach and swim. It was quite pebbly and there was a lot of ocean debris on the beach.

Akritori Archaeological Site

Our next tour stop was the Akritori Archaeological Site. Here, they uncovered 4th century BC ruins. This was a wheelchair-accessible place, so I wheelchaired Grandma all over it.


This place was pretty cool. You really have to read all the signage to understand what is what, but if you like to imagine how people lived many millennia ago, this is the place to do it.

Red Beach

Near Akitori is Santorini’s famous Red Beach. This was probably my favorite part of the island.

Red Beach

No filter necessary at the Red Beach; it really is that red. There was something about this place that kept me there even though all you do is look out at the ocean and marvel at the red rocks.

Akrotini Lighthouse

Akrotini also has a lighthouse nearby that I really enjoyed.

Akrotini Lighthouse

We got to know our driver a bit here sitting on the rough rocks and looking out at the ocean. Apparently people from the mainland in Greece come to Santorini to work for the summer. It is incredibly competitive, and you basically have to know someone to get a job there these days. You make a ton of money–enough to live on all year–but you work 15hr days and you live in the hotel you work at. I don’t know if I could make it through a season, and this was our driver’s third.

Profitis Illias Monastery

Next, we drove to the top of the highest peak in Santorini, Mount Profitis Illias to visit the monastery. My grandma loved this place.


The monastery was beautiful, but the view from the top of the mountain…even better.

You could see the entire island. We watched planes fly in, spotted the different colored beaches and saw sprawling vineyards (not to mention ocean for days). Such a great spot to take it in!


That night, we traveled to the famous spot in Oia to watch the sunset. It’s totally crowded, but worth it.

An Oia sunset

Oia is such a quaint place. We found a restaurant and Grandma got to try the Greek salad. Little did she know, there’s no lettuce in an authentic Greek salad. We also ate feta to our heart’s content. We shopped around as much as Grandma could without her walker.


Walk Along Fira

Before we left Santorini, Grandma and I walked along the edge of the Island in Fira. There are many shops along the way and great views of the Caldera.

Grandma looking out at the Caldera

Days 4-7: Athens/mainland Greece

After being fully rested from our wonderful time in Santorini, we got on a boat and traveled to Athens. My grandma slept the entire boat ride, but I must admit there is not much to see. I thought it would be like a functional ride around Greece’s islands. No–it was just a way to get ourselves to Athens, no glam, no glitz. I stayed up to make sure our stuff didn’t get messed with.

We got to Athens and went straight to our hotel room. We had a view of the Acropolis from our hotel, so we ate dinner there and settled in.

The Acropolis/Parthenon

My Grandma was feeling so good coming off of Santorini that she decided to go to the top of the Acropolis with me without her walker! I warned her–it’s a long way up! But she wanted to do it, swearing she felt great. So we started our journey up. There are a few amphitheaters on the way up, including the Theatre of Dionysus. This theater is considered the world’s first!

Grandma sitting in the Theatre of Dionysus

There’s also the Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre.

This one is still in use today!

We kept going through the crowds up and up. At the top, you’ll find, of course, the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena. This was my second time atop the Acropolis, but it was still so breathtaking.

Temple of Athena
Grandma with the Parthenon

Grandma didn’t want to admit it, but by the time we got up there, she was hurting. We stayed long enough to get a feel for Athens (you can see the whole city from up here!) and the history of this place. We ventured down to rest. In the afternoon, Grandma swore she felt better, so we went to check out the Temple of Zeus.

Temple of Zeus

Grandma didn’t bring her walker, and it turned out to be a fair amount of walking. She’s an amazing lady, and didn’t complain once. But I could tell. Given Grandma’s pain, I decided we needed to book bus tours if we were going to see anything else around Greece. So I booked tours to Corinth,
Mycenae and the Temple of Poseidon.


My Grandma really wanted to experience some of what she has read about in the Bible. We went to Corinth and got to see where the Apostle Paul preached. This was a great experience for Grandma that didn’t cause her too much pain (she brought her walker!).

Grandma looking out at the Corinth Canal
Corinth. Grandma wanted this shot framed this way.


Mycenae was another day trip totally worth making. We went to the top of a big hill and looked out on the vineyards and valley below. There are ruins all along the way. Grandma made it all the way to the top on her walker and she was so proud.


We also stopped in Nauplia, a cute town, for lunch.


Nauplia was sort of what we think of when we think of the Mediterranean. We enjoyed this stop off.

Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

My Grandma was hurting so much at this point, she didn’t want to see our last stop on the tour–the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. I told her I would go and see how long/hard the trip up to the theatre was and let her know if it was worth it. When I got there, I knew she had to see it. I helped her with her walker and when we stood at the base of the theatre, she was so thankful. A woman was singing beautiful opera on the stage that put us all at ease.

Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

The acoustics were so good, I could hear whispers at the top of the huge amphitheater emanating from in and around the stage. They still hold events here and what an experience that must be.

Temple of Poseidon

The next day, after Grandma was off of her feet for a good while, we got on a tour bus to the Temple of Poseidon. The ride there was an adventure in itself along the coastline.

Temple of Poseidon

Temple of Poseidon is worth a trip. The history is very cool and you can really immerse yourself in the thought process behind Greek mythology when you look out at the vast ocean.

Ocean view from Temple of Poseidon

We flew back to NYC and zoomed back through the airport with Grandma in a wheelchair. She went home and got a shot in her hip that made everything better (she couldn’t get the shot beforehand in case something went wrong). This was supposed to be a much different trip. My grandma has never had trouble getting around. But I am so proud of her for going despite the pain. For not complaining. For challenging herself. It was an experience we’ll never forget. There are so many things a blog post like this can’t capture, but I will say that my Grandma and I got so much closer on this trip. Unforgettable!

Have you ever taken a trip with someone with limited abilities? What did you do? How did you make it the best trip despite the limitations? Tell me in the comments!

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5 Perfect Days in Banff, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise

Alberta is a beautiful province of Canada. I don’t think I really understood it was a place until someone recommended I visit Banff. It turned out to be one of the best vacations I have ever had. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful place when it’s sunny, raining and even snowing. So here’s a quick hit on how to make the most of a trip to Banff.

We chose to stay in a cabin for three nights near Lake Louise and then a nice hotel with a hot tub outside the city center of Banff. I highly recommend this if you are an early riser. Crowds can be a real pain, even in late September/early October. Going early means going alone. We first did a short hike to get a overview of Lake Louise.

Lake Louise – Fairmont Overlook

It’s a beautiful lake that gets its color from the glacier that feeds it. The Fairmont Hotel is a massive The-Shining-like manor. There’s another similar hotel in Banff itself. I wouldn’t stay here, personally, but I can see the appeal. Waking up and falling asleep next to this lake must be incredible.

Day 1: Plains of Six Glaciers Trail

Get up early and start the hike to the top of the Plains of Six Glaciers Trail. You want to leave early because you want to be the first one to the adorable Teahouse at the top. The tea is great and you can even get yourself a slice of pie.

The Teahouse

Surprise, surprise, there are glaciers at the top of this trail. We sat and watched avalanches rush down the mountains for about an hour before leaving. The cracking thunder the avalanches produce is really something to experience.

We chose not to climb out the same way we climbed in and made a detour to Lake Agnes.

Lake Agnes

It’s much smaller, but along the way there you get a great view of the Beehive as well as paddle boarders on Lake Louise.

Paddle boarders on Lake Louise

Day 2: Valley of the 10 Peaks

We got up early again the next day to head to Valley of the 10 Peaks. We knew we wanted to canoe on Moraine Lake, and we knew we wanted to do it alone. We picked up a hitchhiker on the way there who turned out to be headed to work. He comped the canoe rental for us in exchange for the ride. Worked out perfectly!

Valley of the 10 Peaks
Rushing water into the Valley of the 10 Peaks
Lake Moraine

Canoeing on this beautiful lake was magical. We traveled into small recesses where the light hadn’t touched yet and felt completely at peace on the calm water.

We thought canoeing on Lake Moraine was fantastic, but the hike around Valley of the 10 Peaks? Amazing. You walk through beautiful larch trees. They are bright yellow in the fall.

Larch Valley

You arrive at Sentinel Pass. There are switchbacks up, but it’s worth the scramble. Along the way there are small pools to cool off in (dip your feet!).

View of Paradise Valley from Sentinel Pass

Day 3: Tower/Rockbound Lake Trail

The next day, it rained a little bit. Apparently enough to scare everyone away. We headed out anyway on the Rockbound Lake Trail. Being totally alone, we were a little afraid of bears. If you don’t know, you’re supposed to keep talking when you’re in groups smaller than 4 (and probably more than 4) to keep the bears at bay. Neal chose to use this time to make every bear pun he could possibly think of. It was spectacular. We finally arrived to the green waters of Tower Lake. The rain had stopped, so we had a picnic on a log by the lake.

Tower Lake

Just after Tower Lake, up quick, steep switchbacks is Rockbound Lake. It was also cool, but not as pretty.

Later that day, we checked out the Sulfur Caves in Banff. Not a must-see, but cool.

Sulfur Caves

Day 4: The Inkpots & Banff

We hiked Johnston Canyon up the Inkpots the next day. The hike seemed long and we weren’t sure we’d ever get there. More people here than the other hikes as well. But the Inkpots were very cool. Each pool was a different color and the movement in the pools were captivating. The area in general there was gorgeous and I just liked being there.

The Inkpots

There were ravens that hung out with us, too.

A raven.

We checked out Banff in the afternoon, which is a cute mountain town. We visited the Fairmont in Banff and got a great shot of an elk living his best life.

We also had a great view of Sulfur Mountain from here.

We enjoyed our hotel’s hot tub that night as we began to unwind our trip.

Day 5: Icefields Parkway

We chose to take the Icefields Parkway out of Banff and up through Jasper. This is an incredible drive. It should be on your top 10 list. The views are stunning and you can even walk on a glacier along the way.

We hiked through the snow on the Bow Summit Lookout Trail to get this incredible view.

Icefields Parkway can be seen from Bow Summit Lookout Trail

Elk greeted us as we entered Jasper. We were so sad to leave this incredible part of the world.

Do you have any must-sees in the Alberta/Banff area? Share in the comments!

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10-day Itinerary in Southern Utah

Utah is often a state people forget about or think doesn’t have much to offer. Nothing could be further from the truth! Neal and I did 10 days in southern Utah. Here’s what we saw, where we stayed and a few places we ate.

Day 1: Salt Lake City

We arrived in Salt Lake City with no intention of staying. We got our car at the airport and headed straight to the Great Salt Lake.

The Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, UT

After marveling at how little lake and how much salt there was, we went to the City to explore and eat lunch. There were lots of weddings and churches in the center of Salt Lake City.

Wedding in Salt Lake City

We ate at a great sandwich place called Even Stevens They donate sandwiches at the end of every month! We also checked out Epic Brewing Company. We learned the hard way that they only let you drink the beer if you buy food! As we had just had sandwiches, we took a few beers with us. We stayed that night outside Salt Lake City on our way to Moab.

Day 2: Arches National Park

We packed up and made our way to Arches National Park. Check out our full post on Arches National Park here.

We took a wrong turn and ended up going the back way. Highly recommend it! There was no traffic, we saw lots of wildlife, and the view coming into the north side of the park was awesome.

Adventure officially started on a dirt road going into Arches National Park.

Arches was very cool right from the beginning. You think, I’ve seen an arch, so what? But these large rock masses are everywhere and beautiful. Some of the coolest ones you had to trek up the side of the mountain to get to. Worth it!

View of Delicate Arch from a hole in the rock along the trail.

We hiked the Skyline Arch, Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch, part of Devil’s Playground, Delicate Arch, Garden of Eden, North Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch trails. As you can imagine, it took us most of the day to wind our way through Arches and drive into Moab.

In Moab, we ate dinner and had a beer at Moab Brewery. I can’t say the food there was worth eating, but the beer was pretty good! Afterwards, we explored Moab’s main street, bought some ice cream and some art from a drifter, and shopped around at one of the many outdoors stores.

After filling up, we wanted to hit one more trail. We found the Corona Arch trail and hiked it at sunset. This trail has interesting terrain, including ladders up the rocks. It was windy, but beautiful. We were completely alone. The train travels through this rock formation and adds to the wild west feel of Utah. We heard the nightscape here is as nice as the day, but it was too windy and cold for us to stick around any longer.

Corona Arch

We left to find our accommodations for the night – a yurt! If you don’t know what a yurt is, it is essentially a large, structured tent. Ours was in Dead Horse State Park and had electricity and heat. A bathroom was accessible in a separate building. We even had a deck with a grill! Although it was freezing (and snowing!), we cooked veggie burgers and sweet potatoes on the barbie that night. It was pitch black when we got to the yurt, so we had no idea what we would see the next morning. It was beautiful.

Day 3: Canyonlands

We drove through Dead Horse State Park to the Canyonlands. It was a beautiful drive. We happened to pass by Mesa Arch at sunrise and caught an amazing glimpse of what nature has to offer.

Mesa Arch

We then hiked the Murphy Trail that morning and felt like we were the only people in the world. I had looked up several hikes/overlooks before the trip. One such hike was False Kiva. This trail was a little hard to find and we had to trust ourselves to keep hiking. When we got to the end, we were stunned. It ends at a cave where you can look out on the most expansive and incredible view.

False Kiva

We were taken aback by the colors and beauty of the Canyonlands. Even short hikes like the Grand View Overlook and Upheaval Dome revealed awesome sights.

Neal looking over Upheaval Dome.

We fell in love quickly with the Canyonlands. While we ate lunch on our way out of the False Kiva, a horned sheep ran by. We knew Utah was going to be great.

Shafer Trail Road via Potash

As amazing as the hikes are in Utah, you’re also in for a treat driving. We took the Shafer Trail Road via Potash on a whim (check out our post on it here!). Saw a turn and made it. It ended up being a windy, scary road down a mountain and into the valley.

Neal after driving down the rock mass behind him.

This road was so scary that we actually passed cars unable to continue. We were happy to have the GMC Acadia. We drove through some washes and other precarious terrain all the way back to Moab.

We drove straight through to our next accommodation – a horse barn in Monticello, UT. The B&B was nice, but in retrospect, we would not have stayed here. Perhaps a second night in Moab or a stop further south.

Day 4: Bears Ears and Natural Bridges Monument

On our way to Monument Valley we found several fun stops. First, we stopped at Bears Ears National Monument. We had a crazy ride up the side of a mountain and to be honest, didn’t really get it. We drove on back down.

Then we stopped at Natural Bridges National Monument. This was a bit more fun as we got to hike down into some nice gorges.

Neal under one of the natural bridges.

Gooseneck State Park

We then made our way to Monument Valley. We thought, should we go the easy way or the hard way? We, of course, chose the hard way. Again, at the top of the mountain, we begin the zig-zaggy drive to the valley below. We stopped in Gooseneck State Park. You have to pay $5 to enter the park and it looks like it is nothing from the road. Believe me, it is worth the $5.

Gooseneck State Park

We also saw a rattlesnake while we were there. Well, mostly heard its creepy little buzz. I jumped and ran.

Monument Valley

After eating lunch at a picnic bench (pb&j we prepared in the morning), we finally made the drive into Monument Valley. Monument Valley is cool from the road. You can see a lot of huge rock walls and oddly shaped formations. But to really enjoy, since you made the trek, you have to suck it up and pay the $20 to get into the park. You drive around an inner circle and see more huge rocks. There’s also lots of horses along the way.

Monument Valley

If I’m being honest, I would probably skip this portion of the trip next time and stay in Canyonlands way longer.

We stayed in a dry hotel in Bluff, UT that night. It had its own restaurant (not much else in the town) with lots of virgin cocktails and veggie options.

Day 5: Goblin Valley State Park

We left the east side of Utah to make our way west to Capitol Reef National Park. Along the way, we made an impromptu stop at Goblin Valley State Park. You again have to pay a State Park fee, but I am so glad we did. Goblin Valley is what I think Mars should look like. It was a fun playground. Neal was terrified we’d run into another rattler. I paid them no mind and ran around like a kid at recess.

Goblin Valley State Park.

Capitol Reef National Park

We drove from Goblin Valley into Capitol Reef National Park. The drive in was spectacular. Huge rock faces with bright reds and whites. We walked through a few washes and enjoyed apple pie while some deer played on the lawn.

Capitol Reef National Park
Sunset Point in Capitol Reef National Park

Neal fell in love with this area. It was very nice and we would spend more time here next time. We spent the night in a huge house. Our hosts had combined their large families after they both divorced, so this house had a dozen bedrooms and a movie theater! They had horses in the front yard and cows in the back. Lovely stay.

Day 6: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was another major highlight of the trip. We got up early and had to pull over to watch the sunrise.

Sunrise in Grand Staircase Escalante Notional Monument

There were deer in the grass watching with us. It was a truly romantic and magical place.

Calf Creek

We got back in the car to get to our first hike of the day: Calf Creek. If you drive just past Calf Creek you’ll find an adorable cafe called Kiva Koffeehouse. We got hot beverages and scones for our hike. The hike turned out to be beautiful. We didn’t really know what was at the end until we were finally there.

Calf Creek

A gorgeous waterfall. And we were all by ourselves. We ate our scones here and one by one people filled in behind us. We were so glad to have gotten here early enough to enjoy it alone.

Zebra Canyon

We had to have a little faith when we made our next stop. A few miles past Calf Creek there’s a turnoff dirt road. We kept driving until we thought we were at the pull off for our hike in Zebra Canyon. We thought for sure we were wrong about this trail. We were mad each other as we wandered into the desert. There was no one around and we thought it would go nowhere. And it was hot. We didn’t talk to each other for the whole first mile. Then we started to think we were going the wrong way. We just kept going and kept going. Finally we heard a few voices coming from a small water-filled canyon off the trail. They had just come out of the water. We thought, there is no way we are getting in that water. But they kept saying, trust us. Get in the water. So we did it.

Walking through Zebra Canyon

And it was worth it in the end!

Zebra Canyon

Zebra Canyon was so cool (both literally and figuratively). It was a bit tough and we thought we might get stuck a couple times. But we survived and got to see the beautiful waves through the rock. It turned out to be a must-see. We ate lunch when we came back out of the canyon, alone on its shores. As we were leaving another group came up wary of the canyon. We told them, trust us. You have to get in the water. As we walked back out to find the trail, they shed their clothes and dove in.

We were exhausted after we hiked the 3 miles back to the car. We drove to our next B&B in Tropic, UT. Great B&B, but nothing special about Tropic. We settled in for the night.

Day 7: Bryce Canyon

We woke up early on Day 7 to watch the sunrise over Bryce Canyon. It was 20 degrees. But there is nothing like the sun bathing those hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon

Fairyland Loop

After watching the sunrise, we immediately set off on an 8-mile hike around the park. We wanted to try and get started before a lot of people joined in, which worked. We spent a lot of time alone on the Fairyland Loop. It took us several hours, but we got some great viewing of the different types of rock formations in Bryce Canyon.

Along the Fairyland Loop
Tower Bridge along the Fairyland Loop
Along the Fairyland Loop

We also went to the rest of the overlooks in Bryce Canyon–and there are many. They are largely drive ups, and there’s lots of people sneaking a peek as well. We went back to our amazing B&B (the breakfast was to die for), and got ready for our one fancy dinner of the trip. There was a fancy restaurant just up the street from our B&B. We had a great meal and some wine (one of the few drinks we had in Utah!). We went back to the B&B to rest.

Day 8: Zion National Park

When you leave Bryce Canyon, you hit the highway to Zion. It’s worth it to make a stop or two along the way. First we did a morning hike on Mossy Cave Trail to wake up our legs. Nice little trail with some beautiful water running through it.

Kanarra Creek Trail

Then we took a stop off just outside Cedar City to hike the Kanarra Creek Trail. When we got to the parking lot, we did another one of those are-we-in-the-right-place double takes. There were no cars in the lot. There was a guy selling water boots. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. We decided not to buy any shoes. Some guy told us he didn’t think the water was that deep right now. We didn’t realize we were going to be going through water at all, but okay. Ultimately, I think we made the right decision. Besides, we played a fun game of who-can-not-get-their-hiking-shoes-wet. I won.

Kanarra Creek Trail
Kannera Creek Trail

This place was awesome. It was mostly woods/creek walking until you get to the canyon. The guy was right – the water wasn’t very deep. But the canyon was spectacular. It was autumn, so the leaves were falling gently. It was just a beautiful, peaceful place.

Kanarra Creek Trail

You even get a little canyoning with ladders and ropes in the Canyon.

This trail is really not to be missed. After hiking out of the canyon, we ate in Cedar City. The town is sweet and the food was great. We got back in the car and made the final trek to Zion.

Zion National Park

We got to Zion tired. We checked into our hotel room, which was just on the edge of the park, and walked around the little town. We decided to turn in early so we could get an early start. Coincidentally, a friend from when I taught with Teach for America, was doing a solo trip in Zion at the same time we were there. She met us in the morning to hike Observation Point.

Observation Point

Observation Point was a hard steep hike up. Along the way, there are spectacular views of the valley below. But nothing beats the view at the top.

Observation Point

That rock jutting out is Angel’s Landing. We decided it was far too crowded to do. Neal also has a slight fear of heights when it comes to me and nearby cliff sides. We hiked down and soaked up every minute of it.

Observation Point trail
Observation Point trail

We also got to see a bunch of sheep on the trail. Weeping Rock was a nice quick stop near the bottom of Observation Point trail.

Day 10: Zion National Park

We stayed in Zion for another day. We started early and headed to the Narrows. You need gear to do the Narrows properly. We had done enough slot and creek canyons at that point to choose to skip it. Besides, someone broke their leg the day before in the canyon and we were just not feeling that. So we walked straight up to the head of the trail, then turned around.

Beginning of the Narrows

Instead, we hiked the Emerald Pools Trail, oddly the trail the most people die on (selfie slips). That trail was quite nice, but short. We hiked to the Grotto and along the creekbed.

Along the creekbed
One of the emerald pools. A perfect mirror image.

Once we took in everything we could, we headed back to our hotel. We slept in the next morning and then made the drive to Las Vegas. The drive was actually quite beautiful. We thought we would be happy being back in civilization, but no. We only wished we had longer to be in parks.

NY hotel in Las Vegas

We said goodbye after 10 awesome days. Utah was a great adventure!

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