After almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, people were finally able to do the one thing they missed the most: travel. As someone who was stuck in New Hampshire this summer, I enjoyed (but also was slightly jealous) seeing people’s social media posts of places they visited. Seeing the views, the food, the culture in the photos posted, I wanted to know more about people’s experience. I took it upon myself to talk to a couple of students about their trips so that other community members could get a sense of what places to visit during school break.
This summer, Annika Kell (‘22) went to Greece. Kell has travelled to many different countries including Iceland, Costa Rica, and Czech Republic before but she felt that this trip was different. She said, “travelling again was a very cool experience because it allowed us to get out and see the world again…it felt extra special this time.” During her time in Greece, Kell mostly visited beaches. “The water there was just so nice and warmer than the water here and much more clear… the beaches were overall just so much nicer than the beaches I get to experience here [in New Hampshire].”
Kell described each of the places she visited. In Athens, she said that “the environment was not touristy at all. It felt like an actual city and we were living with people who actually had homes there too which was a cool experience.”
“In Santorini, it was the most touristy place we went to. All the places were either restaurants or hotels,” said Kell. She continued, “but the vibes there were just so chill and everyone was relaxed…no one was in a rush to be anywhere.”
Santorini also happened to be Kell’s favorite part of the trip. “[Santorini] used to be a volcano but it exploded. So,half of it sank underwater but there is still land in the middle.” She continued, “we took a tour so we could hike up the volcano and after we got to the top we could see everything [the island]. It was really pretty.”
Right after hiking up the volcano, Kell took a tour in a boat around the island and she got the chance to jump off the boat and go swimming in different coasts.
Also in Santorini, Kell got to experience an amazing sunset. She said, “people always claim it’s the most beautiful sunset and it was absolutely gorgeous.”
Another highlight of Kell’s trip was the food in Greece. She said, “I loved the food… I don’t exactly like seafood that much, which is actually most of Greece’s main courses, so my whole family ended up eating a lot of appetizers.” She continued, “there was stuff like freshly-made hummus and pita, potatoes, cheese, bread, roasted tomatoes, and greek salad. It was just so good and all the food just tasted so fresh and flavorful.”
Lastly, Kell gave a recommendation to any future visitors of Greece. “We went to Corfu and it had the best beaches, a forest, and a lot of greenery. I really recommend going to Corfu and [my family and I] went parasailing there which was awesome too.” She continued, “definitely go cliff jumping in Corfu but also in a lot of other spots and beaches.”
Nadia Pavlik (‘22) also visited Europe but to the north in Iceland. Pavlik enjoyed her time there and said her favorite thing about the country was the landscape. “There were a lot of really cool volcanic rock formations and a lot of different land features than what you would see in the U.S.”
Pavlik described the environment and culture in Iceland. “It’s definitely not super populous and there’s actually no one living on the inside of the island. There’s only like one road that goes around the island that has towns and cities.” She continued, “there aren’t any big cities. It’s mostly just small towns, villages, and a lot of remote and isolated places.”
Because Icelandic towns are more isolated, Pavlik said that the people there “are probably a much tighter-knit community and more closer than they [are] like in the U.S.”
As for Pavlik’s living situation, she said there weren’t many touristy places so she and her family stayed in a lot of hostels as they roadtripped around the country. She said, “we stayed in small towns where there really weren’t many other people and definitely not a ton of tourists there.”
The food experience in Iceland wasn’t anything unusual, as Pavlik said she didn’t try many new foods. “[Iceland] has a lot of good seafood there, I’ve heard, but I don’t really eat seafood so I personally didn’t try any of that,” she said. However, she continued, “one of the places we went to had really good lamb chops which is another thing [Iceland] is known for because they have a lot of sheep and goats. They are known for having a lot of local lamb chops.”
Finally, Pavlik gave advice and tourist attraction ideas for anyone who is interested in visiting Iceland. “[I recommend] pretty much any of the land and natural features there. They have a ton of volcanoes and we were actually able to hike and see an active volcano. We got to see the lava which was really cool.” She continued, “you don’t even need to go that far from the airport to find really cool features like fields and hot springs like the blue lagoon.”
Avel Durant (‘22) was able to travel to two popular travel destinations this summer: Spain and France. His first stop was in Spain. “In Spain we went to Barcelona and we just kind of enjoyed the nightlife there. It was all good vibes and there were street performers at night which was really interesting.” He continued to explain that the people in Barcelona in general made the trip enjoyable and lively.
Another highlight of Durant’s trip was the Spanish food he tried. He said that the food was delicious and continued to explain his favorite dish. “I think it was tapas, which isn’t a specific dish but it’s a way of eating where you just order a bunch of dishes and that makes up your dinner.”
Durant highly recommends Barcelona as a future destination for anyone. He gives his recommendation to the future visitors: “Make sure you visit the center of the city and enjoy all the little shops that are there all around. The people who run the shops are from all around the world and the range of what they sell is so diverse. You can’t get bored of it. There’s everything from carpet shops to sports shops.” He continued to explain that they were all “open door” shops that people could just walk right in from the streets, making shopping convenient.
After Spain, Durant and his family went next door to France. He said, “in France, I was visiting my family. My dad’s side [of the family] lives there and I actually have some friends there too.”
Although Durant has visited France before, his favorite thing about the country remains the same. “The weather there [is my favorite thing] and we stay right outside of a city called Sete so we get a lot of nice weather. It is pretty much always sunny and the sunsets are great.”
Durant is also a huge fan of French cuisine and said, “French food is great…[my favorite] is probably teal which is a seafood pie.” Lastly, Durant gives his advice to people who are looking to visit France in the near future. “Try to know at least some [French] words otherwise [the people] won’t like you.”
Although Charlotte Cousins (‘22) stayed in the United States, her trip to Yosemite was absolutely memorable. Her favorite part of the trip was how serene the nature was. She said, “no matter where I went, it was beautiful. Here in Durham, you kind of have to make the drive to go see the water or mountains, but there I was constantly surrounded by amazing things.”
During Cousins’ time in Yosemite, she stayed in the park. She said, “It was surreal to wake up each day and see something new but equally [as] large and beautiful.” Though it was easy to focus on the beauty of the landscape around her, Cousins explained how difficult it was to see how some parts of the environment were struggling. “It was really sad to see how dry the park was. California is in a huge drought and during the summer it was pretty bad. Some of the waterfalls were barely flowing and some areas were completely dried up.”
For any future visitors of Yosemite, Cousins gives her recommendations based on what she enjoyed most during her time there. She said, “there is really so much to do and it all depends on what you like; there’s so much variety.” She continued to explain the different rivers people can go swimming in and how there are many places to get different foods to accommodate your tastes.
A couple highlights of her trip which she highly recommended were the Yosemite Falls, Mono Lake, and going horseback riding. She said, “Yosemite Falls is the biggest waterfall in the park and it was honestly a little scary for me because I’m afraid of heights, but it’s sort of a must see.” She continued, “I was also a huge fan of Mono Lake which is a saltwater lake, so if you swim, you float.” However, her favorite activity was horseback riding. She said, “riding through the mountains and woods felt like such a natural way to see things.”
Cousins hopes to be able to visit Yosemite again and said, “I definitely need to go back so I can do the Half- Dome hike which is 16 miles but so worth it.” Overall, Cousin’s described the experience as “so amazing and one of those ‘bucket list’ places.” She continued, “a solid 10/10 from me, although everything there is hella expensive.”
Whether you’re looking to walk the sandy beaches of Santorini or climb the mountains of Yosemite, these ORHS students have the best recommendations for your next travel destination. I hope you got a sense of the culture, food, and the activities that you can do in each of these places and take them into consideration!