About Dr Reena Koppala

Name : Dr Reena Koppala

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Dr Reena Koppala is a transformational leader with over 20 years of experience in various fields of business, technology and community based programs. She primarily works on Mergers and Acquisitions. Reena has a Doctorate in Business Administration and Management. She is a vivid reader and enjoys time with her family. She is better known as “Arnav’s Mom”. 

Portugal, officially Portuguese Republic, is a country lying along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe.

Day 1:  We got on to a flight from Dallas to Madrid and had a one-day stopover in Spain. At that time my son was an ardent fan of soccer, so this stopover was a surprise for him. We went on a sightseeing tour of Madrid and had breakfast, lunch and early dinner in Madrid. Just before we went on to board the flight to Lisbon we made a stop to shop for footballs and jerseys.

Day 2: We landed in Lisbon, Portugal capital. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains. In Lishhboaaaa (that is how they say it) we stayed at a hotel that was a 15th-century Portuguese palace with a sea view. The first thing my son picked was a Hippo tour. It was a minivan that took us around Lisbon and later drives into a sea and becomes a boat.  We could barely keep our eyes open because of the jetlag. On our way back we stumbled across a museum, the Portuguese teachers were explaining about Ramayana and Mahabharata to their field trip students (made a note to read Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik on Kindle once back).

Later in the evening we traveled by train to downtown Lisbon and had dinner at ' Timeout'. One of the most unique eatery places that I have ever been to. There were around 40 eating places under one roof with a contemporary look and so informal (fell in love with the concept). Strolled on the streets of the historic downtown and had late local coffee, Of course, shopping inclusive.

Day 3: My son's pick for today was Oceanário de Lisboa which is the world's largest saltwater Oceanarium and is a fantastic tourist attraction especially for families. Just to go to that place we took 3 forms of transportation metro, train, cable. One of the main adventures of any travel is “TRAVEL LIKE LOCALS”.  Trying to understand Portuguese and trying to find our way, was the most interesting part of our travel. Next stop was Vasco da Gama Shopping Center. We took a Cable car on the ocean and had lunch at Cais de Sondre. By the time we came back to our hotel, it was 6:00 pm. The hotel always had surprise exotic chocolates for kids. We quickly changed into formal wear and got ready to witness the iconic Fado show in style. Fado is commonly regarded as simply a form of song which can be about anything but must follow a certain traditional structure. In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness, and melancholia.Awesome Portuguese music mixed with dinner made it a perfect evening. We came back from the show around 12 am. Today we really felt the essence of Portugal. 

Day 4:  Woke up late and had a brunch in the hotel itself. Took the metro, to reach another station. There we went on a city hop off tours castle line and Belem line. Our next stop was Rossio Square or Praça do Rossio, officially called Praça de D. Pedro IV, is Lisbon's nerve center. The square is situated in the city's Baixa neighborhood, on the northern end of Rua Augusta, very close to Restauradores Square. Praça do Rossio is the liveliest area in the capital of Portugal and where many locals and tourists meet up. We had a good walk and browsed all the antique shops on our way. My son Arnav played with water that was hitting the shores for sometime before we moved on. 

Our next stop was Padrão dos Descobrimentos; Monument of the Discoveries, which is a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus River, Lisbon. Located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. From the top of this monument, we had a breathtaking view of Lisboa. It was 6 pm now and we headed back to our Palacio. We walked for over 3 miles to get to our train station. My son said that he may forget this trip but will never forget the walk from the monument to the train station. We reached Hotel and almost collapsed, had a quick dinner and called it a day. It is at this hotel we learned the essence of Peri Peria very hot sauce made with red chili peppers.

Day 5:  We started our day at 6 am. Took a cab to central Lisboa to board the tour bus to the Sintra. Sintra is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest and most expensive municipalities in both Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula as a whole. Sintra is similarly known for its high standards of living, consistently ranking as one of the best places to live in Portugal. The historic center of the Vila de Sintra is famous for its 19th-century Romanticist architecture, historic estates & villas, gardens, and numerous royal palaces & castles, which resulted in the classification of the town and its historic passage as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palacios Reais de Sintra was beautiful and calm. We had a wonderful stroll spending our afternoon there on the cobbled streets. Had lunch at a 1945 Portuguese restaurant. Don't miss Paste De Nata the Portuguese official dessert. Later grabbed some coffee and went on a shopping spree. Loved the village ambiance and spending time with the locals. Towards the evening started our way back and drove to Cascais another beautiful town so pure and so rich in history. We stopped briefly at Cabo da Roca or Cape Roca the westernmost point of the Europe Continent. Now we called it a day and headed back to our hotel. 

Woke up early had a quick breakfast and headed to Cristo Rei, took a ferry to the other part of the town Your trip would not be complete without visiting this place.

Day 6: The giant statue in cement was constructed to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. To view Cristo Rei in close proximity was an experience by itself. Later returned to Lisbon and visited the Jerónimos Monastery. The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.We later took a tram to Jorge Castle. It was totally uphill ... my son got to play with the peacocks there. He and his dad visited the entire fort and later saw the archaeological sites. The scenic view at night from the castle was spectacular.  By this time it was dark, we quickly wrapped up our shopping and walked back to our station en route to our hotel. I started packing our bags and now my very own husband and son disowned me and they refused to give me any space in their luggage for all my shopping. At last, I did some pushing and pulling and finally got to close my suitcase. We woke up at 3 am in the morning and headed back to home sweet home Dallas on a 16 hr flight.  

Dr Reena Koppala  Jul-2019   1328   0

Éire Ireland by Dr Reena Koppala

Ireland is known for its wealth of folklore, from numerous tales of tiny leprechauns with hidden pots of gold to the patron saint, Patrick, with his legendary ridding the island of snakes and his reputed use of the three-leaved shamrock. The name shamrock comes from the Irish word “seamróg”, which is the diminutive of the Irish word seamair óg and means simply "young clover".


A seven-day Ireland tour is an ideal introduction to the Emerald Isle for first-time visitors who have limited time and yet want to cover all the highlights of this Irish Highlands. This journey was an escorted trip which started from Dublin.



After a long and exhausting journey from Dallas, we landed at our hotel around 5 pm. After tea and snacks, we went on an afternoon orientation drive through the statue-lined O’Connell Street, elegant Georgian squares, and past St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Oscar Wilde’s Trinity College. That night, we enjoyed a welcome dinner by our tour guide at the hotel.


 The horse-racing country awaited us this morning. We boarded our tour bus and drove across the Curragh to visit the IRISH NATIONAL STUD at Kildare, whose fine thoroughbreds command respect on the racecourses of the world. On our way we visited the Rock of Cashel, where St. Patrick preached; Tipperary, made famous in a wartime marching song; and Limerick, where an orientation drive acquainted us with St. Mary’s Cathedral, King John’s Castle, and the stone where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. Later in the evening between the drizzle of rain and the smell of freshly baked snacks, we took a pleasant walk on the main streets of Dublin exploring the place for an Irish Dinner. Do not forget to taste the famous Irish Coffee.


Today’s excursion along Ireland’s spectacular Atlantic coastline started with a drive to the 668-foot CLIFFS OF MOHER, where we savored the breathtaking panorama of the Clare coast. The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in numerous films, including The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for "The Cliffs of Insanity"), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Leap Year (2010). The walk up the Cliffs of Moher itself was exciting. A scenic route across the limestone plateau of The Burren took us to Galway, a popular seaside destination and a buzzing cosmopolitan center with colorful shops and a busy café and bar culture. This afternoon, we had a special treat at Rathbaun Farm we tried our hand at scone baking, and learned from the farmer about sheep shearing and herding. Afterward, we enjoyed coffee and scones, fresh from the oven on the farmland.


After a short drive via Clonderlaw Bay to Killimer, cross the Shannon estuary by ferry we continued to Killorglin on Dingle Bay to join the spectacular RING OF KERRY for a 100-mile panoramic drive around the island’s southwestern tip. The Lakes of Killarney was so pleasant and we later spend the night at a popular resort in Killarney. This is where we visited Ross Castle and later strolled our way back. Killarney won the Best Kept Town award in 2007, in a cross-border competition jointly organized by the Department of the Environment and the Northern Ireland Amenity Council. In 2011, it was named Ireland's tidiest town and the cleanest town in the country by Irish Business against Litter.



The next day after breakfast, we traveled across the Kerry Mountains and passed through County Cork to Blarney, renowned for its magical Kissing Stone. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446. The castle is a popular tourist site in Ireland, attracting visitors from all over the world to kiss the stone and tour the castle and its gardens. There is something funny about the way you kiss the stone, you have to kiss it at a certain angle, I will leave this as a surprise on how? My 9-year-old son must have kissed the stone at least 30 times no wonder I just cannot get him to shut up. The town itself is a beauty of its own. After lunch and shopping in the town, we walked up to the castle to shop for traditional Irish handicrafts. In the afternoon, we proceeded via Cork to Waterford, a stronghold founded by the Danish Vikings, for a guided tour of the house of Waterford crystal. This evening was very special as we stayed at a castle hotel and later had an Irish Medieval show with Irish dinner. After dinner, we relaxed and shared our stories with our guests during a live demonstration of Irish coffee making.


Today we visited the Enniscorthy, site of the final battle of the Great Rebellion of 1798; Ireland’s oldest Handweaving Mill at Avoca, where we watched the weavers at work; the Wicklow Mountains; and Glendalough, the early Christian monastic site founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Also, we witnessed the engaging audiovisual Ireland of the Monasteries before we headed our way back to Dublin. Once we were back in Dublin we wrapped up our shopping and bid a final farewell to Ireland with a cabaret evening with dinner, followed by dance, song, and laughter.

Day 7: DUBLIN.

Today we not only packed our bags but also all our memories of this beautiful country and after a 7 course Irish breakfast, we headed back to the airport.


Dr Reena Koppala  Sep-2019   1411   0

Scotland highlights by Dr Reena Koppala

The Scots are famous storytellers, and in Scotland you'll discover that every castle, loch, and glen has a legend surrounding it. Travel to Scotland and immerse yourself in its fabled history and nature. You'll leave with your own great story to tell, here is mine!

Day 1: We arrived around midnight in Edinburgh, we started our expedition the next day with an authentic Scottish breakfast. We made reservations to a couple of Scottish shows and a ghost tour. They say commuting like a local in its essence is the pinnacle of any travelers experience… Using a local map we walked to the nearest bus stop to board the Lothian bus. We got on an ocean terminal bus to visit the Royal Britannia yacht. The Royal Yacht Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of the British monarch that served Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 until 1997. We were enthralled by the Royal Ships layout, and imagined the way the royal family would have spent their memorable times onboard the ship. After the tour, we set out for a quick shopping sprint and hopped the bus back to the city. By this time, we were extremely hungry on our way back, we spotted an Indian restaurant ' Golden Ambal'. Deeply immersed in the spread of idli, dosa, naan, and biryani my son could barely talk after the fact! Following the late lunch we went back to our hotel and relaxed over a hot milk with a 'cube of sugaaaaa'. The evening part of the tour was reserved for the faint old section of Edinburgh… 

Caddies and Witches tour is a must-see attraction on your trip! Around 8 pm we were greeted by our very own 'Ghost' who ushered us through the dark alleys and dungeons of Edinburgh. Confronted by sightings of ghost, ghouls and goblins and spellbound by the bone chilling folk stories, we were truly thrilled, thanks to our ghost guide! This was the best tour ever! Later that night we walked by the University of Edinburgh and took a metro back to our hotel to unwind to the comfort of our cozy rooms. 

Day 2: We woke up a little late the next day, quite exhausted by an eventful first day. Following a scrumptious breakfast we headed for my son's place of choice for his birthday, The Edinburgh Castle. It was a breathtaking walk with a spectacular scenery of the old town. Edinburgh Castle is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland, that with them rests the 'Stone of Destiny' also knows as 'Stone of Scone'. It is a traditional coronation stone of all the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. That stone has been fought for by England and Scotland many times. There we got to meet a lady personified and dressed as Mary, Queen of Scots. She performed a show and taught us how to do the Scottish walk. Later we browsed through some old woolen shops and souvenir shops in search of memorabilia's to take back home with us.  Make sure to buy some Scottish jackets here, because the wool used in the jackets are very different and quite unique. In the evening, we walked through the cobbled stone path to a traditional Scottish gala where they had traditional Sottish music, dance, and songs followed by a grand dinner in the setting of a magnificent historic Preston field House. This was just moments from the Royal Mile.  This truly was the highlight of our tour!

Day 3: This day was our day tour to Loch Ness 'monster'. A visit to Loch Ness and Inverness combines the great outdoors with the warm vibrancy of the Highlands. The drive through Scottish highlands and villages itself was enchanting. We arrived around noon and took the boat tour inside the lake. Either as a part of a boat tour or as a trip in its own right, you must visit the Urquhart Castle and  discover more than 1,000 years of history perched on the edge of Loch Ness. Once one of Scotland's largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. After the cruise, we stopped at the pleasant bustling village of Drumnadrochit, a great place to stop for lunch either at Loch Ness Inn or Fiddlers Inn. I know, you will believe me when I say that I saw the Loch Ness monster! On our way back to the Hotel we enjoyed the breathtaking views of the Scottish Highlands.

Day 4: On the fourth day we woke up early to catch a train to Glasgow. Took the train from the Hay-market to Queen Station. Once in the city, we visited the 16th Glasgow Cathedral, a grand example of pre-Reformation Gothic architecture, and the only mainland Scottish cathedral to have survived the Reformation.  Next main stop was the Glasgow science center. While my family explored, I had a quiet afternoon at a local Scottish bakery ... catching up with work and my diary. We got to view the BBC and later took a cab back to George Square. The brief stroll through the city chambers and its architecture was truly captivating, it is indeed a must see! Just before dusk we set out to explore the streets of Glasgow where we had dinner in the city before boarding our train back to Edinburgh. From the Haymarket station we walked back to our hotel. After resting and taking a quick shower we headed to the coffee room and had some milk and snacks in the library room. By this time we were done and ready to hit the sack.  The beautiful part of Scotland is in every hotel, nook and corner and at the center was a library where you could find some really old books.

Day 5: This day we went on an informative sightseeing tour of Edinburgh, stopping to view the regal Palace of Holyrood house. We got to go inside the new Scottish Parliament Building and walk the Royal Mile, delving into the heart of the city. Later after lunch, we strolled through the grand new town with its gothic façades, enjoying the rest of the day at leisure. The Museum of Scotland is a must see during this trip, this is where we spent our afternoon. I have seen many museums in different parts of Europe but I felt this was the best museum I experienced.

Day 6: On our sixth day morning we crossed the Firth of Forth to the celebrated home of golf - St. Andrews, to view its ancient university and famous golf course. Shakespeare's Macbeth takes center stage as we visited Glamis Castle, once home to the beloved Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. We enjoyed a guided tour of the castle and its beautiful gardens just before we traveled to the waterfront city of Dundee, distinguished for its status as the first UNESCO City of Design, and the original home of marmalade! By the time we made it back to the hotel we were tired, yet overjoyed with our experience! Having packed our bags to start our journey back to Dallas the next day morning we bid farewell to a truly enchanting town and its Royal character and charm.

Day 7: On our sixth day morning we crossed the Firth of Forth to the celebrated home of golf - St. Andrews, to view its ancient university and famous golf course. Shakespeare's Macbeth takes center stage as we visited Glamis Castle, once home to the beloved Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. We enjoyed a guided tour of the castle and its beautiful gardens just before we traveled to the waterfront city of Dundee, distinguished for its status as the first UNESCO City of Design, and the original home of marmalade! By the time we made it back to the hotel we were tired, yet overjoyed with our experience! Having packed our bags to start our journey back to Dallas the next day morning we bid farewell to a truly enchanting town and its Royal character and charm.

Dr Reena Koppala  May-2019   1143   0

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic by – Dr Reena Koppala

Punta Cana is a resort town within the Punta Cana- Bávaro -Veron-Macao municipal district, in the municipality of Higüey, in La Altagracia Province, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The area has popular tourist beach resorts called balnearios which face both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. To make the most of your time during your vacation, it is always wise to book an all- inclusive resort that includes activities at the beach. The following is a summary of a trip I took to Punta Cana.

Day 1: Our Punta Cana flight arrived early in the morning and after a brief cab ride we arrived at our resort, Barceló Bávaro Palace. The resort featured a Club House Entertainment District, a shopping  promenade, 24-hour sports bar, 24-hour casino, golf, world-class spa and much more. The Barceló Bávaro Palace is one of the top luxury hotels in Punta Cana, designed specifically for people who love constant sunshine, the gentle sound of the Caribbean breeze whispering in the palm trees, and beautiful crystal-clear waters with a coral reef.

The only thing Barceló Bávaro Palace guests need to think about is waking up in an idyllic place and choosing between the most pleasant form of relaxation or an exciting range of activities. After arriving at the Barceló Bávaro Palace, the first thing we did was dump our luggage in our room and then went for a stroll on the beach. The variety of the drinks, snacks, food was spectacular. There was a gigantic spread of food everywhere. Usually the specialty restaurants on the resort ground fill up fast so we had to make our dinner reservations little early. The variety of food options at one of the best All Inclusive hotels in the Dominican Republic allows guests to enjoy themselves and experience unique culinary adventures by sampling Dominican flavors or savoring international specialties at one of its 11 restaurants. We ended the day with a light swim and a music concert on the beach.

Day 2: The next day we woke up early to catch an early sunrise over the beach glimpse and later started our journey to the outskirts of the village which was quite a ride. This was the most exciting part of the trip. Here we joined a group on a dune buggy adventure. The dune buggy tour takes you on a offbeat path in the Dominican Republic and we drove past plantations, beaches, and farmland. The buggies are manual transmission with 4-speed stick shift and VW engine. Make sure you take extra pair of clothes when you go on this adventure as once it is over we were drenched in a combination of dirt, sand and  water. After freshening up ourselves we went to a cigar making factory to see how they make cigars from scratch, not something I looked forward but the gadgets used were interesting and pretty historic. Later we came to our resort to the lively music, food and entertainment shows. It was quite a day.

Day 3: Today was my son’s thirteenth birthday and he wanted to go on an adventure that had a wow factor. NOTE: You should NEVER give the choice to pick an activity to your kids. My son picked the most adventurous swimming option, swimming with the SHARKS and sting rays adventure. We joined a fun and lively group of enthusiastic people on a catamaran to go into the depths of the sea. In the middle of the ocean against blue waters was a huge area that was netted. Slowly my heart sank seeing the sharks inside the water pen. However my family was eager and swam to the netted area and jumped into the pen to be with the sharks. I could hear people squealing in fear when the sharks rubbed against them. This lasted for 30 mins and once we got back on to our catamaran we were greeted by the crew to a delicious lunch, drinks and of course some birthday cake. Later we danced our way back to the island during which they taught us some cool dancing steps. Once back at the resort it was the usual, huge dinner spread and lively entertainment.

Day 4: This day we kept aside for exploring the island. We went to a coffee plantation. The plantation was ½ an hour from most hotels in the area. It presents 500 square meters of different plants, especially coffee and cocoa, tobacco, pineapple, sugarcane, papaya, plantains, corn and others. The walk starts with a visit to the typical house, with the guide explaining how the locals lived, a walk through the areas and how they prepare their meals in a firewood stove. After this visit we continued to walk along a path inside the plantation, which by its nature, sunlight can barely penetrate. We then stopped at coffee spot where your guide will explain the whole roasting process and will offer tasting. Children get to prepare their coffee cake too at this location. At every step of the way there was an opportunity to buy some local gifts to take home. Exhausted from the walk we headed back to the hotel to relax on the beautiful sand and sip some cold coffee over sunset.

Day 5: The hotel is beside one of the 10 most stunning beaches in the world. So today we decided to just explore our beautiful resort and stay on the beach. We took advantage of enjoying water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and windsurfing activities on the beach. There are many facilities for sports enthusiasts, an exclusive spa for guests looking to unwind, a casino, clubs, and evening shows for those who enjoy nightlife. We explored almost every nook except the casino. The spa is a must visit spot in this resort.

Day 6: We packed our bags ready for our journey and returned to Dallas. Will surely miss the sand, beach and Dominican people.
Dr Reena Koppala  Feb-2019   523   0

Ancient Greece By Dr Reena Koppala

Greece was always on my bucket list for a very long time, but to do a trip that has a 17 hour journey from Dallas to Athens, with a huge time zone difference, I had to wait for my son to be 13. Before we embark on my journey and experience, I have to put it out there that we are one of the super crazy families that DO NOT relax on a vacation as we want to spend every single minute trying to explore some nook or corner of the city even if it is at midnight. 


Day 1 and Day 2: We took a flight from Dallas to Athens via Chicago and Frankfurt. Plan the flight timings in such a way that you get to sleep during your flight and land before 12 pm in Athens. For any Europe travel, try to use your ATM card for Euros rather than exchanging cash. We reached Athens around 10:30 am and took a cab to our hotel, which was right in the middle of Syntagma Square and walking distance to the Parliament building. Once at the hotel, we quickly refreshed and soon were back on the cobblestone pavements leading to the Square. Greece is synonyms with gastronomy, as there was a wide range of cuisines to choose from at the market square, with everything tasting delicious. We visited a local travel agent and booked a Delphi Tour and made our reservations for the Hover speed boat to Santorini (it is better  to book locally than on the internet because local reservations have so many choices). After lunch, we strolled around for 10 minutes and came across Acropolis, which is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historical significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.We took a hike to the top of the mountain and saw breath taking views of Athens. Watching the city during sunset made it even more spectacular. We spent some quiet moments absorbing the glory and stories it contained. On our way back, we stopped at the foot of the Acropolis had a gyro wrap for dinner, which ended with the strongest coffee I ever tasted. Once we reached our hotel, we all slept deeply.


Day 3 :  We woke up early,around 7am, and enjoyed a sumptuous Greek breakfast spread. Do not forget to taste the Greek Coffee that really has a distinct taste. Next, was a brief visit to the Parliament, which was a 2 minute walk from our hotel. Make sure you get to witness the changing of guards and the march. Our next stop was the Panathenaic Stadium (the only marble stadium in the world!) where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. My husband and son did a sprint on the track, feeling every bit of the history within them. What felt like a 20 mins stopover, actually ended up being a 2 hour enriching experience at the stadium with a short stop at the museum in the far left side corner that displayed the original Olympic torch. By now it was midday and we wanted to cover the Acropolis museum as planned, but due to local political protest our commute to the Acropolis museum was longer than expected. By the time we reached it was 4pm and the museum was closed. After a late lunch we shopped for a while in the local stores on the streets of the ancient part of town. We walked to our hotel and later went for a local Greek Folkfore dinner show. The best part was the actors making us dance along with them, which was so much fun. This is something that should not be missed and planned the moment you land,with the help of your concierge service. We reached our hotel at 11:30 pm and called it a day.


Day 4: Today too, we were up at 7 am and took a day tour to Delphi which we planned only because my son insisted to visit, due to its historical significance. However, once we reached there I felt any trip to Greece is incomplete without visiting the ancient center of the earth and the Apollo temple. Our guide was very knowledgeable and explained the stories of each village or town that we passed on our way. During such journeys it is better to take a tour than drive because of the jet lag. It gave us some time to rest and I also loved the local photo and coffee stops on our way. We went through some old towns and reached Delphi around noon. Delphi was believed to be the center of the ancient world- the “Omphalos” (Navel) of the earth, and home of God Apollo. The history behind that was equally spectacular. After a visit to the museum we had a Greek lunch in the valleys of Delphi with the scent of olive and bay leaf trees in the background. We did a pullover for a brief stop at Arachova, the skiing town, for some shopping and started to head back to Athens. We reached the hotel around 7 pm and once back there, had some dinner, packed our luggage for the next day and slept.


Day 5: We checked out from the hotel at 4 a.m.and took a cab to Piraeus to get on a Hover speed boat to Santorini which is 5 hour ride. We had our breakfast on the boat as we sailed thorough Mykonos and finally reached Santorini at 1pm. The ride to Fira, the capital, was 20 mins. Our hotel was in Firastephani with a beautiful sunset view of the ocean, a private pool, and white washed exterior. We quickly dumped our luggage and went for a walk along the narrow alleys on the coastline and surprisingly found an INDIAN restaurant. Today was my son’s birthday so we had an extra spicy biryani lunch and walked back in the panoramic shopping district. Santorini is the supermodel of the Greek islands, a head-turner whose face is instantly recognizable around the world: multicolored cliffs soar out of a sea-drowned caldera, topped by drifts of whitewashed buildings. With its reputation for dazzling panoramas, romantic sunsets and volcanic-sand beaches, Santorini is a must visit place. In the evening, we went for a quiet local dinner within a short walk of the cliffs and spend the rest of the night gazing at the beautiful ocean.


Day 6: Breakfast at our private pool on the whitewashed walls was one of our most beautiful experiences. Our first stop was to Akrotiri, which is a group of prehistoric settlements that were unearthed during archaeological excavations. It was short drive from there to the top of Mount Profitis Ilias for panoramic views of the whole island. On our way back, we visited the black sand beach and spent our afternoon there and had a delicious lunch. We just had a little time to have a brief stop at a winery and back to view the idyllic Oia sunset from the Kastro — the Venetian castle ruins atop Santorini. Every tourist makes sure they visit this village and view the sunset and do some shopping. My son found a hidden old Atlantis book store and yes, we did indeed buy some book marks, not books though.  We ended the day by having dinner and catching a local city bus back to our hotel. The beauty of this whole trip is trying to commute, eat and dine just like locals to get the real essence of Greece.


Day 7: We woke up leisurely and then took a boat to our first stop at Santorini’s hot springs, which are on the tiny, uninhabited islet of Palea Kameni. Continuous underground volcanic activity maintains the springs’ temperature between 86ºF and 95ºF (30°C and 35°C). The sulfuric, orange-tinged spring waters that bubble up into a shallow cove off the islet’s coast are said to be curative for the skin and joints. After an hour stop, we again boarded our boat and went to a caldera atop the volcanic hill. Make sure you have good walking shoes as the trek was steep, bumpy, and quite a walk. We ended the day with a quiet cruise back to Fira.


Day 8: We took an afternoon flight from Santorini to be back in Athens by 1pm. We checked into a unique hotel in the Plaka district that was like a rabbit hole. We spent our afternoon visiting the Temple of Zeus (one of the biggest temples in history) and Hadrian’s Gate. We ended our day by shopping and eating delicious Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruits that tasted so different.


Day 9:  By 6 a.m. we were at the Athens airport on our way back to Dallas, home sweet home, with beautiful memories of this ancient country.

Dr Reena Kopala  Jan-2019   975   0