Travel stories and personal travel writing

Naked in Greece

While thousands visit Europe for the historical, architectural and cultural experiences, many more just want to get wasted and party, with the focus firmly on cultural exchanges of a romantic nature. And, if you’re young, optimistic and unburdened by children, jobs and mortgages, why not?

Although I’d traveled independently before, I didn’t experience the backpacker travel scene until the late eighties. That summer I went traveling round Greece and Turkey with Karen.

She was a student in London too and, although a less experienced and more cautious traveler than me, Karen gamely agreed to many of my suggestions.

While I had the upper hand when it came to travel experience, Karen was a seasoned party animal and man magnet who made me look like Anne of Green Gables.

In London we dragged ourselves to lectures by day and by night we worked together in an East End pub, scrimping and saving to earn enough money for our forthcoming adventure.

There Karen picked up a dazzling array of dishy but dodgy young men, while I kept my head down pulling pints and trying to avoid the aging beer-bellied Eastenders who ribbed me mercilessly for being stuck up before inviting me out. Each time I refused their hounding intensified, a price I was quite willing to pay for a carefree summer backpacking trip.

To save money and avoid running out of cash later on Karen and I decided to free camp on the beach at the start of our trip.

There is nothing I enjoy more than planning my travels – I pore over the guide books for months before setting foot on the plane trying to work out which places I absolutely have to see, and which ones will have to wait for another trip. This time was no different and I finally picked a little-known Greek island where we could get a nice tan before heading to the party islands.

Karen was more into sunbathing and partying but I was determined to get off the beaten track, visit the ancient ruins and have a proper cultural experience, so this way we were both happy.

Unfortunately, my guide book failed to mention that the island of Chios was a military base inhabited mainly by several hundred bored, sex-starved Greek soldiers.

The long-suffering Karen was not impressed, but we slept on the beach anyway, washing in a nearby restaurant and kidding ourselves the staff didn’t notice when we slipped off to wash our hair in the basin after ordering a Greek salad.

Chios was a charming spot. The stunning beaches and lack of tourists filled my desire to discover undiscovered Greece but unfortunately we were too naive to give false names to the lusty Greek army boys.

At night the air would reverberate with calls of “Karen” and “Annabel” as the Greek soldiers hunted us down.

We huddled between the sand dunes giggling softly so they wouldn’t hear us with our sleeping bags pulled up to our chins. But they were a persistent bunch and we had to leave after four nights because we couldn’t stand the relentless male attention any more.

A few long ferry rides later, Ios lived up to its reputation as party central.

We soon met two fun-loving  Australian girls and hung around in a foursome bar hopping until the small hours. We always seemed to lose one another as the night wore on and invariably I was the only one who actually slept in our room at night. But come noon we’d be miraculously reunited, tucked up safely in our beds, trying to piece together what had happened the night before.

Our exploits were tame compared to some of the other travelers. I remember chatting to one man outside a bar who was swigging rough Greek spirits straight from the bottle. He offered me a swig (which I politely refused), then vomited over his shoulder before turning back, wiping his mouth with his sleeve and carrying on the conversation.

I didn’t hear of anyone taking drugs but there were all kinds of strange rumors about people being slipped hallucinogenic drugs on Ios. Still, we were fine and left the island after 10 days of hedonism simply because we were on the brink of exhaustion.

Endless days and nights of tequila slammers, dancing on bars and inane conversation take its toll no matter how young you are. Compared to many travelers I didn’t drink much but I still reckon about 25% of my brain cells were left behind on that Greek party island. Karen and the Aussie girls seemed to be able to drink more and cope with it better but even they were worn out.

Naked Travel StoriesSantorini whose scenic slopes adorn adverts for Greece, was nearby and sounded ideal for some much needed rest and recovery. But as we boarded the ferry I fell over and lay on my back cycling my legs in the air like an upended tortoise, pinned by the weight of my backpack. It took all three of my friends to help me back on my feet.

In Santorini we hired lumbering donkeys to carry us up the steep track to town. Santorini is all white buildings, blue skies and fishy air and that night Karen and I went to bed early looking forward to our first decent sleep for weeks.

When I woke in the night to find a strange man sitting on the chair by my bed I was terrified. And, worse still, unable to move or even utter a sound. The man didn’t actually do anything other than watch me but I frantically tried to move or scream out for hours.

Time dragged by. My throat constricted and ached. I tried frantically to move and eventually, with super human effort, I finally managed to move a foot and at last open my mouth to scream before running out of the room yelling at full volume:

“There’s a man in my room and I don’t know who it is.”

I was naked and didn’t have much trouble getting the attention of a group of French men at the restaurant next door.

The gallant Gauls grabbed a stick, jumped over the small wall separating us and raced into my room where Karen was sitting up in bed silently. The men soon came out again shrugging their shoulders and saying:

“There eeees no man inside.”

“Where did he go?” I asked Karen.

She handed me a sheet and spoke slowly as if to a child:

“I didn’t see any man, Annabel.”

That’s when I burst into tears wailing:

“I think I’ve had a bad trip.”

Our French heroes made their excuses and fled but after that we kept bumping into them again wherever we went.

Then it was my turn to flee as they sniggered and pointed at the crazy English girl.

Never mind the real dangers of traveling my mother warned me about, it seemed like the biggest threat was inside my head.

It’s a shame I’ve lost contact with those old travel friends now but some memories last forever.

I bet they still remember their old friend Tripper.

Travel Stories Greece

Naked  Travel Story Footnote

I’m still not sure what really happened to me but I now doubt anyone slipped hallucinogenic drugs into one of my  drinks.

According to the Dream Doctor sleep paralysis seems to be more likely. I particularly like his explanation because he claims that, while these dreams may make you feel like you’re going crazy, it doesn’t mean you actually are crazy. Very comforting.

This is his definition of sleep paralysis:

“Sleep paralysis occurs when we wake up mentally—only to discover that our bodies still are “asleep”—and we can’t move!

To make matters even more confusing, our awakening from REM sleep typically is only partial. This means we tend to have long and confusing dreams about being paralyzed, and, because we feel vulnerable, we often dream of being attacked.”

Share Your Travel Stories

What’s  your most embarrassing story or most memorable travel story? Please share it in the comments below or write your own blog post – we want to read it!

Naked Travel Stories Will be Continued…

Later, in an inspired move, Karen and I shred our plane tickets and hitchhike to the Oktober Fest in Germany. And despite all precautions we do run out of money.

Thank you for reading – stay tuned by email or RSS.

Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve C Thomas April 12, 2011 at 9:47 am

Interesting story, Annabel. You have certainly lived an exciting life! I enjoy your writing style. You tell a mean story!

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thanks Steve, Glad you enjoyed it and lucky I have some great stories to tell:)

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Hari April 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

Now that brought back some memories! You’ve got to hand it to Greek men – they’re a persistent lot! Great story.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hi Hari, lol, they sure are:) Thank you.

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Jen Gresham April 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

Holy cow, Annabel! I’ve never heard of sleep paralysis, and I hope I never experience it. However, the story of you running naked for help and the crowd of gallant Gauls…well, I’m glad you took one for the team. That was hysterical!

My most embarassing travel story? I have a terrible habit of picking up accents wherever I go. It’s completely unconscious and I’m unable to stop it without great effort. Well, I was in London on a trip and I started to pick up the accent of the shopkeeper I was talking to. She asked me where I was from, and I had to admit the US. She cocked her head to the side and said something like, “Where in the US? You have the strangest accent!” I could only sigh in response.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Hi Jen, lol, oh yes, that can be a problem. But it is a great way to improve your accent when speaking a foreign language!

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Elle B April 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I’ve experienced sleep paralysis several times, Annabel, and finally looked it up too. The dream is always the same — I hear someone trying to break in through the window or door, see the window or door slowly open, but can’t move or get to the phone. It’s terrifying!

You definitely had one of those experiences that’s funnier in retrospect, I’m sure! I’ve yet to have a mortifying experience while traveling, but I’m sure it’s in the cards…

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hi Elle, you too?! So glad to hear I’m not nuts then. It’s amazing that even when you have the same dream and know it’s a dream it STILL seems real. And terrifying. Poor you. My travel tip for you is always wear a nightie:)

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Matty April 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm

That sounds like quite a trip. I can only imagine you running out naked and the looks on their faces.

My first week in college, I was asleep on my bed. It was daytime and I must have been taking a nap. My roommate was in the room, and I woke up but couldn’t move. I was completely conscious and didn’t know why I could not get up. I started to panic and began panting because I was scared. I could see my roommate who was looking down into a book, but I couldn’t do anything. To this day, I had no idea what it was or why it happened, and it never happened before or since. Now 35 years later I read your story and it’s the first time since that day in college that I heard of it happening to someone else. Wow.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Hi Matty, so glad to learn we are not alone in this experience! It’s hard to describe just how scary the feeling of helplessness is. Thanks for sharing your story with us:)

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Piri April 12, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Loved your story.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Hi Piri, lovely to see you here and thank you!

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Linda ~ Journey Jottings April 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Unlike your story where your intruder turned out to be part of a dream + sleep paralysis, I experienced that but for real :(
When on holiday in a hot steamy Darwin unit, we had the fly screen sliding door closed, but inadvertently left it unlocked.
It was so hot and humid I was sleeping naked, and awoke to find a man leaning over me –
“What is my partner doing standing beside the bed?” my sleepy addled brain asked.
So I flung my arm out onto his side of the bed only to hit him :/
I tried to scream – but like you was totally dumbfounded. Its an extremely bizarre feeling to be so frightened as to be unable to utter a sound –
So while the intruder fled I continued to hit my confused partner who leapt up trying to find the light switches in our strange surroundings and as I finally spat out
“There was a man – quick” we both raced out onto the verandah to see a car take off up the street with no lights on (so no chance of getting a number plate)
My intruder was real – He’d helped himself to cash out of our wallets before stopping for a perve on his way out.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Hi Linda, oh that really is terrifying. Poor you. I bet it took a long time to recover from that fright. Interesting that you were too scared to speak. Thanks so much for sharing that with us and the reminder to double check our doors are locked:(

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Brenda April 13, 2011 at 2:15 am

When we were first married a year or so back in 1983, we were living in our first apartment. It was furnished and we didn’t have very many material things yet but I hung two travel posters over the sofa to “dream” about. One was similar to the picture in this blog entry of Santorini and the other was in Italy (one of those coastal cities built up the side of a large hill). My desire to see Santorini only increased after seeing the movie “Summer Lovers” even though I have never been the party type. I still have not made it to those destinations but still dream about it. Your blog reminded me of that dream.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Hi Brenda, thank you for commenting. I’ve never heard of the movie, need to check it out! Santorini is gorgeous – after the Tripper incident we hired a car and toured the island which was gorgeous – except that we kept bumping into those French boys. I think it would be safe for me to go back now thought! Hope you get to fulfill your dream of getting there. The pictures on the wall should help. Just keep up you focus:)

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Connie April 13, 2011 at 4:54 am

I love the first paragraph of this. And we all run out of money at the end of these trips, don’t we, when we are young and without credit cards, or when it wasn’t so easy to use a credit card on these travels.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Hi Connie, thanks you. Yes, I’d forgotten but it’s true I have a history of running out of money! So keen to get places I’d just buy the plane ticket as soon as I had enough for that and not worry about how I was going to eat, sleep etc.

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se7en April 13, 2011 at 9:31 am

That is a freaky tale!!! Whoever knew you of sleep paralysis and as for Linda’s experience… pretty scary!!! I don’t have a naked travel story that I can remember!!! But I can say our worst travel night of our lives was after a couple of week of touring Greek islands… and we had had a blast and eaten stunning pavement food and found glorious “cheap” spontaneous accommodation every night… Our luck ran out as we caught the ferry to Heraklion where I had to present at a conference. My husband and I were both students and decided that the open deck ticket would be fine (and a lot cheaper) as we were in Greece how bad could the weather be!!! You guessed it terminal hours of howling blasting wind and rain in t-shirts and shorts and everything we owned stuffed into a daypack. We arrived physically fatigued at dusk at the bottom of town and went in search of accommodation. Naturally everything was full up due to the season and the conference… Anyway we couldn’t use any of the suggested spots so we started looking for anything in the same area as the conference… well we found this wrinkled woman on her doorstep – well she approached us “where we looking for a place to stay?” Obviously we were… anyway my husband asked if she had anything with a double bed – she immediately assumed we were newly weds and gave us a grubby half full bottle of whisky… (not my best). We thanked her for her kindness and were relieved to get to our room only to discover it was so absolutely filthy and crawling with living things… the filthy sheet didn’t even slightly cover the greasy grimy mattress and we used the whisky to disinfect the shower before we stood in it. My hubs crashed and sept – the man can sleep anywhere… and I sat on the corner of the dirtiest sheet on earth crying my eyes out – too terrified to put the light out in case something crawled over me… and waited for morning… All the while unavoidably hearing the moans and wails and groans emanating from the very busy/occupied neighboring rooms – eeeuch!!! So on a very sleepless night I presented my first paper the next day and my hero hubs went in search of fresh accommodation – he found it of course, but first impressions remain and that is one city on my never to be repeated list.

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Annabel Candy April 13, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Hi Se7en, oh dear, that’s a bad one. Good for you pressing on with the conference. I’ve had some shocking filthy beds too but the worst in Miami! Love that you disinfected the shower with the old woman’s whisky! Hilarious… In retrospect. And I do think these experiences make us stronger and more flexible:)

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Riley Harrison April 14, 2011 at 1:46 am

Hey Annabel,
If you had looked like Anne of Green Gables you would have done OK. She had red hair.
Riley

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GutsyWriter April 14, 2011 at 2:55 am

I could follow you in the discos in Greece. I did the same in nightclubs in Paris during my early twenties. Lots of fun with French guys who always flirt the Latin way: always complimenting women.
I have a funny story about our wedding in Kuaia, Hawaii, and it involves a knock on the door at 3 a.m./ with my husband-to-be, running out of our bed, and putting on my bikini bottom in the dark, to greet the woman who was delivering our lost suitcase with my wedding dress for the next day.

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Penelope J. April 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Your story had me laughing out loud. I could just visualize the scenes. I’d never heard of sleep paralysis before but I’ve definitely had it on several occasions and I’m grateful for an explanation because the terror is so real as is the inability to move or do anything about it.
Several of the above stories were also very funny. I can just imagine the last one from Gutsy Writer.
One of my stories was in Luxembourg in the 1960′s when I took a group of very rowdy northern English journalists on a press trip. We ended up drinking in my room as everything closed early there, and someone had picked up a Colombian who was chasing me around. At some point, I blacked out and came to stark naked lying on the floor. In my confused mind, all I could think was that one of the men had tried to rape me but I had fought him off- I had the aches and bruises to prove this, but he’d left his shoes behind. So I put on a filmy negligee – don’t know what I was thinking – and set off to find out what had happened, knocking on hotel doors (it was about 2 am)until I found the only one of my group who hadn’t been partying with us. Just as he was calming me down, the phone rang. It was the hotel manager to say that a mad Englishwoman was wandering around the hotel knocking on people’s doors and waking them up. The following morning at breakfast, I told my tale and everyone watched expectantly as each man came in. The only one to turn up without his shoes was a bashful newlywed who had got drunk and retired early. So with no culprit from our group, we concluded that probably I’d fallen and hit my head. Or maybe the Colombian had pounced on me and I’d bravely fought him off.

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Galen Pearl April 16, 2011 at 7:04 am

Wow, did this bring back memories! A blend of my youthful travels backpacking in Alaska and hitchhiking from Mexico City to South America (that’s true–I did). Then there was the more sedate Greek cruise last summer. Oh, how traveling has changed as I’ve gotten older! Thanks for a fun “trip.”

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Sarah May 22, 2011 at 7:04 am

This reminds me of my youthful travels in Europe and sleeping on the beach in the South of France. Same thing, we thought it a brilliant way to save money. But after picking our way over the sharp rocks and finally finding a spot to nestle our sleeping bags, we were both rudely awakened by men trying to crawl into our bags with us! Apparently girls sleeping alone on the beach are fair game. Our cries for help and yells for them to F*** Off! did not elicit any response or help from fellow campers and we were eventually forced to leave the beach in search of safer sleeping quarters. But at least we weren’t naked!

Had never heard of sleep paralysis, but it’s a relief to find it’s an actual condition! I’ve experienced it many times while napping, and while it probably only lasts a few minutes it’s definitely scary to struggle with trying to wake up and speak or get away and feel completely paralyzed!

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Melanie October 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Interesting read. Let me know when your book is ready and I will definitely read it! Al the best :)

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mrdelucia January 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

That story made me giggle with delight!! Hilarious!
I’ve had several crazy naked stories myself through my years of traveling! One of my favorites found me in a hostel in Marseilles, in a mixed dorm! I was with some girlfriends of mine, and we weren’t expecting the 4th bed in our room to be filled as we had gotten there so late in the day! I had just gotten out of the shower, and my friend had jumped in! I had no clothes on and was fishing around, bent over, looking for panties in my pack. I suddenly heard footsteps behind me– I glanced though my legs only to see a man standing there. I slowly realized this must be the 4th roommate for the night. I turned around, finished putting on my panties and just went over and shook his hand, he had already seen all there was to see, so…. I tried to make the best of the situation! Poor guy, we all laughed until we cried, he was so embarrassed!

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Arjun March 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Interesting adventures, Annabel :) I’ve never suffered from sleep paralysis, but I did live next to a girl who did – and in some cases she would even sleep walk and wander around, not knowing anything about it the next morning. Luckily for her, she’s never visited the island of Chios! Haha.

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Charli | Wanderlusters June 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Jeepers how terrifying! I can’t imagine how I would react in that situation, whether hallucination or the real thing. I’m actually off to Greece in August, it will be my first experience of solo travel and I’m a little scared. I’ve been nomadic for the last two years but I’ve always had my big burly boyfriend to watch over me. Hopefully I’ll find some great girlfriends to hang out with!

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