Flying into Greece was a little tougher than I imagined. Mentally, not physically or logistically. The very first time I travelled was when I flew to Athens to meet Jane. It was in 1995 after we graduated and she was working there at the University. The plan was to meet in Greece and travel for 6 months. However, eventually I cut that short a by a few weeks so that I could return to Canada in time to watch a Montreal Canadiens game at the Forum. I know. But, Habs. The Canadiens closed the Forum in 1996 and I’m a huge Habs fan. Going to watch a game there was essentially my pilgrimage to Mecca. All this to say that there was some nostalgia running through my head as we landed. I was able to share the story with the boys of Jane meeting me at the airport and that it was my FIRST flight. Neither could believe that I was 22 when I first got on a plane and both of them have logged close to 30 flights at their young age. They laughed out loud. And loved it.
Our first day travelling around the city and visiting the main sites, a few emotions came crashing back like the proverbial wave. Walking up the steps to the Acropolis, seeing a Goody’s restaurant (a staple of ours back in the day), the Greek bread rings being sold on the street, hearing Yassou & Efaristo (Hello & thank-you) and the food…my god, the food. But eventually, like it always does, the feeling fades, the waves rescind and life goes on.
And on it did! We loved Greece. Every part of it. Even the times I sat on a patio after dinner, listening to them talk to each other in a Minecraft language I can’t understand. (it’s like I’m not even there - does anyone else’s kids do that???). I was able to people watch, enjoy a beer and just soak in the scenes. It was special being there. And the timing was perfect, after spending a month in the middle east.
I blew a gasket one day in Oman. It was a combination of the heat and watching the boys continually have their faces buried in their e-readers. I told Sully one of his ‘consequences’ was that he had to plan our days in Greece. I was done being a tour guide (if I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that on the trip, we could afford to keep travelling for another year!) I thought I was going to get off free for once. Have an easy time in a country and not have to worry about opening a guide book or an app. However, this consequence didn’t exactly have the intended effect. He took the ball and ran with it! I forgot him and Percy Jackson were thick as thieves (how could I forget!?). And he simply planned our entire first week around seeing everything that was in the books!! Of course he did! (The other perk of him reading the Percy Jackson series is that he knew so much about mythology - it was likek we had our own personal tour guide!) But there was no method to his madness, he had us zig-zagging all over the country. His route around Greece looked like he had played connect the dots with someone who couldn’t count!! I stepped in to make his planning a little more concise and to over-rule one suggestion and make one of my own. He OK’d it. Reluctantly. We were going to go to Meteora to see the monasteries. And whoa, were we ever happy we did. It was one of the top surprises of the entire trip! The monasteries there are simply stunning. They aren’t well known, but if you’re going to Greece, build these beauties into your agenda. We spent a few days in Athens, made it to Sounio to watch the sunset, travelled to Delphi (again an unexpected beauty!), Meteora and then back South to Olympia.
Next up was my part of the planning. Originally I had intended for us to spend 5 days on Santorini. But already being closer to the western side of the country, it didn’t make a lot of sense to head that way. It would have eaten up too much time just getting there. So I called an audible and we headed to Zakynthos. And it was our perfect piece of paradise. 5 days of relaxing, eating, uno’ing, eating, exploring ocean caves and famous beaches and lots more eating. It was tough to leave. But we had a date with our friends the Powell/Boyd-Browns in Provence, France and we weren’t going to miss it. Many new memories were created, a few old ones were shared and enough of an interest was peaked that they’ll be a return visit for at least 2 of us.