Earlier this month I packed my bags for a 9 day trip through Greece. I hit Athens for two days, Santorini for five, and spent two exhausting days traveling. Even more exhausting was sorting through and editing my some 1600 photos I took – which is why this post is a few weeks late!
I’ll do as little typing as possible since my pictures will tell the story of my trip much more eloquently than any jumble of words I could manage to string together. But here’s a little background and reflection anyway –
This was a bucket list trip for me. I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. When I was 18 I worked in a restaurant where the Greek owners were adamant about having visitors at their Corfu home… yet I never made it. Two years ago when Chelsea and I cut our backpacking trip short, it was at the expense of missing out on beautiful Greece. So, like they say – third time’s a charm. This time I did it. I saw what I wanted to see, I ate what I wanted to eat, and I photographed just about everything.
In short – here are my takeaways:
Athens: Way dirtier than I was expecting. The streets are covered in graffiti and really sort of run down. Also, the side streets – and oh, there are plenty of them, they’re a little terrifying to walk down. I constantly thought I was taking a wrong turn, just to safely end up back in the hub. Also terrifying – the cab drivers. Athens makes us crazy New England drivers look like we’re out for a relaxing Sunday cruise. The ruins though, they tell a story. I can appreciate that – even though they’re swarming with camera toting tourists such as myself. The Parthenon is even grander than I imagined. Some parts of the city are even still somewhat reminiscent of the ancient days when the Parthenon stood fully intact. Most interesting was the normalcy of life centered around the ancient ruins – the graffitied walls, the hectic traffic, the buzz of every day life in a place where millions pay to visit every single year. From most parts of the city, if you just stop where you are and search a little, you’ll be able to spot the Parthenon in the distance, perched up on the Acropolis – something I’m sure goes unnoticed by the locals far too often. One complaint – update the plumbing. The whole “don’t flush toilet paper thing” is more terrifying than the crazy drivers.
Santorini: Everything I imagined and so much more. I spent two days in Oia, the expensive Caldera view town with the blue and white fronted cave houses. I stayed in one of those cave houses with an “oh my goodness, is this real life?” view right outside of the front door. I could have spent days wandering around just marveling at the ocean and the blue domed churches (oh wait, I did do that). I could have also spent days eating everything that looked even mildly appealing (oh wait, did that, too). While researching the must-try dining spots in Santorini I stumbled upon an article that I thought summed up the breathtaking Oia sunset better than I could ever have summed it: “It literally took my breath away and at that moment I felt very small, yet at the same time very close to God as if it was an honor to be part of the same wonderful creation that I was seeing.” Despite this famous sunset being by far the most crowded time of day in Oia – literally pours of tourists pack the streets to get a good view of the sun dipping below the clouds – my favorite time of day may have been dusk: A little before the sun totally disappeared, when my fellow tourists were mostly cleared out and the sky remained, for a few minutes at least, a shadowy mix of pink, yellow, and blue.
The latter part of my stay in Santorini was spent in Kamari Beach (Black Beach) where I lounged on resort chairs and took a dip in the saltiest, deepest blue, most crystal clear of ocean waters I’ve ever seen. It was the perfect end to a mostly perfect trip. I say mostly because, despite being surrounded by such awe-inspiring scenery and some of the kindest locals I’ve ever encountered, being on vacation doesn’t make certain feelings go away. Anxiety and loneliness and insecurity don’t take a vacation when you do. Often times, these feelings amplify when you step out of your comfort zone. It seems bizarre, ironic, and even a little vain, that I’d focus on my own insecurities in a place of such perfection – where even the imperfections, such as the crumbling tiles and the broken church bells, add to the beauty. How can I see this in a crumbling building, and not in my own self? On this trip I was equal parts loving and critical of my body. And since I’ve returned I’ve been in the same tug of war. Loving, then criticizing, then loving, only to criticize again. Which sounds exhausting, even writing about it. Despite this, I was able to deeply appreciate my trip. I was also able to get some pretty great shots which, as I mentioned before, took a pretty long time to sort through. Here’s a handful of shots that I’m hoping do Greece at least a little justice.