We had the most wonderful and PERFECT introduction to Greece as soon as we stepped off the plane! We have Greek blood in us and one thing that we really notice is how proud people are to be Greek and make sure we are just as proud. I am sure most of you, if not all, have seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and now with actually stepping foot is Greece and spending time there, this is absolutely no exaggeration.
Nick picked us up from the airport and took us to our hotel in Athens. We were only staying in Athens one night before headed to the port in the morning to board our cruise. Nick quickly introduced us to the pride of the Greeks and how they do EVERYTHING better! No matter what, he turned it into the Greeks being the inventors or the reason behind any success story. I think my Dad could have sit and listened to him for days. We arrived to Greece still full and tired from our adventures in Italy but excited to take on a whole new place. After checking into our hotel in Athens, we decided to hit the train and go see Acropolis and enjoy a authentic Greek meal. That is exactly what we did. We climbed to Acropolis and had the most gorgeous of views over Athens. I could have stayed there all day! The amount of history that lives there and different events that have taken place throughout time is incredible. It was one of my most memorable moments of the trip.
We had to do some climbing to get to the top so that certainly left us hungry! I find that it is always so difficult to choose a restaurant in an unknown area. Food is so important to me that I pass places up thinking I will find better and that is rarely the case! To prove my point, we actually walked past this restaurant that puts the meaning of “mom and pop” and “authentic” into play. We ended up going back as it seemed like it was exactly what we were looking for and it certainly was!! The menu was HUGE! I am not kidding – I could not believe all they had to offer. That was until you ordered and they would just continuously tell you “no” as that was not what was fresh today. So they literally put everything on their order that they may have made one day but the best way to go is asking the man who greets you, who does also happen to be your chef, what his specials are. Of course, lots of Greek salads were ordered, and guess what! They were made from all fresh cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. The vegetables had not even been cut yet for the salads! Lots of bread, feta, veggies, and fish right off the bone was eaten and would have to say it was one of my most memorable European meal yet.
We embarked on another first for most of us the next morning, a cruise. It was setting sail to take us to some of the grecian islands and I could not be more excited for this part of the trip. I had always wanted to see the islands and to be with my family doing so made it even more special. Our first stop was Mykonos (and I am so happy it was). It was exactly the Greece I had imagined! White buildings with blue accents, clear blue water, and not a cloud in the sky. We had a fabulous time being able to walk the streets, do some shopping, and sit and eat dinner by the water. My dad was in absolute heaven.
Next stops on our cruise were Patmos, Rhodes, and Crete. These were all pretty quick stops and all very different. Patmos was a quaint, smaller city while Rhodes was hustling and bustling with new town and old town. We did some of our best shopping in Patmos and Rhodes – I even got a rehearsal dinner dress (thank you mom + dad)!
Rhodes was so picturesque and took a little tour to one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. The sky was so blue, the water was so blue, and the beaches were sandy! We were able to see Turkey from the island as well as where the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea meet.
Crete was quite when we arrived to the port and we did not have much exploration time so we walked near the water instead of going into town. This was a whole different experience as we were able to see fishermen come back and bring what they caught for the day and also, see the fishermen preparing their boats to go out and fish. It is amazing how little some of the boats they take out in the ocean!
The final stop, and it physically hurts me to say those words, was Santorini! We were having the best time that I truly did not want it to end. I am thankful it ended with Santorini, though. We had a gorgeous day that we were having on the boat just enjoying the sun and clouds rolled in as we got closer to land. All we could talk about was a picture my sister took in Santorini with the sun setting and the white background with the clear blue sky. It did not look like that is what we would be getting! We took a boat from the ship to shore, where we then had to take a cable car up to the city. We have a couple people that were traveling with us that did not like heights and thought they wouldn’t make it. It was cable car or donkey ride up…we proceeded with the cable car! We all made it and were absolutely blown away by the view and how such a beautiful city could be created perched up so high on a mountain. The sun came out and was shining for the remainder of our stay.
Unfortunately, we did not have much time in Santorini and we used every second of it. We walked, shopped, took pictures, saw views, and had the best meal to close out our family European tour. We were sitting with the perfect view of the ocean and city. The meal was full of greek bread, feta, fish, vegetables, and wine! I could have sit at that table and looked out over the ocean for the rest of my life and been happy. It did not feel like we were in the same world. That evening, after we so bravely got back in the cable car and boated back to our ship, we stood on the deck of the boat, toasted with bubbles and reminisced on the memories we had created. Oh, and I won 70 cents at the cruise casino!
Thank you, dad, for planning and taking us all on this trip to celebrate your anniversary, you could have easily just taken mom! I do not know how you could ever top it – it was one of the best two weeks we have all ever spent together. We love you! Here’s to 30 more years and many more after that!