A part of me has been putting off this blog entry because I know that once its complete and posted, then the trip is truly over. By delaying this last step, a part of me can keep one foot in Greece, the cradle of civilization, the home of gods and monsters, and the place where I feel like I was reborn. My trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. In fact, if anything Greece was an escape. A getaway in every sense of the word. I needed to be able to leave behind everything. Everything that was familiar and that had become mundane. I needed an adventure. And the best part about my 2 weeks in the salty Aegean, on the rocky cliffs, in the baking sun – was that I got to be with 3 of the most inspiring, fantastically beautiful and intelligent friends anyone could hope for.
Our trip began in Athens. Amidst all the news of the riots and chaos going on in the city in recent weeks, we were all actually pleasantly surprised to discover what an amazing city Athens was. It was energetic, ancient and buzzing. But more than that, every person we encountered was so intensely friendly it was almost shocking. We couldn’t go into one store or restaurant without a HUGE greeting. “Kali Méra!!” everyone seemed to say with huge smiles. Even though we were insanely exhausted from our flights from the US, we decided that we could sleep when we were dead and instead opted for a fabulous dinner and a night out at the clubs. Even though most of us hadn’t slept in 48 hours we stayed up dancing until 5am after landing at 9am. I’m always so pleasantly surprised to remember that most everywhere else in the world doesn’t have bars that close at 2am like San Francisco…when do you think we’re going to catch on??
The next morning (or same morning depending on how you want to look at it) we took our necessary and highly anticipated trek up to the Acropolis. To say that it was different from what I had imagined – but not in any way disappointing, is the absolute truth. I had been studying the Parthenon since I was in high school and in my mind I had created the temple to be larger than life. Historic structures never are, their myths and legends always end up being larger than the structures themselves. While I imaged the Parthenon bigger, I hadn’t been quite prepared myself for the view from the top of the acropolis. It opened out to a stunning built up, chaotic and ancient city. I wish I could write forever about that experience of standing in the middle of something so archaic yet so significant to so many religions and beliefs for over two and half thousand years. To think that something could stand for that long is unbelievable. And I was right, seeing the porch of the caryatids was almost too much to take in at once. I could literally feel my heart tighten up it was so beautiful.
After our trip to the most holy of all architectural sites, it was to time to fly to Mykonos, the first of our island Paradiso experience. Aside from already being in love with the island for years through Fleet Foxes Osmosis, I have to say that Mykonos more than lived up to all my expectations and I fell in love with the land for real this time. After one of the shortest and most eventful flights I’ve ever had – including sitting behind a gaggle of the most disgusting and appalling Australians I’ve ever come across (well maybe second worst) it was time to hop over to our hotel. UNFORTUNATELY, when we got to our hotel we were told that they were sold out and that there had been a misunderstanding when we had booked our room online weeks prior. This is not what you want to hear when you have been traveling for 72 hours with 5 hours collective sleep. While at first our hearts sank and we felt like this was the worst news possible, we were quickly informed that we were being given a free upgrade to Appollonia Bay, a 5 star resort. OH HAAAAAYYYY! After feeling so deflated and so heartbroken that we couldn’t stay in the hotel of our dreams, we immediately left behind any of that regret as we stepped through the doors and into the reception area that was *literally scattered with candle lit lanterns (melt). Being led up to our hotel rooms felt surreal. Did this really happen? How did we get here? No really…this must be a dream.Our rooms were not only spectacular but had adjoining balconies that over looked the moonlit water. I can’t tell you how much my heart swelled and swooned at the sight of a black calm sea with one perfectly white moon reflecting on top of another one.Mykonos was one of the best times I’ve had in my entire life. To say that we lived each moment to the absolute fullest is no understatement. In the 3 or 4 days that we were there, all of us must have slept for only about 10 hours in all those days combined. I could never accurately describe how incredible those days were with any form of accuracy, so I won’t even try. I’ll just say that I’ve never swam in clearer aquamarine water, I’ve never danced harder, drank more, eaten so good or laughed so hard. All those days were filled with nothing but cocktails, HUGE belly laughs and lounging by the pool and swimming in the ocean. One experience that I will cherish forever and always remember Mykonos for is the all night dance party we went to while standing front row for DJ Afrojack at the outdoor club Paradiso. I have never danced and partied outside until the sun rose. Watching the sun rise above the ocean while listening to one of the most amazing world-famous DJ’s is an experience I’ll never forget.
After all the hard partying in Mykonos the calm whitewashed buildings of Santorini were an incredibly welcome sight. I can’t emphasize enough how exquisite Santorini is. Again, every place we visited was so beautiful it almost hurt. But Santorini and Oia has a magical allure that only comes from thousands of years of this kind of calm appreciation. Overlooking the caldera from our cliff side private balcony and watching the sun go down over the ridges of the volcanic faces was not only breathtaking, but in many ways miraculous. The beauty and splendor of it all was so enchanting and mesmerizing. The one thought that kept going through my mind was how spiritual this land was. Not only did I feel like I was more in touch with my own spirituality, but I really felt like I could see how the ancient Greeks would invest so much of their faith into the gods. When this ethereal landscape is placed right at your feet, how can you not believe in something larger than yourself? In the face of all that majestic beauty you are compelled to believe in divine, unseen forces. It is so easy to see how a whole country and a whole culture could place all their faith in the hands of gods who ruled the land, the sea, the sky and all other aspects of life.Santorini felt pure. Everything was stripped down to the basic undeniable foundations of life. There were no pretenses, everything was so true and clear. The food was fresh, the water was unpolluted and transparent, days seemed longer and the sun shone brighter than I have ever witnessed. One of the reoccurring thoughts that I will always remember, is the feeling that I had never been so close to the water and the sun at the same time. The sun and sky seemed to dip down and kiss the caldera each day.
It is here that I found myself again. Here where I believe I was reclaimed. For so long I have been getting wrapped up in all the customary and mainstream petty stresses of life. Jobs, money, bills…everything. It all had me so weighed down and distracted from everything – that I had lost sight of how to relax and enjoy the small moments. To recognize and appreciate the kairos. Here in the Grecian, ancient land and under the burning sun, all those stresses completely melted away and I felt utterly stripped. I found a way to get myself back to neutral. Get back to basics. Get back to the person I have always meant to be.