When I was 16 I went on a school trip to Greece. In preparation my friend Angela and I decided we should learn some Greek. We specially liked the phrase so agopo poly kukla nu, I love you vey much baby doll. We thought it might come in handy with all the gorgeous Greek men we were going to meet. We did use it a couple of times with responses of surprised laughter all around. From then on we called each other Kukla.
We flew to Athens and stayed in a high-rise hotel where we had rooms on the 10th floor. Our chaperones were very conservative and insisted on early nights. Since the boys were afraid they would get caught roaming the hallways, they decided to jump from balcony to balcony to get to other people’s rooms. Luckily nobody fell to their death although I was too scared to watch.
When we weren’t jumping balconies we toured the Parthenon and hit the discoes. We tried the local drink Oozo and found that if you added water to it, it turned cloudy.
After a couple of days in Athens we boarded a bus to tour the lower peninsula. We tested the acoustics at the ancient theater at Epidaurus built in the 4th century BC on our way to Olympia. The Olympic games were held there every four years from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The site was huge but mostly rubble so hard to imagine what was what. They did have a good museum where we saw the well preserved pediments of the Temple of Zeus. We were all impressed by the beauty of the intricate sculptures. In the evening we were set free and ended up in a small local restaurant where Greek men taught us traditional dances.
Our last stop on the bus tour was Delphi, home of the Oracle, Pythia. The priestess sat on a tripod stool and as fumes rose up from beneath the floor, she would fall into a trance and have a direct connection to the god Apollo. It was an eerie place.
After some more balcony jumping in Athens, we headed out to sea on a cruise ship. Our berths were in bowels of the boat and we could see water sloshing back and forth through our portholes. The chaperones had better accommodation higher up so we had no supervision. The boys spent most of their time having spit-wad fights and terrorizing the girls. The dining room was screened off so we were not visible to the rest of the passengers. Luckily they did feed us the same food, though, and we enjoyed seven course meals ending in glorious things like Baked Alaska. We were so full at the end of the meal we would practically have to roll back to our rooms.
We stopped briefly in Mykonos and I bought a very cool hand made pair of leather sandals. Our next stop was Santorini. One of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded took place 3600 years ago in Santorini. What is left is a still active cone jutting out of a lagoon. Steep walls of lava topped by white houses surrounded the lagoon. We were told some people thought this was where the ancient city of Atlantis was.
We took landing boats to the dock at the bottom of a steep zig-zag road that led up to the village. The only way up was on burro. Really? No way was I riding a burro. Where was the funicular? Unbelievable. I rode a burro to the top. It was not my proudest moment. But the town was beautiful with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. The whitewashed buildings were a stunning contract to the blue of the sea and sky surrounding them.
From there we went to Rhodes and had a “free day”. We headed to the beach but it was filled with tar and not pleasant at all. We saw the fort from a distance and agreed we would have rather toured the fort.
Our last stop was Crete. I had read several books about Theseus and the Minotaur and was excited to see the palace. I was sadly disappointed. I wanted to see the real palace and the real maze. All I saw were ruins and a guide pointing out where the maze had been. And it seemed so small.
We spent our last couple of days in Greece on a small island off the east coast. The beaches were beautiful and we found some caves down by one of the beaches that served us well our last evening for a farewell party with a bonfire.
Kathleen Gamble was born and raised overseas and has traveled extensively. She has a BA in Spanish and has worked in publishing, printing, desktop publishing, translating, and purchasing. She also designs and creates her own needlepoint. She started journaling at a young age and her memoir, Expat Alien, came out of those early journals. Over the years she has edited and produced an American Women’s Organization cookbook in Moscow, Russia, and several newsletters. Her first book, Expat Alien, was published in 2012 and she recently published a cookbook, 52 Food Fridays, both available on Amazon.com. You can also follow her blog at ExpatAlien.com.