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5 Snapshots of Greece

My first memory of Athens was waking up to the busyness of the downtown morning traffic. I was travelling on a high school trip along with my best friend. We quickly threw on shorts and t-shirts. It was only 8 o’clock in the morning and already I felt moisture prickling the back of my neck. We opted to take the wide staircase from the third floor as we couldn’t be bothered with the mechanics of the tiny elevator. We were in a hurry to meet Athens! Once in the main lobby, we went straight out onto the street almost colliding with a Greek woman. “Signomi.” she said giving us a funny look and kept on walking. I looked after her wishing I knew some Greek. More people kept walking around us on their way to work. We smiled and started to saying ‘hi’ to everyone. It wasn’t long before we started to hear ‘Yasoo’ in reply, so we started to say, ‘Yasoo!’ back. Soon everyone was smiling. That was when I learned that Greek people were friendly…and fun. …. When our tour bus stopped at the Corinth Canal, a Greek fisherman’s hat hanging in a shop caught my eye. I placed the white cap on my head. It fit perfectly. Not only would it protect my head from the July sun, it made me feel a little Greek. I liked feeling Greek. …. Eventually we stopped in Nafplio for the night, but first our whole group gathered on the patio of a nearby taverna for pizza. The Greek owner was patient and kind. We were, afterall, a group of high school kids who had travelled all the way from Canada for the first time. “I have kids.” he told us. “You kids are very lucky to travel across the world and see different places.” We nodded in agreement, not really knowing until years later the impact travelling to Greece would make on us. He joked with us throughout our meal and when we left, we felt like he was part of our family. We hugged him and told him we’d come back to see him again one day. … Waking up the next morning, my friend and I found a watermelon at a street market and lugged it onto the bus. Our bus driver, who we had come to know as Kostas, laughed and shrugged his shoulders to see a watermelon boarding his bus. We ate mouthfuls of sweet juicy melon as we watched the Peloponnese landscape go by. … By late afternoon we arrived our hotel in Delphi for the night. Delphi was charming with narrow streets and small tavernas, and of course, there were ruins are nearby. There was a bar that played loud Greek dance music that we visited later that evening, but it was the view from our hotel that held out attention for hours. We could have stayed on our balcony forever, overlooking the Corinthian Gulf. We were mesmerized by the sea, the olive groves, and where the sea met the sky. We marvelled at how different we felt having experienced just a few days of Greece. And knowing that there was still more to come filled us with a joy we hadn’t actually known until then. … It is 30 years later. I am coordinating bus and ferry times to the island of Skopelos with my arrival into Athens. It will be journey that will take the better part of a day, but by the evening I will be sitting in a waterfront restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean. At the table will be my husband, who I met in Greece on that high school trip so many years ago, along with our two daughters. They are about the age I was when I was last in Skopelos. Together we’re going to get to know Greece and fall in love with her all over again. article by Lesli Christianson-Kellow