40th Anniversary Trip to Greece

June 11, 2023

We had this trip mostly planned for June of 2020 and my 60th birthday, but COVID struck, and we cancelled it along with everything else. Luckily, we hadn’t bought plane tickets or paid any money to the tour organizer. Then, one January afternoon in Maui as I meditated on the hillside overlooking the sea and islands, the thought floated into my mind, “I think it is our 40thanniversary this June…we should take that trip to Greece!”  It was very easy to reconstruct the itinerary with the incredibly helpful travel agent, Takis, who plans trips for the Hellenic Studies Department at PU. Prices were more expensive than they were in 2020, but still very reasonable compared to the rest of Europe. Traveling in early June we were also very lucky with the weather, which was cool and cloudy before the blistering heat of the summer set in.

After an uneventful direct flight from Newark to Athens, we arrived in Greece on June 11, our anniversary day. We were met at the airport and taken to our lovely hotel, the Herodion, only a short walk to the Acropolis Museum and charming Plaka district. We walked around a bit and rested in the afternoon before a delicious cocktail at the hotel’s rooftop bar, followed by a magnificent dinner at the famous Dionysis Restaurant overlooking the south face of the Acropolis – a suitably grand way to celebrate this major milestone in our relationship!

The next morning, we were picked up at the hotel by Go tours and taken on a wonderful adventure to Delphi. Yes, we were on a big tour bus for a lot of the day, but our guide was entertaining and informative, telling epic stories of Oedipus, Marathon, the Oracle and other well-known pillars of mythology. The landscape was rugged and beautiful and the temple and museum at Delphi were awe inspiring. The next day we went on another day trip to Argolis. The tour guide was not as engaging, and I could actually understand her narration in French better than her English. The sites included the canal at Corinth, the theatre at Epidaurus, the town of Nafplio, and the Acropolis at Mycenae. That evening, Dragona, one of the ACFEA couriers from the PUO tour, met us for dinner. She and her friend Sophie took us to a fantastic restaurant around the corner from the hotel and ordered amazing salads, baked cheeses and meats along with ouzo and tsipouro. The third day was an Athens city tour with the fantastic Acropolis museum and the climb up to the Parthenon. Each day we had to climb up a rugged, rocky path to the archeological site, which was of course on top of whatever mountain provided the best view and defense from invaders. Michael did pretty well, though we were often the last ones back on the bus. Up at the Parthenon, the views were magnificent, but the sun was hot, the crowds were big and after three days of tourist walking, Michael started to falter a bit. We made it back to our favorite restaurant near our hotel for lunch and declined the trip to Cape Sounion and the Tempe of Poisidon in favor of a more restful afternoon and an easy walk for gelato in Plaka.

The next morning, we were taken to the port and boarded the ferry for Naxos. The four-hour trip was comfortable and beautiful as we passed other islands and rugged coastlines through sunny skies and beautiful calm blue seas. Arriving at Naxos, we were met by the rental car representative and set off in our manual shift sporty Citron. Thank goodness Michael could drive on the right side of the road as I navigated using good cell service and google maps. We easily found our hotel in Agia Prokopios, a beach town about 15 minutes outside of the main port town. The Naxos Island Hotel was lovely, and we enjoyed a welcome beer with beautiful views at the rooftop bar and dining area. We settled into our comfortable room and then changed into bathing suits and headed down the little side ally to the beach. All the “beach clubs” had rows of cushioned chaises with small tables and thatched umbrellas, and service from the restaurants across the street. It was actually very civilized and easy for Michael to navigate without having to carry all your own gear across the sand. It was still technically before the high season, so we didn’t have to pay extra for the seats. The sun was bright and the air was actually cool, but I went right in to swim in the calm, turquoise water of the Aegean sea – so beautiful. The next three days we drove around to various small towns and archeological sites, walking a bit, eating fantastic and inexpensive meals, and always ending up at the beach in the afternoon. The driving was fun, the roads were surprisingly wide and well paved, the landscape was beautiful, and the weather was sunny and not too hot.

         After another ferry ride back to Athens, I flew home and Michael went on to Edinburgh for a Scottish driving adventure with his friend and colleague Gabriel Crouch. He said this was his favorite vacation of all times and definitely wants to come back to Greece! I agree.

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