My Big Fat Greek Adventure


Alice Boerner

 
© Copyright 2018 by Alice Boerner


 

Photo of a brown octopus.

As I walked through the bustling streets of Athens, Greece, I looked around at the small street shops that were adorned with gifts, clothes and toys. Colorful flowers lined the streets and houses. It was our first day in Greece and I was already fascinated by hellenic cities, history and culture. From the train, we walked through a park on our way to the Hotel Delice in the center of Athens. My mother showed us Saint George Greek Orthodox church where her parents were married in in 1965. Sadly, it has graffiti on it. It was amazing to see nonetheless.

It was nearly dinner time, so we decided to walk to a restaurant. On our way to the restaurant we saw traditional Greek soldiers marching at the King’s Palace. My mother told me she too wore the colorful Foustanellas as a girl. I laughed cheerfully as I watched the soldiers march wearing white tights and blouses, orange hats and Tsarouchi shoes. When we finally walked up to the restaurant, I gazed up at the colorful flowers and lights hanging from the wooden beams. My mom introduced me to a few of our distant relatives that live here. What in the world are they doing, I don’t even know these people... I thought as they performed the traditional european greeting (cheek kissing three times). 

I think my mom understood what I was thinking and she explained to me that cheek kissing is a social kissing gesture to indicate friendship, family relationship or to perform a greeting used all over Europe. My “relatives” had thick accents that were inexplicable, but, even though I didn’t exactly understand them...they seemed fairly nice. When the day ended, the only thing I could think about was how incredible this day was and what fantastic things tomorrow could bring.

The next day we visited the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens. It contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architecture and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.

It was a true experience to be able to learn and see ancient ruins, statues, pottery, stories, and art in the Acropolis Museum. The next day we went to the Panathenaic Stadium, which was the first modern olympic track, built in 330 BC.

This place is huge!” I yell as my words echoing through the enormous stadium. My parents laughed as I gazed in awe at the ancient stadium. I challenged my brothers to a race and we started at the very beginning of the running track.

Five, Four, Three, Two, One....Goooo!” my dad counts down as his voice echoed through the amphitheater. My brothers sprung their feet from the ground and sprinted as fast as they could but I kept a steady pace to ensure victory. Halfway to the finish, they started to get exhausted and slow down. I noticed their pace and broke into a strong sprint. I passed the finish line and cheered in glee as my parents high-fived me. The next few days were extremely enjoyable and I learned a lot from Ancient Greek history and had much fun.

After our visit to Athens, we drove to the the Corinthian canal, where the Roman Emperor Nero enslaved thousands of Jews to dig out a shipping channel. It was hard for me to believe this canal was hand dug without modern day machinery. We continued on to the island of Lefkada. The drive was beautiful as we drove on top of rocky sea cliffs and through hills, forests and mountains. The road up to our rental house in Lefkada was terrifying...especially in a six person van. The road was about five miles up a steep, bumpy, unpaved road. Although my family and I were extremelym unsatisfied from the treacherous road...it was definitely worth it. The view was spectacular. The villa was on top of a mountain overlooking a cove of crystal-clear turquoise water. My family spent the rest of the day swimming in the pool and enjoying the greatest panorama any of us has ever seen.

The next day we drove down the extremely unreliable road to the cove below us. The water was even clearer than the view above. We rented a small blue boat and my dad drove us out to a small quiet island. The island was full of amazing animals and beautiful vegetation. We jumped off the boat to eat lunch, snorkel and explore the island. That was when I saw the octopus.

Guys, come quick! Look, it’s an octopus under the rock, right there!” I said pointing to the large rock in the shallow water.

Yeah right...” my dad said in a slightly sarcastic voice.

No, really!” I exclaimed.

My family walked up to me and I showed them the red-brown octopus that hid under the rock. They all had bewildered looks on their faces as if they have never even seen a picture of an octopus before. Then, my brothers showed me the sea cucumber they found while snorkeling. Theyhanded it to me and I laughed.

“It looks like a moldy pickle!” I grinned as I held up the slimy, gross sluggish sea creature. After a few hours at the beach, we drove the boat back and went back to our perch.

The next few days in Lefkada were almost as amazing as the first. After our fantastic stay in Lefkada we took a ferry to Kefalonia. We drove to Myrtos beach during the drive to our rental place, and it was absolutely stunning!

When we arrived there, I sat down on the smooth, cream-colored seashore and gazed over the paradisiacal beach covered in perfect, egg- shaped, white stones. From the shore, I watched as my mom and dad dove underwater and swam out to the large yachts floating in the water as their diverse, colorful flags swayed in the wind. These yachts came down from the British Isles, from Italy, and beyond. I laughed when they told me they were unable to have a conversation with any of the yacht owners because they all spoke different languages. After a while of laying under the blazing sun I finally ran to the edge of the beach and dove into the cool crystal-clear water.

I opened my eyes and looked at the small silver fish that swam above the rocky ocean bottom. I thought of how lucky I was to be able to visit such a unique and extraordinary place. Eventually I rose from the water like a sea turtle emerging from his large, round shell as he observed his surroundings. There were colorful stone walls surrounding the enormous beach and a large cave on the far left end that my family and I decided to explore..

When we entered the cavern we saw dozens of large bats flying around. We jumped into the cool water and swam around the dark cave. As we exited the cove, we saw rocks tumbling down the surface of the wall.

When we looked up we grinned and burst into joyful laughter.

“I don’t think I've ever seen anything like this!” My dad exclaimed. I simply nodded and grinned, it truly was a sight for sore eyes. There were four, small goats knocking down stones and walking along the edge of the wall. Once we left the beach, we drove four hours to our next destination. 

Once we finally reached the house, I got out of the car and walked up the stone path leading to the two story pink rental house. As I walked up to the door, I wrinkled my nose at the strange smell of black liquorice coming from the many fennel plants that covered the yard. I have never liked anything about black licorice, the smell, the taste, even the jellybeans! Once
we finished unpacking our bags, we left to find a restaurant to eat dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant, we sat down at a large woodentable on the restaurant patio and scanned the menus for a unique plate. As we ordered our food we saw two skinny kittens and a small female cat gazing at us hungrily from the floor. While we waited for our food and ate our appetizers, we fed the starved cats butter and fish. There are thousands of stray cats in Greece that wander the streets, waiting for even a scrap of food to be dropped. The scrawny cats that lay under our table looked like soldiers whom have been severely injured and starved for months. As the waiter finally delivered our food we gazed hungrily at the delicious meals.

The first thing I tried was the traditional Greek stuffed peppers. The flavors practically melted into my mouth as I bit into the delicious baked peppers filled with spices and rice. I could taste the herbs and spices...basil, feta, oregano and tomatoes, and I finally came to a decision that I could never say I have had better food than this. After my family and I finished the tasty morsels, we ordered baklava, a traditional phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweet, sticky honey.

We went to many beaches while we stayed in Kefalonia. Every one of them was just as beautiful as the one before. We visited Assos beach which had snorkeling, clear waters, vibrant flowers and original Greek style homes painted so vibrantly it would blind your eyes. When we left Kefalonia we went to the town of Nafplio. We stayed in a small hotel that offered a delicious breakfast. We had freshly squeezed orange juice every morning and toast layered with fig and orange jams as well as Greek yogurt. One night we walked to the Palamidi fortress near where we were staying and explored the ancient Greek ruins. Later that day we went to Arvanitia Beach and jumped off the docks into the water.

After our stay in Nafplio, we went back to Athens and took a plane back to Boise. Traveling to Greece was possibly the most marvelous experience I have ever had. Greece is a gorgeous, fantastic, paradise that my whole family loved. Greece was a life changing experience for me and has had a dramatic impact on who I am. I am proud to be of Greek heritage and await my next visit! 


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