Why Greece? This question was frequently asked by everyone who we told about our seemingly spur-of-the-moment vacation plans. Our choice to visit Greece came out of a constellation of very sad, no good, very bad things. Our original plans were to go see friends in Washington D.C. in time to hopefully catch peak Cherry Blossom season. I love the Cherry Blossoms. I love museums. Some friends of ours whom we really like had recently settled into a new home in the D.C. area and invited us out…it sounded great! I realize a vacation to Greece is a very different vacation than a vacation to D.C.
The first answer to “why Greece” is because these friends of ours we were going to see suffered a terrible and unexpected loss of a parent and imposing upon them for a vacation would not have been appropriate at all.
The second answer does not compare at all to the first, but it is rooted in some sadness. One of the many hard things to accept when we moved to California was losing my 8+ years of seniority within a hospital system that I liked. This hospital system uses a bidding system at the beginning of the year to give nurses a chance for a guaranteed holiday. Since I am still the least senior nurse on my unit (I guess there is something to be said for low turnover), my dates had to be submitted by end of January and it was a small miracle I got the time off I asked for. Use them or lose them.
The third sad reason is related to global politics and Greece’s financial crisis. Possibly some argument could also be made for the fall in oil prices causing airfare to be cheaper. At any rate, airfare was surprisingly affordable, our credit card points offered a hotel stay in Athens for nearly free for the entire week and research indicated that prices for goods and services would probably be less.
It turns out, April is an absolutely lovely time of year to travel to Greece. It is their Spring of course and the grass and wildflowers were out in abundance, the temperature was just right and we arrived at the very official start of tourist season which for us meant that there were fewer travellers and children and fewer tourists crowding the ruins and archeological sites.
The day we arrived, after 20+ hours of travel, we were pretty wiped out. Neither of us are easy sleepers and we got exactly zero hours of sleep each on the flights. It was almost 5 pm, so we napped, unpacked and wandered up to the hotel rooftop restaurant for dinner. The view of the Parthenon from there was amazing. From this moment on, I was learning new things faster than I could fully absorb them! For instance, the Acropolis is not another monument or archaeological site like the Parthenon, it is a name given to the high point in a city and there are many Acropolis’ in Greece. The Acropolis in Athens however is known as THE Acropolis and the Parthenon sits on top of it. The Parthenon was a temple built for the goddess Athena, after whom Athens is named. More on the Acropolis and Parthenon with the next post!
Meanwhile we enjoyed our first Greek meal and I got a dessert that resembled the Death Star, if the Death Star had been made of chocolate and ice-cream. I did not use the breadsticks as light-sabers after that arrived, this was a nice place and we wanted to show our faces again in the hotel. (but I wanted to)