Category Archives: Greece

Greek whine

8D5167CA-F3FC-4D28-85D0-705B0FE3B728In case you missed it, I really fell hard for Greece last year. That two week trip had provided a sampling of sights and this year, I intended to go back with more focus, spending 2020’s two weeks in just three locations. Two of the planned locations were repeats from last year, places I wanted to explore more deeply.

When this whole Covid-19 thing started getting really ugly, I couldn’t imagine my trip planned for an entire 4 months into the future wouldn’t occur as  scheduled. What do I know? This is my first pandemic.

In early April, my transatlantic flights were cancelled by American Airlines. Receiving a refund is in process and has been fairly painless so far. Not willing to immediately declare my trip cancelled, I looked for other travel options. I’ve been keeping up on reports out of Europe about the havoc from this international health crisis and I’m in contact with two people in Greece, one in Athens, one on a larger island. After considering the information I was receiving, I believed there was still a solid possibility that Greece would be open for mid-July.

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Taking advantage of a great price, ($530 r/t w luggage), I bought a new ticket to get me to Athens and, presumably, back. The transaction felt pretty risk free because if the flight were cancelled, I would have a year from purchase to use the voucher. Also, United has been my choice in recent years for their (formerly) nonstop EWK to PSP flight for the holidays. I could use the credit then.

Barely two weeks later, that nonstop United flight was cancelled. Adding insult to injury,* I hadn’t even received the courtesy of an email notification. I had stumbled on the cancellation as I was seeking my details about my reservation and noted a message in my United mailbox.

After speaking with a customer service representative, I felt pretty comfortable about the situation. It seemed that my voucher would entitle (not a word I often own) me to a comparable ticket on a future flight even if there was a price increase.  Cool.

I took a moment yesterday to take a look at flight availability. There’ve been some positive indicators around much of the world and many people want to start moving around again. Obviously, I’m one of them. Very quickly, going old school with Travelocity, I located a newly scheduled United flight on my preferred days. The seats were much more expensive, but I phoned United and, again, received capable and professional assistance. I was booked on the flight for my previously scheduled dates and charged no additional money, despite the fare now being approximately twice as much as I had paid last month.

So, maybe third time’s the charm?

As I said in a travel site post:

If my flight remains scheduled and my hosts in Greece still want me to come and the airports are open and I’ve met all the conditions in place required for traveling, I intend to go to Greece this summer. If I am unable to meet these standards, I won’t go. I’ve sheltered in place, worked from home, abided by social distancing, wear a mask as necessary and wash my hands meticulously and frequently. I’ve accepted all of the recommendations set forth by the government, so if the government loosens restrictions, I will continue to use their rules to guide me. I’ve adjusted my plans (canceled 2 weeks in Spain preceding Greece) to minimize risk and am traveling alone. I’m not reckless, but as an adult I can make decisions for myself.

There’s no tragedy in my staying home, as necessary, but there’s no crime in my popping open a bottle of Assyrtiko and making a wish, either.

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How are you managing anticipated travel plans and arrangements?

*this is obvious hyperbole, friends..

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Filed under beauty, Europe, favorites, Greece, medical, Observations, Summer, travel, Vermont, Wine

Rise up

073AB6A4-FF90-4924-9E8F-44486E903D1BI took this photo on Good Friday, 2019. It was early morning, a short time after I had landed in Dublin, and I recall feeling so fortunate to be exactly where I was at that very moment. It had been quite a few years since I been to Ireland and this long awaited trip nearly got waylaid by the whole Boeing Jet thing when my original flight was cancelled. A few more $$, and a drive to Hartford rather than Newburgh, got me out of the country and precisely where I wanted to be. It was a really special trip.

Heading into this fifth week of social distancing has got me feeling more than a little lost. My motivation to take on household projects is waning and I’m hungry for the buzz I get from traveling. I love my home and I enjoy being in it, but being in a city or taking in a new view feeds my soul.  I miss it.

The plan for Summer 2020 was is for a four week trip, 2 weeks with my youngest son in Spain followed by 2 weeks in Greece with friends. Our flights and accommodations are booked, with a significant amount of money invested in this greatly anticipated adventure. We’re scheduled to visit Seville, Madrid and Valencia, all new places for both of us. I had hoped to meet up with a childhood friend who had also planned to be with his family in Madrid, as well as an online friend who resides in Seville with his significant other. We have reservations to take a kayaking tour and were imagining early morning walks and late night tapas. I so want to go.

After our two weeks in Spain, Q will fly home and I’m to continue to Athens. I found the cutest Airbandb and managed to book it for three non consecutive nights as I come and go between the city, Paros Island and Nafplio, an ancient coastal city on the mainland. My accommodations in Parikia on Paros are rented from the same woman I rented from last year, giving me a sense of familiar despite the tremendous distance between Greece and New York. I’m excited to complete the entire Byzantine Road walk and explore AntiParos and even more beaches than we enjoyed in July 2019. I can almost taste the crisp white wine, delicate pastry and feta that combined to be my Greek diet just last summer. 

I haven’t yet given up on this trip happening. I understand that travel may not be an option, even a few months from now, but I’m not cancelling this vacation until I’m absolutely convinced that it won’t be possible. My wish to travel is a luxurious dream and I get that. I know there are far too many people who currently have much more basic needs which they hope to meet during these challenging months and I feel incredibly fortunate to be healthy and continuing to work and earn my salary. I am very, very lucky.

On this day which celebrates resurrection and miracles, I’m just going to believe that anything is possible. I hope you do too.

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Filed under beauty, Boys, Europe, favorites, Greece, holidays, musings, Spain, Summer, travel, vacation

(Not) Letting go

As of mid morning on Monday my hair still smelled like woodsmoke from Saturday night’s bonfire on Herring Cove beach. I washed it later in the day, but delaying the shampooing allowed the odor to linger in a lame attempt to cling to the week I had just spent at the Cape. It ended too soon.

After my adventures in Greece earlier this summer, I came to the realization that 2 weeks in Greece was essentially the same cost as the house I rent in Wellfleet. Hmmm. That was striking. Maybe it was time to let go of of this twenty year tradition for the sake of experiencing new destinations…

But, the magic of the Cape seems to get me every time, even when getting there is a clusterf*ck of traffic. Morning walks to the ocean, swimming with my dog in a pond that feels like our own and enjoying friends and low key entertaining…I just don’t know how to let it go.

Difficulty letting go has been a theme for me, it seems. This annual vacation, my Volvo wagon, lovers, specific articles of clothing…I hang on to things that have personal meaning that is sometimes irrational and beyond physical properties. I suspect it comes from unresolved childhood issues and a general lack of stability growing up. I mean, by the time I was in 6th grade I had attended three different school districts (and 5 separate buildings) and moved at least 8 times, which certainly didn’t lend much in terms of consistency to my life.

Perhaps all of that upheaval created a need for some constants in my life, beyond my brother and oldest of friends, and the annual trip to the Cape has simply grown into an event that is beyond a mere beach vacation. It’s a touchstone of my summer.

As I drove east and then south to Wellfleet, I did so with the mindset that this was it, end of an era, and I felt okay about it. Seven days later I knew that somehow I would find a way to continue this tradition, even with an anticipated return to Greece and a trip with my youngest son to Spain. At least for the next year. It’s just too important to my emotional and mental health, and my dog, to abandon.

What do you struggle to let go of?

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Filed under aging, beauty, Cape Cod, favorites, friends, Greece, love, musings, relationships, road trips, Spain, Summer, travel, vacation

Still swept away by Greece

This summer is flying by, don’t you think? I can’t believe it’s been almost three weeks since I got back from Greece. It some ways it feels like forever ago that we were there, however, I’m still successfully mentally resurrecting the sense of pleasure I felt being there just by closing my eyes. That country definitely is staying with me.

I’ve been to a fair number of European countries over the years, but there’s something about Greece that really rang a bell for me. It was effortlessly beautiful with blue skies, bright perennial flowers and white washed buildings. The hills were arid and reminded me of the mountain in Palm Springs, another favorite place for me. The ocean was everywhere. My eyes simply never grew tired of the sights before them.

The Greek people are wonderful, gracious with their use of English and seemingly always interested in providing hospitality that goes a little beyond the expectation. After nearly every Taverna dinner we were provided with some small treat – a scoop of ice cream, a shot glass of a local liqueur or hunks of watermelon. After a life changing* bowl of chick peas that had been slow cooked in a bath of olive oil, onions and salt, I was given a bowl of watermelon tasting ever so slightly of the garlic cut with the same knife. My satisfaction with the meal could not have been greater.

Returning to a particular island has occupied my thoughts since I got back home – Paros, the last of the three islands we visited. The reasons for the fondness I have for this place are purely emotional. I felt very comfortable there. The island isn’t too big, the towns are picturesque without being fussy and the food and drink both stellar. There were also two things that occurred that gave me a sign from the universe that I was in a good place, the right place even.

The first was when son and I travelled to a different town on the island, Naoussa, which was to the north of Parikia where we were staying. It was late morning when we arrived on the bus and walked through the village on our way to finding a beach. Imagine my surprise to hear someone seated at a sidewalk cafe calling my name. It was a group with whom we had enjoyed the previous evening’s Farm to Table feast down island and now here they were! How random is that?!

The second affirmation came on the bus. I had purchased tickets for my son and I for a particular destination from which we would take a hike. He decided prior to departure that he didn’t care to go, so I went solo. As the bus driver’s helper came down the aisle to collect tickets, it turned out the beauty rich, but euro poor, young woman seated behind me did not have the necessary fare for her ride. I was able to offer her my extra ticket which turned out to be exactly what she needed. The smiles exchanged between she, the bus employee and myself could have lit up a room. It was a simple, happy moment.

I’m going to figure out how to get to Paros again and create some more of those. We all need simple, happy moments, right?

*Only slightly hyperbolic

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Filed under aging, beauty, Europe, favorites, Greece, musings, Recommendations, Summer, travel, vacation

Eternal life and other things I brought back from Greece

My relationship with souvenirs is complicated. I find it easy to buy things for friends when I’m traveling, but have grown into a person who doesn’t want to bring another thing into my home unless it serves a practical purpose. With a couple of exceptions, that is.

Here’s what I brought home from my most recent trip:

A miniature Parthenon for our family collection.

A bag of oregano to add to Greek salads and anything else as the mood strikes.

A couple of key chains and a bracelet for my son because I love the power of the evil eye symbol.

A jar of orange marmalade for my morning toast.

Some pretty stones and small pieces of marble I picked up while walking. They were warm from the sun and I thought I might give them to friends who might appreciate their beauty and need evidence that one never knows where they might end up. I mean, those rocks probably never imagined they’d make it to upstate New York one day!

Refrigerator magnets as gifts.

Vivid memories and hundreds of pictures.

And, about that whole eternal life thing…On our final night in Athens, G and I walked the Plaka and I noticed a copper necklace with a medallion bearing an intricate design. As I admired it, the vendor shared that it was a symbol for eternal life. My son told her I was buying it, even without the added origin story. He was right.

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Filed under Europe, favorites, Greece, ideas, Observations, Summer, travel

Catching up – CivMix & Silvia

I’m really enjoying being a part of CivMix! The site is still being developed, but I think you will find there to be some cool features, both in terms of content and interface, once the website is fully fleshed out.

Here are my most recent posts over there. Why not give a read and some feedback – here or there!

Dispatch from Greece

What makes a meal memorable?

I want to get away – Part I

…and Part II

 

 

 

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Filed under Albany, drinking, Eating, Europe, favorites, Food, Greece, ideas, Local, Observations, Recommendations, travel, vacation, Wine

It’s hot In the Heights

Image: Troy Record

Hope you’re making it through this spell of humidity and heat. Greece was really hot, but there always seemed to be a breeze and the heat was dry, which made it different. Instead of my hair springing into curls and frizz, my skin screamed for moisturizer and sunscreen in massive amounts. It’s summer, what can you do?

Well, I’m glad you asked because I have an idea for you – get yourself to Albany’s beautiful Washington Park Lakehouse and check out In the Heights. We went the other night and it was absolutely a joy to watch. The performances were inspired, the voices soared above the excellent orchestra and the dancing was mesmerizing. I loved it.

Take my opinion, of course, with a grain of salt because I am no theatrical critic. What I can say with confidence is this – I believe this production is the best one I’ve ever seen at the Lakehouse. Granted, I haven’t been to them all, especially in recent years, but I’ve hit quite a number of them over the years and this cast and crew is exceptional. When I contrast this show with one I saw last year at a local theater, Into the Heights easily blows it out of the water.

I’ve never seen Hamilton and was unfamiliar with the story told in this early Lin-Manuel Miranda musical. The message, however, remains timely especially When You’re Home which made my eyes fill with tears. You’ve got to see this show!

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Filed under Albany, art, Events, favorites, Greece, ideas, Local, Music, Observations, Recommendations, Summer, upstate New York