- YOLO: In the unconventional sense of the word. I almost didn’t come on this trip because I thought I would rather lay around the house and relax during spring break: that would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life, no joke.
- “Barly Bright”: a game our mate Stu (picture a classic granola mountain man, multiple by 20) taught us one night when we all wanted to go to bed. The game consisted of us running around a small dark Greek town that we had never seen in the daylight while hiding from each other. A highlight was three of us sprinting to hide in someone’s doorway, dropping down on the ground not to be seen by the “witches,” and having some Greek lady come out of her house and yell at us in Greek as we ran away stepping on each other. Picture sharks and minnows on land meets manhunt meets the hunger games in a small Greek fishing town….. Yeah, dope.
- Making friends: my school is tiny, it’s the whole “everyone knows everyone” kind of thing. Well, it’s really more like “everyone knows of everyone” because I entered the trip with seven juniors, none of whom id ever really tried to get to know. Classicly, we’re all fam now and the crazy thing is I’ve gone to school with these people for years and never cared enough to figure out how awesome they are. (This is a school run trip to clarify)
- Go with the flow: it rained every single day. On the last trip all I saw was them holding baby goats in shorts and t shirts against classic Grecian blue skies and blues ocean and 70 degree weather. So of course I packed like a dozen Nike shorts and threw in a few pairs of leggings (just to be prepared.) ha…… I didn’t wear shorts once, and the rain pants I was sure were a rip off became my best friend. This made the sailing conditions crazy and occaisionally scary, as we had to tack every five minutes for midnight arrivals. However on the second to last day, on a car ride to see some archeological sight, the blue sky suddenly exploded. Like for that car ride, I felt like Lena from the sisterhood of the traveling pants on her way to go Vespa to Costas’s fishing boat. And there’s no way I would have appreciated that brief yet perfect blue sky if I woke up to it everyday.
- It’s the little things: we saw a lot of unreal things on the trip. We strolled through the Acropolis, flirted with the fish marketers, and perused through museums. And it was awesome, of course. But in my experience it’s kind of hard to really appreciate all those things when you’re still so wrapped up in your current surroundings: the girl taking selfies with a naked statue, trying to get a good insta (you know it’s true) or feeling self conscious next to the trendy French students next to you. Against my will, this is what’s on my mind at those kinds of places. But the small villages that are gost towns during the off season almost make you feel like a local. One day (the day it was almost sunny) we went to the Temple of Athea on the island of Aigina, they told us it was the only temple for Athea (I guess by goddess standards one temple isn’t that impressive) a goddess of fertility. We arrived to the temple to find sunlight on us, and that we were the only group there. The temple was on a cliff overlooking the ocean on both sides, it was rarely unrestored, the rocks were original from 400 bc birds were singing, flowers were everywhere, and we could easily duck the rope to actually walk inside the temple. Later that day, on our way back to the boat, we passed a tall hill that used to be the islands capital, and on it were a dozen or so little rock buildings. We looked it up in our book titled “Greece” and found out they were all churchs. Naturally we had no choice but to hike up. So we circled the road until we found an entrance to a trail, and got out and made our way. Each church from the ninth century ad was dedicated to a different Saint in which people brought gifts and offerings to the small stone huts/churches. Again, we were the only people there. The trail was overgrown with wildlife, some of us ran ahead while others lingered in the back. At the top of the path, an undefined route continued up steep rocks. A former rock climbing junkie, there was no way I couldn’t follow it. Some of the girls in the group warned and discouraged us, but a small group of us started up to the peak. When we cleared to rocky way up somewhat easily, a small lush clearing lay before us. There were 360 degree views of the entire island: ocean blocked by mountains guarding low orchards of thousand year old olive trees lining roads and houses. This was the former capital of the island during the medieval ages, and I could just feel myself standing on the same soil as a military commander on lookout; I could feel the presence of the priests who prayed in those small churches; as I could feel earlier that day the women who would worship to Athea in hopes for a child.
- Solo mission: I’ve never really been on vacations without my parents, or a parent figure. I’ve been on vacation with my grandparents, or my friends parents, so I’ve still gotten that sense that I’m emotionally obliged to someone, someone worries about me. But here the captain would tell us to go look around for an hour, he didn’t care if we were ten minutes late, he didn’t need text updates of if we were ok, he wasn’t snapping any candids as I ate lunch. I could roam the streets of Greece independently, and I actually felt like an adult.
- Timing is key: on our first day in Athens we had an hour to look around and shop. Fun fact about me: I’m a sucker for some souvenirs. It’s also pretty hard to forget you’re in the mist of a failing economy, so you can probably imagine how that combination would go. Well…. You imagined wrong. I didn’t leave with any “this is Sparta” shirts or Zeus bobble heads, rather one simple (one might say boring) white shirt. The process entailed of me trying on like four different shirts, the lady needing to run to a storage unit to get the right color, my card not working and my friends needing to wait for me for about a half hour. I felt awful that it took so long but I felt too bad to leave. My friends waited around of me on the street when suddenly I heard music getting closer. When I peaked my head out of the shop I found a parade of greecians making their way through the street. They wore decedent costumes, full masks and confidently improvized dance moves to the music. The parade seamed to keep going on, the flow of people never ended. It was totally unlike anything you would ever see in America. It was like Halloween minus the candy and gory and plus music and every age group. And if my shirt hadn’t taken so freakin long we would’ve missed it.
- You put in what you get out: this was my motto in the wilderness trip through Canada and I found it appropriate to extend it to maintaining a sailboat. As glamorous as yachting through the “med” sounds, wiping toilet seats and freezing cold beds beg to differ. But I was determine to prove my worth to the captain and mates, so after the first night when I awkwardly stood around as my peers pulled rope and other sailingy stuff I stepped up my game. I helped pull the jib on every tack, washed dishes when it wasn’t my turn, and stayed up when I wasn’t on watch. I kinda figured, I can lay in bed whenever I want I should probably sail around Greece instead.
- GET ON YOUR FEET AND OFF YOUR WIFI: I put that in all caps because personally, I really needed to be reminded. One day in the town of poros, we all went up to see a clock tower monument during a free hour. I had the intention to go see the clock tower, walk down, find a nice little cafe and get some coffee and wifi. Well once the group was at the top, some of my friends were going to follow through with our plan, but then someone pointed out a different monument across town. “We have to go see that” a boy said. I hesitated as a few ran across town in the general direction of that monument which may I add was on a very tall hill, a few remained dormant taking pictures, clearly not interested, and a few of us were left in the middle. I went, I had to, I would regret it if I didn’t. I somehow got stuck however running behind one of the best athletes in the school up a huge hill through narrow Greek streets in the general direction of the monument (we had no idea where we were going) very shortly I’m sweating, shedding layers, and short of breath. We reached the top of the roads and climbed up a dirt pathway to the top of the hill. The monument itself was dusty and covered by trees, but we found a backroad with a breathtaking view of the ocean. May I now add that the three people I was with were all trivarsity athletes…… So we sprinted down the road! At top speed, around the bends looking over the ocean, past a grazing white horse, roadkill, and straight onto a soccer field. Don’t worry: we didn’t play (thank god) but I was trying my hardest to act like I wasn’t worn out. From the soccer field we jogged to the nearest playground, where we swinged and see-sawed until we made our way to the Main Street, picked up some fresh fruit and iced coffee, and I even snagged some wifi and sent some texts before we were due back.
- Embrace your Americana: maybe I’m crazy, like I’ve been known to perceive irrational things, but i feel pretty strongly that our group received numerous dirty looks just for being American. (Straight line face emoji) The Greeks looked over at us when we entered restaurants and rolled their eyes as we chatted. (We are a loud group to be fair) but it’s like come on. You literally listen to our music, watch our movies, wear our clothing and don’t even get me started on Truman. Truman was such a homie to the Greek. But alas, we may as well have been wearing an American flag on our backs as no one ever said “yassos” but rather “hello.” 😦 so, we embraced it. I lost an odds are and wore a Spartan battle helmet around the streets, and took picture of everything like the true tourists we are.
- Graffiti is beautiful: I mean, obviously not all of it. When you see the p word written on the subway that’s not like beautiful. But it was everywhere, it was a part of their culture. Outside the Parthenon our guide said it was the most expensive place to live in the city, and there was still graffiti. No one tried to clean it off, no one complained about it or called it damage to society. In its purest sense, it’s just free art. Sure, the messages may not all be innocent or kind but when there’s colors lining all the gray in the city, intriquate designs that must have taken hours to perfect just on another street corner, that’s passion. That is someone giving their talent for art to the city as a gift. It’s people wanting to create something that means something so badly that they do it in the dark for free for fun so people have something beautiful to look at. And I think that’s beautiful.
- Something magic: something about this trip made me keep using the word magic in my head. Like this is magical as I would walk up a path. Of course it isn’t literally magical, I’m not psycho. But that word just kept reoccurring in my mind, and I still believe it. There is something magical about beautiful nature and ancient history and the present and myself all being together. It’s something stronger than beauty or interest or discovery. It’s all of them together, and living it. In my head, no other word could possibly do that feeling justice. It’s so cliche, and sure I give you permission to judge me, but I stand by my gut when I say that this trip made me believe in magic.
So “Say Geronimo” ( that’s the name of our boat) and say “opah” while you’re at it. Life is amazing.