Nudges from Greece

My recent days have been filled with intense and scattered bouts of reading (from Jeffrey Sachs to Mary Oliver to US Weekly), the writing and re-writing of lists, the stacking and un-stacking of stuff.  How did so much stuff accumulate in my bedroom (and spill into the rest of my poor parents’ house)?  Do I really need to keep my notes from Econometrics, fall of 2006?  How many cardigans are too many cardigans?  And for the love of Zeus, when did I buy the first season of Designing Women on DVD?

In addition to generating concern about my latent consumerist tendencies, this process has unearthed a number of warm memories.  In my last post, I mentioned a formative traveling experience from my teenage years, and posted a photo I found in my bedroom rubble of my grandfather and myself in Ireland.  Another travel experience has floated to the surface of my stuff since then, in the form of knickknacks, photos, and randomized iTunes playlists: Greece, summer of 2010.

At that time, finagling two weeks of consecutive vacation time was not an easy task.  I was working in finance, enjoying the professional challenges but slowly sinking under the competing influences of wanderlust and inertia.  I slipped away from product launches that July for a brief but portentous injection of wonder, sea spray, and life.  I delighted in souvlaki, bougatsa, horiatiki, and melitzanosalata.  I listened to tipsy Greek men tell tales of lost love (“We Greeks… we love!”), and in the next breath lecture me on the virtues of Marxism.  I met my first real vagabonds: those impossibly cool and sun-kissed foreigners who left behind their Masters degrees and corporate jobs to work at beach bars in their bikinis and dance till dawn.  They were like mythical creatures to me, worthy of admiration and envy but probably not to be trusted.  It just didn’t make sense.  How did they do it?  Why weren’t they as terrified as I was?

Looking back now, I recognize the seeds that were planted in Greece that summer.  I remember one particular poolside conversation in which Roxanne asked me: “What would it take for you to quit and just go to Russia?  How much certainty and assurance would you need?”  At the time, it seemed absurd to depart from the safe and commendable path I was cruising along.  Absurd… but intriguing.  I returned to work the next week with a reignited curiosity and sense of possibility (not to mention a burning hatred for my cubicle) that never really went away.  It wasn’t until a year later that I actually stepped off of that very safe path and plunged into the uncertainty that had terrified me so much the summer before.  So thank you for that nudge, Greece.

And here, a photo journey of two weeks in Ελλάδα.  Don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face.

Athens

In the words of Roxanne: "Warrior Barbie"

In the words of Roxanne: “Warrior Barbie”

Friendly shop owners, somewhere in Plaka

Friendly shop owners, somewhere in Plaka

Peekaboo

A gregarious Irishman named Tom, who deemed his corner "The Irish Republic of Plaka"

A gregarious Irishman named Tom, who deemed his corner “The Irish Republic of Plaka”

Irish Tom's Ten Commandments

Irish Tom’s Ten Commandments

God's For Sale in Athens

Athens

Creepy doll

Roman Agora

Greece is for lovers

Exploring Monastiraki Square

Exploring Monastiraki Square

The Temple of Olympic Zeus, with the Parthenon in the background.

The Temple of Olympic Zeus, with the Parthenon in the background.

Meghan at the Parthenon

Dinner in Athens

My lovely Athenian friends, and my very sunburned self, enjoying the city's nightlife

My lovely Athenian friends, and my very sunburned self, enjoying the city’s nightlife

Greek studs

Dancing the night away... perhaps not so surprising that I slept through my flight to Thessaloniki the next morning.  Oops.

Dancing the night away… perhaps not so surprising that I slept through my flight to Thessaloniki the next morning. Oops.

Thessaloniki

All photos from Thessaloniki taken by Roxanne Krystalli of Stories of Conflict and Love.

Having bougatsa for breakfast in Thessaloniki, the hometown of the photographer (by Roxanne Krystalli)

Having bougatsa for breakfast in Thessaloniki, the hometown of the photographer

Souvlaki

My first souvlaki.  In retrospect, I'm surprised I did anything but eat in Greece.

My first souvlaki. In retrospect, I’m surprised I did anything but eat in Greece.

Orthodox Church in Thessaloniki

Pouring oil

Arch of Galerius

Halkidiki

Porto Carras

Porto Carras

Halkidiki Heaven

The sandy toes of happy twins

The sandy toes of happy twins

Mediterranean bliss

Pirates of the Mediterranean?

Dinner in Marmamas

Taking a boat ride to dinner in Marmamas

Boat ride to Marmamas

Twin!

Emotitwins

This is what happens when you drink ouzo before shopping for souvenirs

Halkidiki sunset

Chios

A view of the coast of the island Chios, from the rooftop of a small church

A view of the coast of the island Chios, from the rooftop of a small church

Chios

Can you spot the Irish girl?

Can you spot the Irish girl?

Happy beautiful Greek people

Happy beautiful Greek people

Can you blame me for not wanting to go back to work?

29 comments

  1. This is a great post. I definitely know what you mean about Greece planting seeds about life changing moves. I studied abroad in Crete and since then travel is all I want. I would love to move to Thessaloniki one day just to wander the town and eat at my favorite restaurant. That feeling was especially poignant at my cubicle today and i’m not sure if stumbling on your post today minimized or magnified this feeling….

  2. “Happy beautiful Greek people!” It’s so true though. I visited Athens spring of 2009 while I was studying abroad and it seemed all the Greeks were happy and good looking. This was before the economic recession hit them hard though…

    I still dream of visiting Santorini. I want to ride a donkey like in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!

    • It must be all the olive oil! 😉

      Yes, I am dying to go to Santorini as well. The only island I visited was Chios (which was beautiful in its own right), so now I have many reasons to return. Thanks Amelie!

  3. I love all of these photos — it takes me back to when I visited Greece with my mom! Oh how I wish I could take time off and travel the world! I do get to escape to London for a week soon, so I guess I need to count my blessings!

  4. I’m not at all sure how you made the flight home at all, let alone the one to Thessaloniki. If there’s ever a place to sleep in, eat too much food, dance the night away, and hang out at the beach, surely it’s Greece.

  5. Awwwwwwwwwwww. I was hoping for the photo of us on the Marmaras ferry too — easily the most popular twinphoto ever taken! (though the Austrian hostel in Jerusalem is giving it a run for its money).

    Also, um, don’t throw out econometrics. Your twin might need them.

    Greece loves you. All of Greece loves you. I speak with authority.

    Love,
    Twin

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