This story continues and will take some time to tell because I journaled this trip by writing and recording it back in 1989. My mom and I covered a lot of ground on this trip and my only wish is that we could have gone back to our island one more time together. It was not to be but that is okay because we got to surprise my yiayia, her mom, on this trip. That would never be replicated again.
We landed in the Athens airport smelling like an ashtray from our last leg of the trip out of Zagreb into Athens. Upon arriving we were greeted by an Aunt and Uncle who lived in Athens when they weren’t living on our island of Ikaria. My mom had never met this Aunt and Uncle of hers because they never came to the U.S. but this was one of her mom’s 10 siblings so we were going to meet so many family members on this trip. Remember, I took this journey at the age of 10 so I already knew these people and delighted at the thought of what experiences they would teach my mother. This trip did not disappoint!
What is the first thing most travelers want to do after flights, layovers and crossing the international date line? Most would say a shower and sleep. Not for this crew! My aunt and uncle took us back to their apartment and my aunt promptly poured us a sip of ouzo. Our welcoming committee was going to make sure our 3 days in Athens were jam packed. She then suggested we talk a walk through the city to a favorite restaurant where they made wood fired pizza. Okay! We do need to eat and it is alright that our internal body clock tells us it is 2 am, but let’s go! I love all my family but this aunt and uncle were something special. When I look back on my journal it still makes me smile. Even better is the audio recording I took that night while we dined al fresco on the streets of downtown Athens. If you have not been to Athens allow me to describe this metropolis. It is full of life. The streets are packed with cars even at late hours of the night. The public transportation is terrifying and I will share more about that, but the people are magical. We set off for our “promenade to pizza” as I call it and upon arrival my aunt did what anyone would do. She walked my mom into the kitchen to introduce her to the owner. Greeks are like this. We need everyone to know everyone because it becomes like six degrees of separation. The owner invited my mom to watch him make the wood fired pizza while I sat on the patio watching midnight rush hour traffic whiz by. Again, the audio of this evening is alarmingly loud and hysterical. We sat and sipped wine and laughed at my aunt’s very colorful and sometimes racy commentaries.
When we finally made it back to the apartment and my mom and I had finally gotten to lay down in our room she came bursting in to tell us yet one more story. I laughed so hard and I wish I could share it in words here, but that story is hilariously x-rated. This was going to be a trip to Greece at 100mph and watching my mom react to all of it would be stories for a lifetime.
My aunt then wished us good night which was probably 3am in Athens but internally it was 9am for our bodies. She then announced that we would hit the shopping district to buy all our gold, followed by a trip with my uncle to the Acropolis on day 3. She also told us to enjoy the warm shower they offered before we leave for Ikaria because it would be the last one we have for a month, before we head back to Athens to leave for the U.S. I know for a fact she wasn’t wrong. Mom being the disbeliever still took her advice. I reminded my mom that some of the places we would be staying do not have modern plumbing so enjoy flushing the toilet here and that shower.
Let’s go! Opa!