Greece – Athens & Santorini

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I arrived into the Athens airport with a few hours to spare before Tony landed.  They were the last few hours I had alone.  I found a café to sit and write and plan out some things to do in Athens before Tony arrived.  He would be the first person I would see from my circle of loved ones in almost five weeks, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Had I changed?  Would I be the same person?  I stood by the exit waiting for Tony and just like that, before I could even prepare a big smile, he was there hugging me.

He had flown a direct 12-hour flight from Atlanta, so I figured he would be pretty tired.  Of course, I was full of adrenaline and energy, so I had the whole afternoon booked solid.  In reality, we walked around Athens for just a bit and saw some of the historic sites and spent the remainder of the day sitting at a restaurant and listening to street music.  We laughed, overate, and quite simply just enjoyed each other’s company.

The next day, we had plans to visit the Acropolis and the many sites around that area.  Greece is mostly cobblestone streets and sidewalks – which are horrendous for a wheelchair – so every movement to a new location was slow.  We did, of course, make it to most sites, and while we might not have gotten the full experience, we did see what we could.  This is not abnormal for traveling with me.  We do the best we can and stay grateful that we are able to go at all.

Once we had completed our ‘checklist’ of items in Athens, we headed to the airport for a late evening flight to Santorini.  Santorini is the island that you see in all of the Greece pictures.  It has the buildings built into the mountaintop and is one of the most picturesque spots I’ve been too.  And it’s evident based on the number of ‘models’ trying to build an Instagram following.  They were all over – including on some rooftops!

We had a lovely AirBNB in Santorini with a beautiful balcony.  On our first day here, we spent the morning strolling along a black sand beach.  We had our ‘one big meal’ of the day here and enjoyed Greek gyros and ambiance.  This particular beach – located in Perissa – was incredibly quiet and calm.  It was a refreshing change of pace from Athens, where it was packed with tourists.  In the past five weeks, Athens was definitely the most crowded place I have been.

That afternoon, we spent some time just ‘being’ on our balcony.  The temperature was amazing – much better than what I had been experiencing in Asia and the Middle East – and it was quiet.  We didn’t hear other people or the noise of traffic.  A cool breeze came in from the ocean as the sun started to set, and I thought to myself, of all the moments in the previous weeks, this might be one of my favorite.

The next morning, we navigated through two buses to get us to Oia.  Oia is the most famous town in Santorini, where all the pictures you see are taken.  Now if you’ve ever seen the photos I’m talking about, you will notice that the town is full of steps.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture that shows more than a few meters of flat surface.  We knew this going in so didn’t plan on spending much time in Oia.  We were so pleasantly surprised though!  Once we managed to get up a hill and about a dozen steps, there was a completely flat path that ran through the major points in the town, including all the restaurants and shops.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the experience.

We found a restaurant with a fantastic view – seriously, probably the best view in Oia – where we paid double the price for a gyro compared to the day before.  We chalked it up to getting such a great view and committed to spending as much time at the restaurant as we could (and they let us too)!

The bus system that we were using cost 3.80 euro to get one direction from our AirBNB to Oia, and we had to transfer buses once.  An Uber or taxi would have cost about 95 euro for one direction.  Before, when I traveled, I wouldn’t have even considered the bus.  Now, it’s my number one choice.  I even met a wonderful woman on the bus who heard me talking and asked where I was from.  When I said the US, she asked, “The Midwest?”  She heard my accent and knew exactly where I was from.  I was in awe, and then she proceeded to tell me that she spent eight years in Hamilton County, Ohio, not far from where I grew up.  Such a small, beautiful, and connected world we live in.

It has been a wonderful few days to have with Tony, and to just be together.  Our time in Greece is not over and we will head to Crete today.  I am so looking forward to more evenings just sitting on the patio and being together.  I actually changed our AirBNB last minute to be sure we had a nice patio and some good restaurants where we can easily walk and enjoy the town, leisurely and peacefully, taking in every moment.

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