When I visited Greece with my daughter, it was all I expected and more. First order of business was to stay awake at least until 9 p.m. after our arrival in Athens. Not an easy task, as there is a seven hour time difference between Greece and New York and we were dead tired. But, I knew if we followed Greece’s time schedule, we would avoid jet lag and be able to enjoy our trip.
We arrived at our hotel around noon and decided to get a bite to eat. After traveling eleven hours on a plane and eating three meals of airline food, we were ready for something good…really good.
We settled on a taverna close to our hotel. Alexander was our charming waiter and also the owner of the establishment. He led us out to a lovely glass-enclosed structure which housed six small round two-person tables. It was delightful. He suggested we have the gyros.
“Yearrr-rows,” Alexander announced loud and proud. I had pronounced it “jiro” and Alexander was having none of it. I quickly corrected myself. After all, I was certain this American and everyone I knew back home was pronouncing it at least three different ways. I was happy to now have the coveted, correct pronunciation, and it had only cost me an eleven hour plane ride and a few thousand Euro. Kim and I each ordered three small gyro and a salad. The meal was beyond delicious and unlike any gyros we had ever eaten in the states.
We walked around Athens after our amazing lunch and reached the Presidential mansion where the changing of the guard ceremony was taking place. The Greek guards are called Evzones. They stand expressionless for one hour before being relieved from their post in a disciplined ritual. Sixty nails on the soles of each one of their shoes pound concrete to simulate the sound of battle. Their steps are slow, structured and forceful during the changing of the guards. Their knee-length skirts, consisting of 400 pleats, are representative of the 400 years Greece was under Turkish occupation. Every 15 minutes a soldier approaches the guards and straightens the pleats on their skirts to keep them in pristine-looking condition.
Our tour included a four-day cruise to Mykonos, where we watched the neon orange sun melt into the Aegean Sea and the iconic windmills can be seen from every point of the village. One of the windmills has been turned into a museum. At any given time, fresh fish are being pulled out of the sea and being served in the many restaurants along the shore.
Onto Santorini where we visited the town of Oia with its whitewashed houses carved into the cliffs overlooking the stunning Aegean. The white houses and blue roof tops are painted each year to keep the small town looking postcard perfect.
Our tour also took us into Turkey where we strolled along the roads of Ephesus, an ancient city of ruins on the Ionia coast.
Upon our return home, friends and relatives asked how we enjoyed our trip. Besides telling them that the weather was sublime, the food delicious and the structures, culture and people amazing, the most important piece of information I gave them was that I had finally found out how to correctly say the word GYRO. So here’s to Greece, a beautiful country with beautiful people and an endless supply of “Yearrr-rows.”
Contact Jo Ann at email@example.com. I enjoy writing my column and can be found facilitating a Creative Writing Class at the Somers Library beginning February 4, 2020. I would love to hear your stories.