So I am sitting outside Starbucks on this brisk summer morning attempting to relax. But for some reason I cannot help but feel rushed to eat my oatmeal and head to school for honors day, though I have an hour until I must leave. Greece was certainly a vacation. By that, I mean it was an escape from the stress residing at home. I returned two days ago, and I am just now updating this because of all that has been happening. Jet lag, Graduation rehearsal, parties, you name it and it has occurred in the last two days. But now it's time to reflect on the incredible embarkation from which I have just returned.
I wrote in my Moleskine every night, not only to pray and relax, but also to document all of my experiences. Our days were so packed full of experiences that a day began to feel like a week. This may be the lengthiest post yet.
My journey began with two plane rides. The first a short trip to Philadelphia, and, with a three hour layover in between, the second to Athens. I wrote a small entry on the first trip, because I took an Ambien for the second. Best idea ever. I was reading a chapter familiar to many, I Corinthians 13. My favorite part of this chapter occurs in verse 8 when Paul says, "Love never fails." That may be the truest statement I have ever heard.
Upon our arrival in Athens, we took a bus ride to the Acropolis and Mars hill. And this was just the beginning of mind-blowing sights. The first night I sat on the balcony of our hotel, watched the busyness of the streets below me, and wrote. It was quite a fulfilling experience.
The second day began with a morning of shopping. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I bought a handmade sun-dress, two pairs of gladiator sandals, a crocheted vest, a gorgeous Grecian shirt, and the most amazing gold ring. All of which I have pictures that will be posted at different times.
And, following that, we visited the temple of Poseidon. Everyone ventured out onto this cliff, and, though there were conversations taking place, I experienced a silence atop that mountain unlike any other. It was as if all my attention was given to the incredible view before me. Like God meant for this moment to be fully absorbed, a common difficulty on this trip.
On the third day we boarded the Aegean Pearl, a ship in desperate need of refurbishing. Our first stop was Mykonos. It is surely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and will ever go. Its splendor was unreal. Taylor and I managed to get some great pictures both of the scenery and of us. I also got some fantastic jewelry.
Our room on the Aegean Pearl, I slept on the top bunk in an attempt to escape from the clutter.
The next day began at 5:30AM with preparation for our arrival in Turkey. We took a bus ride from the port city (I cannot seem to recall the name) to Ephesus. We visited the house in which the Virgin Mary lived for a portion of her life, following the birth of Christ, went to the ancient city to see the ruins, and did some shopping. I got some beautiful scarves, and met an extremely nice Turkish salesman.
That afternoon consisted of a trip to Potmos, our next stop in the footsteps of Paul. We saw a monastery dedicated to him and a museum consisting of several ancient manuscripts. I saw one of the original texts of the Gospel of Mark, which stood out to me. Right then I had the overwhelming vision that God lasts forever. He is not just here now, but He has been here forever, and will remain for eternity. Then we visited the cave in which Paul had his revelation. I could not get pictures, but this place was overwhelming. It was hard to believe that it all happened right there. And yet there was certainly evidence of the occurrence.
Upon our return to the Aegean Pearl we quickly cleaned up for formal night. We hurried up the stairs and were rapidly paired up with our escorts. Mine was Hunter, who is probably one of the sweetest guys I know. The other "couple" at our table was Carolyn and Remy, both of whom are very close friends of mine. Needless to say, our group was the best. So we ate our sub-par dinner, consistent with every other meal I consumed on that boat, and continued to the "disco lounge" for some karaoke and dancing. It was a great night for all the seniors to enjoy our time together.
The next day the boat arrived in Crete, but we were all too tired from dancing the night before to explore, plus our room had no windows so we slept until 12 without disturbance. I had heard that Crete wasn't all that special anyway. So I did some relaxing and sunbathing until our arrival in Santorini around 3. I thought Mykonos was going to be my favorite, but that opinion changed quickly while riding a donkey up the steep cliffs of this beautiful city. The higher he climbed, the harder it was to breathe. Not because of a lack of oxygen, but because the view was unbelievable. It was the experience of a lifetime.
We did a little shopping, but I was running low on money so I mainly bought gifts for others. My art teacher, Mr. Shingler, Taylor, and I went to a little restaurant with the most amazing view. We would stare out onto the water for several minutes straight trying to believe we were actually there. It was unreal.
Crepe! (Above) It had apple mousse, cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream. YUM.
The amazing restaurant, and below is my cappuccino.
The next day we returned to Athens and left that horrific boat, but not without a few stops in between. We visited Corinth and Mycenae for more incredible history among the ruins.
Above is Zach on the edge, and below is Taylor, Adam and Molly.
The picture of Taylor above was taken at this beautiful restaurant in the middle of nowhere made especially for tour groups.
Below is a picture of this enormous theater outside of Mycenae.
Once we returned to the Grecian capital there was a little time for shopping before our return to the Athens Gate Hotel for one last meal. It was perhaps the best meal we ate all week. Following dinner, we read letters we wrote to ourselves on the freshmen retreat. Though I attended the school that year, I did not participate in the retreat because of a horse show. I wasn't much of a deep thinker that year, so I do not think I would have taken the letter writing seriously anyway. But as I heard people read theirs aloud, I could not help but reflect on all the amazing experiences we have all shared. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that I love all these people. Life was never going to be the same. We were all leaving each other. We all cried and hugged and loved. The bond of the class of 2010 at St. David's school is unshakable. Though we have had our ups and downs, I will never forget these amazing people. I am truly blessed to have grown up surrounded by such diverse minds and loving hearts.
Following the pouring out of emotions that was our letter reading, we returned one last time to the Plaka. I ran down the street with JT, visited the Parthenon one last time with Rachel and Caroline, ate some Gelato, and soaked it all in one last time.
Then I was home, and it seemed like it was all just a dream.