Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Back to greece (I hope!)

I don’t know about you but I am glad summer is here. If you happen to be reading this from a part of the globe featuring wintery weather then I have also waxed lyrical about the joys of winter in a previous post so you can just hop on over there. What can I say, I’m a giver!  Winter or summer what I am very much looking forward to soon is a holiday. As a fully signed up member of the sun worshippers club I absolutely love the opportunity to escape to more predictably sunny climes (sorry UK….!) and this year (financial crisis/riots permitting) I am off to Greece.

Greece is, without a doubt, one of my most favourite places. Yes, for the glorious sunshine, great food and warm hospitality but also for the memories it brings back for me. When I was 18 I went off to Athens for six weeks during my first university holidays. When I look back on it now, as I guess most people who have had gap year travels do, it seems very bold to have headed off to a country where I didn’t speak the language to sleep in a train carriage on the beach for six weeks!
Sitting in a turtle tank to survive the heatwave - reading Jane Austen. Because some things don't change!
The purpose of the trip was to work with Archelon, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, at their Sea Turtle Recue Centre in Gyfada, a suburb of Athens. Glyfada is quite a nice area with boutiques and upmarket restaurants and we used to wander around in shorts and baggy t-shirts covered in liquidized fish that had missed the turtles’ mouths and ended up all over us. I’m not sure how popular we were with the locals!

At the end of a busy and defining year at university it was just what I needed to spend my time leaping off rocks into the sea and letting it all soak in by the calm of the coast and with all the amazing sights Athens has to offer. The group of us who worked there together had a little ritual that in the early evening as the sun started to go down we all went our separate ways and had some alone time before coming together for dinner and some late night Ouzo drinking. I vividly remember sitting on the rocks looking out to the sea each evening and contemplating everything that had passed that year, how I had gone from a child in my parents’ home to an adult here in Greece on my own.

At the Acroplois with Athens sprawling out behind me
I don’t think I was always the best person to live with back then, I was a shocking cook and good for not much more than watering the garden but I felt like we knew how to live there together. When I think of living in community I always think back to the Rescue Centre, it was tolerant, kind and supportive. It makes me so sad about everything that is going on in Greece just now, the people there are so welcoming and hardworking.

So I’m very looking forward to going back this summer, to the Peloponnese this time where I was implored to go by the Greek friends I made as they claim it is a truly beautiful, unspoilt place. My aim there will be to do just what I did on my first trip to Greece, to sit on the rocks, mull over my year and be thankful. I can’t wait.

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