March 19, 2010

We’re Off To Greece For The Day

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Greetings from Greece!

No, we’re not in really in Greece, we’re pretending.  BabyGirl and I have finished our history unit study on Greece and will celebrate with one of her friends in our homeschool group.  We kinda work as a team.  Mrs. N and I work with our respective kids and at the end of the unit we come together and have a party.

At this party we eat food from the region, do a craft or two and engage the kids in some type of hands-on activity.  We all have a very good time and the kids get to learn together and share their understanding of the region.  So, we’re headed to Ancient Greece on Friday.  I made spanikopita (spinach & feta treats in phyllo) tonight.  They’re pretty easy.  The most time consuming part is putting the phyllo together.  Normally, BabyGirl would help me but it was too late.

We did stop at Whole Foods to get a variety of Greek olives.  We also picked up some dolmides, which are grape leaves stuffed with a rice mixture.  I’ve had these before but never the ones from Whole Foods, so we’ll see what they’re like.  We also picked up a small piece of mizithra which is a ricotta salata cheese from Greece.  We’ve never tasted this so it should be interesting.  Our spanikopita has Greek feta and we’ll also have a greek salad.

I would love to go to Greece.  My grandparents went in the 1980s.  They went for three weeks and as it turns out not only had a great time but also made friends with a family with whom my grandmother still keeps in touch.  Under normal circumstances my grandmother and grandfather would have gone to Greece and visited the ruins, sent postcards and bought lots of slides.  One thing derailed their schedule — my grandmother fell while walking at the Acropolis.  She broke her knee cap.  In Greece.   On day 2 of a 21 day trip.

They didn’t come home though.  Instead, my grandmother went to the hospital and got a cast while my grandfather sat wondering how to make this vacation happen.  My grandparents traveled a lot.  After the military, I guess you just can’t settle down.  They went lots of places.  But they always saved up for their trips.  They didn’t do credit cards.  If they wanted to go somewhere, they figured out how much it would cost and then saved.  Usually they saved for about 3 or 4 years, and they almost always went for 3 weeks when they traveled overseas.

So, in Greece they had 19 more days.  And my grandma was in a cast.  But, not to lose out my grandpa spoke with the hotel manager who connected them with his cousin who was home from university and could use the extra money.  With my grandmother’s leg in a full cast, my grandfather arranged a minivan and their friendly driver.  Making lemonade out of the lemons they had!

This young boy (as my grandparents called him) took them all over.  They had a blast and saw and did things that your average tourist would never do because they were getting the local VIP treatment.  My grandparents were taken to lunch at restaurants where only locals dined.  For dinner, several nights they were invited to the home of the hotel manager and his various family members.  They went to a wedding and a birthday party.  In Greece.  With what most would consider total strangers.  Oh, and they don’t speak Greek.

Talk about a great vacation, though!

My grandparents taught me how to travel.  To get off the beaten path and look for authentic experiences.  While BabyGirl and I can not hop on our private jet and be in Athens by 9am I’m trying to create an experience for her that will allow her to hope that someday she will be able to go to Greece and have an authentic experience.

From time to time, my grandmother shares her ‘secrets’ with me.  And one of them is to plan a big trip takes foresight.  Anyone can go to Greece for 5 or 7 days.  But to go for 21 days seems cost prohibitive and time consuming to plan.  My grandparents showed me, at a very early age, that the world is accessible.  You just have to want it bad enough to make the daily sacrifices to get where you dream.

I’ll let you know how our ‘trip’ to Greece goes.  It should be a lot of fun because I’m going with a great travel companion.  Would you like to go to Greece?  Better yet, have you ever been?  I would love to hear your stories and I’m sure BabyGirl would too.

Sara

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