Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Cyclades

Last night my travel buddy and I ate dinner at a Greek restaurant.  Conversation eventually got around to that wonderful summer we spent in the Greek islands and how dinner was never eaten until ten p.m.  "Can you imagine eating dinner at 6:30 in Greece?" I commented, laughing.

"Good luck finding a restaurant that was even open."

It took us a few nights to get used to the routine, but napping in the afternoon like the locals did, got us in sync.  We'd usually stroll down to the beach area around 8 pm for drinks.  Slowly, entire families would join us--children who couldn't stand still, old people who could barely move and the adults who kept a watchful eye on both.  Watching three or four generations of family enjoying themselves around a table of delicious food, kept us entertained all night.  There were moments I felt pangs of jealousy.  Maybe, just maybe, such an event would happen at Thanksgiving or Christmas in my family, but such laughter, such leisure, such ease in the company of a grandmother, an aunt or a hyper-active child was (dare I say) Greek to me.

We picked the island of Paros in the Cyclades for two reasons:  Its proximity to Athens and its off-the-radar ambiance.  Most travelers go to Mykonos or Santorini, but Paros turned out to be a good choice.  When we disembarked from the ferry, a  little boy with a winning grin beckoned us to follow him.   His older sister gave up her room for us, which made us feel a bit awkward, but they were so hospitable and kind, we stayed for two nights before moving on to a hotel.

That same little boy helped us negotiate a good price for a scooter and we spent the rest of the week exploring this lovely island.  We were no longer searching for magical moments; we were living them.

There are 34 main islands in the Cyclades group.  The islands are peaks of submerged mountains and form a circle around the sacred island of Delos, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.  According to Greek mythology, Poseidon, one of the twelve Olympian gods and ruler of the sea, turned the Cyclades nymphs into stone because their bad behavior angered him.  I'm so glad he did!  We mortals can now enjoy the dry, mild climate of the Mediterranean and walk along the golden beaches and olive groves of these islands.  To think they are the backbones of lovely naughty nymphs, makes the experience even more fun!

My travel buddy and I clinked our glasses of retsina together last night and made a promise-- to never stop searching for magic. 


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