a magical post-grad trip in Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini
Well, it has taken me over a year, for some reason, to get to writing about this lovely trip. I took this trip with one of my close friends, Mel, right after we graduated from college, last June, and it was an incredibly fun and aesthetically beautiful trip - everything Greece should be. I guess, in the moments after I got back, I couldn’t bring myself to think of it as a particularly soul-enriching experience in the ways that some of my past travels had been (India and Burma, for example, which had broken my heart slightly), and for that reason I didn't know quite how to write about it. It was a cultural experience, of course: I saw the Parthenon and many Ancient Greek structures - ones so beautiful, upon which modern life is superimposed in a way so extraordinary as to be almost unbelievable. Athens gives way to imagining the life of the Ancient Greeks almost as if they must be existing right there, at the exact same time, in a parallel universe: you are walking their exact same streets, passing right by their dilapidated, still beautiful buildings; just, somehow, 2,500-odd years later. I also experienced Greek culture, which had previously only been known to me in the very limited context of Greek restaurants. I had dreamed of being surrounded by beautiful white houses on a Greek island, and on this trip, I got my glorious dose of that. It was wonderful. But I didn’t feel that I grew as a person from experiencing these things: I didn’t seek out the tough stuff while traveling through Greece. We briefly caught a glimpse of the Elliniko Refugee Camp, the abandoned airport on the outskirts of Athens where many refugees have taken up residence, as we were driving back from a day at a beach bar; an embarrassing contrast. And Athens, too, had its juxtapositions: for a city flooded with tourists and money all year round, it doesn’t feel particularly safe or wealthy at all when one peaks beyond its main attractions. But I will walk you through what my journey to Greece was supposed to be in the first place, and what it ended up being: a well-deserved vacation. It was my college graduation present. Mel and I traveled together on a budget, but we still managed to splurge where it counted. And the Greek islands we saw were as beautiful as I’ve always heard they are; I can only hope to go back someday.