It would not be a complete travelogue if I didn’t mention that this was the most amazing birthday week of my life. I am not a huge “celebrate my birthday” person and I prefer not to note it on social media in general. That is not to say I don’t embrace my day of birth because I do like to spend the day doing things I’ve always wanted to do. When I turned fifty, it was mid-week and I took the day off work to cross off a long-time bucket list item to visit the home Edith Wharton lived in in Lenox, Massachusetts. That day was pretty cool too. But back to Greece.
My birthday fell on Friday, the last full day of our trip. The morning yoga practice was in the beautiful Namaste Shala which has glossy bamboo floors and a serene view of the Aegean Sea. It was our closing ceremony which I mentioned was a very moving experience that brought me to joyful tears. It was led by Julie and Tori, our instructors for the week and at the end, we hugged, we cried, we laughed and Tori presented each of us with a handcrafted bracelet to remember our time here.
After breakfast, Lana suggested we spend the day at the nearby beach to get our last fix of the stunning Aegean Sea up close. The water near the shore was clear and we dipped in and out to keep the hot rays of the sun at bay. A dead eel washed on shore and (unfortunately) that was the extent of any sea life I saw on the trip. In the afternoon we were scheduled to have Tori (who is also a masseuse) give us a deep muscle massage in turns. I could have melted when it was done.
Dinner was, as always, a lovely and tasteful affair. Some of the group had left so we moved into the dining area to enjoy our meal at a smaller table. It was as raucous as ever but then things got quiet and I was presented with a beautiful chocolate dessert as the others sang. Make a wish they said. I couldn’t have thought of a wish beyond anything I had experienced that week but I blew out the candle to the onlookers cries of OPA!
Earlier that day we discovered our ferry had been cancelled. We panicked but found a later ferry that would get us there quicker than the ill-fated trip we had experienced on the way over so that was sort of good. However, it meant we would have less time in Athens because we were flying home early Sunday afternoon. The Acropolis was on our list and because I thought it would be a better plan to stay Saturday night near the Acropolis rather than near the airport, the change in the ferry wasn’t as much of a problem. We could still fit it in before flying out.
The ferry ride was what I imagine the boats may have looked like going into Ellis Island at the height of immigration to the U.S. in the early twentieth century. We were merely a sea of bodies looking for space to plant ourselves for the five hour ride to the Piraeus port. It was as large as a cruise ship and we were stuffed into the lounges (those of us with general seating tickets) and were told to move on when we eyed the open first class seats. It got us there and we disembarked at the port as the sun set behind us, inadvertently cutting the taxi queue to the shouts of an angry horde. Finally we were on our way, hungry and tired, to the center of Athens.
Our driver did not seem to care that he was doing about 100 mph weaving through the busy streets of Athens. Lana noted the large homeless population while I observed an abundance of sex shops and clubs. Finally we were near the hotel, the Acropolis lit up the sky. There were police barriers and we were unceremoniously dumped on a street and the driver pointed the way to our hotel. We found our way but were a bit nervous by the police presence and the fact that we had to cut around a back alley to get to our hotel, the Elia Ermou, which ended up being about as perfect as could be. From the rooftop dining across from the Acropolis to the amazing shower to the ample breakfast buffet. It was convenient and lush.
The next morning we ate quickly and took a cab to the Acropolis. To be on such ancient and historic grounds was an amazing end to our week. The buildings were incredible to see as we walked around the various buildings that still stand there. It was a quick trip due to our need to get to the airport so it might be a place I’ll have to return to one day. I’d love to see more of Athens in daylight.
The flight home was uneventful which is exactly what you want in a long plane ride. We arrived in Montreal late and stayed in a nearby hotel before making the last leg home. Another buffet, the last I will see for quite some time.
It was a perfect trip.
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