We walked off the airplane at about 9:50am Greece time after an 9 hour red eye. I should have been exhausted but I was pumped. I was in the place I had dreamed of since I was a little girl. We made our way to baggage claim, through customs, to the Sky Express line and back through security to board our 2nd flight of 8 in the comings days. A barely 30 minute flight, of which I remember nothing, landed us abruptly, like someone threw the plane on the runway, in Milos, Greece. The air was hot. The airport was mini. The sun was strong. I was so elated, I could barely speak. The next 11 days would show me a world that I didn’t know existed and one that I instantly fell in love with.
Before our trip I told John I wanted this to be the most sensual trip we have taken. 😉 I wanted to engage our senses in every way – the sites, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. I wanted to give myself to Greece and learn from her. When you run a business from a computer it is easy to work from anywhere. But SHOULD we actually be working from anywhere? This can often lead to working all the time. I have struggled with this. Location freedom is a beautiful thing and has brought so much life and flexibility to so many. But there are times when we need to prioritize not working, even if we love it. Seeds don’t grow all the time, you know!? I pledged to delete my Instagram and email from my phone for the duration of the trip. I would not go on email except to check flight info and a few odds and ends. I would not go on Instagram. Period. And guess what, I didn’t. I took a break. I didn’t make any kind of grand exit, I didn’t explain away, I just let the world take over. It was glorious. And more importantly, it was wonderful for John, to whom I was fully present during our trip. What a rare and beautiful thing to give one another.
In this space, I looked around more. I took photos but more for myself. I talked to travelers and Greek natives. I drank coffee slowly and intentionally. I learned what the island culture of Greece is like and I soaked in every inch of the rocks, the water, the mountains, the dirt, and the dust. And what came out of it was a feeling of rest I have not experienced in a long time. I realized how often I look for my phone in these in-between moments and how often I am actually trying to do more than one thing at a time. It often leaves me feeling fractured or my memory of what has happened less sharp.
So what does it mean to rest? I have thought of this over and over and over the last 2 weeks. I think of it a lot as our world hurries and my soul wants to slow down. I’ve come up with this: it is different for everyone. My speed of and need for rest will always be different than John’s and his different than mine. But it is so important to find out what rest is for you and prioritize it if you can. I know that I am so privileged to have my rest come in the form of an 11-day Greek vacation. I know this is not possible for everyone. But a commitment to be present to yourself and your family might not be a bad place to start.
A few friends have asked “What was your favorite part? What surprised you? What didn’t you like? I want to tell you one specific thing but the problem is, it was all my favorite. What surprised me is easy – Greek hospitality. It is engrained in the fiber of their beings, the thread of their culture – and I didn’t know. I was so struck by how kind everyone was. I was humbled by the lack of honking horns in Athens. I was full of smiles at the attentiveness of all of our hosts. I can confidently say I didn’t dislike any part of our trip except throwing my soiled toilet paper into the trash can, although it makes a lot of sense. Of course I loved the food and color of the water and the white houses with beautiful windows and doors – all of those things were better than in any photo on the web and anything I imagined – but the people. The people! They have stolen my heart.
If you are curious about our itinerary, I am including it here. I am not an affiliate for Greece or any of these places (although maybe I should be because I love it so much 😉 so these recs come straight from my heart to your vacation planner.
Days 1 – 5 – Milos we stayed in an incredible AirBnB on the sea that was a hilarious adventure to get to. A great way to start the trip. This place was complete magic and we made friends with our hosts. I just loved them. The must-see when visiting Milos is a boat trip to Kleftiko. Please use Drougas Tours – intimate trip with amazing captain and first mate.
Days 6 – 8 – Paros – stayed at an awesome little AirBnB just up a hill and several steps from the center of Naousa. It was the perfect location for us. We rented an ATV for the day and traveled to Lefkes. Amazing views and great people also a really fun nightlife that we caught the beginning of because we are old and like to go to bed early.
Days 9 – 10 – Astypalaia – stayed at the incredible Pylaia Boutique Hotel and Spa just out of the center of Chora. Within walking distance to the castle. If you go here, please tell Constantine we sent you, talk about Greek hospitality. Oh my word. I want him to come live with us.
Day 11 – Athens – stayed at The Gem Society Hotel – right in the heart of the busy part of Athens. It was loads of fun. We stayed up way too late and had one too many cocktails before french fries and a chicken gyro. It was great.
We left Google, Facebook and Trip Advisors reviews for most of the places that I mentioned here. They are under John Rafferty if you want to read more.
I cannot stress enough the power of POINTS. We were way too late to the points game. We wouldn’t have been able to take this trip without a credit card that builds points. Thanks to the genius of my brother and sister-in-law, we are getting better at acquiring them. If you have the ability to get a credit card that build points and you love to travel, do it. You won’t regret it.
Cheers to rest,