Well, we‚Äôre back on the open seas after an incredible five days in Greece.¬† This port turned out to be a little bit more special than the others, because I was joined by two of my favorite people in the world: my mom and dad! That‚Äôs right, our voyage‚Äôs Parent Trip was in Greece this year, and both of my wonderful parents decided to treck from our home in Southern California all the way to Greece to see me and travel all around the country with me and the other 70 or so Parent Trip participants. And let me tell you . . . we fit in as much as humanly possible during the five days we had to explore the beautiful country of Greece.
Over the course of five days, we went to Athens, Delphi, Kalambaka, Meteora, Vergina, and Thermopoli and saw a number of incredible things. In Athens, we toured the Acropolis and saw temples and monuments that were constructed about 5000 years ago! After Athens, we drove to Delphi and hiked to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and got to see the first sports stadium known to man. From Delphi, we moved on to Kalambaka where we stayed for three nights, making day trips to Meteora and Vergina. Meteora was made up of breathtaking, narrow sandstone mountains, which housed six different monasteries. We toured two of the monasteries, and had the opportunity to observe beautiful art and the unique way of life that these monks and nuns have been living for hundreds of years. Our trip to Vergina consisted of a tour of the tomb of King Philip II and an incredible, homemade meal at a local farm/vineyard. On the way back to Athens, we drove right through Thermopoli, where the battle of the 300 Spartans took place thousands of years ago. During the five days we were in Greece, we definitely saw some of the most interesting and beautiful sites that the country had to offer.
My favorite part of the whole trip took place on our second night in Kalambaka, when our entire group went to a traditional Greek music and dance show. After listening to some incredible, live music and watching professional dancers perform a number of traditional Greek dances, our group was asked to come out onto the dance floor. The dancers taught us some of the dances they had performed, and all of us were laughing and attempting to dance and having the time of our lives! Everyone in our group had a blast at the show, and it seemed to be the highlight of several students‚Äô time in Greece. Also, I can‚Äôt help but to mention that the food we ate during our time in Greece was another one of the highlights of this trip. We had everything from Gyros, to Greek Salad, to Baklava, to Greek yogurt with honey, all of which were made with the freshest meat, fruit, vegetables, and bread that Greece had to offer. It was so nice to have all of our meals included in the cost of the Parent Trip, and we were all very impressed with the fantastic, homemade cuisine we were served in the various restaurants that we visited.
I have been having the time of my life here on Semester at Sea and have absolutely loved all of the adventures I‚Äôve been having with the incredible friends I‚Äôve made here, but this time in Greece with my parents was definitely one of the highlights of this entire Summer at Sea voyage. After learning and growing so much over this past month, having the comfort of spending time in Greece with my parents was just priceless. My parents and I made so many memories during this time in Greece that I know we will be talking about for years to come, and will not soon forget.
My dad sent the following email and I am proud to share it:
Participating in the Summer 2011 Parent Trip was the second-best decision we’ve made this year (right behind sending Andrew on this amazing journey!).¬† He was able to share his memories from Spain, Italy and Croatia while they were still fresh in his mind and at the same time create new memories in Greece with us that will always be a huge part of his SAS voyage.¬† To experience the incredible history, beauty and food of Greece was unbelievable, but to do so with our son and other SAS students and their parents was beyond all expectations.
We also enjoyed meeting his roommate, some of his new friends, and his professors, seeing his cabin and having lunch and a farewell reception aboard the MV Explorer. But our most lasting impression will be how our shared experiences in Greece transformed so many of us from strangers into friends who will remain so long after the suitcases are unpacked.