We left JFK International Airport and arrived in Athens. The first picture above is taken from the hotel room balcony near the Akropolis.The days intertwined as we flew over the water so records kept of the occasion can’t decide on the actual date being Utah time or Greece time.
Each couple had been assigned different meals and we were to use the internet to discover wonderful places to eat out each day and night. Dad would pay the tabs. Finding the street cafes and hidden restaurants was a fun adventure. The ambiance and food differed greatly from one place to another, with the only hard part of meals being, they eat dinner very late at night, so we learned to snack in the evening hours.
We spent a few days discovering places in Athens and then boarded a flight to the Isle of Rhodes. After finding taxi’s to take us to Old Town we found “The Sultans Palace” – so called online – and as we stepped from the cars, found ourselves hugged by several crying German ladies.
It was September 11, 2001 in New York City.
The “Sultans Palace” turned out to be the place he kept his harem. Note my lovely bedroom. We looked around our rooms and met up with each other and talked.
No one wanted to stay here but we decided to pray together, wondering if we should try to head back to America or stay the course.
There were wacky schemes thought up, but eventually cooler heads prevailed and we stayed with the itinerary and hoped for the best.
We survived the rooms and the Tavern owner Patrick made up for them with the best omelets in Greece.
Patrick brought his TV from home for us to watch the news, though it was all Greek, the pictures told the story, over and over again.
Internet cafes were quickly found down tight cobblestone paths and family accounted for. Our son was in Toulouse, France on a Mission and our daughter had just started her freshman year at the University of Utah. The Missionaries were kept inside a few days and the University students held candlelight vigils for the students to talk and grieve together.
Realizing that it was Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary, Patrick also brought in violinists to play for us the second night out on the veranda, complete with free drinks on the house.
For a moment we forgot the smoke and devastation back home and enjoyed the sweet sound of love. Thank heaven for the kindness of strangers.
We traveled the island to the Valley of the Butterflies, walked around Lindos and skipped rocks in the water off the beaches. We ate honey and gelato at roadside stores and generally enjoyed the sunshine where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood his ground.
Most American tourists had decided to head home and instead found seats in airports. We took another local flight to Mykonos and swam in the Mediterranean instead.
Next, a ferry ride to our last island, Santorini. This was my favorite place for views off the balcony! Walks at night are the best from way up here with the white and blue buildings and churchs and lights everywhere on the mountainside.We flew back and spent the night in Athens before heading to New York City.
Good Bye Greece, with your many cats, moonlit dinners, and blue, blue waters.
Because we stayed the course, we were allowed on our original flight home while others had been sleeping on the floor at the airport instead. It was September 19th when we left Greece and as we flew into JFK, we could see the smoke rising still as we entered the city of grief.