Our trip to Greece was absolutely amazing! I had planned it for so long, and I was almost nervous that it would not be as perfect as I had imagined it, but it was and so much more! I would need hours and hours if I was going to type everything that we did, so I will restrain myself and only put the "main" events. I really just want this to be something that I can add to Petey's baby book so that he can look back and see all the cool things that we did on his first trip to Greece.
We thought Petey would sleep on the plane, but the kid stayed awake the entire time. He finally closed his eyes as the airplane wheels were landing in Madrid:) He was really good on the plane though, so I shouldn't complain. Thanks to our good friends Carol and Abe, he had tons of Disney movies to keep him entertained.
We arrived in Athens and were met at the airport by my aunt and uncle, Theo Ilias and Thea Haris. I cannot even begin to express how much they did for us throughout our trip. They met us at the airport with one of their suv's, which was a lifesaver for us. They were kind enough to let us use their car for our entire trip. And boy, did we drive ALOT!!!! If any of you have ever driven in Greece, it takes a brave person to get behind the wheel. Paulie stepped up to the plate, with his international drivers license in hand, and did a fabulous job. All of my relatives were most impressed!
After being in Athens for only 1 day, we took a one day cruise to the islands of Hydra, Aegina and Poros. One island was more picturesque than the other. Even though we were still a bit jet lagged, we made the 8 hour drive to Kastoria, which is in northern Greece. My mom's dad's side of the family is from there, and she had always talked about how beautiful it was. She was right. We stayed at a beautful hotel, directly on the lake. Petey loved watching the ducks and the canoes in the water. My Theo and Thea were with us and my other aunt and uncle, Thea Georgia and Theo Sakis met us there. After 3 days in Kastoria, we made the 10, yes 10, hour drive to Kalamata, where my grandfather is from. We stayed in the village of Arfara and stayed in the home where my grandfather was born and raised. It was an awesome feeling to know that Petey was walking in the same house that his great grandfather walked in. The Stathakis Family has been in Arfara for so long, that there is even a street named after our family! We were able to visit with my Theo Vasilis and Thea Smaroula. Petey adored them. After 3 days in Arfara, we drove back to our condo in the suburb of athens called Ayia Paraskevi (Saint Vivian). It sounds corny, but being in Ayia Paraskevi is like being at home to me. I spent summers there as both a child and an adult and I am very familiar with the streets and where things are located. We stayed in the condo where my grandmother lived and, once again, I am so grateful that my Petey was able to play in the home of his great grandmother.
We toured Athens from sun up to sun down for 2 whole days. We saw it all and then some. We then took a high speed ferry to the island of Santorini for 3 days. Our hotel was beautiful and right across from the water. Petey was a little fish! He loved being in the sea and the hotel pool. He is not afraid of the water in the least. In fact, when we took him to the water park, the other parents were amazed and how well he swam. He really impressed them when he wanted to go down the adult size water slides. The kiddy ones were not cutting it for him. Mind you, he did all this while sporting a speedo! When in Greece, do as the Greeks:) Our favorite time in Santorini was at Santo Wines. It was a wine tasting spot overlooking the sea. We went back twice, the second time at sunset. For anyone that has ever seen a sunset in Santorini, it is breathtaking. We found out our boat was cancelled due to high winds, so we decided to hop on a plane and we were back in Athens in 30 minutes, which was really nice, since we were all exhausted.
We stayed in Athens for 1 day and then made the drive to Asea, the village where my Grandmother grew up. We visited with family and Petey and Paulie got to experience "village life". We visited Arahamites, which is the village where my grandmother was born. We actually stood in the room that she was born in. Another "chills down my back" moment was had. That was about the 100th of the trip. We made the drive back to Athens and spent our last day at the zoo in Pikermi. My cousin, Fotini, told us to go here and I am so glad she did. This zoo blew Animal Kingdom out of the water. Petey actually got to pet a giraffe! That is how close you were able to get to the animals.
Three weeks was not enough time. There was so much more that we wanted to see and do. Everytime we didn't have time for something, I would say, "This is just another reason to come back!" I cannot thank my family in Greece enough for what they did for us. Everyone was so welcoming and made us feel right at home. I had always told Paulie that the Stathakis family was like no other, and he was able to see what I meant. We will always be grateful for all that they did for us during our trip. I am already planning our next trip. I am aiming for next summer, but Paulie keeps kindly pointing out that 2013 might be more realistic. We'll see....