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I’ve always been fascinated by Greece. Growing up in the 70s I remember my parents having a large poster in the cabin. It donned a few bikini-clad women in repose on the sun drenched deck of a sailboat bobbing on azure waves with olive groves and whitewashed tavernas in the background. “Sail Greece” it said. It captivated me. I can remember my father saying that someday we’d do a boat swap with somebody there and we’d sail Greece while they sail the San Juan Islands where our cabin was. That opportunity never materialized.
As a child I was always a bit confused by Greece. Why was it called Grease? I assumed it was because perhaps the because pan drippings of its neighbor Turkey had run down the Peloponnese. My understanding was further stymied by the 1978 release of Grease which wasn’t about Greece at all. During these formative years I always found myself in awe of Greece. I loved the Greek Gods, Demi-Gods, Heroes, the myths and their mythical creatures. I remember performing a Greek play in sixth grade (Oedipus?). In high school we built a Parthenon of popsicle sticks while we read Homer’s Odyssey and the works of Socrates and Plato. We learned the math of Pythagoras (and his famous last words: “I’d rather die than hide in a field of beans”). In college I continued to read Plato and Aristotle and The Iliad. I remember the revelation Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Il Conformista brought me, that it was an allegory of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, as was cinema itself (I’ve maintained a soft spot for self-referencial cinema since).
In 1999 my wife and I planned to honeymoon in Greece and did all the research. Those plans where thwarted by the war in Macedonia and fears that it would spill over to Greece. Reports of daily protests, riots, and anti-American sentiment in Athens ran those plans aground and we settled for calm Tahitian lagoons instead. But was during this time I recall telling my wife “If you are going to go to Greece you’d best learn to love olives”. She hadn’t acquired a taste for them yet. “Think of them as a delivery vehicle for salt”, I told her. That shift in perspective now finds her an olive fiend. So much so that when she was pregnant with our daughter she often craved Greek food. Once we went to Panos Kleftikos for dinner and returned again the next evening, and the evening after. “When I said ‘see you soon'”, said the owner, “I didn’t think it would be so soon! Opa!” He must of thought she was growing a little Greek in there.
So here it is, 15 years later, and we are finally taking the time to “Sail Greece”. We’ve charted 3 bareboat sailboats amongst 10 of us and are heading out to sail the Sporades Islands for 2 weeks. The Sporades where recently made famous in the movie Mamma Mia (which we watched again last night). However, previously this island chain was made famous by Homer in his Odyssey. These are the islands where Odysseus had many of his adventures, such as the Cyclops Cave, the Sirens, and many others. In true Homeric fashion I hope to document our own odessesy in this blog, which I fully expect will be epic! – Opa! Sabbatikos!
Bon Voyage Marc! I want to live vicariously through your blog, so gloat as much as you want, you know it’s good for you!
One of the most life-altering things I’ve ever done is hike through Greece for 10 weeks, in 1984 (pre-NWS). With a group of other teens, I slept in a tent, traveled with horse & cart, learned to read, write & speak Greek, bought our own food in the agora and cooked over an open fire every night. I would love to go back as an adult. I’ll be checking in on your adventures!