Yet again, I have gotten behind on my blogging! Here is a quick catch-up post on spring break!
A few weeks ago, I finished my last midterm, threw my hands in the air and joyously celebrated the onset of spring break. Spring break meant sunshine, a Mediterranean ocean breeze, and indulging in the chocolate festival that was going on in Piazza del Campo, featuring booths laden with goodies ranging from decadent truffles and crepes, to the mysterious chocolate pasta. I half walked, half skipped, to the chocolate-covered strawberry booth and devoured a whip-cream covered delicacy, lounging in Siena’s town square and dreaming of Greek islands and baklava. Beginning in February, Natalie, Dana, and I had been carefully planning the spring break trip of a lifetime, a cruise to Greece and Turkey. We made sure to book a flight that would get us to Athens in plenty of time to board the ship, which would take us to the island of Mykonos, a quick stop in Kusadasi, Turkey and then on to the islands of Patmos, Rhodes, Crete and Santorini. We eagerly arrived in the Florence airport three hours ahead of time to get our connection to Zurich. After waiting somewhat-patiently on the floor of the airport (trying to keep our excitement jitters to a minimum), distracting ourselves with snacks and I-books, we learned that our plans had abruptly changed. The airline informed us that our flight had not only been canceled, but that we were now scheduled to take a bus to the airport in Bologna to take a different flight to Zurich, due to strong winds. After some quick calculations we realized that we would miss our flight to Athens. Ultimately, it meant that we would miss boarding the cruise ship by a few hours. The panic ensued. The next 24 hours went a little like this. Begin hyperventilating. Frantically search for an information desk to figure out options. Realize there are no other flights to Athens. Make various phone calls to get in touch with the cruise ship company. Do deep breathing exercises. Miss parents. Consider calling parents. Realize it is 3 a.m. in the states. Resolve to be a strong, independent, 20-year-old in a foreign country. Well, you get the idea. We were eventually able to meet the ship in Patmos, and so began the spring break that we had been planning.
Our first Grecian adventure began with the rising of the sun in Patmos. I have a certain love-hate relationship with sunrises; mornings, particularly early mornings, are a groggy haze of blinding lights and bothersome noises until I have had a proper dose of caffeine. Yet, the stillness of the air, just before the first rays of light illuminate the horizon, is a moment of unadulterated solitude and reflection, difficult to re-create. Thus, after a chaotic journey, it was fitting to sit back and watch as the mountains in the distance appeared through the shadows and the rows upon rows of white houses came into focus. My favorite part of the rest of the day was trying out authentic Greek food. Breakfast- a parfait glass filled to the brim with yogurt, topped with a drizzle of the most decadent honey I have ever tasted and lunch- a salad composed of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and a gigantic block of Feta cheese.
Although I enjoyed every island, it was difficult not to fall in love with the beauty of Santorini. The majority of the island is situated on top of a steep incline, which can be accessed either by a cable car or a donkey. In hopes of having one last adventure before the cruise came to an end, we decided to test our luck with the donkeys. Ushered by a small sun-wizened Greek man, he motioned towards a donkey adorned with a colorful saddle and bridle. I precariously put one foot into the saddle, and attempted to get comfortable, while Speedy (who earned his name along the ride) had other ideas. Instead of waiting for the rest of the group, he took off for the top of the hill, with me clutching the saddle for dear life. I attempted to persuade Speedy to slow down by giving him encouragement and self-esteem boosts along the way; (‘Goooooood donkey…you’re the best donkey in the world…’), but my efforts were in vain. Although the ride was nerve-wracking, the view of the Mediterranean from atop a donkey was one that I will never forget. After a bit of exploring amidst the narrow streets, vibrant rooftops, and simple, yet stunning architecture, we ended the afternoon with a Greek coffee and baklava in a café looking out onto the sunset, bringing our trip full-circle.