“I’m from the States,” I say when my cab driver asks where I’m from. “But I’ve always dreamed of coming to Greece.”
“Thank you for visiting my country,” he says appreciatively and hands me a business card for his taxi service. “This is for incase you come back again.”
As we drive from my hotel in Athens to the airport he tells me stories of when the 2004 Olympics were hosted here and what an exciting time it was.
“It was a fun period,” he says. “The road that we’re on is a marathon long. They competed on this road during the Olympics. Now you can tell all of your friends at home that you completed marathon road.”
Throughout the car ride he continues to thank me for visiting Greece and I continue to tell him that it was my pleasure. He really doesn’t know how much the pleasure is all mine, for I’ve been dreaming of Greece for quite some time.
When I was a kid there was this little Greek restaurant in downtown Dallas, close to where I grew up. I went there very few times but it’s always had a lasting impression on me. I remember loving the atmosphere, the pita bread, and the owner. Since then, pita bread and hummus have played key roles in my diet (vegan to pescatarian to no packaged foods.) And as a 10-year-old I had to impress adults. I still do and I’m basically an adult. So when asked what my favorite food was I always replied with, “Greek.” “You’re such a good eater,” they’d say. “I wish my kids would try more foods.” I’d smile- satisfied.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” came out, followed by “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Mamma Mia.” All of these great films heavily had Greek ties into them. If Meryl Streep was in Greece, I had to get there too. But it was The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants that ignited the Greek fire within my soul, and it was in that film where I first heard of Santorini. Those blue roofed, white adobe houses, were so picturesque that I wanted to pack up and move there.
Then came my sophomore year of high school. It was that year that I was required to read Greek Mythology for my AP English class.
“Ugh, this is going to be way over my head,” I thought. But when I first picked up that book I found more in it than I ever could have taken away from a Texas history lecture. The stories were engaging. With tales of battles and quests and love that stands the test of time, it was only a fuel for my later years.
When I committed to a semester at Florence University of the Arts I was thrilled. To spend a semester in Italy, that would be a dream. It was another country, like Greece, that I always spent my days in class picturing. I was so ready to see the world that I couldn’t have packed my bags soon enough.
“We need to plan our fall break,” said one of my friends upon learning we had a 10 day break at the end of October.
It wasn’t even a question. Once I booked my flight to Athens for my break I promised myself I wouldn’t get excited until I got there. But for only 88 euros round trip, I was gliding through the skies already.
And now I’m here. Writing this on the plane as I make my way back to Italy. I’ve just spent 6 days in this country, and while I look forward to so many more places to travel to, I have to look back on the journey that got me here. As a dreamer, it’s an extremely humbling feeling to see things work out. To watch that Santorini sunset from a nearby café until it dips down into the Mediterranean and disappears until tomorrow makes all of those years of praying that I would make it here, a beautiful feeling. It’s been a tearful journey, and I’ll surely be back. So to all you dreamers, traveler’s, gypsy wanders, or Mother Nature’s biggest fans, dream on. No place is out of reach. Dream big and believe it will happen- and it will.