We made it to Athens from Meteora around 5pm and went straight to our final dinner of the trip.
When we finally arrived at our hotel post-dinner, I went to the front desk to check in our group only to hear the concierge say that the hotel was slightly overbooked and that they were working on designating everyone in our group a room. So we waited and then waited some more until I was flagged down to pick up and hand out everyone’s room keys.
Once I handed out room assignments and keys, the young folks in our group rushed to their rooms so they could get ready for their last party night out on the town while the older folks headed to the shopping district of Athens to grab a few souvenirs before the markets closed at midnight.
Me and Charles?
We were pooped and just wanted to chill. So we grabbed our bags and headed to where our room was with the plan to grab a bottle of wine and watch some good ol’ hotel t.v.
But when we opened the door to our room, we realized that the concierge had given us a top floor suite… with a BALCONY that had a direct view of the Parthenon. Perks of having an overbooked hotel, I guess ;)
That “bottle of wine and t.v. plan” turned into a “bottle of wine and listening to Sade on the balcony” kind of night as we reflected on a whirlwind 7 days in Greece.
A few major takeaways from our week in Greece:
1) The people are proud of their country and history and love to show it off. We met many locals who were so genuine in their hospitality and who went out of their way to make sure I got to where I had to go safely the few times I found myself walking around alone and slightly lost (As the tour leader, part of my job was to scope out where our tour group was scheduled to go ahead of time and make sure everything was good to go). Never once did anyone just give me verbal directions, both people actually walked with me to where I needed to go and then went about their way.
2) This was Charles and my first time doing a “pre-packaged trip”. Pre-packaged as in every single moment of the trip was planned out without our input. The flights, hotels, tours and destinations were set ahead of time and all the travelers on the trip knew exactly what they were getting when they paid to go on this trip. Overall, while it was fun to travel knowing every detail was taken care of, it felt a little claustrophobic at times. Our itinerary was scheduled down to the hour and there wasn’t alot of free time so we weren’t able to wander and explore off the beaten path like we usually do when traveling.
3) Greece is a beautiful country with dynamic and, most importantly, protected landscapes. From the sea to snow capped mountains, our tour bus ride around the country was filled with much oooohing and ahhhhing the entire trip. So much untouched land and fresh air. Simply beautiful.
4) Greek wine is the shizznazz. From red to pink to white (cuz I drank it all on the trip lol), it’s soooooo good! Before our trip, I had never had Grecian wine before. And now… Whenever I see a wine bottle whose label says it was made in Greece (which is kind of rare), I grab it like it’s the holy grail.
5) Working as tour leader was enjoyable but hard, extroverted work. For 7 days I was responsible for a group of 22 people, ranging from 18 to 76, and making sure they got from the U.S. to Greece and back all in one piece annnnd happy with their trip. We had a few injuries, sick tummies, and roommate disagreements I had to deal with as sensitively as possible. Every day we had an early morning start. As such, a few people accidentally sleep in throughout the week and I had to be the person to knock on their door, wake them up and help them pack their things so we could get on the bus and stay on schedule. Some people got lost and I had to locate them. Many people had specific diet requirements and/or allergies so I had to make sure the restaurants we ate at were aware ahead of time.
It was alot… And while there were moments where I wanted to hide inside my introverted shell, I did enjoy getting to connect and learn more about the people on my tour group. 7 days days stuck on a bus driving around Greece with 22 people… It was inevitable that we would leave the trip making new friends.
Would I do it again? Hell yes.
Unfortunately, I have yet to master the art of night photography so the photos above are a little grainy/blurry but I like the feel of them in capturing the vibes and view from our hotel room in Greece.
Bottle of wine done, we eventually zonked out and, as usual, I was the first to wake up around 6am just in time to catch the soft pink colors of sunrise.
With an 8:00am bus pick up to take us to the airport, I woke Charles up at 6:30am so we could have enough time to get ready and grab breakfast without feeling rushed.
^^ Temple of Zeus right outside our window.
^^ The Parthenon beyond, so close it felt like we could touch it.
One last walk through of our hotel room to make sure we hadn’t left anything, a whispered, “Thank you” to the skies above for a safe travel experience and we were out.
Until we meet again Greece. Until we meet again.
Next stop: Turkey! <– New post coming your way next week. :)
P.S. In case you missed them, catch up on all of my Greece posts HERE