I wasn’t always an explorer. There was a time in my life where I felt confined and didn’t see a need to even leave my neighborhood, much less my city, and I couldn’t even imagine leaving the United States. As a child, I would occasionally visit my grandparents back in Puerto Rico, but even that was only every 4-5 years. I always had fond memories of my trips to Puerto Rico, and I still frequent it still to this day.
Once I had kids, my vacations consisted of trips to Florida and the Jersey shore. Those are great places to visit and enjoy time with family. These were safe bets, you could drive if you wanted to, fly if you wanted speed and comfort, either way, you were still within the United States and had little to worry about. From there I progressed to all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. There you get a controlled taste of international travel.
On my recent trip to Greece, however, was a true lifetime journey. It took for us to get over many fears. The fear of Covid, the fears that normally come with any travel, where will I stay? How will I move around? Will I be safe? I can always spot new travelers in the airport, the instant anxiety that sets in when they have to search their pockets for the passport, they know they have just not in their hand. It takes a higher level of calm and confidence to travel. But it’s an extremely rewarding experience!
We set off on what ended up being an 11-day journey thru Greece. We settled on visiting Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Athens was historic and full of truly amazing world history. What I found most impressive about visiting the Parthenon site, was how amazingly well the citizens of Athens (Athenians) lived! They had a theater, multiple sports stadiums, a massive port, and culture that was rich in education, literature, and mathematics. I concluded that even though we were more than 3,500 years apart, they didn’t live much differently than we did, sans cell phones. We dined well and spent most of our time visiting histori sites before heading to Mykonos.
Mykonos has a way of making its purpose apparent the minute you arrive. We flew in and the Mykonos airport greets you with a fleet of world-class private jets and transportation. It’s obvious that Mykonos is capable of entertaining even the most exclusive and discerning of ultra-wealthy or high-profile celebrity types. We were just happy to be there.
The beaches in Mykonos are beautiful but what really stands out is the level of comfort that can be achieved. The beaches were staffed extremely well. You don’t have to wait long for really anything and there was almost no limit to the level of catering they could do. The shorelines were visually pleasing with sites of newly built yachts and speed boats, the types you see in magazines. Coming off the beach you were greeted by an array of shopping with everything from midrange souvenirs to high-end gifts! Downtown Mykonos with its narrow, white cobblestone corridors was charming and romantic. It seemed to never end. Every time you took a turn and thought you had completed the labyrinth of streets; you were pleasantly surprised by a new restaurant or shop that you hadn’t seen before. It was easy to see why it’s such a top destination for party seekers and curious travelers alike
After Mykonos, we took a speed boat to Santorini. It was hard to imagine that things could get better, but they did. Santorini was simply breathtaking. The connection to nature was one of a kind. The sunrise and sunset are an experience that I will never forget. Grand in scale, it truly felt as if I was watching the sunset on the entire earth. You couldn’t take your eyes off of it even if you wanted to. Santorini is an elevated mountainous island and the views were everywhere. We stayed in the main city in a villa overlooking the bay and the views were just indescribably breathtaking, and always there. Santorini easily offered the best cuisine of the entire Trip. Everything was incredibly fresh. The seafood was wild-caught the same day and there was an abundance of everything. The service in Santorini was just as my phone described, it was formal and sophisticated. It takes some getting used to because it’s very different than how we do things in the United States. You have to conform to how they do things because they want to treat you extremely well. But in order for that to happen, you have to yield some control so that their process can play out. Not everyone can adjust to this but if you let it happen, you will receive a one-of-a-kind experience that is well worth the control you will give up.
We traveled as a group of eight with some familiar faces and I was happy to have had that experience with my friends, especially my wife. The best moments of the trip came when things were not planned. When your explorer kicks in and we decide to just explore. Walk around and take in the sights sounds and smells, ask questions and not necessarily have a destination in mind or a schedule in place. These free-roaming moments are extremely important.
More important than traveling the world is exactly that finding your inner explorer and don’t be afraid to venture and roam without a goal or a schedule and talk to people. You don’t need to go far to find adventure. But you do need to be willing to give up a little bit of control and hope for the best moving forward.