Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago today, we spent our first full day at our villa in Volissos, on Chios Island, having arrived in the dark the evening before.
Chios was our first rest stop, our first holiday planned during our nine-month trip around the world, and we were doing it up right: two weeks of rest and relaxation on a Greek Island. What could be better than that? Well, arriving in the dark, and unsure what exactly was living in our attic, on an island that smelled like dust (we were later told that it had not rained in a year, and it had also been an extraordinarily hot summer with temps in the high forties celsius), I was thinking that I'd blown it. I spend a good fifteen minutes feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I'd let my family down. Did I mention the smell of dust? After almost eight weeks of travel, we'd be stuck here for two weeks, and somehow, through all my planning and research, this was the best I could do?
As it got a little bit lighter out that morning, I noticed that everything looked like it was covered in dust too. But then, the sun came over the mountains behind us, and the sky began to swell with a blueness that is patented by Greek history. I thought to myself, yeah, this might turn out okay.
The short version of this story is yes, it was a wonderful time.
Sadly, Laura's father passed away a few days after we landed on the island, and Laura went back home for a week to be with her mom. Our two weeks stretched into nearly three.
It seemed like this could really take the wind out of our sails, but Jake's death eventually reinforced our sense that it was important for us to do this kind of a trip while we were healthy and fully able to embrace everything that would be thrown at us, particularly in the coming months, knowing that Syria, Egypt, India, and a few other countries were still to come.
(It also provided an opportunity for us to discover how good people can be when you need them to be, and while I won't go into the full story here, just know that if you are going to Chios, Tassos and Margarita from Hatzelenis Tours are the people you want to talk to. Accommodations, car rental, advice, kindness, ability to help steer you through adversity, just pretty much anything you need, they can manage it.)
And of course, looking back now, and seeing how much has changed in both our family and the world in these ten years, this trip with our two young sons was a treasure that continues to reward us with shared memories and continuous inspiration.
Every country we visited on that trip was special in its own way, as was every single day. Our time on Chios was no different, and one son remains firm in his assertions that Chios was indeed his favourite place of all.
So. Chios.
Here's to you.
An image from the Airbnb listing for our house on Chios. Airbnb did not exist back in 2007 I don't think. Our house at the bottom right. The Aegean Sea at the top, a couple hundred metres from the house.
Another view of the house.

This was our beach, Limnos Beach, the 'north' beach.

Emporios Beach, the 'south' beach.

A typical west-coast beach (there was sand, just not in this picture - and watch out for the spikey balls of death).

Karfas Beach, the 'east' beach by Chios Town.
But it was our beach, Limnos Beach, that was to be our most consistent landing point, our sandbox for those eighteen or nineteen days.
A typical street in the nearby town of Volissos, home of our bakery and our market.

A view from our fort in Volissos.

Mesta, one of the idyllic little towns on our island.

Our trees on the island.

Our sunsets on Limnos Beach, version 1.

Our sunsets on Limnos Beach version2.

Breakfast on day one on our patio.

Our donkey.

Jonas's fingernail also made its return on the island.

And another view to the sea from Volissos Fort.
Our skies in Greece, the top-right six all from Chios.

Our friendly host, Tassos. Your go-to man on Chios. Sadly, Margarita was not in the office the morning we caught our ferry, so I didn't get her photo.

Margarita and Tassos's Hatzelenis Tours website -