March 24, 2019
My breath seized as the soles of my worn, bedraggled sneakers united with the besmirched floor of the loading ramp to the ferry — tonight’s humble abode. A seventeen hour expedition among the tempestuous waters of the Adriatic Sea lay before me, plotting to whisk me away from the most recent captor of my heart, Italy.
Despite my quiet unease provoked by thoughts of belligerent waters and rustic accommodations, the reality that my Italian escapades were at last coming to a close overshadowed all other thoughts.
The lingering taste of Rome’s succulent gelato al pistacchio began to swiftly dance off of my tongue. The chilling visions of history itself, revealed through the moldering bones in the depths of the Catacombs softly faded from my mind into a distant blur. Melodic sounds of a gentle breeze rustling through the delicate leaves of a Tuscan olive tree subsided to a hushed whir, while the enticing scent of Florence’s aromatic pastries wafted away with the salty breeze of Ancona.
I quietly pondered whether I would ever again know Italy as I did when I stood upon her rich soil; perhaps she would welcome my return someday.
Sullen from the wounds of fleeting memories, my lingering foot begrudgingly joined the other on the ferry’s steep boarding ramp. In an attempt to shift my focus, I settled into my accommodations for the night, although no diversion could truly distract from my deep desire to retreat from the turbulent sea, back to the comforting glow of the Tuscan sun. Following several minutes of weariness and contemplation, I recalled the other prime significance of the trek ahead: although my time in Italy had now reached its end, the lovely island of Igoumenitsa, and all of Greece, was awaiting my arrival! Such a minor shift in perception made all the difference; the promise of new adventures paved the way for an entirely more bearable voyage.
The following day, I awoke early in the morning to the familiar ringing of my tireless alarm, succeeded by a wave of affectionate embraces and discordant renditions of “Happy Birthday.” It seemed that sixteen could not get any sweeter, already. We enjoyed a light breakfast, packed up our suitcases, and departed from the vessel late in the morning. Shortly after, we set out onto the meandering roads of Igoumenitsa as we began the next chapter of our European excursion.
Following an extensive bus drive filled with countless laughs, an abundance of feta, and the lyrical hum of Grecian melodies, we had at last arrived in the ancient city of Meteora. Upon exiting the bus, my eyes were immediately captivated by a grand monastery atop a towering rock formation; I would later discover that this awe-inspiring sight was only a sampling of the splendor this city has to offer. I approached the base of the rock formation and began to climb the winding stairs up to the top. One by one, each step complimented the last in beautiful harmony, drawing me increasingly closer to the resplendent monastery. Soon, Spring’s sweet fragrance of cherry blossoms greeted me as I neared the brow of the rock. As I stood atop the great structure, I gazed down upon the vast city of Meteora, reveling in the hushed stillness of soothing seclusion.
Meteora, you, too, have my heart.
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