Traveling is always a fun experience if you look at it through the right glasses. Take my trip to Greece over the summer of 2006. It looks wonderful and horrific, all at once. Greece is an amazing place with a fascinating history and eloquent language, but imagine going there with thirteen other family members.
The trip was paid for by my grandparents because it was their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Altogether, there were two grandparents, seven parent-age adults, two boys (seven and six), my eighteen-year-old brother, ten-year-old sister, and me, the fourteen-year-old teenage girl.
It was slightly awkward traveling to Greece, a land full of guys who could easily pass for models wandering around on scooters, with a group of very protective family members. Imagine this — you walk onto a cruise ship on the first day of a three day trip around the Greek Isles and find yourself surrounded with high school boys, but you’re sharing a room with your parents and younger sister. It was a bit embarrassing and because I’m a bit (alright, painfully) shy, it made the whole situation a bit more difficult.
So yes, the trip was not exactly teenage-friendly, but it was fun and I have a lot of memories from our vacation. Looking back, a funny memory was the night when my Aunt Kit, Uncle Mike, and Uncle Ed went out partying one night while we were staying in Athens. They asked if I would be willing to watch Mason, 6, and Spencer, 7, until they returned to the hotel and I accepted. I had nothing better to do, right?
I brought the boys into the room I shared with my sister, Krystina, and the four of us took turns picking which of the four English-speaking channels of the TV we should pretend we were watching. We actually spent the night running around the room, chasing each other, and wrestling. By eleven or midnight, the boys and Krystina were getting very tired, so, leaving Krystina in our shared room, I walked with the boys down to their room. Using the key their mother had left with me, I got into the room, and had them go to bed.
I stayed in the room, reading a travel book left on the table by the hotel staff. My aunt and uncle returned to the hotel around one a.m., and I headed back to my room only to find that I was locked out! I had forgotten to bring my key down to my cousins’ room, and my sister was sleeping like a log! I woke up my parents, and we banged on my door for nearly five minutes before the sleeping ten-year-old awoke and let me in. Now when I stay with my sister in a hotel room, I make sure that I have the room key at all times.
Our excursions around Greece looking at the ruins were inspiring, if a little hot. We saw the foundation of two houses that had long since fallen to pieces, near the Temple of Zeus in Athens. The temple had very few columns standing, but my family took turns describing what they thought the temple had looked like during its’ hey-day. We wondered aloud whether people had ran into church late and hidden in the back so as not to get chastised, much like today.
The thought that someone had stood where I was standing thousands of years ago rocked me to my core, and made me feel very small in the scheme of things. I enjoy being ‘in the spotlight,’ so to speak, so this feeling of being insignificant inspired me to do something significant for people everywhere, so I will not be one of the many who live and die, influencing only those immediately around them.My trip to Greece was awkward, amusing, and inspiring. Every trip is fun, if looked at with the right perspective.
I could have been angry about being surrounded by my ‘un-cool’ family, but I chose instead to have fun with them and build memories that I will remember forever. The trip was in many ways a journey because it helped me to realize that there is, indeed, a silver lining in every cloud.
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