As I walk through the crowded cobblestone streets of Santorini I decide to stop and sit. I watch the golden sun as it falls into the ocean like an Olympic diver in slow motion. The buzz of excited voices and the smells of the nearby vineyard transfix me. It is hard to believe that 24 hours ago I was on the island of Mykonos, enjoying the market places and taking pictures in front of the famous windmills. But wait, it’s almost time to go. I peer down the street to see a line of tourists encircling and twirling through the back streets of the small community. It is the line for the lift-car, there is no way we’d make it back to the docks in time for the last boat to the cruise ship. Me and my new found friends on the cruise ship instead run down the side streets of Santorini, dodging groups of tourists, and jumping down stair cases. We arrive at the only other way down, a donkey ride. Looking at the lumbering lazy donkey I realize we would be better off on foot. We hand the man our tickets and run down the weaving path. We leap over the donkey droppings and run down the small stone trail. We reach the pier in time for the last boat, sweaty and out of breath.
This is one of my favorite experiences from my ten day trip to Greece. The only thing more amazing than the natural beauty and excitement of Greece was the ease at which friends were made in the large group of high school kids. Despite being from all different parts of America we hit it off immediately. We became like a family, everyone looked out for one another, despite our differences. Whether we were climbing the Acropolis or getting lost in the streets of Athens, we did so together, and had a lot of fun doing it. Nights on the cruise ship were spent room hopping and trying to fit as many people as possible into the very small cabins. Everyone had a good time, there were rarely any fights, and we all really got to know each other. The only sad part of the trip was the departure. This trip was two years ago, and it seems that many of us have grown apart, but I am still very good friends with a couple of people I met on the trip, despite the geographical distance.
I believe that vacations aren’t about the places you go but the people you meet, and my trip to Greece and around the Greek islands proved that to me. Sure the islands were beautiful and the experience of going to a different country was amazing, but if I hadn’t gone with such a great group of people, I wouldn’t have had such a life changing experience.
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