My mother and mother-in-law left a few days ago and as I type, they are still trying to reach America–a number of delays has added a full 24 hours to their already long trip! They were here for a second visit, having been sure to space the visits out so they only had to go four months without seeing their grandkids. Sadly enough, I guess that means we are rounding the corner towards the end of our year’s adventure. We miss our friends and family, but we have found a whole other set here in Ikaria. There are still a lot of places we’d like to explore and things we’d like to do. And, we know saying goodbye to this life, that is so different from the one we lead in Pennsylvania, isn’t going to be easy.
We planned their visit to coincide with the end of Chris’s last visit, and we all met up in Athens to spend a weekend together. We traveled in a big white van (which was Zach’s favorite part of the trip) to the town of Galaxidi, which is where my mother’s father was born and raised. He came to America, and unfortunately died young and was never able to return to Greece. Galaxidi is a town rich in nautical history and was once a leader in shipbuilding. It is now a stunningly beautiful village that survives on tourism. Located in south central Greece, on the Gulf of Corinth, it is very close to the ancient town of Delphi. It is in Delphi that the Greek god, Apollo, slayed a giant python in the valley below and claimed the beautiful mountainside to be his sanctuary. It is also here in Delphi that the Oracle, a priestess named Pythia, foretold the future on only a few days each month. It was believed she could communicate with Apollo and that is how she would get her information. People would travel from all over the Mediterranean and pay great sums to consult the Oracle before making any major decisions.
One of the most interesting things we came across had nothing to do with the ancient gods or temples but with mother nature. We came across lines and lines of Pine Processionary Caterpillars, traveling head to toe, across the path. The kids counted a caterpillar train of 75, but with a little research on the computer, we found out that the lines can be as long as 200-300! If you are as fascinated as we were, you can learn more about them at this website: web.cortland.edu
After a few days in Galaxidi and Delphi, we had to return to Athens. Chris was heading back to America, and we were taking the grandmothers to Ikaria. We took the long way back in hopes of seeing the Corinth Canal. Long before the canal, we stopped in the town of Nafpaktos, a town known for an important naval battle in 1571. The battle, fought in five hours, defeated the Ottoman Empire, keeping them from progressing further along the Mediterranean coast of Europe. It was also the last major naval battle fought in the Mediterranean using galley ships. It seems that every town or village in Greece has its own unique beauty, and this one was no different.
From there, the trip to the Corinth Canal continued. Although we never found the exit to see this amazing engineering accomplishment, we did cross over another amazing engineering feet–the second largest cable bridge in the world. As for the canal, it was dusk when we reached Corinth, and I am fairly certain I saw it as we drove across, but it was just a glimpse. We asked for directions at a toll booth, but once again, the language barrier got in the way.
Back in Ikaria, we lived daily life–cooking, shopping, and doing homework. One afternoon, while the kids were still in school, we went to Evdilos to sit by the harbor and have a cup of coffee. We were approached by a lovely couple who were on vacation in Ikaria. Actually, Leila heard us speaking English and promptly introduced herself. Here from Israel, they were staying at a local winery for 10 days. I knew of the winery–it was a place that Chris had insisted I take our mothers to visit–and we made plans to visit while they were there. Later in the week, accompanied by Stella, we drove to Pigi and were welcomed by Leila and Gavin, George and Eleni–the owners of the winery–and their dog, Rea! We toured the vineyards and the winery, and then we sat around Eleni’s kitchen table, sampled the wine, and of course ate–cheese, olives, baked goods, and possibly the best potato salad my mothers have ever eaten! It was a lovely afternoon made so much more enjoyable by being able to spend it our new-found friends.
We spent the last month with company in the house–first Chris and then the grandmothers. It’s quiet again here, but spring has arrived. Today it was almost 70 and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We will be spending more and more time outside hiking, playing, and sitting in the platia. The kids are anxious for summer and can’t wait to swim in the sea once again. While we can, we are going to enjoy everything that comes our way.