The last time I went to Greece was the spring of 1980. I went by myself for a whole month. I remember thinking how it was like awakening each morning to a feast full of delicious offerings and getting to choose, each and every day, which morsel I would eat first. I pulled out my journal recently ,ink fading and pages browning after 32 years, and saw the trip was somewhat more difficult than I had remembered. I recorded motion sickness, a plague of mine from birth (although I recently read in the Odyssey that the epic hero himself was occasionally laid low), lugging stuff from steamer to steamer, and worrying that the pottery and reproductions I had wrapped so carefully in a nest of clothers, would make it home. Here is one of my faux-Minoan frescoes originally unearthed by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans at Knossos, Crete in 1900. These excavations brought to light an unknown Bronze Age culture that flourished two thousand years before classical Greece. The same swallows are there today, or were in 1980, dipping and flipping just as depicted here. It looks like the little bird has just sniffed the lily, and is swooning in delight from the scent. Today they still hang on my walls, and the thought of seeing the originals again fills me with delight.
In the years since, I have fallen in love with southern Europe, having been in to Italy three or four times -- Tuscany, Florence, Rome, Cinque Terre, Genoa. Somehow the charms of Northern Europe don't have the same attraction, even England, which I ABSOLUTELY MUST return to, but always seem to pass by.
I am always in search for a fun travel companion, and when Sue Bloland, my long-time friend from psychotherapy training in the late 80s, said she had never been to Greece, the idea for this trip was born. We decided against cruises (for obvious reasons), and guided tours, and decided together that I should plan, asking for her ideas and consent along the way, while she finished various articles and presentations which she had committed to during the summer.