To Greece on the trip of a lifetime
My 83-year-old mother was very apprehensive about her return to Greece, a country she had left as a young, single woman.
She reacted with mixed emotions when we gave her a Christmas present last year of a return ticket to Greece with my husband and myself.
At times she did not believe she would survive the trip and neither did many of her elderly friends in Australia. When the time came to farewell them before the trip, they kissed and cried as if it would be the last time they would see each other.
We were only going for three weeks, but I am sure that my mother thought we were taking her on a possible oneway journey.
There were four flights before we reached our first destination: Sydney-Singapore, Singapore-Istanbul, Istanbul-Athens, Athens-Crete. My husband and I were exhausted; my mother was euphoric. We had not arrived at her village, but at a holiday destination that she had never been to before and she had fallen in love with the concept of travel.
Having struggled all her life financially, she had never travelled for leisure, and we wanted this trip to be a fantastic holiday.
We stayed at a five-star resort right on the beach in Crete where my mother could eat as much of the Mediterranean food as she wanted, and so she did. Homemade yoghurt, baby goat and her greatest weakness, figs. She consumed food every day as if it were to be her last supper.
It was not until halfway through the holiday that she realised she most probably would return alive to Australia, the country she now calls home, and not have the heart attack or any other major illness that she had conjured up in her mind.
We took her back to her village of Meteora, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed place on the mainland where huge monasteries are suspended high on the cliffs. She travelled to Edessa, a town of waterfalls and thermal pools, visited relatives in Kavala and witnessed a euro referendum rally in Syntagama Square, Athens.
Finally we took her to Istanbul to see Hagia Sophia museum, with its wonderful dome, and to end the holiday with a visit to a hammam.
She was humbled by what she saw and experienced. We were humbled by the kindness of all who could not do enough for my mother. We plan to take her again in 2017. Stay tuned. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. Columnists receive a copy of Flavours of Queensland (Smudge Publishing, $80), an illustrated volume of restaurants, bars, cafes and farmers’ markets from across the state, complete with recipes. More: smudgeeats.com.au.