The first time I traveled out the country I went to Santorini Greece. I actually went during the time that Greece was rioting. During that time international travel was only something that I set and talked about with friends. It was something that people in my community only dreamed of doing but would never actually attempt and if they did like most Americans they would start traveling the world after they retired and had one foot in the grave. However, I decided that wasn’t going to be my story and so I purchased my passport and bought my first plane ticket out the country. I didn’t wait on anyone to say they would go with me, I didn’t set a date for me and a group of five friends to purchase our plane tickets of which 3 of those friends would say they didn’t have the money and the other two would say they couldn’t find child care. Instead I bought my plane ticket and reserved my hotel 8 months in advance. I than told people I was going and sent those who claimed they were serious about traveling with me my flight confirmation. In the end the only person I had to accompany me was my little brother who refused to let me go halfway across the world alone. And before I knew it I was on my first flight out the country and my brother was on his first flight ever. 11 ½ hours later me and my brother landed in Santorini Greece. The hotel owner of Artemis Village picked us up at the tiny hub they called an airport and took us to a small clean hotel next to the Aegean Sea. There we stood on a grassy hill and quietly watched as the sun rose. My little brother slowly broke the silence, and whispered “Wow Alex you really did it, you really went to Greece just like you always said you would”. It was at that moment that I knew I had caught the travel bug. The feeling to be somewhere I had only seen on the travel channel or a national geographic magazine excited me.
Santorini Greece is one of the most memorable places I have ever traveled to. The food was some of the freshest I’ve ever tasted. Mostly everything is roasted or grilled. All the seafood is caught early in the morning by local fishermen, so whatever they caught is what they will have on the menu for the day. For those who have seen a picture of the Greek Islands on a post card or in a magazine I must say that YOU CAN believe the hype, everything is as advertised. In all my travels I have never seen water so blue and mystical. Greece was also one of the first places where I felt like a first class citizen too. As an African in America you have an unspoken “place” or as it is recognized in other countries “a caste” which according to the oxford American dictionary are each of the classes of Hindu society, class, rank, level, or status. In Greece no one asked me weird questions about my hair, tried to correct my lingo so that it matched theirs, no one said, “Some of my best friends are Black”, or my all-time favorite, “I don’t see color”. In Greece I was just a tourist, a person with a soul. Tourist from New Zealand and Australia were down to earth and fun to party with. The Greeks were also very polite and hospitable. I didn’t have one issue being an African American traveling alone in Santorini, it was actually very enlightening and a break from the subliminal racism that I experience in the United States.
You Gotta Love Animals!!
Greece is full of stray animals. In Chicago I’m use to Dogs and Cat’s running away from people in fear that they’re going to have rocks thrown at them. (LOL) In Chicago the Pigeons and Seagull’s are even scared to grab the bread crumbs you throw on the ground for them. So I was surprised when I saw stray dogs so comfortable in their environment that they laid in the middle of the street and took naps as cars drove around them. Stray cats greeted us at the hotel and came in our room in the morning when we opened our door and window to let in fresh air. A stray dog even chased me down the beach attempting to play. When I asked some beach goers whose dog this was, a merchant from a nearby restaurant yelled out, “That dog is everyone’s dog, everyone in the community feeds it and takes care of it”. So I warn anyone who has a dislike for animals or is prone to kick a lingering cat or dog in the ass to avoid going to Greece because it is a very animal friendly place. One day I plan to go back to the Greek Island, only this time I will explore a different, perhaps Mykonos or Cypress. Greece has a lot to offer in terms of beauty, food, relaxation, and culture.