Hi from Rick: A Souvlaki Guy in Greece
|Okay, maybe I'm having more than one "pinch me, I'm in Greece" moment.|
I have tour guiding in my blood. But right now my wife Anne and I are tour members — letting another guide do all the hard work, organizing and teaching — as we immerse ourselves in the wonders of Athens and the Heart of Greece. And I'm loving it.
At our welcome meeting — on the rooftop of our hotel with the floodlit Acropolis filling our horizon — our guide, Colin, prepped us for traveling in Greece. If you ask for a "no smoking" section, they'll sit you anywhere and remove the ashtray. When someone asked for a "doggie bag" on Colin's last tour, the waiter returned with a bulging sack, proudly announcing that he'd put other people's leftovers in as well so the dog would have a real feast.
To complete that "pinch me, I'm in Greece" feeling, I needed two things: a souvlaki pita and a local yogurt. Wandering through Athens' old town, looking up at the majestic Parthenon while munching my souvlaki rolled in greasy pita bread, is like a ritual for me. And to cap that, we dropped by a dessert place for a creamy dish of yogurt. I patiently drizzled honey on it as if scribbling, "Yes, I'm in Greece!"
Guides who lead tours for me know I'm a sucker for folk dance shows. Last night our group joined Anne and me at an outdoor theater under the Acropolis to see what amounted to Medieval Greek flirting set to music. Just like male peacocks need to try harder to get a date, the male dancers — with pompoms on their slippers — did the high kicking. The sweet girls in the cast reacted like ranchers checking out horses' teeth at a livestock auction.
I found myself staring with my ears at the folk music — with its squawky flutes, crude fiddle, pipes, and drums — hearing it as a kind of ethno trance music. Staring at the bagpiper, I imagined the first time a Greek shepherd lashed a double reed flute to a goat skin, filled it with his breath, and squeezed out a crude tune.
As Europe becomes more expensive for us Americans, it's all the more important that you get the most out of your time on a trip, connect with local experts, and share the experience with travelers you enjoy hanging out with. After the first few days on our Best of Greece tour, Anne and I are reminded that a Rick Steves tour — even for Rick Steves — doesn't disappoint.
Want to learn more? This month's Tour News features our Greece tours, with a link to my current travel blog from Greece — which includes my firsthand report on the post-fire situation — plus articles on Greek art and history, links to recent radio podcasts, and an interview with guide David Willett. You'll also find an answer to this month's very timely question: How does a weaker dollar affect a tour's value?
Enjoy the read. Now, I need to get back to our Greece Through the Back Door vacation.