Greece, from the word Gre, meaning friendly people and Ce, meaning of the Aegean Sea. Only kidding, but that was the typical response you’d get from most Greeks when you asked how to say a Greek word or phrase.
For our honeymoon, we visited Santorini, one of the southern-most Cycladic islands in Greece. Santorini is know for its sunsets, fava beans, tomatoes and white wine, but we also found the friendly people to be a major attraction. Me: “How do you say cheers in Greek?” Waiter: “Yamas! Ya meaning toast and Mas, meaning to our health.” And drink to our health we did. And we ate, oh did we eat.
The food was incredible. I’ve never tasted a tomato so sweet. Nothing like the mealy, cardboard “vine-ripened” imposters you find in U.S. supermarkets. Santorini used to be a volcano, so the landscape with sparse, craggy and steep. In between the stretches of blue and white dome-roofed, stucco buildings were stout lime green tufts of grape vines that perforated the clear sky. The black sand beaches and clear water varied in a spectrum of royal blue to turquoise depending on its depth.
We hiked, we boated, dodged tourists, and explored every nook and cranny of the island. Ramsey and I always try earnestly to seek out an authentic experience when we travel. It’s not always the easiest way to vacation, but for us, it’s worth it. We met Spirios the Catamaran captain, Yorgos the blue-eyed Bulgarian waiter who didn’t want to be caught with a smile on his face, Yannis the shoe maker of 57-years/guitarist, Cristina the accordion player, Maria and husband of Tzanaki tavern who invited us into the kitchen and shared homemade wine, Kostos the fanny-packin’ bus attendant, and Oikos the errant dog who led us on a grueling hike (we gave him that name). These wonderful people made us feel like part of a big fat Greek family for 10 days.