It was March second of 2017. We arrived at James Richardson Airport in Winnipeg after a brief visit with family and boarded a plane to Toronto. From Toronto, our next destination was Paris. We would be gone for three months, and our time in Europe seemed to stretch out endlessly in front of us. Holidays have a way of seeming like they will be long in the beginning, but no matter how long they are, somehow, it’s never enough. We were back in Winnipeg by the end of May. We visited nine cities in six countries while we were away, which is no small feat. But in the end, it felt like they all passed us by in a blink.
A year later, these are the last Europe photos I have to share. We took them on a very early morning in Athens, when we reached the top of Acropolis Hill before the gates had opened but found, not surprisingly, that the best view of the Parthenon and Erechtheion was actually from a pile of slippery, jagged rocks nearby. We climbed them, joining locals, their dogs and a few other tourists at the top, stopping to help people navigate if they needed it.
The rocks were undeniably dangerous. But there was no sign telling us not to climb them, and no one to stop us. We have been travelling together for nearly a decade. In that time, cities have imposed new restrictions year after year in the name of safety, making travel, especially in Western countries, feel more like a theme park visit than a city tour. We loved Athens precisely because it remains untouched by overzealous safety measures – or safety measures of any kind, really. Tourists come to the city but life for locals goes on with our without them. As tourists, we interacted with locals, rather than being separated from them. We saw the city from the back our landlord’s Fiat 500 and joined him for coffee at his favourite cafe. We ate our daily lunch of gyro from O Kostas on an outdoor bench with their regular customers. And we climbed the rocks at Acropolis Hill with people and their dogs who do the same climb every day.
I remember this morning with incredible fondness. After we came down from the rocky outcropping, the gates opened and we followed young cadets in the Greek military as they climbed the hill to raise their flag. It was a slow, sombre plod, but it was touching to experience such an important moment in their lives with them. We took countless sets of photos after these during our European adventures. But I saved these for last because if there was a perfect day of our travels, this was it. We were still newly arrived in Europe. We had let go of everything that weighed us down in Vancouver – the burden of expectation and financial stress and endless work hours. The freedom of three months of travel and discovery lay before us.
I felt, to paraphrase The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was one my favourite book, infinite.
We will be back in Europe, of course – and I hope it will be soon. But we have no official plans. So for now, all I can do is treasure the memories of our time on the continent last year. And looking back on these photos is the best way to do that. I hope you will love them as much as I do.
#revolve #lacademie #rayban