I guess most of you know Greece as an ideal holiday destination. The combination of beautiful and unique beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, tasty fresh food, countless ancient ruins, and idyllic villages make this country one of the top places in the world to spend your summer. Why not love Greece? Well, for me, my love for Greece only grew after the country became more than what it is famous for.
Before I met my Greek boyfriend, I had never been to Greece and neither had I ever wanted to go to one of its famous islands. In general, I had never been a beach holiday person. I tried it once, long ago in Italy, but I felt bored within just a couple of days. So I decided back then to spend my holidays only on quick city trips.
When my boyfriend and I started planning our first trip to Greece to meet his family, I was afraid. We were going for a month. Stayed at the beach house with my boyfriend’s parents in a small non-touristic area. What was I supposed to do there? I really expected myself wanting to come back within the first week.
But then we reached the beach house, and with beach house, I mean a house literally on the beach. Away from everything else. There is almost no cellphone reception or internet. No cars passing by and no people other than the family to share the beach with. But instead of freaking out about the month to come, I immediately recognized this place as a little paradise. Just for us.
During our first weeks there I started learning the greek way of living in summer. Swimming before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating fresh fish straight from the sea and vegetables from the garden. Doing some work around the house in the morning, taking a nap in the afternoon, and meeting friends at night. I learned how to live with nature and family, which I, as a Dutch city girl, never tried before.
My father-in-law taught me how the direction of the wind and the temperature of the land and water determine the state of the sea. My eighty-something-year-old grandma-in-law taught me how burning coffee scares away the mosquitoes. And my mother-in-law taught me to cook with whatever was around the house and my boyfriend taught me how to fish.
Every member of his family and there are many of them in a Greek family, taught me something new. But the main thing I learned was to appreciate slowing down. Never had I felt more relaxed and loved as I did after just a week at my boyfriend’s family. I cried a lot that first trip, tears from real happiness, real connection, or from the diverse and beautiful landscape around me. I found my home with my love for Greece.
For two years now we have been traveling back and forth between Greece and our home in The Netherlands and it is difficult. We both prefer to stop coming back here. We want to live our lives in the country we both love instead of making money in a place we simply don’t connect with. But it is scary to leave the safety of the Netherlands knowing that life in Greece will get hard. It is a big step, that we prepare for every day.