If Italy was gorgeous Greece was memerising in all its raw, unfiltered beauty. And by raw, unfiltered beauty I meant endless stretches of pristine white sands…deep blue waters…azure skies…
As much as I loved the sea and wouldn’t have minded spending all my time on the beach, when I visited a place I liked to get the authentic feel of it…the people, the food, the culture…so we visited towns and their sights as well.
We landed in Athens so we toured that first. From the famous ancient sites to the Monastiraki, a huge market place in the historic district of Athens. Almost everything was sold here, from antiques to souvenirs and even junk pieces. We had to be careful in buying authentic stuff only and not pay exorbitant prices for fake stuff.
We visited Plaka, a quaint village like an island within the city where we could experience authentic Greek culture. It was so pretty with ancient cafes, ancient trees, narrow stone walkways and green leaf canopies. Bright bunches of flowers hung from canopies, lending bold splashes of colour to the faded brick facade. It had small boutiques and cafes where we could chill and buy a few souvenirs to take back with us.
Then there was Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens with panoramic views of Athens and the Aegean Sea. It was possible to hike to the top but we took the easier option of taking the funicular up. The views were gorgeous and we spent a good amount of time there, just soaking up the views.
We also went to Thessaloniki, a town north of Athens which had Ottoman buildings and influence. It was a lovely town and we toured the various places I had looked up online.
There was Nafplio, a historic town poised on the coast commanding sweeping ocean views as well as offering a wonderful glimpse into modern Greek village life with its quaint town squares and side walk cafes. It also had the gorgeous Karathona beach, a sheltered sandy beach with delightful views, so we could explore the town and relax on the beach on those days when we didn’t feel like moving about.
The waterfront was also lovely, we took strolls there in the evenings and even went on a boat ride one day.
And then of course there were the Greek islands, reputedly gorgeous, sunny, relaxing and did I mention gorgeous? For beach lovers like me they were the perfect paradise on earth and we spent a couple of weeks island hopping.
From Crete, the largest island in Greece, with old towns showcasing Venetian and Crete architecture, port towns, lagoons and beaches to Kos, with it’s long strips of clean white sand and rolling farmland rich in grapes, figs, olives and wheat…
From Paros, one of the most picturesque islands in the Cyclades with historic towns of cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses to Samos with its stunning pebble beaches and clear blue waters…
From Corfu, with charming old towns, beautiful beaches and scenic coastal resorts to Skiathos with its vast hills of lush pines and sandy beaches…
From Mykonos, a stunningly picturesque coastal town with a maze of tiny streets, whitewashed steps lanes and its very own Venice quarter…a section of Mykonos where the distance between sea and buildings is non existent and waves lap the sides of charming houses, cafes and restaurants that sit perched elegantly on the waters edge…to Santorini, famous for its dramatic views, stunning sunsets, whitewashed houses and it’s very own volcano…
Our days were spent jetting between islands on fast boats, relaxing on gorgeous, secluded beaches, swimming in the clear cold waters and admiring the stunning views. It was an idyllic two weeks and ones that flew by way too fast…
“Start packing. We’re off tomorrow,” Ahmed said, coming out onto the sea facing balcony where I stood. The cool breeze blew over my face, blowing my hair back. I inhaled deeply, relishing the moment then turned to Ahmed and smiled wryly.
“Do we really have to leave?”
“I thought you were so eager to see Turkey?” Ahmed raised his eyebrows at me.
“I am, of course. But this place is so gorgeous I’m sad to leave as well,” I sighed.
Ahmed smiled and moved to stand behind me. He placed his hands on either side of mine on the railing and leaned his chin on my head. We stood like that for a while, just drinking in the views.
“We’ll come back, inshaAllah,” he said finally.
I tilted my head up and smiled. “You say that with every place we leave. Thinking of another world tour, are you?” I asked teasingly.
“Hmmm, maybe. We should keep high hopes in life, right?” Ahmed grinned.
I laughed. “I love how your mind works so in tune with mine.” Turning into his arms I smiled up at him. “Have I told you how much I love you? And appreciate you?”
Ahmed pretended to think it over. “Hmmm…I’m sure you haven’t said it for a whole week!”
I laughed. “My bad. I’ll make sure I sing it in your ears every night from now on.” Then I sobered. “I love you, babe. You’re the best husband anyone could hope for. And I know I don’t say it much but I really do appreciate everything you do for me. You spoil me so much.” I hugged him tightly, feeling an overwhelming wave of gratitude well up in me. He did spoil me so much, fulfilling my every whim and desire without complaint. He went out of his way to make me happy and we were so in tune with each other that so many times he seemed to know what I wanted before I even voiced it. And he did it all without complaining or even bringing it up again.
Of course, he had his flaws. We both had our flaws but we learned to work through them. That was very important, to work through them openly…not bury them and move on because buried feeling lead to resentment.
Infact the only thing missing from our lives right now was children. But this world couldn’t be completely perfect, right? There were pros and cons everywhere, trials mixed with blessings, happiness tempered by distress. We got tests from Allah and we had to try our best to pass them and get to the other side.
But instead of focusing on the negatives, as we often tended to do, we had to look at the positives in our lives and make shukr for them. And my main positive was Ahmed. I didn’t know what I’d do without him.
“I love you too,” Ahmed replied quietly, hugging me closer.
“Ma-ma!” There was a sharp tug on each of our legs. We broke apart to see Numair clutching our legs and trying to stand, grinning up at us.
“Wrong timing, buddy! Don’t you know there are moments you can’t interrupt?” Ahmed joked as he bent to lift Numair.
Numair laughed and clapped his hands, looking pleased with himself.
“Attention seeker,” I muttered. Mussing his hair playfully I sighed.
“I suppose I better go pack then.”
We landed in Istanbul late at night and went straight to our hotel. Tired because I’d woken up early that day and hadn’t slept since, I freshened up and told Ahmed to just order a light snack so we could crash. Ahmed seemed to be edgy and sort of excited.
“Ya, just a minute,” he replied to my request, typing away on his phone.
“Who you chatting to?” I asked curiously.
“Uh…no one,” he flashed me a grin and continued typing.
“Uhuh. Talking to yourself via messages now, are we?” I asked sarcastically.
Ahmed laughed and was about to reply when there was a knock on the door. “Aha! I’ll get that,” he said, practically leaping for the door.
Okaayyy! Maybe he had ordered special food for me. I started to smile at that when I heard Ahmed say, “Assalamu alaykum. Come in.”
Come in??? I wasn’t even wearing a scarf! I leapt to my feet and was reaching hastily for my burkha when I heard a deep, familiar voice.
“Wa alaykum salaam.”
My head snapped up and my mouth fell open.
I have to be dreaming!