Being in a surreal setting like a Greek Island can get very easy, very quickly.  Beautiful views, great food, relaxing dinners, late night chats with guys named Socrates.  Good times.  But there are a few things that I really missed about what I called “the real world” while we were living the Greek life. Now that I’m home I’m not sure why I missed so many of them.

  1. Starbucks.  I know. I know. I should have enjoyed the Greek Frappe’s and freddo espressos.  And I did. I even had a few cups of REAL Greek coffee.  That thick, chewy stuff that can keep you awake for a month.  But by the time we got to Athens, I really felt like I needed a visit to Starbucks – if for nothing else, a sense of familiarity since I spend so much time there.
  2. Non-smoking restaurants.  Wow do the Greeks smoke a lot. I have never been a fan of having to sit in a smoky bar or restaurant and thankfully we sat outdoors to eat for pretty much every meal, but still the amount of smoking that goes on in Greece is just astounding after getting used to the way things are in the U.S. I can’t believe that earlier in my career people smoked in their offices and I had to sit through it.
  3. Pizza.  We were constantly in the mood for pizza probably because we couldn’t really find good pizza anywhere.  The theory that Greece and Italy are so close, so surely there should be good pizza is not in play on an island that Greek families use mostly for summer enjoyment.  We did find a great Italian place on Mykonos – a guy who came from Naples – and I wished I had eaten more.  Or gotten take out for when we returned to the Andros.
  4. English.  After a full year of Rosetta Stone I thought I was ready to immerse in the Greek language.  That feeling went away on day one when I realized I hadn’t learned anything I could really use.  I didn’t have much use for “the horse is white” in Greek.  Just my luck, the next chapter in my lesson that I didn’t yet get to was “travel.”  Why didn’t I look ahead?
  5. HGTV and the Food Network.  I’m sort of stretching the truth here because I bought a slingbox before leaving and got to watch a little HGTV and Food channel in our time in Greece – but not the way I am used to at home (as a late night ritual).  Watching Spongebob in Greek, however, was quite a lot of fun.
  6. Showers with doors.  Really, why don’t the showers have doors?  Our first hotel had a tiny shower with a shower curtain which was okay but the shower was kind of icky.  Our second hotel (in Mykonos) had a bathtub with a shower but no curtain or door.  Thus the floor got soaked.  Back on Andros, the next shower was a huge beautiful old-fashioned tub.  With no door or curtain.  This room got flooded constantly.  The last hotel in Athens had a sort of half door which was quite a treat but yes, the floor got quite wet.  I was so happy when we got home and I was able to close the glass door to my shower.  Who knew?
  7.  Big fluffy towels  – and washcloths.  I will never complain about towels at a hotel in the US again.  Well, I probably will but I shouldn’t.  The towels were mostly just okay and we only had washcloths in one hotel.  And at that, they were never replaced after the first day.
  8. Chocolate – Although we found some chocolate bars and ate quite a few of them, the choices were few and far between.  I was dying for a plain Hershey Bar.  Or a real chocolate chip cookie.
  9. Mexican food.  See pizza above.  But we never found Mexican.  Maybe had we looked harder in Athens or on Mykonos we would have but definitely not on Andros.
  10. The Olympics.  There I was at the home of the Olympics and I couldn’t understand a word of the coverage.  We watched a bit but it wasn’t the same.  The biggest irony was that on the day of the closing ceremonies, we went to the site of the ancient Olympic Stadium where it was rebuilt for the 1896 Games and took a tour.
  11. Sleep.  What was the most fun about the trip  – the lifestyle – also almost killed me.  I’m not one of those “I don’t need sleep on vacation” people. I wish I were.  But to be out every night until 2 or 3 a.m., then get up in the morning and get ready for the beach was great fun.  At 5 p.m. the Greeks ‘take a rest’ or siesta but I’m not a napper so I always found myself as the sleepy one at the 11 p.m. dinner table.  We’ve been home 2 weeks now and I still feel like I haven’t readjusted and still need some more sleep.

All that being said, if you mailed me a ticket to Athens tomorrow, I’d be on my way.  There’s something very nice about living in that surreal world and missing these mundane things in life.