Recently I turned 45 years old. To celebrate I decided it was time to step outside the box and do something I had never done before.
I’ve traveled to England, Paris, and all over the United States. I’ve been to Mexico and a few places in the Caribbean, but almost always with my sister, or other family members. I’d never done a trip on my own, where I had to be the adult in charge.
Frankly the idea of traveling alone didn’t appeal to me, beyond knowing I should do it because it made me uncomfortable. Little did I know that a lunch with Sue Thompson of Just Girls Travel would change the way I viewed traveling, especially solo.
Just Girls Travel is a local travel company, which specializes in trips for women, though they also book couples and men. Their unique itineraries encourage you to truly experience the culture of where you are going, while also being pampered.
Thompson asked me if I could go anywhere in the world, where would I want to go. I didn’t even have to think about it. At the top of my list was Greece. I’d never been there, plus it is where my gorgeous man’s family was from.
Just Girls Travel just so happened to be putting together a trip through Silversea Cruises on the Silver Spirit, which would sail around the Greek Isles. Thompson had done this trip before and asked if I would be interested in hosting the trip. My hosting duties were minimal, so it sounded like a no brainer.
The trip and the ship far exceeded my expectations. First off, I had a butler named Prabath who answered every request with “As you wish,” and who didn’t mind indulging my request to take selfies with him.
As much as I thought of myself as someone who loved to be pampered, I realized that I had to learn to say yes. My instinctive response to offers to get something or do something for me were “Oh no, that’s okay” when in truth I would have loved for them to do that. Prabath the butler gently guided me into being comfortable with letting someone else do something for me.
Off the ship I did a few tours, and even explored the islands on my own, a first for me. I toured a local winery, met local residents, shared a pizza with a cab driver and got lost more than once.
I visited what is left of the Acropolis on Athens, amazed by how well much of it still stood today. The Greeks built something that stood for thousands of years, yet today cell phone manufacturers can’t make a phone that can last for two years.
The best thing about my trip was experiencing the Greek culture. I noticed that people at restaurants and bars were almost never on their cell phones, but were engaged in conversation with the people in front of them. Greece has been dealing with their own economic issues, yet there were several places set up where locals were donating clothing and shoes for arriving Syrian refugees.
Simply the Greek lifestyle or island lifestyle you could call it, seemed to lend itself to taking care of each other and showing a genuine interest in other people. It reminded me a lot of my own homeland of Hawaii.
Since being back home in Lake Minnetonka I’ve been making an effort to say hello to strangers on elevators, start up conversations in waiting rooms and pay more attention to the people around me. Yes, this has been met with mixed results. But, I believe that if I keep at it and we all work at being friendlier to each other, soon it will be the norm. Experiencing another culture, really showed me how much I have to appreciate right here.
My adventures in living life perfectly imperfect are featured in the Sun Sailor, The Lakeshore Weekly News and South Lake Neighbors Magazine.