My time in Greece

The local port of Nafpaktos in Greece

The local port of Nafpaktos in Greece is populated by fishermen by day and by club-goers at night. Sofia Lynch | Washtenaw voice

 

By SOFIA LYNCH
Managing Editor

 

I consider myself extremely fortunate for being able to say that I have been to Greece multiple times throughout my life. This past June, I returned to Greece after being away for five years. The last time I was there I was a child. With the perspective I’ve gained on life over those five years, my experience of the country and its people was completely transformed.

Greece coastline

Although Greece has been the center of financial turmoil in Europe for years this does not take away from the cultural and natural beauty this country has to offer. Sofia Lynch | Washtenaw Voice

The first one would expect from someone who just returned from such a gorgeous country would be a spewing of awe and gratification for the beauty they saw. And there are countless paragraphs that could be burned capturing that.

The culture, however, is what really left me feeling so changed when I returned home. Being Greek and having family in Greece makes my experience in the country not like that of the usual vacationer.

A lot of my hours were spent on front porches, soaking in beautiful air and

Stairway leads to the Nafpaktos castle.

A majestic stairway leads to the Nafpaktos castle. Sofia Lynch | Washtenaw Voice

beautiful views, surrounded by the sweetest old ladies you would ever want to be around. A majority of the impression that was left on me was the general reverence of the elderly that seems to be a national sentiment.

Perhaps I just have a very loving family, but it seemed like all family life revolved around the eldest generation. Seeing or taking care of your grandparents is a routine part of daily life.

I relate a lot of my affinity for the Greek people and their way of life to this general strength in family ties. In America, it seems everyone is so focused on their own lives that time with family often takes a backseat.

I became extremely aware of my own allegiance to my family when it came to leaving them and their country after witnessing the beginning signs of its financial collapse.

This financial collapse was another thing that greatly affected my experience in Greece. It was obvious when we arrived that our city of Nafpaktos that it was not in the condition we had left it.

It wasn’t news that Greece was in bad shape, but seeing the streets lined with vacant shops and graffiti on every open wall was heartbreaking.

Bishop Seraphim’s clock covered in graffiti.

An iconic piece of the Nafpaktos Castle, Bishop Seraphim’s clock, now stands covered in graffiti. Sofia Lynch | Washtenaw Voice

A few days into our trip, there were lines forming outside of banks and ATMs. From what I knew of runs on the banks from our own country’s history, it was clear something was coming.

Soon the topic of “yes” or “no” votes on the referendum became the buzz of every conversation. However, what else could be expected of citizens with the weight of their country’s future in their hands?

My mother and I left two days before that vote, but we were leaving behind my grandmother and all my other beloved relatives to deal with the 60 euro daily withdrawal limit and whatever other madness would follow the vote.

The politics and the finances of the country, however, are the least important pieces of the picture. Greece is a country rich in culture, history, and beauty. It’s an experience so grand it can’t be done justice in less than 3,000 words, maybe more.

ruins on the walk up to the castle of Nafpaktos.

Over time, houses have begun popping up amongst the ruins on the walk up to the castle of Nafpaktos. Sofia Lynch | Washtenaw Voice

It comes from the bottom of my heart when I say that I feel privileged for every second I’ve spent in Greece. For anyone who has a trip to Greece on their bucket list: circle it, underline it, do whatever you have to do to make sure you follow through and experience the unexplainable for yourself.

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