Athens, Greece was a reunion of sorts for the both of us. While in the process of emigrating to Canada from Poland, Tomasz’s family made a temporary home of Athens, its sun soaked walls and trees a welcome change from the harshness they were leaving. My connection to Athens extended from a dear friend who, as she describes it, was as “spindly and small and nerdy” as I when we attended elementary school together. She had returned to Greece many years ago and this was the first time in 15 years that we would be seeing each other.
It’s interesting when people describe something as an “once in a lifetime” opportunity because for all the unique circumstances and trappings in which an event unfolds, every event happens “once in a lifetime” or exactly as it does and never the same way again. We knew we were in a position of privilege to have the opportunity to travel to Greece and specifically Athens and its historical sites; in fact, we take to heart the idea that any travel for pleasure is a privilege to be enjoyed with some humility and certainly a lot of gratitude even though (or especially when) your experience of a place is manifested in the juxtaposition of the new and the old and coloured by personal anecdote: in the Acropolis where a Chinese youth slept with a book on his chest; in Plaka and Anafiotika where plants in clay pots welcomed you into small courtyards of orange trees; in the cafes and restaurants where the young sipped their coffees all day long thinking of change and of corruption; in the stories you don’t hear about via mainstream media, the ones about sociopolitical and economic challenges that break the hearts of your hosts and friends.
We were sorry to have left Athens, but our stay was always going to be a short one. After some finagling, we caught a ferry to the island of Chios where people and businesses seemed mostly guarded from the dire situation in Athens. Life was easy-going here; even the cats seemed healthier and happier, lacking nothing but a bit of human affection. We spent a few days here before returning to the docks where a ferry would take us to Turkey, our destination for the next three and an half weeks.
Written by Amy
All photographs by Tomasz Wagner on the Fuji XE1, Contax G2, and Fuji GW690II