An Excerpt from Musing Mediterranean – A Travel Experience

scaffolding on the Parthenon in Athens Greece - an excerpt from Musing Mediterranean

More from Musing Mediterranean

This week on the blog, I am sharing two excerpts from my book, Musing Mediterranean, which chronicles a 2012 family trip to Greece, Italy and Turkey. On Monday, I shared an excerpt talking about our time in Rome, Italy. Today, I share a moment from Athens, Greece.

My goal in writing this book was to convey a true travel experience from beginning to end. With that, there are good times and, sometimes, not so good.

In this excerpt from Musing Mediterranean, I reveal a moment that fell short of my expectations. Despite some disappointment, I was still glad to have made the journey.

An Excerpt from Musing Mediterranean – The Parthenon

I suppose the fantasy of Greece that I’d created in my mind would have been hard for any reality to live up to. I’m not saying it wasn’t great, but not quite as life changing as I thought it would be. For me, the pivotal moment in Greece came early in our travels there. The place I most wanted to see was the Parthenon. The image of this massive temple had always been distinctly emblazoned in my brain. The notion of actually seeing it and walking through the sacred grounds of the Acropolis became something of a quest. From the time I was a little girl, my family, including aunts, uncles and cousins, would spend time together flipping through my Yia Yia and Papou’s photo albums. They traveled a lot and while their photos from Spain, Hawaii and many other places were fun to look at, nothing stuck with me more than the photos of their trips to Greece. Something about their proud expressions as they stood together, most often with my grandmother’s sister Stella, left me with a strong desire to go where they’d gone and see what they saw. I always knew that someday I would see the Parthenon myself.

My grandparents’ photos of this prominent example of historical architecture have always remained at the forefront of my memory. The same is true for a particular piece of jewelry that my mother and aunts each wore, and still do to this day. They were gold pendants, probably about two inches in diameter, each featuring a dazzling rendition of the Parthenon. My Yia Yia had gifted one to each of her three daughters-in-law. Each woman, none of whom is Greek, has always worn hers with pride.

Upon arriving in the vicinity of the Acropolis, a hot trek up the hill to see the hallowed grounds and the Parthenon itself was required. This day, more than any other, was super steamy. So much so, you could see the haze in the air. The temperature had to have been in the mid-nineties, if not higher.

I’m strong in many ways, but heat is my kryptonite. I may be the only New Englander whose least favorite season is summer. I just can’t handle the unrelenting sun. While others thrive in the warmth of the summer months, I slowly fade away, trudging through the heat and humidity desperately awaiting the arrival of fall.

With every effort to shake off my funk, I forged ahead. Beautiful Kalamata olive trees grew in groves all around us. Stray dogs slept in any shady area they could find. The ten minute walk seemed much longer in the heat, but we were all thrilled to at last set our eyes on the Parthenon at the top of the hill.

“What the hell?” I scowled as I first laid eyes on the structure. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The entire face of the Parthenon was covered in scaffolding.

I had expected this to be a real “ah ha” moment. Instead, the words I blurted out were, “This is such an eyesore – I am so disappointed.”

Apparently, the Parthenon had been under renovation for eight years. Unfortunately, none of our travel literature had alerted us to this fact. Not that we wouldn’t have come, but at least we could have altered our expectations accordingly.

“I can’t believe this,” I said to everyone in my party. “This is such a letdown!”

“I know,” Karla agreed. “I had no idea it would be like this. What a shame.”

“Would you two relax,” my Dad said dismissively. “It’s fine. You can see through the scaffolding and you know what it looks like anyway.”

Thank You

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Musing Mediterranean, and I welcome your feedback.

Have a great weekend!

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Writing a Travel Book: My Never-Ending Story

pictures and pages from Beth's first travel book

So, I’ve written a travel book. Well, some might call it a travel book, a travelogue or a travel memoir, but really what it is, is a travel experience. I like to call it “Eat, Pray, Love” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I started it in 2012 and here I am in 2016 working on what I hope to be a final revision.

The process of sticking with it has sometimes, most times, been tough. I know some fellow writers who will understand this and I wonder; why do I, why do we put ourselves through the pain?

The book is about my summer 2012 journey to Greece, Italy and Turkey. My parents, sister and her family, and my own family unit traveled together for our first, big family trip. The experience was so hilarious, momentous and memorable that I left the Mediterranean thinking, I could write a book about this. So I did. I call it “Musing Mediterranean.”

When I began MM, I didn’t have my magazine column, “Matters of Life & Beth” nor did this blog exist. My writing style was very different then. Over the years, I have found and come to enjoy the writing voice I use here and in my column.

Now, after going through multiple revisions and having the book professionally edited, I am starting over from chapter one to take what I have and rewrite it using the conversational voice that suits me now and the writer/author I want to be.

There are days when I feel like the edits will never end. There are always changes to be made and after reading and re-reading the story, what feels like a hundred times, I feel like it will never be done.

I have never been so dedicated to a personal passion so much as this. Tony will often say, “I can’t believe you are still working on that.” Honestly, neither can I. I am more of an immediate satisfaction type of person. If don’t see short term gain, then I usually move on to something where I can.

My book is different. I believe in it and I enjoy immersing myself in it even when I dread and severely procrastinate opening the file to get started. It’s a strange contradiction. I sometimes worry that if I dread working on it so much, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it; but I keep going. There are also days when I fear that it is boring or stupid; but I keep going.

If ever I understood a labor of love, I think I can fairly say that this book is mine.

I don’t know what the end game for this book will be, but for now I am going to work through this final, or near final, phase and hopefully soon revel in the glory of completion.

Do you have a labor of love?

To learn more about my travel book “Musing Mediterranean,” visit my website.

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