Sneak Preview from TNH’s Travel Guide: My Summer in Greece: a non-Greek Tween Mythophile’s Hellenic Odyssey

By Sarah Nagengast (January, 2014)

It’s January, and I’m helping my family plan a ski trip! We love the cold, snow, and steep hills of Vermont. But as I get excited about it I remember my last vacation, a trip this past summer to warm, sunny Greece. That was also a setting that I loved!
This past summer I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I got to go to Greece. I was excited to go to Greece because I am very fascinated by Greek Mythology, and I know a lot about it. I couldn’t wait to visit all of the different ruins, statues, and temples in which the people of Ancient Greece worshiped the gods. What I discovered is that Greece is so much more.
My trip to Greece was one of the most amazing experiences ever! We stayed on the Greek Island of Chios, the fifth largest out of all the Greek Islands. We lived in a very small village called Vessa. The town was extraordinary and beautiful, down to each and every stone that creates the small village. Each wall and every painting was unique in its own way. There was such intricate detail in everything. Almost no one in Vessa spoke English but they were all very nice. They were so happy to see new visitors; they don’t have many tourists that stay there because the village is so small. I had a lot of fun playing backgammon at the square and hanging out on the roof of our house. We visited lots of different villages that were all full of unique stories. But I think that going to the beaches was my favorite thing to do on Chios.
The beaches on the island of Chios are the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. There are so many of them! On the island of Chios, there are 91 beaches in all, plus a couple unmapped ones. I didn’t get to go to a lot of them, but the ones that I did get to go to were breathtaking. The water is so clear that you can see all the way to your feet! Out of all of the beaches that I did get to go to, my favorite has to be Lithi. I love Lithi because it’s a sandy beach (I wasn’t a very big fan of the rocky beaches), the water is very calm (most of the time), and it’s really close to Vessa (so it was only a 10-15 minute drive). I wish I could have had the chance to experience all of the beaches. But that’s not all we did.
While we were on Chios, we did so much more that what I’ve already told you. We went shopping in Chios Town, and we visited some of the other towns and villages. We went and saw one of the monasteries. We even hiked all the way up a mountain to see one of the temples of Athena! I don’t regret a single thing we did. It was astonishing, and I loved learning about the history and culture of Chios. But we also spent a couple days in Athens.
Athens is a place that you don’t truly understand until you’ve experienced it for yourself. Before I went to Athens, I knew a lot about the city. Like I said, I knew a lot about Greek mythology. But after I visited, I knew it was an experience that I would never forget. Now, I could tell you what we did while we were in Athens, but you really have to see it for yourself. There is so much to see and the history behind it is unbelievable.
Athens is a beautiful city. The architectural design of the buildings is so remarkable; so much work went into designing and building the structures of Athens. I was really amazed by the temples and ruins. In Athens I saw many different temples and ruin sites. My favorite was the Acropolis. On the Acropolis is the Parthenon. When I saw the Parthenon for the first time, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was humongous. The detail must have taken years to accomplish. I admire the Parthenon and its creators. The other temples and ruins were astounding as well. The Temple of Zeus towered so high! The Temple of Poseidon in Sounion sat way up on the hill over-looking the sea, it was gorgeous! The Temple of Apollo in Corinth was really awesome. The list goes on and on!
Visiting Greece was an amazing experience. Learning more about Greek mythology by walking through it was awesome, but more important was that I learned that Greece is so much more than mythology! Greece isn’t a myth! My summer in Greece is a memory that will be with me for as long as I live.

Sarah Nagengast, 12 years old, lives with her family near Harrisburg, PA. She traveled to Greece with her mother in Summer 2013.