GR US

Greek American Homeowners Association Former President George Alexiou on His Travels

The National Herald

George Alexiou, his wife Elpida and friends unfurled the Greek flag in Antarctica. (Photo: Courtesy of George Alexiou)

TAMPA, FL – The coronavirus pandemic and the many variants prevented George Alexiou from going to India this year to admire the famous Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful monuments, which many have described as the eighth wonder of the world. After that trip was canceled, Alexiou left this month to visit his native Greece for the umpteenth time.

Known in the community for his efforts with the Greek American Homeowners Association, he has also traveled all over the world. Alexiou always said, "I want to see the world from top to bottom,” meaning that he wanted to travel to the farthest corners of the earth. And he did. The top was he went to was the northernmost tip of icy Alaska. This is the coastal area of Prudhoe Bay, on the northeastern tip of Alaska, next to the always icy Arctic Ocean.

There he ended his journey, having previously visited other parts of Alaska, flying to some areas in a small plane with a few passengers and to others by dogsled.

The journey started from New York, with first stop in Vancouver in southwestern Canada, where he stayed with his wife Elpida for four days. They then sailed to Anchorage. “Many tourists are content with this trip,” said Alexiou. “But it is a pity not to continue, since the real Alaska is in the interior.”

There are many Greek-Americans living in the city of Anchorage, and there is also a Greek church.

The tour continued with a tourist train that took them to the famous city of Fairbanks, Alaska, from where they took a small plane that took them to various areas.

Alexiou remembers Mount McKinley now known as Denali, over which they flew. “The spectacle was enchanting,” he said. “Then we went down to see dozens of reindeer moving on the endless ice.”

The tour continued with another small plane for three and a half hours to Prudhoe Bay. American oil wells are being drilled nearby. “I was impressed by the fact that the oil pipelines are placed in such a way that they do not prevent the various animals from passing under them and sometimes over them,” added Alexiou.

When they got there, it was summer and the temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit. “Some of the locals told us that when it is cold and one spits, it freezes in the air, before it lands on the ground,” continued Alexiou.

“Before we left New York, I was asked at the travel agency why I wanted to go to the edge of the world,” he added. “I told them I wanted to see how I would feel. Because I believe that there I will see God.”

In some areas they rode on dogsleds. “Because it was summer, the snow was not enough everywhere for the sleds to move on the ice,” Alexiou said. “That's why the dogs pulled the sleds with great effort in many places. Unforgettable were the moments when the dogs barked and sometimes quarreled with each other. I would recommend people to go to Alaska. The best months are late May, June, and July. In other months, life is very different.”

Alexiou and his wife, in addition to visiting the North and South Poles, has also traveled to China, Australia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Argentina and other Latin American countries. In Europe, they have gone as far as the northern Scandinavian countries.

“I like to travel,” said Alexiou. “You see how the rest of the world lives and the human mind opens up.”

Of course, in his travels he does not forget Greece. “I have a great time there,” he said. "Greece is beautiful, but, let's not forget that other countries also have great beauty.”

In 2010, Alexiou and his wife were able to reach the icy southern tip of the Earth, set foot in Antarctica with Patagonia and see up close the legendary Straits of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego. The journey lasted two weeks.

“I saw the greatness of God and nature,” said Alexiou. “Everywhere there is peace and silence and only a few moments you hear a noise coming from the ice and you see whole pieces falling apart and falling into the sea. In such an environment you feel good and forget everything.”

The spectacle on King George Island, Antarctica, was spectacular. “We saw four science stations, South Korea, China, Chile, and Russia,” said Alexiou. “In fact, the Russians have built a small church there with prefabricated materials. We stayed in a shack. Icebergs all around. There, we wore more warm clothes and on top other reddish heavy uniforms to face the strong cold. We could not sleep much, because our thick clothes prevented us. Nature was unique. We saw penguins, elephants seals, and sea lions. There was a savagery in the environment, which at the same time was friendly. I felt like I was one of the few people and maybe in some places the first to step on a part of this Antarctic area. I felt a joy and in those days I had forgotten all my issues. We also had a Chilean guide, a tour guide, who told us that we would try to see as much as we could, because it was always unknown what the weather was like after 2-3 hours. We were personally lucky, because it started to snow when we left.”