17th June 2017

Note to self: Always check that you’ve packed everything.

Yesterday when the girls and I went grocery shopping for our meat and cheese platter we decided to grab some ingredients for breakfast. Craving a normal breakfast this morning I jumped out of bed to make αυγό και ντομάτα, or eggs and tomatoes for the non-Greeks. This is my absolute favourite breakfast of all time, for as long as I can remember my Γιαγια (grandmother) has made it for me whenever I’ve gone to her house for breakfast. It’s has so much nostalgia for me, it was the only way I ate eggs as a child and during the HSC when I lived with her she made it for me every morning, brain food, and all that jazz.

In an apartment kitchen, without any oil, salt and pepper, it was nowhere near as good as Γιαγια’ς but it definitely hit the spot and got me in the mindset for Greece.

A quick dash back to Giolitti for my final scoop of gelato, peach and strawberry, holy shit so good. (Side note guys, I did it, 25 scoops while 25, also no more gelato for the rest of the year)Then it was off to the airport; saying goodbye to Em, Natasha and Chantelle was bittersweet, it was so amazing to have been around family again but leaving meant I was going to visit family in Greece and that was exciting.

My bag currently weighs 22.8kg, looks like I’ll be ditching a whole lot of stuff in Athens… My vueling flight to Zakynthos was one of the worst I’ve ever been on, I can honestly say I’ve never been more worried on a flight in my life. The noise radiating through the plane the entire flight sounded like the plane was about to rip in two, people actually clapped when the plane landed safely. I, however was totally preoccupied the entire flight. My camera wasn’t in my handbag and I couldn’t remember for the life of me if I had packed it. A thorough double check of all rooms is now mandatory before leaving any future hotels/hostels. I checked my pack as soon as I got it from the carousel and luckily it was in there.

Which meant I was totally relieved and calm to meet my family. My Γιαγια on my father’s side (not the same Γιαγια who makes amazing breakfasts) grew up on an island of Greece called Zakynthos. Her brother and his family still live on the island, in the same house she grew up in.

Now try not to get confused: Θεός Νικος (uncle Nick), Διονυσία (Tanya, Uncle Nick’s daughter, my 1st cousin, once removed), Γιώργος (George, Tanya’s son, my 2nd cousin), Νικος (Nick, son of Κώστας, Uncle Nick’s son, my 2nd cousin) and Βασιλις (Vasilis, Κώστας’ other son, also my 2nd cousin) all met me at the airport. There was lots of hugs, kisses and introductions and it reminded me so much of the scene in my big fat Greek wedding where Ian meets the family that I had to laugh. Even writing all those names just now has reinforced how true that scene was.

We all climbed in to Uncle Nick’s car and drove to the χωριό (village) where Θεά Βάσο (Aunty Vaso, no idea what her name translates to in English) was waiting. She looks exactly as I remember her from when they visited in 2002.

We spent the next few hours speaking in broken Greek (google translate app is now constantly open), Θεό put me on the back of his motor bike (not a powerful one) and drove me to the bakery to get bread for dinner, we fed the pig, sheep and goat, didn’t kill any of the chickens running around and then finally sat down to eat dinner.

At this point my mind was totally blown and I was beaming, this family is completely self sufficient, apart from bread, butter, milk and household items like toilletries and cleaning products they grow EVERYTHING. All the meat, chicken, fruits and vegetables they eat they’ve raised and grown themselves. They make and sell their own goats cheese (which was the best cheese I’ve ever tasted in my life), and olive oil.

By the time we sat to eat I was almost crying tears of joy. Then dinner was served, greek salad, zakynthos cheese, lamb and potatoes. I was so happy to be eating a home cooked meal and even happier that it was delicious. In true Greek style θεά put so much food on my plate I couldn’t finish it.

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I’m actually staying at Tanya’s house tonight, so after dinner we stopped past there and then went out for dessert with Κώστας and his wife and kids. It was a great night of stumbling through Greek and English with my cousins (they’re 14, 12 and 10) as we discussed all sorts of things. Mostly they just made fun of my Greek and I their English. I’m already in love with Zakynthos and Greece, I don’t know how I’m going to leave.

Καληνύχτα! (Good night) xxx

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