Our last day on the islands has officially arrived and Sam & I are in total denial. Today felt like a whirlwind. We woke to a morning of packing and goodbyes, but also some hellos. All of the week 3 people have arrived to take our place on the Dolce Mare, and while I am so happy to see them arrive, it is bittersweet to leave. Emptying out the closets in our cabin and folding my clothes into the suitcase broke my heart a little bit.
We enjoyed a little bit more time in the city, including a stunning sunset behind the backdrop of Mykonos’s famous windmills. I am wearing a borrowed dress from my mom. From TJMaxx, its a black maxi with lace overlay. I’m wearing an Urban Outfitters belt at the waist, some handmade Isabella Rae earrings, and carrying my Marc Jacobs purse. There is a huge group of us now, 22 people to be exact, and since we are all here together, we couldn’t turn down the chance to share a big meal together. Now 22 Arzbaecher’s and friends in one restaurant is a lot of noise. Like A LOT. And a lot of food; we take on eating like the Olympics. We went to a lovely fish restaurant in the heart of the hora. From the street it looks like the tiniest little place, but there is a hidden courtyard just behind the street that opens into a cavernous and modern dining room.
Like many of our meals, we shared the dishes family style. Chowing down on the appetizers of saganaki, cream poached shrimp, and balsamic infused salmon tartare, I wasn’t sure I would have room for the entree. Just kidding, of course I did! We voted for the fresh catch of the day, and the chef served us two 5 kilo fish, one a red snapper and the other fresh grouper. Grilled whole on the grill and filleted in front of us, the fish was so flaky and fresh, garnished simply with olive oil, lemon and salt. Simple can really be better when done right. Surrounded by family and friends and with the wine flowing, the 2 hour sitdown flew by, reveling in the travel stories, excitement and memories that 2 weeks on the Aegean brings.
After dinner, some of the group went back to hotel or boat, while others continued to go out. Mykonos is well known for its club scene, many of which are gay clubs. My family was set on experiencing the hedonistic reputation of the city, so we set out for a night of drinks and live music. However, it was only 10:30 at this point, and the club scene hardly gets going until midnight. So after one stop at an ocean front club, my family headed home. But me and Sam stuck it out, catching a second wind. We wandered around listening for good music and crowds, finding the centrally located @54. What a fun spot. A gay club overlooking the old harbor, the bar was filled with locals and tourists alike from all walks of life. I had a delicious mojito while listening to songs from the 80s remixed to club beats. Sam isn’t much of a dancer, but I dragged him out on the dance floor to break it down. Anyone who was around for my college years knows that I love dancing, and don’t care who’s watching. I will work it for hours! We stumbled on back to the boat around 2am feeling tired but alive. It was a great send off to a wonderful 2 weeks!
The time seems to have flown past (as it always does when traveling) but at the same time, Istanbul seems like eons ago, when it was really only 3 weeks ago. Staying on the boat for 2 weeks felt like a little home away from home, and the welcoming and overly generous crew became our little vacation family. We had inside jokes, shared experiences, and gave copious advice to give the incoming visitors. From “Only 1 peach per person at breakfast!” and “Make good friends with Rose because she is the gate keeper”, to “Definitely take a nap on the bow of the boat” and “Don’t throw the toliet paper in the toliet!”, we soaked in this time on the boat and made lifelong memories.It’s the small things, like these, that I will remember. Of course I will remember the beauty of the islands and the crystal blue water. But my biggest take away from this trip is the coming together of people that my dad loves and who love him. I am so thankful to have so many beautiful souls in my life and getting to know each of them better and deeper is something I will never forget.
This was truly a once in a lifetime trip, and while I can’t necessarily speak for Sam, I can certainly say we both enjoyed the hell out of these 14 days and will never let go of the inner relaxation and happiness we felt. Of course none of this would have been possible without my open-hearted father and his retirement. While a simple blog post cannot measure the gratitude I feel, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to my Dad. I loved seeing you spend time with friends, family and colleagues from the different times in your life, and I am so thankful that I was invited to share in the experience. From the organizing and booking to the careful execution of this trip, I know how much work has gone into this and all I can say is thank you and I love you.(Ok fine, end of the sappy sob story… Writing blog posts while sitting in the airport certain brings on emotionality and nostalgia) But really, this has been spectacular. Thank to each and every person who made the journey out to celebrate my Dad. You all rock and you all know who you are. Thank you.