The boys and I spent the month of June living in a Southern suburb of Athens, Aghios Dimitrios. Prior to our arrival, I was very concerned about being so far from the heart of the city and about leaving Crete as a whole. Luckily, our apartment near Athens was a wonderful apartment. Very spacious, enough room for everyone to have some space. There was a fully stocked kitchen, terrace garden, and Netflix. We were able to settle into a routine fairly quickly and found ourselves not wanting to go into the heart of the city at all.
Though the locals see me as a tourist, I do not feel like a tourist most of the time. We have what we call “Vacation Days.” Days where we play the tourist part hard and buy the tacky keychain. Those days were rare in Athens and I found myself feeling very much like a local and getting heavily annoyed with the tourist crowd. I know that sounds strange, but when you just want to get to the store and the bus is full of tourists it gets old very quickly. Athens was a beautiful, slow month for us. We focused on Greg’s visit, house hunting, school work, sunshine, beach days, a few key sites and getting our fill of Netflix watching before leaving those amenities again.
The concept of staying for weeks and sometimes months on end is called Slow Travel. What I have discovered about slow travel is that we all look forward to ‘UNPACKING’ at a new location. Fully stocking a refrigerator for the first time in months. Getting to know your local baker, check out clerk and pharmacist by name. These are the things you miss when you travel full time. Slow travel is a lovely happy medium for traveling. At every new location, I worry that it will be awful. We will not find those places that make life easier, but we do. There is something very wonderful about having ample time in a place to see the things you want to see without ever having to rush anyone. I put off going to Zeus’ temple in Athens for weeks because I just didn’t feel like dealing with the tourists and crowds. Because I had ample time to see it there was no rush. We went when we were ready and when we could best appreciate a day in the city.
Fast Travel: The Tourism Race Track
We occasionally have weeks of very fast travel. Fast travel in the larger tourism cities is almost unavoidable. I cannot afford to hang out in places like Copenhagen, Venice, Florence, and Rome for very long. The cost to stay there is just too high for the slower pace of travel that we enjoy. Those weeks are typically very difficult. My children and I enjoy lazy mornings. No one likes rushing out of the apartment to get to a packed, hot and expensive destination. The whining, crying, begging for things and food ALL INCREASES DRASTICALLY during busy tourist weeks. I have also learned that it is very stressful for all of us to not unpack. We don’t have access to the things we enjoy using easily and then there’s the pressure to save money and not eat out constantly. Fast tourist weeks make us appreciate slow travel even more. It makes unpacking that much sweeter and a good movie while mom makes dinner guilt-free. There is no pressure to be out of the apartment in a hurry. Adults and children alike cannot sustain fast travel for very long. At one time or another most of you have taken a trip to a city and felt like there wasn’t enough time to see it all and then you end up needing a vacation from your vacation because you were so busy. This is what slow travel is all about. Take in the view, eat and savor because everything else can wait until tomorrow.