Grand European Travel President, John Miller, shares his experience on a recent family vacation to Greece.
My first encounter with Greece was with our 15-year-old son, Shelby, on Grand European’s “Grand Tour of Greece” in 2006. He had just finished his freshman year away at boarding school. My wife and I thought the trip would be a perfect father-son bonding time… an opportunity to catch-up while instilling the love of travel and respect for the larger world that our parents gave to us.
That trip was everything we hoped and more. Greece’s ancient ruins, history, olive groves, arid hillsides, and azure seas captivated us. Our traveling companions were like an extended family. We ate meals together, walked archaeological sites, and talked on the motor coach. There was a grandmother traveling with her granddaughter who just graduated from high school (she takes every grandchild on a trip after graduation); a father taking his 20-something daughter who just completed her Master’s degree in Fine Arts; a woman my age taking her 80-something father to his bucket list destination. There were even school teachers who gently counseled Shelby on what classes he should take next.
For the last 11 years, I’ve dreamt of going back to Greece to share it with my wife, Anne, and our youngest son, Marshall. The opportunity came this past June. Marshall was graduating from college. He had a job lined up already starting in July. Shelby was out of college and working in San Francisco. Finding time together as a family had been hard the last few years. It would only get harder as time moved on.
Anne and I decided that Marshall’s graduation was the perfect time for a family vacation. Insight Vacations’ “Glories of Greece” June-12 departure coincided perfectly. GET handled all the details, including coordinating flights from 3 different cities and adding a post-trip extension in Paros. Graduation went without a hitch — well done, Marshall! The next day, the four of us flew from Denver to New York, and then onward to Athens. Tara from Insight Vacations met us and accompanied us on the van ride into Athens that early Monday morning. As a view of the city with the sun glistening on the sea beyond unfolded, I looked at the smiling faces of the people I love and knew in a heartbeat that the decision to take the time now and travel together as a family was the right one.
Over the next 13 days, Greece’s glories unfolded in a magical, effortless, and heartwarming way. We laughed and ate. Told stories. Scrambled over ruins. Stood awestruck. Wondered aloud. Took pictures and posted them on Facebook. Bonded with fellow travelers and made new friends. Spent time together and time alone. Sipped iced cappuccinos. We developed a deeper love Greece and her people.
As our family vacation came to a close and we packed for home, Marshall and Shelby looked at me and said, “Where are we going next year, Dad?”
I’m working on my answer.