I was biking on the Greenbelt bike path in Boise this summer and really wanted to listen to music. There was just one problem. I left my headphones at home. So I started singing "The Winner Takes It All" in the musical Mamma Mia! and from there, I literally watched the rest of the movie in my mind. I sang every song and said every line, out loud.
That's how many times I've watched this movie.
My mother and I are hopelessly obsessed with Mamma Mia! We stand on the couches downstairs and sing along with all the songs. This movie is the real reason I chose to go to Greece. I wanted to be as free as the aqua blue waters and Sophie as she runs among the pine trees on Kalakari island.
The island isn't actually called Kalakari. It's called Skopelos island. Skopelos island is in the Sporades and quite challenging to get to. I was very nervous traveling there because it required understanding the inter-city transit system.
The plan was to meet at the Athens airport when my mother arrived. We didn't have a way to contact each other unless we both had Wifi. I definitely did not have Wifi because I was traveling on a ferry back to the mainland from the island of Agistri.
The ferry took longer than I thought it would and I grew very nervous.
A taxi driver read the anxiety in my eyes and yelled at me when I got off the ferry, "Where you try go?"
I made this way more dramatic than it had to be but I yelled back, "The airport!!"
Like I was going to miss a flight or something. I wasn't. Just trying to find my mom in a foreign country. NBD.
I arrived at the airport 15 minutes later than I originally said I would. I thought, my mom is going to do one of two things: 1. Panic and try to find me in the port of Pireaus or 2. Find coffee or wine or both.
I was praying for the second option. With my large yellow backpack strapped tight to my back, I Olympic speed-walked into the airport and found her within about 5 minutes. She had already found our bus and train route to make it the northern port of Agios Konstantinos. One ferry leaves from this port to the Sporades every day. We needed to make it to Agios Konstantinos that day or order to make the next ferry out at 9 am the following morning.
It took us four hours on two different buses, a six hour ferry ride and another hour bus ride to made it to our Airbnb in Skopelos Town. We were exhausted. Well, I was. Mom was ready to go.
The next four days we spend slowly waking up with coffees, planning which beach we wanted to visit and where we could find the best feta cheese + wine at night.
We met some marvelous individuals, like our Airbnb host, Evelyn. An adorable middle-aged woman with shiny dark hair and always dressed like she's going out.
We cried with a German mother and a her son talking about life.
We got yelled at by Australians because Mom and I were laughing too loud.
We rented mountain bikes and biked the trails in 100 degree weather to a hidden beach.
We visited Kastani, the beach where Mamma Mia! was filmed.
And on our final day we visited Agios Ioannis. The church. The magical church where Sophie gets married. The magical church where Meryl Streep runs up the steep rocky steps singing, "The Winner Takes it All" and wraps the red scarf around her hands in a deep emotional discussion with Pierce Brosnan (James Bond).
The church was spiritual. We ran up the steps, just like Meryl Streep, and touched the walls and listened to the crashing waves below.
I wonder if the islands would've continued to get more and more impressive if I kept going. Skopelos turned out to be my favorite island of them all. An island with enough space to get lost but not enough to stay lost for long. We savored every moment spent on this island and then said our goodbyes - hopefully it was a "see you later" and not "goodbye forever," because we hope to return to this place.
My plans for Greece were originally to travel solo.
That's the exact opposite of what happened - I traveled with a girl from D.C., my dear friend Belay and my mother. Sometimes solo travel is what I need but I think in this case, these travels were meant to be shared. Like all of the best things in life, I think they're meant to be shared.
I started with a one-way ticket to Greece planning to get lost for four months or so. I stayed for four weeks. It was just what I needed. I guess what I'm saying is allow life to happen, even if it looks different from what you originally planned.