I met a pretty, bright and charming lady years ago when we volunteered together for the Greek Festival. She had just moved to town. By the time we finished making a pan of baklava together, we became instant friends! Before we knew it, we became co-teachers of a small but sweet Greek School class at our church. I was impressed with her spiritedness, friendliness and instant involvement in our parish. I found her background interesting because she was born in Greece but moved to Germany. It was there in Germany that she met a U.S. soldier and fell in love!
What inspired you to travel to America and Germany?
I was born in Xirolimni, Kozani, Greece and lived there until I was 12 years old. When I was twelve I moved to Stuttgart, German with my family.
What did your trip itinerary involve?
Roy was a U.S. Soldier who was stationed in Germany. We dated for a short three months before we got engaged. Love at first sight you could say. After we were married, the Army moved us over 28 times until Roy finally retired in 1997.
“Love at first sight”–can you elaborate on this? 🙂
We met in Schwabisch Gmund. He was stationed there and I lived 20 kilometers away in Welzheim. I had a group of friends, some Greek, some German and Italian, and also my brother (the chaperone). We loved American movies and would go out to discos on the weekend to practice our dance moves. The night I met him, we were all going out to a disco for a friend’s birthday party. When I got to the disco, my friends and I got a table, ordered drinks, and started dancing. A little later in the evening I spotted a handsome American guy walking in. I hadn’t seen him before so he caught my eye. I told my friends that I thought he was so handsome.
One of my friends was dating an American guy and told him to go talk to the handsome American. So my friend’s boyfriend walked over to him and told him “hey man, that girl over there in the purple dress likes you.” So then, he walked over and sat down with me and my friends. Yet, we were unable to talk because, at the time, he spoke only English and I knew none! My friend became our translator and helped us communicate. At the end of the night the handsome American soldier asked me if I would walk him back to the barracks. I said no, to play hard to get. After that night, my friend set us up our first date. Most of our dates were just hanging out with friends. All odds were against us with the language barrier and also my parents did not want me to date or marry an American. Yet, somehow, someway the heart wants what it wants. He was my Tarzan and I was his Jane.
We dated for three months before we got engaged. He proposed to me on a cold December morning. He had just gotten off of all night duty and I came to pick him up. On December 31st, we had our official engagement party with all of my family and some of his friends. We got married May 22, 1980 in a civil wedding. On June 14, 1980, we had a small Orthodox wedding. And that is where our story began. We eventually welcomed two daughters.
What excursions or museums do you recommend?
For our honeymoon, Roy and I went to the Black Forest and so our adventure began.
While living in Germany, we visited castle ruins, went on volks marches, and attended many festivals. Our travels took us to Vienna, Austria (the home of Mozart), to Paris, France (the city of lovers), to Italy, and Barcelona, Spain. While in each of these amazing cities, we saw famous monuments, architecture, and museums.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the flamenco dancers of Barcelona still hold a special place in my heart. Being Greek, I have also traveled to various places in my own home country. I have been to the King Philip (father of Alexander the Great) Museum in Vergina, Greece. I walked in the steps of the Apostle Paul in Veria, Greece…. to the busy streets of Athens. I relaxed on the beach of Aegina with my whole family and visited the Temple of Athena while there. (and many more places)
What hotels and restaurants do you recommend?
In Greece, we usually never stayed in hotels because there was always family nearby. My favorite restaurants in Athens would be any of the restaurants in Plaka beneath the Acropolis. In Germany, I would recommend that any traveler attend a beer fest. You will find the best bratwurst and wienerschnitzle you’ve ever tasted.
How would you describe the perfect Greek meal?
Describe the vibe of the culture?
In Greece, the vibe of the culture is very laid back, enjoying life, and spending time with family. The theme “eat, drink, and be merry” comes to mind when I think of the Greek lifestyle. In Germany, the cultural vibe is more like the U.S.- very work oriented and structured.
How do you describe the terrain?
In Greece, the terrain is beautiful! You have mountains in Northern Greece and ocean surrounding the entire country. Within forty-five minutes to an hour you can be at the Ocean wherever you are in Greece. The sea is the most beautiful blue you will every lay your eyes on and the sunsets are breathtaking. In Germany, the terrain is much wooded with lots of winding roads. There are many forests and mountains. The towns are small and quaint.
Describe a custom that you observed there. Did you incorporate any of their customs back home?
I am Greek so the customs of the culture are my own. As for Germany, I learned the language and speak it fluently. Roy also learned the language so from time to time we speak in German together. The one custom we brought back to the U.S. from Germany is Schnitzle.
Another custom we brought back from Germany is on December 6th ,– we put a boot outside our door for St. Nicholas to fill with chocolates and candy! (A German Tradition) On January 1st, there was a Greek tradition that I brought back from Greece in which we always got chocolates on that day from Αγιο Βασιλης.(Saint Basil)
My family does that tradition, too! I taught my sons that song and poem about Agios Vasilis and my sister makes sure they continue to get chocolates from Agios Vasilis on New Year’s Day.
Were there any challenges in getting to your destination? What was the flight like?
The flight from the U.S. to Germany is around eight hours depending on your departure. If you travel from the U.S. to Greece it can be closer to eleven hours. The travel is long and strenuous but worth it! When we lived in Germany the flight to Greece was only a two hour flight. We also took the ferry boat from Italy to Greece. This is a fun way to see more of Europe.
What did you learn about yourself from this trip?
I have learned that each culture has so much to learn from one another. Some cultures are more relaxed and some are more rigid. Each has a lesson to take away. There is so much to see in this world and exploring is one of my favorite things to do.
How did this trip enrich your life? Describe any experiences that made you grow spiritually.