babymoons and greek salad

We never really understood the concept behind a “babymoon”.

Are you supposed to take a vacation because you feel like — come baby — you won’t enjoy another vacation again? It just didn’t make sense to us.

Until we took one ourselves.

Let’s just say we are now firm believers in “babymoons” and will encourage anyone who is able to make them happen.

Here’s how ours came to be…

About a year ago, my dear friend Taghrid became engaged to her doting boyfriend, Paul. [You will remember them both from our London escapades two years ago.] Not long after, she reached out to me and Jason and asked if we would be willing to make the journey to Milos, the small Greek island they had chosen as their dream wedding destination, in September of 2017.

This is the girl who traveled across the Atlantic for our our wedding four years ago, so there was nothing that was going to stand in our way of making it to her big day… except for, potentially, a baby.

No joke — when Jason and I first confirmed we were expecting, the first question we asked our midwife was, “Can we still go to Greece?!?”

Fortunately we were told that as long as everything proceeded normally and I felt comfortable going, there wouldn’t be an issue.

Many moms were admittedly concerned about me making such a big trip at 32-weeks pregnant [and rightfully so], but I am here to tell you that it was perhaps one of the best decisions we made.

That’s because we used Taghrid and Paul’s wedding as an excuse to take what many would call a “babymoon” and utilize the many talents of my employer, Ker & Downey, to do so.

This meant that all of our accommodations, transfer, excursions, and tours were all taken care of. The only thing we had to worry about was which beach we wanted to relax at each afternoon…

Our route was a bit unconventional and not at all along the typical Greece tourist circuit — a result of our request to experience as much seafood, olives, and beaches as possible.

We began in the capital of Athens, where we wandered around Plaka, stumbled upon ancient ruins, toured the Acropolis, and tried cuttlefish for the first time. While all of these moments were thrilling in their own right, I would say our favorite takeaways from Athens were: setting eyes on the caryatids for the first time in 17 years, Jason enjoying his first taste of the local Greek olives, and our multi-course marathon of a dinner at Cher Chez La Femme.

Next, we transferred over to the Peloponnese and the idyllic town of Nafplio, but not before an important stop en route at the Corinth Canal and the ancient city of Mycenae. This is where Greece’s remarkable history really came into perspective for Jason. [Even a geologist can be impressed by ruins dating back 3,500 years!]

Nafplio, however, is where we began to find our stride. A port town with colorful cobblestone streets and multiple eras of rule reflected in its architecture, Nafplio is where many cruise ships disembark for access to Mycenae and Corinth. Yet few passengers actually stay to enjoy the pleasures of the town.

It’s a shame, really, because we found so much to enjoy there: cliffside castles overlooking the waters, Greek salads we still fantasize about to this day, an array of beaches to get us into the spirit of our vacation, and an agricultural vibrancy translating to everything from honey and wine to olives and ouzo. [After all, the olive epicenter of Kalamata and the famed wine region of Nemea — home to the Agiorgitiko “Hercules of Wine” grape — are both found nearby.]

Outside of our lazy beach afternoons, the main highlight of our time in Nafplio must have been our ouzo and honey tasting tour as organized by Ker & Downey. We had seen a few groups of tourists walk into local Nafplio storefronts for honey tastings, so we simply expected we would be doing the same.

Boy were we wrong.

First we were escorted outside of the city to a fifth-generation family-run ouzo distillery, where we learned about the distilling process of the Greece’s most popular liquors — ouzo, mastika, and tsikoudia — and were even afforded the opportunity to dispel the many myths surrounding the proper consumption of ouzo. [Hint: It is usually diluted with cold water and consumed as a pre-dinner social beverage in the summer. It is rarely “shot” like tequila unless someone really just needs the liquid courage to get out on the dance floor.]

Afterward, we continued our Nafplio agricultural education at a local beekeeper’s estate, appropriately named “Melisma” [a play on the word for honey, “Meli”, and the word for melody, “melisma” — referencing the melodies the bees make].

melisma

We donned our beekeeping garb and met several of his bee colonies, busily buzzing and making their honey. He then brought us back to workshop to process our own jar and to taste his array of liquid gold concoctions. Here we learned about the Greeks’ affinity for Thenian [or Thyme] honey and the many different flora that contribute to the diverse flavors of Greek honey.

Let’s just say we purchased all of our souvenirs on this day.

From Nafplio, it was time to finally make our way [by itty bitty airplane!] to Milos and the long-awaited wedding of Taghrid and Paul.

I have already written extensively about our favorite aspects of this tiny island and could not have picked a better spot for these two love birds to showcase their adoration and joy.

Every event involved some sort of paradisiacal setting and every detail emoted a true other-focused sentiment — from the “welcome” sunset walk up Kastro Plaka, and the surprise ceremony venue in an ancient Greek amphitheater [where else would it be for the union of a musician and an actor?] to the three-hour, ten-course dinner accompanied by emotional speeches made in no fewer than three languages, and the dance party that was simply so strong it had to be moved to the beach so it could continue until the sun rose on the following day.

We’ve attended our fair share of weddings, but never have we experienced such a multilayered production of PDA — both between the bride and groom, as well as between them and their guests, all gathered together on this idyllic island from every corner of the world.

It’s difficult to pinpoint which moments will stay with us the longest. Will it be the post-wedding sailing excursion to the hidden beaches of Polyaigos [and the moray eel sighting that came with it]? Will it be the piñatas constructed in Taghrid and Paul’s likeness that eventually busted open to reveal packets of British tea and Lebanese sweets? Will it be the most hilarious sisterly roast/toast in wedding history? Or will it be that moment the bride and groom decided to dance instead of recess after their ceremony?

Personally, I’d like to think all of these vignettes will remain in our collective memory forever, but I know without a doubt there is one that will stay with just me: the moment I had the honor of dressing the bride.

I’m not even sure how it happened, but it was as though it was always meant to be.

No cameras, no fanfare, no other people there to witness it — just the acknowledgment that 11 years of transoceanic friendship warranted such a quiet, beautiful act.

apthrodite

This moment alone was worth the international journey. This moment was the reminder of why we even took a babymoon in the first place.

Because this babymoon wasn’t about one last escape. It was an acknowledgement and celebration of Jason’s and my 9+ years together. It was a chance to enjoy one another’s company without distraction and to introduce our little one to what it means to love and learn across borders and oceans.

That’s a lesson worth learning, even if it means going to Greece to find it.


Greek Salad

One day I will get to tell our child about that time we went to Greece and how s/he danced in my tummy every time I ate feta cheese. Knowing how happy it made them [and me!] I committed to eating feta at every meal while there — a craving I was thrilled to indulge and one that continued long after returning home to the States. There’s nothing that quite compares to a Greek salad made in Greece, but we’d like to think we have perfected the next best thing. The key is using quality ingredients and feta cheese soaked in brine. It might be more expensive, but it is oh-so worth it.*

greek salad 2.JPG

Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved, and chopped
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 green pepper, sliced [optional]
  • 1/5 red onion, sliced [optional]
  • 1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives [optional]
  • 2-1/2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled in large chunks
  • 3 Tbs. high-quality olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
Instructions
  1. Prepare all ingredients and toss together in a medium bowl
  2. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 5 – 10 minutes.
  3. Serve with pita bread or simply eat straight out of the bowl.

 

*Our preferred brand of accessible feta cheese which we found in both Greece and the States. It can be found in most specialty food stores or at your neighborhood Costco.

feta.jpg

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