A surprise trip to Greece

In 2006, when I was eleven, my parents and I made a surprise trip to Greece to see our family for Christmas.

At the time, we had only taken trips to Greece in the summer and our family in Europe couldn’t have imagined that we would show up on their doorsteps for Christmas.

On the day before Christmas Eve, our airplane touched down in Athens, Greece after a nine hour flight from New York. We landed on the tarmac mid-day, but the skies were dark with storm clouds as the city was drenched in rain. Athens doesn’t normally see much snow in the winter, but it does have a significant wet season from November to March.

My parents rented a car from the airport, since my aunt and uncle, who live in Athens, still had no idea that we had made the trip. With the heavy rain, it didn’t take long before some of the roads started to flood. What would have taken us on a normal day less then an hour, took us well into the night. The rain was battering the car and we drove deep into the sprawling city, getting completely lost on the way.

When we finally made it to their apartment, no one was home. We had flown across the Atlantic ocean, driven hours through Athens, and we stood dumbfounded at my aunt’s and uncle’s door.

Seeing our plight, their neighbor, who has been a close friend of my father’s for years, brought us into her home. It took another hour for my aunt to get back home, but when she saw us she was completely floored.

My aunt’s day before that was completely average. She wrapped up some errands, drove home, walked up the steps to her apartment, pulled out the keys to open the door and there was her family from the states, who she had talked to on the phone not a day before, rushing out of her neighbor’s door to see her.

The next day we drove to my grandparent’s village two hours away. My grandmother had been so surprised by the uninvited guests that she fell to the ground and kissed it, thanking the Lord that she could see her kids and grandkids for Christmas.

For the next two weeks we enjoyed Christmas as one big family. We drove out to a nearby mountain and picked a tree with my grandfather, and even watched the annual New Year’s fire works over the Acropolis in Athens.