Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | September 9, 2012

Ode to a Grecian Turn: Day One

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in to my blog.  The summer has come and (mostly) gone at home, with a cold North wind coming in.  I spent most of my summer in Yellowknife, with a quick jaunt to my BFF’s parents cabin for Canada Day long weekend, and another quick trip a little further in July, when I was part of a wedding party in Medicine Hat.  I have pictures from both these excursions and will try to get around to short posts about them a little later down the road.  Perhaps once the snow hits the ground around October, when I’m feeling nostalgic for the the sun.

Though both those trips were amazing in their own ways, though short, I’m actually on my way to another adventure right now, one that’s a little more blog-worthy.  I’m currently sitting in the Hilton Garden Inn in Mississauga, Ontario, which is fairly near the Toronto Airport.  I’m not paying another visit to Toronto, but instead stopped here overnight on my way to Greece and Italy.

I won’t get into the hotel details until the return portion. I’m staying here again on the way back for a few days and since my BFF and her husband have recently moved back to Yellowknife (they are having a baby and wanted to be near family and raise their family where they can fish and camp, etc.), I’m doing the hotel thing.  This also leaves a gap on the way back in Toronto, so I don’t have to worry about missing my flight home if I’m delayed in Europe.

Sunset in the sky as I flew to Toronto.

So how did I end up deciding to go to Greece?  Well, as you may have seen from my earlier blog, I turned the big three-oh this year.  My parents didn’t know what to get me (and I had no suggestions since I look after myself pretty well on my own), so my dad suggested a writer’s retreat.  I would get myself to the retreat, and my parents would pay for a week’s stay.  I looked around at Banff, Alberta and maybe going back to Tofino, but my parents told me it didn’t have to be limited to Canada and dropped me some ideas they’d found in Europe.  One of the retreats was in Greece, and after some research of my own, and considering I’ve always wanted to go to Greece, I chose to go to a place called Limnisa.  I’m taking three weeks and spending a little time in Athens (in jet lag recovery mode, I’m sure), then on to Limnisa for a week, to Delphi, a little more time in Athens (to explore when I’m not jet lagged), then I’m heading to Rome for a few days to get a taste of Italy. (Truly a taste – my sightseeing plans are vague like “go to the Vatican” and “find an art gallery” but my set plans include “eat pasta, drink wine, eat gelato”.)  So I’m booked and on my way.  That’s the easy part.

The hard part?  I’m going completely alone.  Now, I’ve travelled alone plenty of times before, but in places where I didn’t know anyone, it has always been within North America, and mostly within Canada where I was traveling for work and had set places to be.  Hawaii for New Year’s was the first time I’d ever “adventured” alone, but even that was somewhere I spoke the language, wasn’t too large, and was, you know, perfectly stable.  Greece is also very, very far away.  I haven’t been to Europe since I did my Master’s in Scotland, and then my BFF and I went together.  This is by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve had moments this week as I geared up for going where I’ve honestly run out of brave and found myself near tears.  I’m working hard to find it again, and I’ve honestly had some great support from friends and family.  My mom, who couldn’t see me off as she’s doing some work travel of her own, popped by before she left and let me talk through my plans and reminded me that I’m not a broke student, and that if I need to spend $100 on a cab to feel safe or move to another hotel and lose out on the cost of the first, I can do that.  The Dolphin Whisperer reminded me of many of the same things, and also helped reduce my packing panic by sending me a list of exactly what I needed to bring so I didn’t do that thing where I tried to cram half my wardrobe into my bag. (I stuck pretty close to the list, too, and even have a little wiggle room in my bag. It’s a record.)  And my sister-in-law, the sweetheart, invited my parents and me over for dinner, then switched her menu from tacos to comfort food because I’d admitted I was so nervous I was shaking when I spoke to her the day before.

So here I am, mostly packed and ready to go (my flight doesn’t leave until after four), and while I’m bolstering up better than I was a few days ago, I’m still pretty terrified.  But it will be better, I think, once I get to Greece.  In fact, it will probably be amazing and when I get back I’ll probably I’ll be laughing at how crazy I was in the week leading up to my big solo adventure.  I’m not sure how often I’ll have access to the internet to post a journal, but I do plan to journal every day so I can cut and paste entries when I do have access.  In the meantime, wish me lots of luck, lots of fun, and lots of brave!


  1. You are so brave and it’s going to pay off really soon. Athens is magic!!

  2. OK – I am catching up to you…but you have it wrong..I suggested the writer’s retreat…your dad was only too pleased to let you know we had a great idea!

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