Out of Breath: an essay on travel

By: Iris Dew

I stared at the adorable stuffed plush donkeys on the shelf. “Do you think I should get one for Tommy?” my aunt asked me, thinking about adding another plushy to her dog’s collection. We were in line for the cable cars in Santorini. I was so excited to be in Greece, but I’d never heard about Santorini. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. That morning I had slipped on my light cotton yellow flowered tank top for a Mediterranean feel. I sighed and fanned myself with my tourist map. It was only about 8 :30 but it was rocketing up to the low 80s already.

Finally, the car came. We were a party of seven – me, my mom, dad, two aunts, uncle and grandma. Each car could only fit six people, so my aunt (the one with a dog) volunteered to leave our group for a few minutes. I pinned myself on a window seat on the metal bench. I picked a bench that faced the direction we were traveling so that I would be seeing the right things. Suddenly, the car lunged forward and we started going up the mountain to Fira!

A while later, we were looking at an old church. My uncle and I decided to stay outside and look at the view. At times, I admit I can be really ignorant about things. I don’t always want to go in old churches and look at the walls. So, I basically sat on a stone bench and stared at some fuschia colored flowers. You might picture this scene as gray and boring! But actually, the sun was shining so brightly. The sky was so blue that I could almost taste it like cool water. I could see the ocean from my spot, and I could barely see our cruise ship out in the middle. We had taken a tender boat to shore because the port was way too small for a fleet of cruise ships to drop an anchor in.

Lunch was on all of our minds, so we looked around for a nice restaurant. Then, I saw it. A beautiful pure white staircase leading up to a cafe. I could see vivid shades of turquoise on large umbrellas, blocking out the sun over the tables. We all decided on this one and we headed up. When I got there, I was breathless. Colorful floormats underneath clean white couches were spread out over the rooftop cafe.

Tuscan-yellow and turquoise pillows were laid out on the couches, and I plopped down on one. The adults ordered some beer and cold cuts. I ordered an Iced Chocolate, and my aunt ventured out to try an Italian Soda. As l sipped my delicious drink, I sighed. This was the perfect place.

I grabbed some lettuce and cherry tomatoes from the cold cuts plate. I popped a tomato in my mouth. A sudden burst of flavor filled my mouth. It was crisp, sweet, and fresh. I bit into the lettuce. Instead of an odd raw-greens taste, I got a fresh and crunchy symphony of tastes in my happy mouth.

Later that afternoon while my fresh Grecian vegetables were digesting, we went to another place called Oia. There, we would sec the three beautiful blue church domes that are always pictured on postcards. l was excited to get some snapshots to bring home to my friends.

After the long bus drive precariously whipping around winding mountain roads, we arrived at Oia. Many people were surrounding me. People yelling in different languages - l think I heard some Spanish, French, Japanese, and bits of English - were closing in on me as I looked around for my family.

Finally we found each other and started walking the long way to the famous trio of blue domes. We saw a church with simple but beautiful designs. There were two poles on either side, blue and white swirling together into the sky.

Santorini is famous for its pure white buildings and blue church roof tops, and every afternoon they repaint them to preserve their beauty. The pretty resort I saw was still wet with white paint, so I made sure not to touch it as I looked around for my picture area.

My aunt walked down some steps, and waved at us with her hands. l followed her down and she notified us that she saw one of the blue domes. My parents told me to stay where I could see them as I gingerly stepped down the steep white steps. Then, two more beautiful blue domes appeared in front of my eyes. I sucked in some air - this was not what I had been expecting.

This was no postcard. It was better, l could hardly breathe as I took in the beauty of the three domes and the pure blue sky and the wonderful white buildings.

A few hours later, back on the ship, I scanned through the pictures on my digital camera. I found the part where I'd seen the blue domes. lt turns out that I had only taken one picture of that, instead of the many I had planned to take. But l didn't care. Traveling isn't just to take picture-perfect shots. It's for you to appreciate the world and its beauty. And I think I experienced just that.