Sean and I embarked on a 15 day trip to Greece on September 15, 2006. The trip meant a great deal to both of us and turned out to be spectacular (even with a mishap or two included). I intend to write about each day in travelogue form using random notes I kept (many on napkins), my feeble memory, and our 400+ pictures on our flickr site. With any hope, one person (if I get lucky, 2!) will stumble upon the travelogue and say, “Honey! We should go to Greece! Check this travelogue out. Doesn’t it sound fun?” Thus, random people similarly embark on a wonderful vacation and I bank a shitload of good Karma points. Everyone wins.

But, before I start the travelogue portion, I would like to discuss a few things: 1) the decision-making process involved in choosing our destination, 2) once the destination was chosen, the sometimes frustrating and sometimes wonderful adventures we had booking the trip, and 3) why this trip meant so much to both of us. With any hope, my curious reader and fellow traveler might find nuggets of wisdom and, more importantly, practical aid and advice so that their booking goes more smoothly. So.

What the trip meant: The past few years have been very full for the Warehouse. Sadly, by “full” I mean “full of astounding kicks to the groin”. Although, we did manage to purchase a loft (April 2004) – a highly satisfying endeavor which made all 4 members of our coalition quite giddy (to be fair, the cats may have been giddy about the new house or blissed out on catnip. Hard to tell).

However, things began to go take a bad turn on the very day we closed on our loft, when I recieved a tear-filled call from my mother who informed me that my youngest cousin, Tim, had been rushed to the hospital after a neighbor found him unconscious on his kitchen floor. By the next day, we had a diagnosis and it was not good. Tim had a very aggressive form of brain cancer.

I’ve written about Tim’s struggle elsewhere, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. Suffice to say, he fought like a warrier but his foe’s army was inexhaustible and utterly merciless. And so, in January of 2005, I went to Seattle to say my good-byes to Tim and to be by his side as he laid down his arms.

While I was gone, Sean nearly died as a result of a traumatic brain injury sustained during a collision with a bike (read that: a bike hit him while he was walking home). I rushed home and over the next months I helped where I could as he heroically kicked, screamed and struggled back from the brink. Tim died, February 13th, Sean’s first day home from the hospital.

In August, just as we got our feet a little bit under us, one of our two cats, Elijah, died of sudden onset liver cancer. His brother, Equus, followed him this year in June (2006). Sean and I had adopted “The Boys” a month after we’d moved in together and the four of us had defined the Warehouse for over ten years. So, *WHAM*, Sean and Steph knocked to the mat again.

Trip lightly forward to July, if you wouldn’t mind, where you would find me sitting on the floor of our house with my chin resting on the windowsill, watching birds fly by outside. You will witness the moment I realized that I felt completely crushed by grief, dismay, hopelessness and fear, so much so that I didn’t even have the energy to hold my own head up. In the last year and a half, my life had done a 180-degree turn and I did not like it. No, I did not like it one bit.

I missed pre-accident Sean and Steph. I missed Q and Elijah. I missed my cousin Tim. Nothing felt the same anymore. Home didn’t feel like home, it felt like a hotel room. My life felt like a sad foreign film without subtitles – simply distressing and incomprehensible.

I felt bone tired. And the worst thing? Sean shared my malaise but was also still fighting his way back from the brain injury, which exhausted him. Every night, he’d come home from work and collapse. He didn’t smile as he walked in anymore or, really, say anything at all. Every night, I would haul myself up and start my nightly “happy routine” designed to pull him out of his gloom. After awhile, it would sort of work and he’d relax a little. It was getting harder, though, for both of us. Something had to change.

So, I asked Sean for a sit-down. Over a couple of rum and cokes, we talked about what was going on and decided that it was time to do something about it all. For the next three hours, we discussed strategies. Finally, we both solemnly declared the Warehouse War on Gloom.

Vacation turned out to be an integral part of the early campaign. It occured to us that we hadn’t been on a vacation since we visited family in Colorado in 2004. Obviously, then, it seemed high time. So we defined the necessary criteria for a successful vacation:

  • Destination – Foreign (the more foreign the better). Preferably somewhere near water that combined peaceful with non-touristy.
  • Length – As long as we could possibly make it. We finally had a cache of vacation days and we were willing to blow the whole wad on this trip.
  • Troops – Two. We needed time together in a wonderful, non-stressful, non-depressing environment where we possibly might, oh I don’t know, have some freaking fun and lighten up a bit.
  • When – Yesterday would involve time travel. Tomorrow might be pushing it. ASAHumanlyP.
  • Cost – We would shop it around as we didn’t want to bankrupt ourselves, but after all of this catastrophe, it would cost what it cost.

For the first time in a long time, I actually noticed both of us perking up a little bit. Sean got our big atlas out and we started flipping pages. On our short list – Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, Iceland, Greece, Italy, Sicily and Denmark.