During the summer of 1980, I spent 30 days in Europe with a group of girls from my high school, along with our ancient history teacher, her husband, and a German foreign exchange student named Jorg Eichhorn. There were countries which I absolutely loved (Italy, Greece), countries which were impressive in certain ways but which didn’t capture my heart (England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany), and two countries which I did not enjoy one bit (France, Turkey). Despite the fact that I wasn’t enamored with every country we visited, I truly enjoyed the entire experience immensely.
One major highlight we experienced was a cruise we took on the M/V Aphrodite, a cruise ship which we boarded in Ancona, Italy. We spent a week on the M/V Aprhrodite, which docked in Santorini, Athens, and Istanbul. Our first night on the ship, I remember sitting out on the deck, looking up at the sky, and being dazzled by a glorious display of stars, completely unobstructed by pollution, the distraction of electric lighting, or ominous storm clouds. The next day, when we docked in Santorini, I was even more awestruck by the gorgeous turquoise water of the Aegean Sea. Once I set foot on the rocky shore, I saw the waves lap against the rocks and realized that I could see fish swimming in the water. I had never seen such a shade of water, and for that matter, I had never seen any major body of water except for the Pacific Ocean until I went on that cruise. It was an experience which left an indelible impression on my 14 year old self.