My Grandma is 80 years old. She hasn’t traveled much outside the United States. She went to the UK once, and I’m pretty sure she has visited the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But my grandma is amazing. She’s sweet, fun to be with and incredibly spry. So I said to her, you know Grandma, we could fly to Greece and stay for 7 nights for under $1000. She bit. We went for one awesome week in May.
Days 1-3: Santorini
In the months before the trip, my Grandma suffered some medical issues. She ended up unable to walk without a roller. We both thought, okay, there’s no way we’re not doing this trip, so we are going to make the most out of it roller or not. It started off great – that roller got us zooming through the airport. Did not have to wait in line at all. We got to Santorini and everyone treated us so sweetly. We decided to stay in Fira at Aressena Spa Hotel & Suites. The staff treats you like family and this view is just steps away:
Grandma rested and I walked the long stairs down the side of the island. There are a lot of blue doors in Santorini.
And bells everywhere.
The next day, we hired a young guy to drive us around the island for 4 hours. He was on staff at our hotel. He was a great host and showed us all around the island. He took us to some small villages where our car didn’t fit down the streets.
Grandma loved that there were flowers everywhere.
You might also notice that she is not using her walker. After one night in Santorini, she was feeling so good, she decided not to use it. More to come on that later.
Perissa Black Sand Beach
He showed us the famous Perissa Black Sand Beach that has both black sand and weird porous rock formations.
I thought this was pretty cool, but I have to say that I felt no urge to sit on this beach and swim. It was quite pebbly and there was a lot of ocean debris on the beach.
Akritori Archaeological Site
Our next tour stop was the Akritori Archaeological Site. Here, they uncovered 4th century BC ruins. This was a wheelchair-accessible place, so I wheelchaired Grandma all over it.
This place was pretty cool. You really have to read all the signage to understand what is what, but if you like to imagine how people lived many millennia ago, this is the place to do it.
Near Akitori is Santorini’s famous Red Beach. This was probably my favorite part of the island.
No filter necessary at the Red Beach; it really is that red. There was something about this place that kept me there even though all you do is look out at the ocean and marvel at the red rocks.
Akrotini also has a lighthouse nearby that I really enjoyed.
We got to know our driver a bit here sitting on the rough rocks and looking out at the ocean. Apparently people from the mainland in Greece come to Santorini to work for the summer. It is incredibly competitive, and you basically have to know someone to get a job there these days. You make a ton of money–enough to live on all year–but you work 15hr days and you live in the hotel you work at. I don’t know if I could make it through a season, and this was our driver’s third.
Profitis Illias Monastery
Next, we drove to the top of the highest peak in Santorini, Mount Profitis Illias to visit the monastery. My grandma loved this place.
The monastery was beautiful, but the view from the top of the mountain…even better.
You could see the entire island. We watched planes fly in, spotted the different colored beaches and saw sprawling vineyards (not to mention ocean for days). Such a great spot to take it in!
That night, we traveled to the famous spot in Oia to watch the sunset. It’s totally crowded, but worth it.
Oia is such a quaint place. We found a restaurant and Grandma got to try the Greek salad. Little did she know, there’s no lettuce in an authentic Greek salad. We also ate feta to our heart’s content. We shopped around as much as Grandma could without her walker.
Walk Along Fira
Before we left Santorini, Grandma and I walked along the edge of the Island in Fira. There are many shops along the way and great views of the Caldera.
Days 4-7: Athens/mainland Greece
After being fully rested from our wonderful time in Santorini, we got on a boat and traveled to Athens. My grandma slept the entire boat ride, but I must admit there is not much to see. I thought it would be like a functional ride around Greece’s islands. No–it was just a way to get ourselves to Athens, no glam, no glitz. I stayed up to make sure our stuff didn’t get messed with.
We got to Athens and went straight to our hotel room. We had a view of the Acropolis from our hotel, so we ate dinner there and settled in.
My Grandma was feeling so good coming off of Santorini that she decided to go to the top of the Acropolis with me without her walker! I warned her–it’s a long way up! But she wanted to do it, swearing she felt great. So we started our journey up. There are a few amphitheaters on the way up, including the Theatre of Dionysus. This theater is considered the world’s first!
There’s also the Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre.
This one is still in use today!
We kept going through the crowds up and up. At the top, you’ll find, of course, the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena. This was my second time atop the Acropolis, but it was still so breathtaking.
Grandma didn’t want to admit it, but by the time we got up there, she was hurting. We stayed long enough to get a feel for Athens (you can see the whole city from up here!) and the history of this place. We ventured down to rest. In the afternoon, Grandma swore she felt better, so we went to check out the Temple of Zeus.
Grandma didn’t bring her walker, and it turned out to be a fair amount of walking. She’s an amazing lady, and didn’t complain once. But I could tell. Given Grandma’s pain, I decided we needed to book bus tours if we were going to see anything else around Greece. So I booked tours to Corinth,
Mycenae and the Temple of Poseidon.
My Grandma really wanted to experience some of what she has read about in the Bible. We went to Corinth and got to see where the Apostle Paul preached. This was a great experience for Grandma that didn’t cause her too much pain (she brought her walker!).
Mycenae was another day trip totally worth making. We went to the top of a big hill and looked out on the vineyards and valley below. There are ruins all along the way. Grandma made it all the way to the top on her walker and she was so proud.
We also stopped in Nauplia, a cute town, for lunch.
Nauplia was sort of what we think of when we think of the Mediterranean. We enjoyed this stop off.
Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
My Grandma was hurting so much at this point, she didn’t want to see our last stop on the tour–the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. I told her I would go and see how long/hard the trip up to the theatre was and let her know if it was worth it. When I got there, I knew she had to see it. I helped her with her walker and when we stood at the base of the theatre, she was so thankful. A woman was singing beautiful opera on the stage that put us all at ease.
The acoustics were so good, I could hear whispers at the top of the huge amphitheater emanating from in and around the stage. They still hold events here and what an experience that must be.
Temple of Poseidon
The next day, after Grandma was off of her feet for a good while, we got on a tour bus to the Temple of Poseidon. The ride there was an adventure in itself along the coastline.
Temple of Poseidon is worth a trip. The history is very cool and you can really immerse yourself in the thought process behind Greek mythology when you look out at the vast ocean.
We flew back to NYC and zoomed back through the airport with Grandma in a wheelchair. She went home and got a shot in her hip that made everything better (she couldn’t get the shot beforehand in case something went wrong). This was supposed to be a much different trip. My grandma has never had trouble getting around. But I am so proud of her for going despite the pain. For not complaining. For challenging herself. It was an experience we’ll never forget. There are so many things a blog post like this can’t capture, but I will say that my Grandma and I got so much closer on this trip. Unforgettable!
Have you ever taken a trip with someone with limited abilities? What did you do? How did you make it the best trip despite the limitations? Tell me in the comments!
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