Quarantine’s sensory deprivation allowed Greece’s treasures to truly come to life

After being stuck in a mandatory quarantine for six days in Athens, our freedom was delicious in every sense of the word. With heightened senses, we were released into the world, ready to experience everything.

We drank in every view, contrasting ourselves in bright colours against the whites of the ruins and rocks. Our eyes, ready for anything different, saw depth and shadows and intrigue even in ancient graffiti on ruins. Lord Byron even took the opportunity to scratch his name into the Poseidon temple, though I only saw images of it online after a friend mentioned it to me.

We took hundreds of photos, more than usual, not wanting to miss anything. Once our day was done, we’d revel in the day’s photos before falling asleep.

In Santorini, the white buildings and dark blue roofs were so stunningly bright that even our sunglasses barely gave us any relief. We ventured down for sunset at Ammoudi, enjoying a seafood feast for our mouths, while gorging on the sunset views in the bay. The sun danced on the water, to the sounds of Greek music.

Food is always a huge part of my travels, and I was highly amused to have my first Greek yogurt and Greek salad in Greece. When in Rome, they say. Now with so many more days in Greece we ate and drank our way through most of the local specialties. I actually had my fill of calamari, which is a tall order.

There was a flaw in our planning however. When we were stuffed and ready to push away from our tables, the restaurants would typically bring over free desserts or shots. Not wanting to be rude tourists, of course we sampled their offering.

Though I’m not a big shopper, I even enjoyed trying on clothing made in Greece of linen or cotton. The slightly rough feel of linen, the silkiness of certain cottons, all woke up my skin. I also ate more by hand than usual, wanting to rip the bread myself, and feel its give under my fingers.

We also found a fish spa, where small fish eat the dead skin off your feet. While mildly ticklish, it was a welcome change to lying around in bed for six days. The fish had their work cut out for them. We also plunged ourselves into rooftop pools, and the ocean. The ocean was cold, but we ventured in just enough to make it official.

Our feet got hot and sore with some significant hilly hikes, but even that sensation was new and good, especially since the vistas along the hikes were so spectacular.

My olfactory senses were delighted by the scents of citrus and what I believe must have jasmine. Walking past restaurants, oregano, thyme, garlic, and seafood smells wafted through the air, calling to us to sample their wares.

In a strange way, I thank the quarantine for its sameness and its dull monotony. It was a true lesson in the idea of expecting nothing and appreciating everything. By having such sensory deprivation, the sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and smells of Greece truly came to life.

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