The challenge of travel, for me, is time. My nostalgia vein runs deep, so I constantly want to return to the places I love, and when I’m there, I wander around narrating what makes each spot meaningful to me. “This is where Papi and Mami got married,” I tell my children each time we pass the Duomo, the Catholic Cathedral on the island of Corfu—and then again when we stroll in front of the Panagia Mandrakina, the pink waterfront church where our second, Orthodox ceremony took place. “This is where we used to have dinner before our hypnobirthing classes every Tuesday when you were in my belly,” I report while sitting at a sidewalk café in Miami.
And yet, I want to discover new places too. I’ve never been on safari or seen the pyramids or watched the northern lights, for example, and with two kids in school, it’s harder and harder to find time to do so.
Even our summer trips to Greece are fraught with this same dilemma, only all in one country—each year, I want to go someplace I haven’t been before (The Pelion peninsula! The Samaria Gorge! Amorgos! Anafi! And countless other islands). But I also want to spend time in our mountain village in Epiros, and return to Corfu, to see my cousins and revisit the scene of the crime.
And each time I fall in love with a new spot, the list of places I long to revisit grows longer. I know this counts as #greekpeopleproblems (we invented nostalgia, after all) and it’s a very good one to have. But I recently realized I’m passing this same travel fever on to the next generation. “Mommy, can we go back to the place in Greece with the baby tomatoes and the really nice pool,” Amalia asked recently, hearkening back to last summer’s trip to Syros, which I visited for Travel+Leisure.
The island bewitched all of us—Emilio loved the clarity of the sea, I’m still dreaming of the architecture and ice cream, Nico likes the toy cars kids can ride around the main square, and for Amalia, it’s the mini tomatoes and the pool at Villa Ampela, our home for part of the trip. Which brings me to a #travelwriterproblem: The places you stay while researching are so much nicer than any place you can afford on your own, or have any business bringing your sunscreen-slathered, crayon-wielding children to, that you find yourself dreaming about them year round.
“We can definitely go back to Syros,” I told Amalia. “But probably not to the same villa.”
Amalia pointed out, “But then we won’t have the jacuzzi,”—which Nico, our three year-old, kept calling a karpouzi, the Greek word for watermelon. That’s right. Or the infinity pool. Or the blue kitchen I see when I’m cooking in my own apartment and I close my eyes for a minute.
I feel guilty about filling such a small child with unrealistic expectations and yearnings, for letting the travel bug bite her. But Amalia is seven, old enough to learn some of the main lessons of travel: unrequited love. Unending yearning. And finding joy in both old and new pleasures.
I promised Amalia, “Wherever we go, there will be baby tomatoes.” And that’s more than enough.
See Our Villa at Ampela – Syros