Reflecting on Milos, Greece and life coming full circle
In 2003, when Nikolaos and I took out first trip to Greece together, he gave me a book called ELENI by Nick Gage. As we sat on the plane from London to Athens, I began reading it and found that I couldn’t put the book down! Through its pages, I not only learned so much about Greece’s recent history, but moreover I became emotionally involved with its main character, Eleni Gatzoyiannis, and my eyes filled with tears as I read her harrowing, true story…
Set in the civil war, ravaged Greece of 1948, the book recounts how this strong woman successfully arranged for the escape of her three daughters and her son, Nicholas, from the communist “camp” which they had been placed in by the communist insurgents. Ultimately, this act of bravery led to her imprisonment, torture and execution. Nicholas Gage, Eleni’s son, went on to become a top investigative reporter for the New York Times and using the skills he developed he returned to his homeland to find out exactly what happened to the woman who gave up her life so that he could live — and live in freedom.
Last year, this brave woman’s namesake, Eleni Gage, Nicholas’ daughter, asked if she could interview me for a piece she was writing for CondeNast Traveller on the enchanting Greek island of Milos. Naturally, I was more than happy to speak with her; Milos holds a special place in my heart because it is where Nikolaos and I went for our honeymoon. During this meeting with Eleni, she gave me a small thoughtful gift — a lovely, little St. Nicholas icon which I have since carried in my hand luggage whenever I travel.
Fast forward a year and there I was the other day, pulling my hand luggage behind me as Nikolaos and I walked through the airport — yet again! — when I passed the newsstand and noticed the new issue of CondeNast Traveller, featuring Eleni’s cover story on Milos. Suddenly it hit me: life comes full circle and everything in it is interconnected.
“Isn’t it amazing?” I couldn’t help but remark to Nikolaos. For who would have imagined that 14 years after Nikolaos’ and my first trip to Greece, during which time I’d read Eleni Gatzoyiannis story, I would be here today, a resident of the country she fought so hard for, having been interviewed by her granddaughter and carrying within my luggage the icon that she’d given me.
I have often spoken about how magical Greece is; how it always seems to magnetically pull people back in its embrace. Today, I am a living testament to the country’s unique power. And I am so excited that I was privileged enough to share my story of Greece with Eleni, to have contributed to CondeNast, and to once again have received the opportunity to highlight the best of Greece: its food, its history, its traditions, its culture and, of course, its people.