Sharing the Wonder of My First Solo Trip in 1973: Greece

Rick Steves 1973 postcard from Athens

On my first solo-trip to Europe, in 1973 — just after high school graduation — I wrote postcards home nearly every day. I packed so much information onto each card it was a challenge to read them without a magnifying glass. Looking back on these exuberant little reports back to my family (42 years later!), I can see a travel writer in waiting. While the writing is pretty goofy, the passion for experience was solid. Here’s a card from Greece.


My dear folks back home. This is the roving reporter writing. How’s everything with you? That’s a stupid question ‘cause you can’t possibly answer it. Right now I’m sitting on the bow of a rather small boat heading from the Island of Salamis back to Athens. I’m alone, have a stuffed stomach, I’m hot with a tan + I’m in great spirits. I guess I left you in Delphi. OK. I slept fine on the roof + then I had a breakfast in the rough with a nice view. I caught the bus to the small port of Itea on the Bay of Corinth. The town really wasn’t much but I had a restful time + a nice swim. I love to swim down here. Well, I caught the 12:45 bus back over the mts, past Delphi + Arachova + on to Lavadia where I spent 3 hours doing my standard wander trick + I really got up to my neck in Greece. The place was like a ghost-town with chickens running around everywhere. I met these 2 girls from France + at the station I had a neat chat with a bloke from Britain + his girlfriend. He was a real neat guy. After a while the bus took me to Lavadia’s station (out in the hicks) + I began my standing up 20 drachma train ride to Athens. It seemed I was in for a long ride but at the next stop, my British buddies got on (They were kicked off their train) + we had a blast talking about the Queen, Heath, Nixon, Agnew + comparing British + American cops, cars, politics, music, laws, lifestyles + so on. It was really neat + before I knew it we were back in Athens. Still looking for action (to salvage a somewhat blah day) I caught the bus to Dafni + went to the wine festival. For 30 drachs ($1.00) I got all the wine I wanted, plenty of neat people + fantastic interesting meal! There were kegs everywhere labeled + over 60 local Greek wines to taste! It was really an experience. I found a great sweet wine called Moschato that I like more than any others. I spent an hour talking with a New Zealander who traveled all across southern Asia + I really learned a lot. While watching Greek folk dancers I met a great group. Then I decided to dance a little + had great fun. The funniest thing is watching all the “sloshed” Greeks dance + goof around. I slept in a forest by the Daphni Monastery, it was great ‘cause it was free + in the morning, after taking in the Monastery, I caught the bus + it just happened to be going to Piraeus the port, not Athens like I thought so at the port I bought some bread, fruit + olives + took a boat to the Island of Salamis which is amazingly rural for how close it is to Athens. After 45 minutes I landed + took the bus to the other side of the island + looked for a nice beach. I asked this girl named Maria + her friends where a good beach was + they showed me. I had a great sleep in the sun, swim + picnic. It was weird ‘cause everyone stared at me but I didn’t mind. One lady from Athens invited me to her house, to sleep free! On the way back I stopped by Maria’s looking for a little Greek hospitality. Boy did I get it. We talked + goofed around for a while + her mom brought me a drink + lots of chocolates. Then I met all the relatives, there were lots of them + just when I was about to leave, I was invited to stay for dinner! That was great. I had a fantastic meal (soup, fresh fish, Canadian salmon, raw clams, wine, salad, cake + chocolates) with Maria translating, we all had great conversation. It was really a cool evening. I took everyone’s picture, gave Maria one of me + they took me to the bus stop. After goodbyes I bussed back to the port, looked around + caught the boat back to Athens. I’ll meet Gene + the Hanbys either tonight or tomorrow. Bye, RICK.


3 Replies to “Sharing the Wonder of My First Solo Trip in 1973: Greece”

  1. I too had a “gutter trip” but I never got drunk and slept in the woods! HAHA What fun! Yeah, it’s so easy to see that even back then you traveled the same way and loved to write.

    Show us more!


  2. I just love vintage travel ephemera, thanks for posting this! Currently, I’m reading a vintage 1958 travel diary written by a young American woman during her European summer tour. Fascinating! judytravelsabroad

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