We went to Rhodes and Symi, two islands in the South Aegean sea, in July 2012. It was too hot not to be in the crystal-clear water. So we jumped off cliffs, had underwater somersault competitions, and snorkeled till we couldn't see the bottom a hundred feet below. Each beach had a little taverna, where we ate greek salads, octopus that we had seen a man catch, drank Retsina, and pet the cats that surrounded our feet and that the owners only pretended to shoo away. Our hotel in Symi was hundreds of steps up the hillside, through century-old ruins inhabited by fig trees, contrasted with old women on balconies of colorful houses. At night, we watched the European Football Championships on the cobblestone steps in front of whoever's TV. We met an old man on the beach that told us he had swam at that spot nearly every day of his 92 years. "This water is the water of life. That's why we live so long in Greece."