Hello friends, family, travelers, and individuals who have kindly clicked on my Facebook link,
It’s been about a week in Greece and I’m starting to feel more like a resident than a vacationer, but I’m still a tourist. It’s funny how you walk down the street and people know just who you are and where you came from. Luckily for me, I only get the “American” look when I’m in a group of people. If I’m alone, people have been assuming I’m a native, whether I look like one or not, I think that’s pretty cool.
So far I’ve seen downtown Athens three times because of our proximity, the inside of a grocery store, many cafes, and have had a little bit of the ever so valuable classroom time.
First of all, PSA for all Americans: whatever you’ve heard that’s negative about downtown Athens, you’re wrong. It’s a beautiful city with incredible culture. The amount of historical relevance located in Downtown Athens will equal at least a zillion times the amount of the entire United States (Yes, that is a statistic). When you get off the train to your right, you’ll see Greek Parliament: originally an enormous residence built by a Bavarian architect for Greek monarchy until having Kings and Queens was abolished in 1924.
The town is a constant reminder of how far society has come. There are designer stores amongst ancient grounds and right in the middle of Hermes Street (the main street in Downtown Athens) and just beyond what looks like a shopping district, there is a church built by the Byzantine Empire (BC) which happens to be one of the last remaining in Athens due to Constantine building the “modern” streets of Greece. The church looks like it has been built into the ground, when in reality, the drop represents the level of the land at the time of the church’s creation.
Moving forward down the street we see more historical buildings and forums that date back to a time that none of us can really fathom. Still there, and still kicking. Hint to all travelers: When in Greece, good shoes are going to be your very best friend. Everything is cobblestone and bumpy, and the best part is – everything is uphill. When I say uphill I do mean there and back, Greece has managed to make its country everyone’s home gym.
The hike up to the Acropolis was cardio, to say the least. We didn’t actually go inside or see the museum, but we had dinner right under its glory. The atmosphere was incredible. Everything there is about indulging in the moment and appreciating life’s simple pleasures. The waiters at the restaurant were kind and carefree. Someone dropped a plate and they all screamed “OPA” (I am pleased to announce that screaming OPA! is a hard and fast stereotype that is true). They also had musicians who played traditional music on a guitar looking instrument that is called the bazuki. That moment was the first time that I said to myself “I’m really here.” All the buildup…making payments, buying travel necessity, saving money, and getting prepared to say goodbye to my family and friends was over, and now the time has come.
FUN FACTS SO FAR
- The food is wonderful – fresh and CHEAP a gyro for 2.30 euros? OKAY.
- Gyros are actually not lamb here….it’s chicken or pork. We American’s like to spin things our own way.
- I can count to 10 in Greek! Clearly, I’m almost fluent.
- I can order coffee in Greek.
- You don’t tip wait staff (usually). As a waitress, I don’t like that, but it saves me money.
- Wine with a meal is pretty much non negotiable.
- Wine is cheap.
- Greek people (and now myself) sweat a lot.
- My school is on a mountain, I’ve lost 4 pounds, I’m not joking.
- Oh yeah, I started classes.