Well, it’s our last night in Athens and fortunately we’ve been able to pick up some pirated wireless for the time that we’ve been here and therefore we’ve remained quite connected to the outside world. Athens has been beautiful and sunny and warm! I spent the last two and a half days walking around in a t-shirt and my flannel, and I was warm! It was a nice change from the intense winter of Eastern Europe that we had just come from. We did get a bit of rain on our first day here, but it was interspersed with bouts of wonderful sunshine, so we couldn’t complain too much. But let me get to the update, because these things always end up being extremely long anyway, I don’t want to bore you with tons of insights that you don’t care about, so here we go!
We arrived in Athens on Sunday after a one-night visit to Vienna, which we made solely to get on a really cheap flight to Greece. It seems that the second half of our trip has been quite different from the first half, mostly because we’ve just been meeting so many more people. On our metro ride from the airport to our hostel we ended up talking to these two guys who had been on the same flight as us from Vienna. It turns out that they were brothers who are in their 4th month of a 10-month trip around the world. They’d already been to Central and South America and had made their way around a whole lot of Europe, and their next stop is Africa. We talked for the whole train ride and then decided to have dinner together. Apparently somewhere over the course of their 4 months abroad they developed a tradition of having pizza every Sunday night. Not surprisingly, pizza is a food that they’ve been able to find in every place they’ve been to. Given that it was Sunday, Yitka and I were all for a dinner of Greek pizza. We parted ways in order to check in to our separate hostels and then met back up a few hours later and started walking around the neighborhood that our hostel is in. Within 5 minutes we had already found a pizza place that ended up being a really awesome restaurant, with a wonderful waitress who enjoyed taunting us immensely and who made us laugh over and over again. We liked it so much we actually ended up going back there for lunch the next day.
After enjoying our pizza dinner we decided to go explore the area near the Acropolis. Our hostel was literally 3 blocks from the main archeological site of the Acropolis, which made all the sightseeing we wanted to do extremely convenient. Obviously the actual ruins are closed at night, but we were able to walk around them on the other side of the fence and get some pretty cool views. We ended up climbing some random stairs that we came across, which to our surprise, led us to the top of a rock ledge where we could look out upon the entire city of Athens, it was stunning. You could just look out in front of yourself and see the whole modern city of Athens, and then dispersed within the modern city would be these lit up ruins from Ancient Greece, it was really cool. We explored a bit more before deciding to get back to our hostel so we would be able to get up and go exploring in the daylight the next morning.
You may have noticed from these blog entries that Yitka and I really aren’t the type to get an extremely early start in the morning. We usually are satisfied with ourselves if we get up around 10am and leave our hostel by 11am, which is exactly what we did on our second day in Athens. After waking up and enjoying the continental breakfast of toast with Nutella, we headed out to explore the ruins. One of the girls staying in the same room as us in our hostel goes to Oregon State and we’ve been spending basically all of our time together for the past two days, so when we headed out to explore, she came with us and was with us on all of the adventures that I am about to impart to you.
Our first stop of the day was the Acropolis, but the Acropolis isn’t just one ruin. It’s actually a whole area of Ancient ruins with six different main attractions. I think we managed to see about 4 of the main attractions (and that still took us 2 days). But we were definitely able to get a feel for it. The first day we went to the Parthenon, which stands atop a massive rock cliff in the center of Athens. From the top, no matter which way you turn you can see the city stretching out for miles, it’s really amazing, and as soon as we have a more steady internet connection we will surely be uploading many pictures of this awesome sight. From the Parthenon we went to explore some ancient caves, but then unfortunately, the rain began and it started coming down pretty hard. The three of us decided it was time to run for cover and so we headed back to our new favorite restaurant for some lunch. Don’t worry though, this wasn’t just a pizza place, it was actually a traditional Greek restaurant and we all ended up getting delicious Greek food for lunch (and let me tell you, Greek food is delicious).
After lunch we were going to try and go to the National Archeological Museum, but it was still raining and I think we were all pretty exhausted, so we ended up just using our pirated internet, and talking in our hostel room for about 6 hours. We also made Kayla (the girl from Oregon State) sit through viewings of our pictures from our travels thus far as well as tons of pictures and videos from Oberlin... I don’t think she was that bored by it, but it made Yitka and me both really nostalgic and excited to get back to Oberlin in a few weeks. After spending a while in the hostel we knew that we’d have to make up for it by having an awesome Greek dinner, and we definitely succeeded in that. We went to a restaurant around the corner that had been recommended by our hostel, and it was delicious! I had Moussaka, I’m not even sure exactly what it’s made of... I know it has potatoes, and meat, and vegetables, and it’s made sort of like lasagna, it was delicious though. We also had some of the most amazing baklava I’ve ever had, which was served with this weird shot of alcohol that I couldn’t quite place the taste of. Well, we enjoyed the food so much, we ended up going back there tonight, and I couldn’t help myself but order the exact same thing! It was just so good! I think my favorite thing about Athens has definitely been the food, hands down.
After dinner we had a laid-back night and came back to the hostel and watched Garden State, which we had learned earlier, was a movie that all three of us absolutely loved. Luckily I thought to bring my movie collection with me on this trip, I knew it would come in handy.
Today was similar to yesterday. We saw a whole lot of ancient ruins that I don’t think I can really do justice to just by writing about them. Don’t worry though, you will see pictures. Overall though I think it’s just really amazing to be in this city where you can just be walking down the street and all of a sudden a sign will be posted pointing out some ancient ruins right under your nose. And when you walk through the sites like the Ancient Agora, where we were today, you can just think about what it was like in about 200BC and you can actually imagine it because some of the structures are so well preserved and in tact. It’s just amazing and Yitka and I have both fallen in love with this city, it’s ruins, it’s food, and it’s people.
After seeing a lot more ancient ruins we then walked over to the old Olympic Stadium, which is actually the stadium from the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It’s a massive stadium with huge marble stands that we all just wanted to climb up to the top of. Unfortunately you couldn’t go inside, so we had to take our pictures from the other side of the fence... Oh well. After seeing the stadium we walked over to the National Archeological Museum, but once again, we failed to see it. This time (after about a 30-45 minute walk to get there) we found out that the museum closes at 3pm on Tuesdays, and it happened to be 4pm. It was still sunny out, so we lounged on the steps of the museum for a while taking in the heat from the sun before finally hopping on the metro and heading back to our hostel.
I already told you that we went back to that same restaurant for dinner again tonight and had an amazing meal. Now I think we’d both like to try and get a decent nights sleep because we have to be out of here by 7am tomorrow morning in order to catch our 8am train. For those of you who don’t know yet, our next stop on this journey is Geneva, Switzerland. How are we getting there though? Well that’s the interesting part. We will be traveling from 7am tomorrow morning until about 11pm the day AFTER. Our first leg of the journey is a train ride from Athens to Patras, a port city in Greece. From Patras we will take a boat to Ancona, Italy. From there we have to catch a train to Milan, and from Milan we will be able to catch a train to Geneva. Doesn’t that sound fun? Well, if you read this anytime before the 18th, that’s probably what Yitka and I are currently up to, so now you know!
Alright, just one more city to go before we head back to Amsterdam and then home, 5 more days in Europe! How crazy.