While we were in Greece this past week, I kept a journal everyday so I’d remember everything we did. I’m going to write those accounts down here so you may explore Athens and Santorini, Greece along with me!
ATHENS: day one. March 8, 2014. 9:27pm.
After spending most of the day in-transit, we finally have arrived in Athens, Greece. I haven’t really formed a first impression yet other than the bus ride from the airport to Syntagma Square, which is about a 5-minute walk from our hostel, was extremely bumpy. However, from the main street that our hostel leads out to, we can see the tops of the Temple of Zeus, which is pretty surreal. I’ve been interested in Greek Mythology for quite some time now; I think Disney’s Hercules is what started it all. I’ve only watched that movie at least 250 times. After I started getting into the Percy Jackson books, that only stimulated more interest for me. But now to be here in this beautiful, sun-drenched city is just like something out of a dream. Greece was always one of those places I’ve always really wanted to go to, but never thought I’d get to visit. And now, here I am!
Tomorrow we’re going to have a full day of exploring (weather-permitting) since it’s our first full day here. It’s all very Greek!
ATHENS: day two. March 9, 2014. 7:20pm.
Today wasn’t filled with all that much, but was still exhausting. We called it a day and retired to our hostel around 5:30pm. We’re some serious party animals, aren’t we? (SPRANG BREAKKKKK!!!!)
Anyways, after a late start (my alarm went off at 10:00, but no one really got out of bed until 11:00) we went to the Temple of Zeus, which had a lot of cool things to explore. There were a lot of stray dogs and cats that live there, which I though was pretty neat. The people who charge the entry fee have little dog houses, food and water bowls, and everything for them.
One of the dogs that we met that was really friendly; we named him Winn-Dixie.
After finishing up at the Temple of Zeus, we ate at a cafe near the Acropolis where I tried Greek food for the first time. I had chicken souvlaki, which is basically chicken that’s really well-seasoned with peppers that’s cooked on a skewer and then fries, pita bread, and tomatoes are served on the side. It was extremely good, filling, and not what I expected at all!
Afterwards, we went to the Acropolis Museum which holds all of the archaeological findings from the Acropolis area. The thing I found most interesting was that there are parts of the floor all throughout the ground floor that are made of glass so you can see all that’s been discovered below the museum, which is a really good amount of stuff. They had a sign up that they’re preparing the area so that tourists can eventually go down there and explore for themselves. It’s like a whole different world down there.
We walked through the museum, which would’ve been a lot more fun if we could’ve taken pictures. There were a lot of busts and statues that were missing noses or other body parts were really hilarious. It’s understandable since they were underground for thousands of years. We left the museum and decided we’d save the Acropolis for Monday or Tuesday. It takes quite a hike to get up to the top. We did, however, find a gelato place (also my first time having it) and stopped in to have some. I had a scoop of mango, and it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever had. Also, ironically enough, we met a man and his granddaughter that are from San Antonio. It was definitely one of those “small world” moments.
ATHENS: day three. March 10, 2014. 10:01pm.
Another tiring but fun-filled day in Athens. We started the day off with eating at a place called “Avocado.” Yes, we pretty much solely went there for the name; avocados are just too delicious. I ordered a panini with mozarella and tomato (the place is vegetarian) and it came with a side of chips and guacamole(!). The guac was extremely good and it was nice to have a little bit of a taste of home.
After we finished our food we walked back over to the Acropolis area. It’s basically where all of the well-known ruins in Athens are. We saw the Acropolis (obviously), the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Theatre of Dionysus, the Temple of Athena, and last but not least: Areopagus, which I think has the most interesting story. Areopagus is this big rock that you can climb and there’s an amazing view of Athens at the top. Abby and I had some trouble climbing it because we were wearing tennis shoes and the stones had been made very smooth by hundreds of years of weather and wear. But luckily, we finally made it to the top where we enjoyed the view for only a few minutes because out of nowhere, these three children playing accordions appeared. They would come up to you, play a little bit of a song, and then stick out their hand asking for money. It was definitely a first, being heckled by children and all.
Views from the top of the Acropolis.
Despite the heckling children, our Acropolis experience was great. The hike to the top was very tiring but the views along the way made it all worth it. Athens is a truly beautiful city, with the sun shining that warmed the city just enough that we were able to take off our jackets and sweaters and not be cold.
After finishing up at the Acropolis, we made another gelato stop (if you tried it you’d understand why we were so eager to go again). We sat at the tables outside the shop for a while, people-watching, enjoying the sun, and reading.
Our last stop of the day was Plaka, a neighborhood full of little shops that have anything and everything Greek. We didn’t spend all that much time there because looking around shops isn’t all that fun when you don’t have euros to blow. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was very enjoyable.
ATHENS: day four. March 11, 2014. 11:07pm.
Today was our last day in Athens and definitely the most relaxed. I had my alarm set for 10:00, but that just wound up getting turned off. That’s okay, though, because we’re on vacation! We’re allowed to sleep late! After finally rolling out of bed around noon and getting ready, we went to Plaka again to eat lunch. The weather was beautiful all day; I even got to wear my Chacos! This is a big deal because it’s the first time all semester I’ve been anywhere warm enough to wear sandals. Since the weather was so nice, we sat at a table outside to soak up some sun (even though there’s absolutely no chance I’d tan. I’m even paler than Edward Cullen). We finished our delicious meal of classic Greek food; I got souvlaki again and Melody and Abby ordered gyros. The only thing that wasn’t so enjoyable was when I felt something brush against my foot and when I looked down to see what it was, I saw that it was a pigeon. Let’s just say I half-screamed a couple of not-so-G-rated words in response. Next time I wish the pigeon would ask my permission before it cuddled up next to my feet.
Lunch in Plaka.
After our very Greek lunch and my exciting pigeon experience, we went next door to have a traditional Greek dessert: baklava. It’s kind of hard to describe because it’s both flaky and not flaky at the same time and also extremely sweet.
Afterwards we walked back to our hostel and played a couple of games of Nerts (which I’m not half-bad at), read, and relaxed. Tomorrow morning we’ll be leaving Athens to go to Santorini, so, here’s to our next adventure!
SANTORINI: day five. March 12, 2014. 11:15pm.
Our first day in Santorini was the least organized of our whole trip. We started the day early by catching a bus in Syntagma Square in Athens to get to the airport. After an extremely short flight (it actually took less time to fly from Athens to Santorini than it took on our bus to the airport) we were greeted by the beautiful but blustery island of Santorini, Greece. The sun was shining and the weather would be practically warm compared to what we’ve become accustomed to if it weren’t for the 30+mph winds. It was pretty intense. Luckily we were rescued by a taxi driver since we only had a general idea of where our hotel is. Our directions were very vague and only had a couple of key words which made the distance from the airport to our hotel seem very short. We became more and more grateful that we caught a taxi because it probably would’ve taken us a couple of hours on foot. So the moral of the story is: directions can be very deceiving!
After unloading our suitcases and getting settled into our room, we ventured out to explore the neighborhood of Fira, which happens to be the capital of Santorini. Everything is really just so picture-perfect here. The buildings and homes are all made of white stone or painted equally light colors. Along with the great amount of marble displaced around the island, it gives everything an appearance I can only associate with the sun; it’s all so bright. I’m sure Santorini is much more lively during the summer, but it’s still pretty great in its off-season.
Fira, Santorini, Greece.
SANTORINI: day six. March 13, 2014. 9:33pm.
Today was another very relaxed day. We went and spoke to the lady who owns our hotel because she mentioned she knew a company that could rent us a car, ATVs, or mopeds at a discounted rate. At first we were going to rent an ATV or moped because that’d be more fun, but Anastasia (the hotel owner) said that we should consider renting a car because riding an ATV or moped would be really hard because it’s so windy. I’m really glad we took her advice. I think it may have been more windy, at certain points, than it was when we first arrived. We waited almost an hour and then a man from a car rental place at the airport brought us a car. I signed the papers and such so that meant that I was the set driver (don’t panic! We obviously didn’t die since I’m writing this now!). We set out to find Akrotiri, an ancient ruin city on the island, but once we got there we found out it was closed since the island’s in its off-season. Go figure! It was okay, though, because we still got some breathtaking views on the way there.
Proof of me driving our car in Santorini. Amazing!
Since Akrotiri was closed, we decided to try and give Oia a shot. We got sorta kinda lost a couple of times and dealing with the horrible Greek drivers was getting really stressful. Everyone in Santorini loves to speed, which doesn’t really makes sense to me because the roads are constantly winding all throughout the island. I just let people pass me because I’d rather drive slowly and be careful than to drive off of a cliff. Maybe that’s just me. After driving for about an hour and a half, we decided to give up trying to get to Oia because the road that went along the mountainside seemed to have absolutely no end. Plus, that road would have been impossible to drive on at night because one wrong move, and you go off a cliff. Not worth it to me!
The view from the road along the mountain.
After eating dinner at a nice restaurant in Fira, we called it a day!
SANTORINI: day seven. March 14, 2014. 11:07pm.
Today was our last full day in Greece and I’m sad to see Spring Break end, but I also think it will be nice to get back into the normal routine (even though the normal routine is hectic, busy, and stressful a lot of times). I did really enjoy the relaxation time and the opportunity to see things that many people will never see in their lifetimes. I had a lot of time to sit down and really enjoy a book. I read two books this week, which was really refreshing. It was just an all-around good trip.
This morning we drove to see the coast because we had the rental car until 2pm. After seeing the clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean, it’s going to be hard for any beach even coming close in comparison. The sand on the shore was black because there’s a volcano on the island, which I found really interesting.
After we stayed there for a while, absorbing the beauty of God’s creation, and took some pictures, we drove back to our hotel, where we remained for the rest of the day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous so I spent some time on the patio of our hotel, reading for a while. I may regret it a tiny bit later on because my scalp and the tips of my ears feel like they got a little bit too much sun. All in all, it was worth it, I think, because weather like we had today is not something that happens very often in Oxford.
So, I guess, that’s a wrap! We’re off in the morning to make the short flight to Athens, and then we fly to London from there. It’s going to be a day full of plane and taxi rides!
I hope you enjoyed the tales of my Spring Break adventures in Greece!