Thursday, August 27, 2009

Athens: So Much to Do, So Much to See

Since I am at the hostel again tonight and Internet it free, I figured I better take advantage of this rare occasion. I know my blogs are really long, but I am writing the bare minimum that I can write in a short period of time. One day here feels like a week because so much happens and we just do so much! I also realized that I forgot my journal at Roehampton with all my luggage so until I buy a notebook or something, this is my only form of processing my experience. So you all get to join the journey with me, I hope you like it. Ok enough explanation... this is what happened today!

We woke up around 7am to get a nice start on the day. They feed us breakfast here at the hostel which is super nice. The continental breakfast is toast, juice, and tea or coffee. I tried to eat a lot because I did not know when I would eat again. I do not like to spend money on food or anything for that matter, but especially food. I am so glad that I brought a few snacks because they hold me over sometimes when we are running around doing things. I have not had much of an appetite either because everything is so exciting. I am in Greece!!! I just cannot believe it. I met an Irish boy yesterday that said he would help me find my family castle for when I go to Ireland. He is staying at the hostel tonight too. I met him in the bar, they said we got free welcome drinks... I thought maybe I could get an iced tea... nope! They give you a shot of this drink that is called 'oozo'. I opted out of that one, but I hung out with Joel and Melody in the bar and talked with the bartender. Her name is Lucy, she is from London as well but moved to Greece three weeks ago. She just finished college and is going back for her masters. I think it is so cool how people in Europe just go everywhere! I talked to the Irish guy for awhile too, he said he was trying an experiment... being sober. Lol. He didn't like doing it and ended up getting a beer not too long after he finished his water. This is one of my favorite aspects of traveling... the people.

Ok so today after breakfast we headed out to see the Acropolis. We walked all day from about 8am until about 8pm. It was well worth it though. We had to take the metro to get their luckily we were able to leave our big backpacking backpacks at the hostel in our room all locked up. I think we are starting to get used to the transportation system a little more which is good. And we do not get ripped off as much which is good. And we use our student card for things so that we can get the discounts we paid for. We got to see the Acropolis for half the original price with our student card, which was nice. Oh my goodness everything in Greece is so beautiful!!
All of their buildings look famous. They are all made of marble with iron gates and amazing designs. Every rock that is placed anywhere tells a different story. Even the rubble ( which is everywhere) is beautiful! I took over 300 pictures just today. We saw all kinds of things today from the Acropolis to Zeus' Temple to the Parthenon to the place where the Olympics were first played! It was amazing seeing so many places that I have read about and seen in movies. We stood on the same hill that Paul stood in Athens and preached!!!!!! It was so amazing. PAUL!!!! The Apostle!!!! Oh my goodness I wanted to cry just thinking about being there where such an inspirational man stood and spread the gospel to thousands of Greeks. I mean everything about Athens is so amazing, there is so much history in it. Every street and every building is so different from the next. Wow it is beautiful! I cannot wait to show you all pictures. As soon as I get back to school, I will try to load and put up at least a few.

After we were done seeing all the famous and amazing sights that most tourists see, we just wandered around. I think we were lost, but it did not even matter because we were in Greece. When we were at the stadium of the Olympics, one of the girls in our group named Charissa decided to give a little water to a dog that was lying by the side. One simple deed ended up changing our entire trip! The dog called one of the other dogs over and the two dogs followed us for the rest of our wandering journey. They seemed to be leading us which was pretty amazing because as we followed them, we actually got where we were trying to go. Joel named the brown short haired one 'Diddy' and the white long haired one 'Cassie'. And at first the dogs seemed to be very protective over us because they barked at anyone that came near us. I think they really liked Americans. Then it got crazy, we found out that the dogs were suicidal!! They would bark at cars and try to bite the tires of the cars as they were driving by! And the cars here do not drive slow! It was so scary in the beginning because they looked like they were going to get killed as they ran in and out of the street...crazy dogs. But then we got used to it and realized maybe the Greeks are used to it to. No one seemed to be bothered by it. It was funny, but scary. I really did not want to see a dog get run over in Greece... not my idea of fun.

In our wandering ( maybe we were going somewhere I cannot really remember, I just go with the flow... I like not knowing) we came upon the Parliament... it is like the Greek white house. It is so beautiful!! We seemed to come just at the right time because they were changing the guards when we were there. The guards that stood in front of the Parliament wear these brown uniforms that consist of a skirt and a collared shirt. They were both boys so I am pretty sure they do not call it a skirt, but that is what it was to me. They also had these cool shoes with big black fuzzy poms on them. There was a man in camouflage that seemed to be directing them. There were four guards in a pack when we got there. Then they did a dance, or I guess you call it a routine, and then two of them marched off and just kept on marching. Then the other two seemed like they were stretching or something and then marched to their posts. The military man kept fixing their tassels and telling them things so I think he was like their supervisor. Also when we were outside the Parliament, a whole pack of army men ran by behind us. They were not dressed in army attire, but in running clothes. We just assumed they were army men. It was so fun! There are a lot of police by the Parliament. I think all the police I saw all day were in front of the Parliament and as I got closer to there. There were quite a few female police as well.

After we left the Parliament, we walked through the Gardens. They were soooooo pretty!! The trees were so unique, each and every one of them. And there was a little zoo inside! They had chickens, ducks, goats, a rooster, and I think some more birds. They were all mixed in a few cages. When we were in the gardens, the dogs left us toward the end. Which was sad... they were annoying sometimes, but it was hard to see them go.

Ohhhhhhh and I just remembered when we were at the Acropolis, there were tons of people. People from every country and state. We were all crazy tourists there which was nice. Toward the end before we took our long trek down all the stairs of the Acropolis, Joel took a picture of all of us girls. We had all of Greece behind us. It was beautiful! This guy from Brazil asked if we were Americans and decided to take pictures. He was so funny! I know I know it sounds super bad, but yes we took a group picture with this random Brazilian man and then he wanted his son to be in our picture ( well we assumed they were a family... I think Brazil is very different... culturally). After we took a picture, he kept telling us he wanted a kiss. Then we took another picture.... well Chelsea got kissed on the cheek by the random Brazilian man and she said no as I pulled her away before he could get the kiss on the lips he wanted. It was so funny, but kinda awkward at the time... his wife was standing right there!

Anyway that was just a little story that I remembered. Lol. We had our first real Greek meal today, my friend Mario who I met on the plane told me I should never pay more than 1.9 or 2.2 euros on gyros so we found a place that had the Gyros for 1.9 and they were amazing! And I discovered that I like Greek tomatoes!!!! Isn't that exciting??? I usually do not like tomatoes and there was a big raw tomato in the middle of my amazing chicken Gyro and I ate every last bit of it. In case you guys have no idea what I am talking about, a Gyro in a way is like a Greek burrito. They wrap up chicken and vegetables and sauce and spices in a pita. It is so amazing!! I have had one before, but it is so much better in Greece!

Oh my goodness I am having so much fun! I love Greece so much! It is so beautiful and the people are so much fun. Everyone here has been so helpful to us. We keep trying to say 'thank you' but the term for 'thank you' is hard to say and we keep forgetting it. I know 'please', 'yes', and 'no'... but I have not really had to use those so much.

Tomorrow we are taking a ferry ride to a couple Greek Isles!! I am so excited, I want to cry! I just never thought I would get an opportunity like this. To go to London or Greece or anything! And now I am seeing the world and it is amazing! We bought a ferry ticket today and it was hard for me because it was quite expensive and I am not good at giving up big chunks of money... We saved like 30 or 40 dollars though which is nice. And we are fed lunch which will probably be so so so so so so so sooooooo good!! I just really love Greek food. Actually I just really love authentic foreign food. It is Mmmm Mmmm Mmmmm good.

So yeah tomorrow we have to be at the dock by about 7:30am, because the ferry leaves at 8am, and we will not return on the ferry until 8pm. Long day, but worth it! We will get a chance to spend about 2 and a half hours on each island we go to. I think we are going to three islands. I am excited, it will be beautiful. We will get a chance to just relax on the beach or look around and see native Greek areas. It has been quite warm here so the cool water will be a nice change. I do not know what to expect except what I saw in "Sisterhood of Traveling Pants"... so it should be interesting. I feel everywhere I go, I have to relate it to some movie I have seen or book I have read. Usually little kid movies because I have seen so many. hehe. Like when were at the Acropolis and we saw the columns of the ladies, we were all talking about Hercules. It was fun!

I really have a good group that I am traveling with which is nice. We are all so different, but not too different and we mesh well together. Tonight we are staying in different rooms. I think there are four of us in one and three in the other with a random person they do not know. I really like this hostel, it is fun seeing all the different types of people. Last night I got to use the sleep sack my mom made me which was great... Thanks Mom! My sleep sack ( for those who do not know) is a big sheet sewed together with an opening at the top. It is great!

Ok well it is going to be an early morning tomorrow so I have to get some sleep, but stay tuned tomorrow or the next day to find out about the Greek Isles. I am excited to find out too. :-D
Thanks for reading!

Love always, Danni
PS I forgot my address book at Roehampton as well ( good job Danni, huh?) so if you all could send me your addresses again that would be great. For now I will just send them to my mom and maybe I will arrange a way for them to come to you. Thanks and sorry!

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