Western Civ has begun!
The long journey and lack of sleep didn’t stop us from exploring the great city of Athens right away. Although much different than the cities and lifestyles we all are accustomed to back in the States, Athens was easy to enjoy from the start. Moreover, we learned some handy Greek phrases and words even before we arrived such as Γεια σας (Geia sas), which means “Hello”. On arrival day, we took a short walking tour and ate a classic Greek dinner before our well-needed rest. On that first excursion, we experienced various new and exciting things that would soon become common occurrences; traditional Greek salads and stray dogs roaming the Plaka neighborhood just to name a few. Oh, the view from the top of the hotel: phenomenal! It was even better at night with the enormous Acropolis illuminated.
After a refreshing sleep-in on Saturday, it was off to the Greek Agora. Agora means “open space”, which is where the marketplace was located in Ancient Greece. Overlooking the Agora is the Temple of Hephaestus, and possibly the most well preserved monument of Ancient Greece. With our bellies full of delicious gyros (one of many), we made our way to the spectacular New Acropolis Museum, located just next to the Acropolis. It is amazing how much history the Acropolis has gone through! Lastly, we had a photo scavenger hunt, which my team won in a close victory, concluding our exciting first full day in Athens.
Sunday, we woke up fully hydrated and pumped to visit… yes, the magnificent Acropolis. Although it is a bit of a walk to reach the Acropolis, as it does mean “high city,” it was much more than worth it. We walked through the gatehouse to the Acropolis just as the Athenians did back in ancient times. I was just amazed at how much of this masterpiece has been preserved over so many years. It is truly mind-blowing! We soaked in the view of the city and ocean and marveled at the ruins that stood before us. It was an experience like no other.
After another delicious gyro, the afternoon consisted of a spectacular Byzantine Art Museum and a Greek coffee tasting. We even ordered our coffee fully in Greek! Trying the new style of coffee and mixing with the locals during their afternoon coffee was a great way to feel immersed in the Greek culture. The night was a change of pace, in which about half of us went to go see The Lone Ranger in an open-air theater. Although a decent movie with an absurd amount of clichés, the experience was definitely interesting. I must get a bit of sleep, for we are heading off early to the beach tomorrow!