DAY 1:May 6, 2008 - Athens, Greece
Laura is typing this so don't be too thrown off if you read words like cute and see lots of exclamation marks, haha.
Today we arrived in Athens around 10:00 a.m.We caught a train from the airport into the city. The trains were really smooth and much cleaner and nicer than our train in Atlanta.After puzzling over our map for quite a while we finally found our hostel which was only about five blocks from the train station we got off on which was only three stops from the central station.We checked in and were given a cute but small room with two sets of bunks - our roommates hadn't arrived yet, so we claimed our beds and headed out to sightsee.The woman at the front desk was very helpful and pointed us in the direction of the Bank of America (which we still had A LOT of trouble finding) only to find out it was closed and there is no ATM!Banks in Greece close at 2:00 in the afternoon for the whole day!We got money from another ATM and then looked for a place for lunch.We ended up getting some "mystery" pastries from a small bakery shop that we past - one was kind of veggie pizza-like and the other was some kind of ham and cheese pie.We ate them in Syntagma Square, the main train hub.Then we headed to the Acropolis.You would think there would be lots of clear signs pointing out how to get to the entrance of the Acropolis, but I guess they figured that since you can see it from pretty much anywhere in the city, you should be able find it.That is, unless Danny is your tour guide!We DID find it, but we took a VERY scenic route which actually allowed us to see some really pretty houses and take some nice pictures.We walked literally through the sideyards of some of those classic white houses you'd imagine in Greece and Danny made the intelligent statement that they were "probably PAINTED white with something…like white paint."Naw?!
After circumnavigating the entire Acropolis (or maybe just half of it) we finally found the entrance.Since Danny didn't bring his student ID, he had to pay the full price of 12 euros to get in instead of the 6 euro student price, but it was still worth it!Most of the temples were under restoration so there was scaffolding onmost of them, but they were still just as amazing as you'd picture them.We took lot of pictures and then some more and then…some more (124 pictures in total - for the whole day) and that wasn't even the Japanese girl doing the majority of the photographing… One thing about the Acropolis is that the entire thing is rock and as one we overheard one lady telling her child "if it's shiny rock, that means it's slippery!"That was definitely true.We both decided to make the most of our slippery rock experience - Danny moon walked in front of the Parthenon and I just wiped out banana-peel style!Pretty sweet.
From the Acropolis, we saw another monument on top of a wooded hill.We decided to hike there.It turned out to be the Filopappou Hill, which had a great view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon.We read that it would be a beautiful sight to see at night, but by then we were starving and tired from all that walking so we decided to get something to eat instead.Once again, Danny was the leader and about an hour and half later we found the restaurant we had picked out from one of our tour books called Taverna Platanos.AND once again, we got to see a lot of sights we weren't expecting and got some more pictures.
The restaurant was a quiet restaurant where we ate outside, literally on the street while motorcycles buzzed by.We didn't know what to order so Danny asked for something "classically Greek."The very friendly server picked out our meal for us.We had a nice house wine with a tasty Greek salad and classic rice-stuffed tomatoes.As we were finishing that and our hunger was satisfied, he brings out fresh plates and silverware and we looked at each other like what?A few seconds later he came back with the "main course" - a platter of chicken filets, pork & chicken kababs, hamburger patties, sausage, AND lamb chops covered in French fries.So…we weren't planning to spend 50 euros at the "moderately" priced restaurant but…it was delicious and we ate every bite!Five hours later…we still aren't even thinking about eating any time soon.Also, during the meal we had the "pleasure" of having a Greek guitarist sit right behind us and start playing.At first Danny was pretty sure he could sing along because the words to the songs all seemed to be "aaahhh ummmmmmm aaahhh ahhhh…" but apparently he was just warming up and he did serenade us as we had coffee and finished the meal.
After dinner, we cruised through the flea market, which is really more like a series of shops that sell anything you could imagine from knives and guns to Mardi Gras beads and boas to clothes to your typical tourist souvenirs.We didn't buy anything until we got called into a store by a guy who "loved Americans" and told us that anyone who didn't like Americans didn't like the "politics not the people."He told Danny that looked like a "young Apollo" and pinched both of our cheeks, gave us kisses on the cheeks, and rubbed noses with me!It was a little more friendship than we were expecting to find in the city but hey…it made Danny buy a T-shirt so…I guess it worked out for the shop owner!
After that we went back to the Acropolis to see it at dark.We took a few more pictures and climbed to the top of a nearby hill to get a better view of the city at night.It was very quiet and beautiful.From the top of the hill, Danny, consulting a map asked me which direction I thought Syntagma Square was because he was shocked by what the map was telling him.When I guessed the correct direction, he accused me of cheating! - And still I let him lead us back to the hostel.We are calling it an early night tonight - we're pretty tired from all the traveling and walking.We have plans to see more of Athens tomorrow.We're still working on our Greek - we'll say byein Greek before we leave here!