Day 8 - Athens

Chapel at Agora

Chapel at Agora

There's a demon rooster in Athens.

Which is the beginning to any good story.

It lives somewhere above the fourth floor in Athens near my hostel. Who keeps a rooster this high? #europe So I woke up. And there were a couple of people that had wondered into the eight-bunk room after me at around 2am. Their beds are much quieter than mine though. Mine is just the loudest. Anyway, they were still trying to sleep while I, and the rest of my roommates, were trying to get ready for the day. My belongings were still in a locker in the room, packed tightly in my bag, so I took a shower with the bare essentials and did not change clothes til later so as not to cause a ruckus. (I just learned how to spell ruckus.)

It was something stupid like 7am when I was up and at 'em, so to speak. So I went to the lobby of my hostel with my computer and got caught up on some writing... which has already been posted. It's like the future and the past all at the same time. Or it's all the past. Yeah. That.

Then I went upstairs for breakfast just after 8am. And this was my frickin view:

View of Athens/Acropolis

View of Athens/Acropolis

After breakfast I headed out. The hostel is nice enough to provide a suggested walking tour, which I followed, not on purpose, but to a T. I first hit the ancient city of Agora, which if you are unfamiliar, was a large square on the northwest slope of the Acropolis, where social and religious activities, commerce, outdoor theatrical performances and athletic contests were held. (Yes, this is all completely plagiarism. Roll with it.) In other words, it was the heart of the ancient history. But above all it was the center of Athenian democracy, since it was there that the most important administrative and judicial functions and political assemblies took place. And so on. 

It was actually beautiful and so strange to imagine in all of its glory. I'll come right out and say it that most of the day, with each site I visited and each picture I took, it felt like I was reporting directly from a world history text book. But this time around, it wasn't so boring. Remember just looking at column after column and trying to differentiate between Roman and Greek gods?

Ugh. Today was the first time it ever hit me that I named my bulldog after a Roman god and not a Greek one.

View of Sara at Pantheon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece, The World

View of Sara at Pantheon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece, The World

Despite what my photos show, the Acropolis is fucking crowded. So many tourists from so many different places. In a way, it was refreshing to hear other European languages.

My favorite, by far, was this French couple. I was just walking by one of the ruins and this woman pushes her camera, still dangling from her wrist, into my hand.

"Vouz pouvez?" You can? 

(Which I could go off on for a while and point out how meaningful that phrase is to me on this trip as a whole, but I'll refrain and simply let that live within this parenthetical.)

 "Ah, oui!" I responded, without hesitation. Beyond English, French makes me the most excited/makes me feel the most at home. Speaking mostly broken, present tense from high school, I still love everything about it. And I can understand a great deal more than I can speak.

They went and posed for the picture. The husband returned to me.

"Merci!"

"De rien," I responded, like I was the shit. Because I was. Yup. Thank you, mom and dad, that's what private school bought you. Four words from me, but excitement that is priceless.

Ancient theater to Dionysus at base of Acropolis

Ancient theater to Dionysus at base of Acropolis

Accordion player in the street (clearly)

Accordion player in the street (clearly)

Had to stop here for obvious reasons

Had to stop here for obvious reasons

Something I love. They always serve you something salty with your beer. Either chips or mixed nuts of some kind. And also, their stuff is way salty, even for my American tastes. Even at the concert last night, I was standing outside and bought a beer from a street vendor. He then went around to the front of his cart, pawed a handful of peanuts and came around to hand them to me. Yes, I ate them. I don't care. I assume all nuts are dirty. (What?)

Temple of Zeus (the Olympian)

Temple of Zeus (the Olympian)

So. There's an Acropolis museum. As well as an artifact museum... or something. But, I'm in charge. There were no museums today. Because while I'm sure it would have all been very interesting, I wouldn't remember anything except, "This shit is old." And instead I used that money to buy beer. That's better, right?

The accordion player pictured. He was wandering from cafe to cafe playing. I took his picture (not the one pictured, but you get the idea). And he looked at me, said something in Greek and rubbed his fingers together. The international symbol for, "You should pay me now." So I paid him a euro for his photogenic generosity.

My walk continued and I saw more amazing things. Hey. So. In Christianity, there's just the one god. And they've spent centuries building churches and shrines and statues to this one god. BUT, the Greeks? The Greeks have so many gods and so much to build and so much to worship and so much to do. When you look at all the time and effort, it seems beyond exhausting. I don't even know how they erected those towers. I mean I'm sure there were scaffolds involved for each tier, but Jesus... (so to speak).

The Zappeion

The Zappeion

Okay. Then my walk took me to this place called the Zappeion. Now the great think about traveling without a guide or a teacher or your parents is that I have absolutely no idea what this place was about. Except that it was beautiful. It also looked like it was built in the 1950s, so I don't feel that badly for not knowing. But out front, there was a beautiful fountain and these beautiful walls of flowers. I saw a middle-aged couple stop. The woman motioned for the man to go stand by the flowers. And stand he did. He draped the flowers in his face, jokingly, but very romantically.

I shouted, "Bella!"

They laughed.

Because that's the thing about Europe. You can pick your language and yell. And then be gone!

But here's the thing. They yelled back. I have no idea what they said, but they sure enjoyed me calling him beautiful. I laughed knowingly and moved on. Yeah. I don't speak a lick of Italian.

And onto lunch!

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Okay. I was walking down the street back to my hostel thinking, "You know what I haven't had yet? Meat on a stick!" And then I saw meat in stick form and pulled over. The place was called Meatropolis. I like puns. And I like meat. Donezo.

I ordered "Kebab" and "Homemade sausage [on a stick]." I don't remember what they called it. I don't know what kind of meat a kebab is. It was so tender, I like to think it was lamb, or some delicious pork. And that sausage? That sausage was delicious

But as I said, "kebab," to the waiter, all I could think about was Flight of the ConchordsPlease click on that and watch it whether or not you know what I'm talking about. Because that is how I pronounced, "kebab." And for the rest of the meal, I just kept saying to myself, "You're a legend, Dave."

I love how all the dishes I get here in Greece come with a half slice of lemon. Because you know what? Lemon is an amazing taste that we should use more.

The men at the table next to me had a long conversation about genocide. #currentevents

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Walked back to the hostel.

Something about the homeless. I don't know how widespread this is, but I found it in Santorini and now here in Athens. There are homeless people selling travel packs of tissues. (Which, given my runny nose, I find very useful! Thought I haven't actually bought any from them yet.) In Chicago, we have Streetwise, which is a local periodical of some sort that homeless folk can sell for $2. I've definitely bought it before, but never read it. I find selling tissues to be much more useful.

Athens

Athens

Street crap, Athens

Street crap, Athens

Creepy toy store mascot, Athens

Creepy toy store mascot, Athens

Oh! In the square by my hostel there's a toy store. I had to go in. They have a very creepy mascot. I would liken it to our Geoffrey the Giraffe. So I was in that store for maybe 8 minutes. And the entire time, they were playing some version of John Paul Young's Love is in the Air. Which is a very long time to hear that song.

When I got back to the hostel, I met a new roommate. Another girl also traveling alone. (Girl power! Yep, I said it.) She's from Australia. Lots of Americans and Australians here.

I went to the roof to 1) write all this and 2) charge my shit as last night was lost to the wind for charging. Below is a picture of that. I sat with a beer discussing travel, life, politics, Game of Thrones, etc. with two Greeks and one American. All the while, the Acropolis is in the background.

It's pretty amazing.

An Australian just walked up to me and said, "You're not Jackie by any chance, are you."

"I could be Jackie if you need me to be," I say. Cuz Greece.

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Hopefully more from tonight later. The night is young.