Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
9Trip End Oct 03, 2008
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Where I stayed
The last three days here in Athens have probably been the lowest of the trip. It's been tough being away from home with all the catastrophic economic news. Our hotel in Athens has a television with CNN International and
we've finally found the international version of the USA Today, so we've been able to keep up with most of what's going on. All the doom and gloom definitely puts a damper on things! At least the dollar is doing better to the Euro now..
We caught up with my cousin Megan and her boyfriend Scott for about 24 hours here, and that was the brightest spot of our time in Athens. We had a miserable seven hour ferry ride from Santorini to Athens. We made the mistake of purchasing economy tickets, which mean you sat outside in the cold wind. We managed to find a place that was a bit sheltered from the wind, but then all the cigarette smoke from everyone (and I mean every single person on the ferry) accumulated around us. We were ready to leap off the ferry when we arrived at the port, but we nearly died in the process. We had to exit through the garage and all the big trucks the ferry was transporting fired up their engines before they opened the doors. We were basically standing with our faces in their exhaust pipes and there was no clean air to be had. I was actually starting to see spots when the doors finally opened and we were released. Megan and Scott surprised us by meeting us at the ferry dock and I have never been so glad to see a familiar face in my entire life. They swept us into a cab and ushered us back to our hotel. Mom and I were windblown and reeked of truck exhaust and cigarettes (Megan later said she was lucky she recognized us when we got off the boat), but Megan and Scott put up with us long enough to have a drink on our hotel balcony looking up to the illuminated Acropolis.
We all really enjoyed the time just to be with them, but the city of Athens itself has been a bit of a bust
The Acropolis was interesting, but incredibly overcrowded with masses of tour groups. I found myself pretty angry with it all because the ancient ruins are being rebuilt with modern technology (the Parthenon is covered with scaffolding and surrounded by cranes). The four of us had some interesting discussion over whether it was right or wrong to reconstruct it.
After Megan and Scott moved on to their next destination yesterday morning, Mom and I were left with a day and a half to kill in a city we're not that excited about. We tried to find a movie theater with movies in English, and the only nice tourist information person in all of Athens suggested we go to the mall. We took a looooong subway ride out to where it was. We walked in, got a mall map, and I'm ashamed to say I got the most excited I've been on the trip when we discovered there was a Ruby Tuesday in the food court. I'm not one to get homesick, but I think I must be just a little homesick considering that I actually jumped up and down at the thought of a salad bar
Mom and I did have a nice conclusion to our time in Athens last night. Nights previously we had asked at the hotel desk what there was to do at night and all the hotel staff had pushed an expensive city tour/dinner combination. Last night, a new staff member was there and suggested the Plaka, an area at the base of the Acropolis within easy walking distance with restaurants and shops. We wandered over there and it was an absolutely charming part of the city we didn't even know was there. We found a restaurant with live Greek music and dancing and enjoyed some delicious stuffed vine leaves while soaking up the atmosphere.
We've spent this morning packing and in a few hours we'll head to the Athens airport. It's definitely sad that the trip is over, but I think I am ready to go home before I gear right up for my next trip. I have exactly a week at home before I leave on October 10 for two months in the Dominican Republic. I have the first two weeks to recover the Spanish language I've lost since I took it in high school and learn enough to make me semi-proficient, and then the remaining six weeks I'll be working with World Vision to do something along the lines of a malnutrition and health assessment with families in a rural area. I think traveling by myself in Europe will be nothing compared to the challenges I'm about to take on in the DR. I'll be blogging that trip too, so if you're not sick of me yet you can have two more months of adventure with me
Thanks so much for following along with me for the last month through Europe! Even with the few frustrations, I've enjoyed just about every minute of it. I spent a small fortune on gelato and filled three memory cards with photos, so by those two accounts (and of course all the amazing memories I have now) I can conclude that this has been a wonderful trip.
So from all the countries I've been to: good bye, adios, au revoir, uf widerluege, ciao, and yiasou!