Friday, July 23, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Adventure - Long Flights with Funny Ladies

What an amazing July it's been so far!  I'm so excited to share my adventures in Greece with my friend, Jenny.  So, let me get to it!

Long Waits and Rides
On June 5th, Jenny and I embarked on our long-awaited trip to Greece.  We were a little bit late getting to the airport.  But since we didn't have to check any luggage, we were pretty much right on time.

We had a stop-over in Montreal, Canada, where we discovered the wonders of Canadian ketchup.  Yes, that's right, Canadian ketchup from Heinz.  As we took several bites from our fries, we realized there was a slight sweetness to the ketchup.  We laughed, saying that maybe they put maple syrup in the ketchup.  Apparently, we weren't that far from the truth.
Liquid sugar???
Definitely better than corn syrup.
After about 3 hours, we were officially on our way towards Greece.  Unfortunately, we were on a plane that didn't have television screens for every chair.  Fortunately, the company was pleasant.

We sat next to this woman who was flying home to Lebanon after visiting her sister in Montreal.  She talked to us quite a bit, asking us how we met, where our families are from.  She even proceeded to show us her pictures from her trip.  The poor woman does not sleep at all on the plane, so she makes a lot of stray observations.

Well, she noticed a couple to our left and a couple to our right.  Of the couple on the right, she basically observed that they must have been brother and sister, since they didn't really talk to each other even though they slept on each others shoulders.  Of the couple on the left, she quietly pointed out how ugly the guy was when he was sleeping..with his mouth wide open!

Generally, I'm pretty good at sleeping on the plane.  I discovered that turning one of those travel pillows so that part of the arms fits under your chin.  Your head gets a rest, and you prevent falling asleep with your mouth open.  Win-win for everyone.

Landing in the Land of Myths
On Tuesday, July 6th, Jenny and I landed in hot and humid Athens.  As we found our way to the Metro and rode away from the airport, we couldn't help but notice how the landscape was similar to driving through California.  Some of the vegetation was similar, somewhat hilly with mountains in the distance.
Athens Metro
We stayed in a central part of Athens call Omonia Square, that was busy, full of stores, and perhaps a bit seedy.  However, we didn't feel unsafe at all.  We found our way to Hotel Ilion, where we promptly showered off the days worth of travel and took a well deserved nap.

After our nap, we felt energized to walk around the main square.  We ended up walking to Monastiraki Square, which was a somewhat more touristy area and where the Athens Flea Market was located.  As we explored the area, it was hard to ignore the amazing views.
Ruins and a view of the Acropolis
It was amazing to be walking through the marbled and hilly streets, even among the kitschy stores and tourists.  As you walk through the streets, be prepared to have vendors approach you to look at their wares or to eat at their restaurant.  Eventually, our hunger caught up to us and we settled at a nice restaurant in the heart of Monastiraki Square.
Delicious Greek food!
One of the pieces of advice we got was to not be surprised about the service we get at restaurants.  Women are generally served last, and that's even more so for non-Greek women.  As tourists, I felt that we were served at around the same time, but it always took forever to get service after we got our food.  It took us a while to realize that we should ask for the bill the second we have our food.

Another piece of advice was to not talk to strangers.  Well, that proved really difficult when they were very eager to talk to us.  On our first night, we were approached by a Greek man who proceeded to guess our ethnicities and what makes our ethnicities so awesome.  He also tried to get us to go to come club, which we assumed he was hired to do, but we politely declined.

Greek Strays
Interestingly, we were told before we left that there was a lot of stray cats that roamed the city of Athens.  However, we only really saw a handful of them in the city.  We saw a lot more dogs with collars wandering around.  We also saw a lot of kids with accordions.
Cat at Metro station
Dog stealing the Bubble Guy's show
Just another child with an accordion
Actually, the kids with accordions really made me think a bit.  I know that in a lot of countries, the poor are also the indigenous cultures who go around begging or send their kids to go around begging.  After thinking about it, I thought that perhaps it was the Romani people who were represented this time around.  Either way, I know that I should learn a bit more about the history of the country aside from its mythology.

Coming up next:  The Parthenon and Democracy At It's Best?

1 comment:

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