Our second day of orientation was essentially a free tour. Kathy, our coordinator, met us at the library and then sent us onto a bus with instructions to meet our tour guide, Dora, at the Akropolis Museum. We left school without a hitch, heading down the hill to get the bus. The first hurdle appeared – we needed tickets, and none of the kiosks had any. They are meant to stock them, but for some reason none in the neighbourhood did.
We headed further down Kifissias to look for another kiosk, when Hannah, my roommate, tripped over something pointy and ripped open her toe. The blood dripping on the sidewalk sent us back to a Pharmacy to try and get her fixed up. Fortunately they took care of her swiftly and effectively and we were on our way again. Travis and I conferred and decided we should just take taxis to the metro station, where we could buy our transportation passes and head further into the city.
Once crammed into the taxi, an excellent adventure began. I attempted to communicate our destination, and then discuss possibilities of a metro strike in Greek with our driver. It turns out there was indeed a metro strike, so we stuck with him up to the Akropolis. And we talked in the Greek the entire time! He scolded my father for not teaching me the language (your Greek should be better!!), told me I’d never leave Greece once I found the Greek boy (THE Greek boy were his words), warned me against dubious taxi drivers, told me his views on the economic situation (he used to be a technical arts teacher) and overall gave me a great chance to practice my Greek. Plus he got us to the Akropolis.
We wandered up to the museum and waited for Dora, our guide, who turned out to be fantastic – her take on tour guiding was perfect, and her clear disdain for the British thieves (Elgin, et al) was both amusing and straight to the point. She used the museum as a very effective demonstration of why Greece should get the Parthenon Marbles back, although she believes (as do I) that it will never happen.
We zoomed through the museum, and then headed up the Akropolis. I was fortunate to discover that EU students get in completley free – so I saved Athens College all of about 5 euros! Our tour of the Akropolis itself was equally great. And it was a stunning day – obviously quite warm, but clear, so the views were gorgeous.
Somewhere like five hours later, we ended the tour in Plaka, where Dora gave us a brief walk-through and then recommended her favourite place for dinner. They weren’t ready to serve yet, so we went around the corner for orektika (appetisers) and coffee. After a tasty ‘Greek Sandwich’ (brown bread, olive spread, feta and tomatoes – heaven), and a bite of the ‘Akropolis’ crepe, which included the same ingredients, we went back next door for what became an incredible meal.
The taverna was empty when we arrived, and we ordered a selection of mezethakia to share, plus wine of course. The food was all incredible – I have been missing it – the octopus especially. 🙂 I ate as much as I could of Tzatziki, Xoriatiki (Greek salad), Dolmathes, Octopus of course, Saganaki, Feta, etc. ‘Om nom nom’ doesn’t do it justice. We finished dinner off with dessert, of course, although I didn’t partake. All too sticky and sweet for my taste.
We grabbed another taxi home, although this our driver was slightly less accommodating. I sat in the front seat holding three volleyballs, while three of the other fellows crammed into the back. He agreed to take us home, but did so while smoking, listening to terrible music (which I think he kept loud so we couldn’t hear the strange rattlings from the car) and swigging from a huge bottle (hopefully water?). Once we got into the neighbourhood I then attempted to direct him to the college, but had difficulty because the road leading up to the school is one way, the wrong way. Eventually, we had the fellows dropped off and he and I headed to Halandri, where we chatted (in Greek) about traffic, strikes, etc. In the end he insisted I take his number, in case we were ever near Syntagma and needed a taxi. I agreed and headed home, back to the cozy apartment to wash my very very dirty feet.
All in all, a pretty incredible day in Athens – and the first of many adventures I’m sure!
Further photos to come – now, off to the beach!