today was our first day in athens. everyone had told us that athens is not that nice of a city. they said it was dirty and crowded. at first, i found that to be quite true. the streets were crowded and it kind of smelled. it was downright intimidating. we went to an open market because we were told we could buy fruit and cheese there for breakfast, but we must have gone to the wrong section because all we saw was fish and meat. so, we wondered a little more, on our way to the plaka neighborhood, which is a very tourist section with lots of little shops and restaurants. on our way, we stopped in the national garden.
the garden was beautiful! first of all, there were palm trees, which sam and i enjoyed. there were also a lot of shady seating areas. the architect that planned it was a genius because in the heat (42 C, 100+ F), we just wanted to sit down. so, we did some sitting and some people watching. as we walked more through the park, we found a little zoo. although is was more just random caged animals -- turtles, goats, birds, and a donkey -- than an official zoo. finally, we came upon a small vine-covered cafe. it was perfect. sam had a "freddo cappuccino" and i had peach iced tea. we sat and chilled for a while before deciding to be on our way.
so, we made our way to the plaka section. it was gorgeous -- definitely more touristy, but beautiful nonetheless. it was basically made up of dozens of little winding cobblestone streets filled with little stores. so so cool! we walked around there for most of the day just looking at everything. then, we made our way to the acropolis, with the help of one very nice shop owner.
i have to tell you, i really think i can eat anything for rest of the trip because i burned it off walking to the Parthenon. it's so high! and the stones to get up there are slippery -- i guess from being walked on so much -- so i was constantly worried that i would fall, thinking "omigod, what if i have to be carried down from the parthenon?!" but we both made it. at first, we walked through this small ruin, which i thought was impressive, but it was lincoln logs compared to what was past it. the parthenon is huge and completely majestic, even in the blazing sun. some nice irish women took our picture, but we look like the plastic people in the game of the life in front of the parthenon. sam commented that, whereas many things can be disappointing once they are actually experienced, this was exactly what she had expect and more. it was fantastic, and we both realized we had checked something off our bucket lists.
once down from the acropolis, we ate. neither of us had eaten for hours, so we were both starving and chose the first place we saw. it was a lovely place where we could sit outside. for our first real meals in greece, we went traditional. we got dolmadakia (rice in grape leaves) for an appetizer. she got chicken souvlaki (kebob), and i got a gyro, which a pronounced wrong much to the disappointment of my sister. for dessert, we shared baklava, certainly the first of many during our trip -- as the saying goes, a baklava a day makes for a happy trip!
and by the saying, i mean, sam said it -- but it's definitely true! also at dinner, we met some nice norwegians at the next table. they asked us a little about our trip and then taught us how they toast in norway. so we toasted to greece and rather than 'cheers,' we said 'skoal.'
later, sam and i had a quick drink at the upstairs bar and then went out in search of food that we could take on the early ferry tomorrow. we found that manastiraki, the neighborhood in which were staying, is quite alive after dark. turns out that nightlife begins with dinner at ten and partying into the early morning. good to know as we travel to santorini.
upon returning to our room, we had a long sykpe convo with my friend, jimmy, from school. he is also coming to rome for the semester. i haven't seen him is a while, so it was great to talk. we discussed our fears about going abroad. for some reason, his always end in hostage situations. i really can't wait to get to rome and experience the city with him. only 10 more days!!!
until then, i'll be traveling with my sister. tomorrow we sail to santorini. skoal!