As you can see, time got the best of me and so did work. Adjusting to my new Graduate Nurse duties and also 12 hour shifts has become a new challenge with plenty of surprises. However, a couple weeks late or not, I am glad to put work away for just a moment and recount Athens for you all.
Day 1: Today, we arrived to the Munich airport via train except this time we decided to take our chances with the German train services and “forgot” about buying tickets. We were on guard the entire time thinking of ways to seem like the completely naive tourists to the probable train ticket checkers who may or may not check our nonexistent tickets. We got to the airport, without any of these problems! The plane ride took us back west until we landed in Athens!
We journeyed through customs here, and Sammy and Kristi were slightly annoyed that the Greeks didn't stamp our passports either, and so far, only Germany had. Sigh. We headed to currency exchange and took care of that as well as our ferry tickets for our journey to Santorini on the 5th of June. They lead us in the direction of the blue line that would take us directly to the area our hostel was, and so we waited for it to arrive.
Now, if we thought German was a complicated language...we were wrong! We didn't take into account that there is the entire Greek alphabet and we were no closer to trying to read it then Brandon is at saying anything correctly in Spanish. It was complete gibberish to us.
So my cocky self thought I at least had the stop we needed down to a tee. I told Sammy and Kristi that this was the apparent stop we needed, so we got off! It wasn't. No big deal, although it seems like we had a knack for getting lost. We just got back on the train headed in the right direction and got out at the correct stop.
Cookie took over at this point and thought she was headed towards the square we needed to appear at. So we stepped onto the escalator when I realized it was the complete opposite way out! Sammy says, "Well let's get off!" So she semi gracefully begins to travel the opposite way down the escalator that was going up and made it in one piece! I thought, “Hmmm, I can totally do that and avoid the additional walk back.” I proceed to jog down (I'm a little further up then Sam was) and completely ungracefully missed a step and stumbled to the bottom! Thankfully I didn't eat it, but that was enough for both Sammy and Kristi to hunch over and die laughing. Cookie was the only intelligent one and took the safe way up and back down. Cookie-1 The College Graduates-0
When we surfaced from the underground to the great city of Athens, it was a surprising first look. There was graffiti everywhere with vendors selling and appealing to the tourists. This reminded me exactly of little Mexico. Just picture Progresso, Mexico with beautiful ruins surrounding it!
A little overwhelmed and after making some wrong turns, we found our hostel, only a hop skip and a jump away from the train station. We got our room (that wasn't cleaned yet), and decided to handle a few monetary issues. We were in the clear, the maid fixed the sheets and we ventured out into the graffiti filled streets of Athens.
We were starving! The subpar Chinese airline’s "supposed" omelet wasn't cutting it. We found an awesome restaurant right by the square that had Gyros. I walked in and this very flamboyant Greek hostess greeted me and said, "How can I help you?" I said we were looking for some Gyros (good thing we looked up how to say them...that would have been embarrassing). He said of course… three coming right up! I asked for chicken, Sammy beef and Cookie very nervously said pork. She regretted it almost instantly! He pointed us in the direction where we could pick them up, and luckily Cookie was able to switch to chicken. These things were massive and equally as delicious! We sat down, and I know for sure that I downed mine which I think scares the two of them...they eat a lot more slowly. I need to work on that. We sat talking and loving how this was probably the first meal we didn't have to share (it's the little things in life) when the hostess dude kept coming and instigating conversations with us. He jokingly scolded at me for wearing my sunglasses that hid my eyes, winked at Cookie once and continued saying different things I can't remember. He was really nice, but we were overwhelmed by his tactics. We left sad that our gyros were gone, but happy to slide away from the Greek man.
We were all looking for hats, and I was looking for sunglasses to add to my ever growing collection. I thought about channeling my inner Momo (my grandma) and bargaining with these vendors, but look at me. I don't have an ounce of authority or derisiveness that is needed to accomplish this. But we all managed to find the objects we needed and at great prices I may add! I warned Sammy and Cookie about the people that will rip you off (I still haven't gotten over that gypsy in Spain) and told them just say no. I think Cookie took this the hardest. There was one old grandma who asked to shake her hand, and right up cookie went (and she wonders why we don't let her be alone!) It was completely harmless, and cookie stood her ground and said NO to whatever it is she was trying to sell. This entire selling and saying no process continued until we said lets hit happy hour at 6 on our rooftop.
We got up there, and waited at the bar to try and figure out what drinks we wanted. Two guys from D.C. struck up a conversation and then asked if we wanted to join them. We talked a bunch and found out they were on a super tight budget and told us some money saving strategies for our upcoming cities along with a lot of other stuff. Around 8:30, we told them goodbye because we were hungry and needed to split another gyro! We ventured out, got that and a gelato!
We tried to get some wifi, but it was proving difficult so cookie and I went to shower while Sammy tried to fight with it, but ended up agitated and back upstairs with us.
We wanted to stop by the central market next which was definitely an experience. The smells coming from the fish market was enough for me to plead with them not to go in!! They granted me that, so we headed to the meat market right next door.
This meat market had everything we had never seen up close before. Animals de-skinned and still headed hanging from hooks. We got all the way down the hall and felt instantly judged...we were the only tourists there observing and taking pictures. The latter was all on me, but heyy I have no shame!
After their piercing eyes intimidated us enough, we headed right back out and across the street to the fruit. The vast array of colors and smells seemed picturesque and taken from a movie! The prices were unbelievable as well! We walked all the way down, convinced Kristi that the watermelon was completely implausible and bought ourselves a kilo of peaches, kiwis and cherries for 3 euros!! GET OUTTA TOWN. WHAT A DEAL! I thought of Popo (my grandpa) immediately after getting the cherries. He would absolutely love them! On our way back, Sammy needed her motion sickness pills, so to the local pharmacy we went. I wanted to have nothing to do with that if I'm being honest. I could only imagine how expensive those things would be, so I waited dreadfully as Sammy asked the lady for these tablets. She handed Sam a sheet full of these pills, and Sammy very reluctantly asked how much. The lady replied with 50. GASP. 50 euros Sammy asks. 50 cents the lady replied. What a relief and a steal!! We were all very pleased. Sammy-1 Pharmacy-0
We got back to the dorm to drop it off and have a kiwi and some cherries for lunch (talk about a natural sugar overload for the day). Unfortunately, the kiwis were no good at all. Sammy is right; we learned we should check the fruit right after they hand it to us. Oh well. We still had about 14 peaches, 3 good kiwis and a kilo of cherries!
Alas, we would head to the Acropolis. We brought our waters this time, and started at the Agora. I don't quite remember all the history. Simply put, this is a really old city. It began way B.C. And they named the town Athens after the goodness Athena took control and built it to what it was which sadly, is now just a bunch of ruins with the mere foundations of most of the buildings. Cookie has a great question as to why this happened. How did a thriving city collapse and why did only certain structures remain? Maybe we should have stuck to the walking tour because there was no audio guide for us this time. Questions to research later. So we made it to a little museum with sculptures of different gods when we took a picture of cookie with Cupid, or Eros. The lady came up to us after and said to delete it, and she refused to leave until she saw me do it. So I showed her that I did...but she obviously doesn't know I can recover deleted photos. Museum lady-0 Brenda-1.
After this and some pictures around the landscape, we headed up to the Acropolis, or high city. Let me tell you. It's way up there!! The city is made up mainly of marble, and our shoes have lost a lot of traction. On our way down some steps, my TOMS decided to give way to the slippery marble, and down the stairs I went. I heard Sammy gasp then chuckle, but didn't really have time to do anything, and I think cookie was simply too surprised. I hadn't any time to think myself, so I put my soccer quads to some use, caught myself with my left wrist (which wasn't thanking me later), and slid down those steps. Good news: I was A okayy and felt surprisingly athletic afterwards. Brenda-1 Steps-0
To our disappointment, there was also a lot of construction going on at the Acropolis. We took some pictures, and decided that Ryan was right. Once you see the ruins, you've seen them all, and one full day was good enough.
Around 4:15, we had made it back down the mountain and headed straight for the gyros again. That's how good they were!! We got one each, and our friend was there again, but to my relief, didn't come say hi. We talked and enjoyed the good weather. I scarfed down mine yet again...they're delicious! When the girls were finished, we went up for happy hour and had some sangria. Cookie is a pro people watcher and was filling us in on everything that was happening behind us. We had great seats so we could really see. They were all really nice, and they asked if we wanted to join, but we wanted to get an early night since we had the ferry in the morning.
And we did get up early to catch the train to the port. It is a tourist part of town, but the square is full of hooligans and hobos. We were together though so I knew whatever may occur, we could hold our own. Despite what you may hear from other sources, I saw the seedy man in the distance, but it was a quick process to get our tickets (and there were three of us to one of him) so I wasn't that concerned. Cookie thought that since she couldn't get our attention to move to another kiosk, she would just go alone. And Sammy thinks that acknowledging the crazy man is better than simply ignoring him. Well to each his own. We got out in one piece without any problems from the persistent hobo.
I promise to have Santorini's post ready to go and on time this coming Sunday!