This past week was vacation time for All Saints Day in France. I’m not really sure what the holiday is exactly, but hey I’m not going to complain about a week of vacation! Sweet Briar didn’t exactly let us off of their classes, but when we heard that all Sorbonne classes were cancelled for the week, we all decided to skip the remaining classes and take advantage of valuable travel time!
When planning the trip I knew I wanted to go to Italy. It seemed logical since I had an extended break and lots of cities in Italy that I wanted to visit. Then one of my friends said they wanted to visit Athens and I created what some called “Emily’s Mediterranean Death March” as it included 2 days in Athens, Greece and 2 days each in Rome, Florence, and Venice. How’s that for some productive traveling? Don’t laugh but I was definitely sick by the end of the week – most likely with the build up of stress that came along with the title “Trip planner.”
I took an easyjet flight to Athens (I’ll write a blog post later reviewing the various budget airlines and travel tips) and after a hesitant metro ride to the inner city (everything was in Greek!) we finally made it to our hostel and dropped off our bags. Then we climbed the giant hill that towers over all of Athens.
Lots of silly pictures ensued on the march to the top, full of “goddess” and “contemplating life” poses, but this one has to be my favorite.
Then we wandered around the touristy streets for awhile and stumbled upon a Greek frozen yogurt shop and we had to try some. The yogurt is just one flavor (Greek) but you get to choose your toppings.
Dinner that night was Moussaka. Now say that three times fast:
It reminded me a lot of Shepard’s pie as it was mostly a combination of potatoes and minced meat.
Then I’m not sure if this is a Greek thing (it probably isn’t) but the restaurant earned my eternal gratitude by giving us free dessert in the form of tiny scoop of ice cream in a shot glass.
The next day we headed over to Zeus’ temple.
Greek ruins are really impressive. I almost felt like I was inside a Percy Jackson movie and that Zeus and Athena were going to pop out at any moment, but the ruins were also a little disappointing, because they were well ruined. All that was left of Zeus’ temple was the few columns you see in the picture above, which left me feeling a little like this:
I mean I know it’s unrealistic to wish that the ruins weren’t so ruined, but they were still really interesting, especially when we visited the Acropolis museum and got to see pieces of the Acropolis that had fallen off or had been stolen over the years. Then I got tired of seeing Greek ruins and decided to become a nice un-ruined Greek (uh Irish actually) statue.
Lunch the next day was Gyros. I actually walked out of one restaurant we had tentatively decided on because they didn’t have gyros.
What? When I’m in Greece I need my Greek food!
Now there definitely weren’t as many stray cats in Greece as there were in Turkey, but these cats kept showing up smack dab in front of ruins, making them the most picturesque things in the entire city.
Here’s Hephaestus cat, contemplating the next mouse trap he will build for his home at the Temple of Hephaestus in the background:
Then there’s Zeus cat who is about to throw some lightning at me unless I give him some catnip…
And Athena cat is perfectly content to see that her temple still inspires about a million people a year…
I really enjoyed Athens and it was probably just the area I was staying by (right next to the Acropolis) but it almost felt too touristy, especially for late October. It was hard to imagine myself living there, as grocery stores were hard to find and we didn’t see much besides restaurants and souvenir shops that would indicate that people actually lived there. I loved the ruins though and would love to return one day and visit Delphi, Santorini, and other Greek isles.
To finish I would like to leave this extremely relevant video here in regards to both travelling in general and what I was imagining Zeus’ temple to be.
I’ll post about Rome, Florence, and Venice shortly!
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