The more places I go the more I appreciate the beauty and the simplicity of the city in which I currently reside: Thessaloniki.
Bus Rides are Fun!
Last Friday morning a group of twenty-nine study abroad students, including myself, drove off in a passenger bus headed to Athens. The trip seemed to take forever, mostly because it’s a Greek law that the bus driver must stop ever two hours. However, the views along the way were beautiful.
First Impressions of Athens
When we arrived in Athens, we drove around the city a bit before locating our hotel. From there a group of us wandered around and found a strip restaurants and souvenir shops.
Looking up, boom, there was the Acropolis! It wasn’t what I’d pictured in my head, staring up at a very high hill with a flat top.
The Acropolis Museum makes the list of Tripadvisors top ten things to do in Athens, and I’d agree. It was really cool to look down between my feet and see the excavation site of ancient ruins.
My favorite part of the museum was the caryatid statues. The five remaining statues are intricately carved and gloriously beautiful. I spent quite some time gazing up at the hair on the statues wishing that I could recreate the style.
A Day in Athens
Saturday we spent the entire day in Athens. Our adventure included visiting the Acropolis and seeing the Parthenon, a trip to the Greek and Roman Angoras and an afternoon to ourselves in the city during which a few frineds and myself walked to the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
All around, Athens was wonderful.
Live and Learn
Something I didn’t enjoy in Athens was the pushiness of the restaurant people. One man stood in front of us, trying to block our path, with his arms outstretched.
I suppose I’ve gotten spoiled in Thessaloniki by the general lack of tourism. But when we were immediately identified as tourists in Athens, not only were the locals trying to persuade us inside, they also only spoke in English.
Dissimilarly, when I was grocery shopping in Thessaloniki last night the woman at the cash register spoke in Greek. I gave her a blank look before asking “Αγγλικά?”
She laughed and said, “I thought you were Greek!”
This moment struck me as when I realized that I’m not just studying abroad. I’m living abroad. I’m a member of the community in which I live. I visit the bakery and am greeted by friendly faces; I smile at the gyros man when I walk past; and I feel comfortable wandering around my neighborhood without Google maps in my hand.
I might be a tourist in a lot of ways. But when I’m in Thessaloniki I don’t feel like a tourist. And that, in and of itself, is worth living abroad.
Part Two Will Be Uploaded in a Few Days: A Day in Delphi