When I say that visiting Greece has literally changed my whole life, I truly mean it. That is partly why this post is almost five months after returning. My trip came at a time where I was not very happy in my life and it completely shook everything up. I was so filled with joy and excitement throughout every moment of the trip that I had to really take a step back and evaluate why I was so miserable all the time. I was working fifty to sixty hours per week while trying to manage three college courses and maintain my 4.0 GPA. You can see why I was a little stressed, right?
Anyways, I came home and made some major changes to my life and now I am so much happier. I left my previous job and made my education a top priority. This also leaves more time for blogging! For any who have read my previous posts, you know that the trip was a week-long adventure through several major cities. I figured the best way was to break everything down city by city.
First Stop, Athens!
After a long, eight hour flight (with a quick layover in Germany), everyone was exhausted and excited at the same time to venture out into Athens. We had a bus waiting for us and when I tell you, even just the hour ride from the airport to the hotel had such beautiful scenery, vacation mode immediately set in. Our hotel was within walking distance of the Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon. Right in the middle of amazing restaurants, shopping, and sights!
That night, we got our first taste of the delicious food. Our group was lucky enough to have ALL meals included in the price of the study abroad. That being said, I assumed the meals would be mediocre but I was dead wrong. At every single meal, we were served three to four courses. Just thinking back has my mouth watering while I type. After dinner, we decided to check out this pinball museum that was right next door to our hotel. For ten euros, we had unlimited access to probably about a hundred (or more) different pinball games. It was the perfect way to ease into Athens and get comfortable with each other.
We had the full second day in Athens and were scheduled to head out the very next morning. That meant we had only a little time to cover a lot of ground. Started off with our first official breakfast in Greece. This is just a small taste of the full buffet-style breakfasts we were indulging in. And let me tell you, American espresso has NOTHING on theirs! I tell no lies when I say I was buying espresso at every single place we stopped and I regret not one single shot.
After we were fueled up and ready to tackle the day, we headed out on a guided bus tour around the city (led by our professor). We stopped at the Olympic Stadium (where the first modern Olympics was held) and the Tomb of the Fallen Soldier. Both really awesome places to see. There wasn’t much to do at either place but you really feel like you are in the presence of important historical events. Who am I kidding? That is how I felt every place we went to!
From there, we moved on to the Parthenon. Talk about putting things into perspective. This place was built in ancient times without any of our modern technology or construction equipment and it was towering so far overhead that it took my breath away. One of my classmates conducted her site report here, teaching us more about the history behind it. After a couple of hours and many photo ops later, we made our way to a delicious restaurant (which I don’t recall the name and can’t translate the sign). It was right down the hill from the Parthenon so the view of it was amazing! As was the food, to no surprise.
The Acropolis Museum
Out of all the museums, we visited while in country, the Acropolis was by far my favorite. First of all, it’s massive. There were several levels so we spend a few hours making our way through it all. The artwork was incredible. My favorite thing to see was the red clay pottery that we had learned about prior to going there. For only twenty euros, this place absolutely needs to be on your list of must-sees.
As a retail therapy advocate, I was most excited to do some shopping. There were plenty of touristy shops, but there were a few that actually had some beautiful things. I managed to get a beautiful mauve crossbody purse, two scarves and some jewelry for less than fifty euros. I also gave my haggling skills a try at some of the outdoor jewelry stands and took home two extravagent statement necklaces, hoops, and an arm cuff for twenty euros. I was in heaven!
We really hit the city hard on our day in Athens but as I said, we were off to the next destination of Nafplio the next morning. We had to come back to Athens on our very last day in order to fly out and we managed to hit the shops one last time and enjoy our last “family dinner”. It’s crazy how tight a group of strangers can become after only a few days. I already can’t wait to study abroad next spring break!