So…I made it safe to Athens! It has been a busy busy day and I have so much going on in my mind right now. I am on sensory overload after coming from Turkey and my mind is jumping into constant comparisons of the culture against the US and Turkey! Thanks SIT for that, haha. I guess I shall begin from the beginning of the day so that I can make sure to include everything! We left Istanbul from our hostel around 5am so that we could catch a shuttle and make it to our flight that left around 9am. We arrived in Greece around noon and made our way to our hotel in downtown Athens through another adventurous metro ride! I am really becoming quite good at navigating myself through cities via public transportation. 🙂 We checked into our hostel, which is awesome!! Its the second hostel I have stayed in (the first being in Istanbul), and this is about 6 floors and there are young people everywhere! Its like a dorm and I really like it. I am actually sitting in the “common area” right now typing this at 3:30am…hehe. Once we cleaned up a bit, we headed into the city and my mind was overwhelmed! The first thing I noticed was the massive amounts of graffiti EVERYWHERE! I admit, I made some assumptions about Greece before coming here and the city being a little dirty and covered in graffiti was not in the spectrum of those assumptions. Nevertheless, the city is amazing! I do want to clarify that when I mean COVERED in graffiti, every single piece of wall has graffiti on it. Pictures will be posted to facebook and everyone can see what I mean.
As we walked through the streets of Athens, my mind kept wandering to Spain and how much similar the atmosphere was. Out of nowhere, as we walked down streets filled with vendors and individuals selling jewlery we come upon an amazing view of ruins on a hill. It was absolutely beautiful!!! It is amazing how every few blocks there are ancient ruins surrounded by modern aspects. It just baffles my mind how much this city is filled with history and the entire time I walked through the city I kept imagining what it must be like to live in a city and be surrounded by such ancient history. I mean, to be walking to work or school and on your daily route is a beautiful view of ancient ruins where kings and queens and Greek gods once laid their feet upon. AMAZING! 🙂 Greece is absolutely beautiful and I could have wandered through the streets all day just taking in the sights and photographing its beauty, but not everyone is a wanderer like I can be. We had a late lunch and then eventually separated the group of four while myself and another girl decided to continue walking around the city while the other two headed back to the hotel. The two of us ended up climbing a rocky hill to come upon an amazing view of the entire city of Athens. The view was unbelievable! I really wish I could have sat there for hours gazing upon the speckles of white buildings and the rolling clouds. It was incredibly peaceful on the top of the steep hill as I gazed upon the city of Athens. I was really still in shock that I was actually standing in Athens where such ancient history lies!
The two of us finally came back to the hotel where we got read to go out again and do the one thing I have on my “to-do” list for Greece: Salsa dancing. I say this is my one thing I really wanted to do, because I know that we will be stopping by the usual tourist places and this is really something out of the ordinary I wanted to do. I was able to complete a dream of mine of salsa dancing in NYC before coming to Istanbul and another dream of salsa dancing in another country has been completed! We went to Fuego, which is a popular Latin club here in Greece and we took a taxi to get there since it was farther then walking distance. This here, is where the trip took a turn 😦 I have read before that taxi drivers will try very hard to rip off foreign travelers by switching similar bills. I never ever thought this would happen to me! 😦 The taxi that we took to the club took a longer way and stole 70 euros from me by switching bills without me realizing it before I left the cab. After that happening, I was left with 10 euros for the end of the night. Thankfully, the friend I was with had some euros with her, but I felt so sad that people really do do those types of things. Maybe I have become too much of a trusting traveler? Who knows, but I have definitely put up my radar more after that incident and I will not trust so easily when traveling. Besides being robbed of money, the experience to the salsa club was great. It was a much different club then any I have been to, but the difference really added to the experience. Usually, at most salsa clubs there will be a mini lesson at the beginning, but this club had a couple of “instructors” that I later learned were from Cuba, that would periodically through the night have the entire club following them in dance routines. It was awesome! I danced a few times with some people, but also danced with my friend that came with me. Needless to say, my feet hurt. I really think its time for some new shoes, haha. It was an interesting experience salsa dancing in Greece since I speak 0 greek! I spoke more spanish then anything else and I found myself just resorting to spanish since I felt like it would be more appreciated then an American citizen, and it worked :P. Sadly, there were not that many good dancers, but the more I thought about it as the night went on I realized that to be asked by the really good dancers at a place you need to have been seen at the club more then once, or you have to ask them. I danced with a few people, but the majority sucked haha. One guy even tired to speak to me via about 5 different languages, but between the two of us none of the languages were spoken by both of us. The only words in English he seemed to know were “I love you baby”. HAHA….it was funny, and I just ignored it and thanked him for the dance. Overall, it was fun and I really enjoyed it 🙂
Throughout the day I had so much more going through my mind about the observations of Greece, but I am sure through the following days I will remember and write them here. Being cheated by the cab driver for so much money really messed with my thought process, sadly. Also, near the end of the night as I was sitting in the club watching people dance I had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. Its funny the places my mind chooses to think about serious things and life. Needless to say, the club was a place that my mind felt like a good place to think deeply. So, many many thoughts running through my mind.
I guess I should really head to bed since it is 4am and we decided as a group to get up in four hours. Off to the bunk bed that awaits me. Really looking forward to walking around the city some more and taking it all in. Missing some people.. 🙂