1. The Acropolis, Lamia, and Meteora

    Jeez, it has been a busy couple of days! My wifi is spotty at my newest hotel, so I wasn’t able to post about my day at the Acropolis from two days ago. Yesterday we went to Meteora as well, which was amazing, so bare with me because I have lots to talk about!

    Yesterday was such an awesome day. It was my first full day in Greece and it was definitely well spent. We woke up at 7am for breakfast in the hotel before leaving for the Acropolis at 9am. We all parked and then began the walk up this huge rock hill to the Acropolis. We had an amazing tour guide who was super passionate about Greek history, and I learned so much interesting information from her. The Acropolis means “the highest point of the city” (“acro” meaning highest point, “polis” meaningcity). She told us that the population is roughly 5 million, which blew my mind. Walking up to the Acropolis was very scenic and beautiful. We were surrounded by olive trees the entire way. The tour guide explained how Athens came to be according to Greek mythology. Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Poseidon, god of the sea, both wanted to be the main protector of Athens. They had to bring an offering to mankind and who ever’s offering was more significant would win. Athena offered the olive tree, which allowed her to win the title of protector of the city. Being surrounded by the olive trees was particularly neat after hearing this story. The view on the way up wasn’t half bad, either.

    The Acropolis is made up of several structures. They are currently working on some construction on the most recognized structure, the Parthenon. They are not rebuilding it, but rather working to keep the structure sound from the elements and age. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It is said that it is considered the symbol of Western civilization, and I can see why. 

    One of my favorite structures of the Acropolis was the Erechtheion. It had these beautiful statues for the pillars and, for lack of better phrasing, was so freaking cool. 

    After we finished touring the actual Acropolis, we went to the Acropolis museum. They explained that they were in the middle of doing some excavation work that was turning up the actual ruins of the city of Athens from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. They also showed us some of the statues that had been uncovered. 

    It was an amazing experience. After we finished in Athens, we headed to Lamia, which is my professor’s hometown. It’s so cute and there are so many little shops and cafes. Fotop (short for Fotopoulos), which is what we call our professor, took us all out to a really nice Greek dinner when we got there. We finished off the night by having a few drinks in the hotel with the rest of the group and just getting to know the people we will be spending the next month with. It was a perfect first day. 

    Yesterday was amazing as well. We drove to this place called Meteora, which is a community of 6 monasteries, 2 women only and 4 men only, that are built into these insane cliffs. On the way, we stopped at this little restaurant overlooking the water and Fotop treated us to an amazing lunch. Apparently, Greeks really love wedge-cut fries covered in shredded goat cheese. Who knew? We had pork steaks, salad (no thanks), and bread as well. So tasty. 

    Driving up to meteora and seeing these monasteries was literally indescribable. They were so beautiful, the kind of beautiful that is really hard to capture on camera, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

    We got to tour one of the monasteries’ chapel and surrounding area. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the chapel, which is unfortunate because it was unbelievable. The walls were covered floor to ceiling in biblical paintings that originated from the 16th century. It is open to public until the early evening when the monks and nuns return to pray.

    The guys had to wear pants that went down to their knees, and the girls had to wear knee-length skirts or dresses, and they gave us shawls because it was required that our shoulders were not to show, in order to show respect for the nuns and monks who take their religion so seriously.

    Ultimately, it was a fantastic few days in Greece. Unlike Athens, in smaller towns there are less people who speak English, so I am trying to learn the basics of Greek as fast as I can. So far, I have “hello”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, “yes”, “no”, and “do you speak English”. 

    We celebrated our last night in Lamia by going to some of the local bars and having some drinks and appetizers. The drinking culture is very different from the US in that the drinks aren’t very strong, because people don’t really drink to get drunk here. It’s much more of a social thing. 

    Today we are heading to Delphi before getting on an overnight ferry to Crete. Fotop described Delphi as “the place where humans and Gods meet up and have coffee”. I’m not really sure what he means by that, but I am excited to see. Will post again when I get to Crete. Miss all of you!

  2. Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…
    — C.S. Lewis
  6. Today I re-read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

    I wrote in all the margins and underlined all the words that made my chest ache. If you haven’t read this book, you should. It’s one of those books that fills you with so much emotion that you don’t know what to do with it all. It’s overwhelming, but it’s something that everyone should feel.