Sunday, April 26, 2015

Athens


Spring break was a few weeks ago and a friend of mine had always wanted to go to Athens. Despite my visa issues I decided that I wanted to go too. So I got a blessing from the visa office and two days before break started we booked a hotel and bought tickets on Ryanair to Athens.

Day 1: We traveled all day. The city where I live does not have direct flights to Athens so we ended up taking a bus to Warsaw. The bus left at around 10am and it got there at around 2pm. From the bus station we decided to take a taxi out to the Modlin airport.

We got in the cab drove for thirty seconds to a red light and the bus that was driving in front of us decided that it was going to back up on top of us. It all happened in slow motion, luckily we were stopped, and no one was hurt. It ended up taking out one of the lights and the front bumper. My friend and I just sat in the taxi awkwardly unsure of what to do. The cabbie did call another taxi for us and we did eventually make it to the airport which was around 30 minutes away.

Interestingly that is the second time I've been hit by a vehicle that's decided to back up without any warning. The first time I was on my bike. Talk about bad luck.

Our flight left Warsaw at around 7pm and we got to Athens at nearly 11 o'clock their time. It's hard to believe it's only around a three hour flight.

Day 2:  We woke up early the next day excited to see the area! The place we were staying was in a pretty run down area but there were plenty of people around so we walked to our first destination- the Acropolis!

Apparently if you have an EU student ID card you can get into most everything for FREE. It was a definite bonus!

We stayed at the Acropolis for at least an hour if not more. I loved reading about what all the old ruins were and trying to imagine what it looked like back in the day. It's amazing that things like that were able to be built when they didn't have tools that we have now. We saw the theater of Dionysus, climbed the hill to see the Parthenon which was undergoing renovations, viewed the temple of Athena, and checked out the view of Athens from the top. You can see pretty much everything from up there- including the sea!

Next we headed to what was my favorite part of the trip, the Panathenaic Stadium. The site of the first modern olympic games and where the marathon ended. This one we had to pay for, but we still got a discount with our student cards. We walked around on the track and checked out the statues and I did a lap for completeness sake. We walked into what we thought was a cave but turned out to be a tunnel to where a museum is set up. They had all of the old torches from olympic games past as well as more history on the stadium and of course the marathon.

Nearby the stadium is the Temple of Zeus, which unfortunately isn't as cool as it sounds. It's mostly just old pillars on a nice little plot of grass. We did a loop around it, took some pictures, and then headed to the Plaka.

The Plaka is one of the main shopping districts in Athens. There is your typical tourist trap area with souvenir shops which we spent some time perusing. If you walk far enough from their there's also a typical sort of market with less touristy stuff. We ran into the Roman Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus we walked so far.

Day 3: We had decided pretty early on in our trip planning that we wanted to do some kind of cruise tour. As we walked around we discovered that there were signs everywhere for this one day tour of three islands for 100 euro. We signed up not knowing what to expect.

They came and picked us up at our hotel at 7am and took us to the dock where our boat awaited. We were still pretty sleepy from the day before and it was chilly out so we sat at a table inside for the first hour or so. There was music and then they told us more about the islands that we'd be visiting as well as the events on the boat. At one point on the way to the islands I walked into the bathroom to find an elderly woman being violently seasick, I ended up hunting down a seasick tablet for her and helping her hold her head over the sink- my first med school moment of the day (the second was when my friend and I "consulted" a boy who had split his chin and needed stitches).
I think it took two hours to get to our first island which was Hydra at which point it was very windy and rainy! It was a small little place with only donkey's for transportation (though we did see a small truck!) We walked up the hill to check out some of the houses which were typical of the Greek architecture and then we walked down one of the costal trails which was amazing. It's too bad the weather was miserable, I think we both would have liked to spend some time swimming there!
We got back on the boat and they had a buffet prepared for us. I had three huge plates- I was starving! Others didn't eat so much though, the water had gotten significantly more rocky after we left port. People were puking left and right. They even started handing out barf bags. Meanwhile I was stuffing my face.

By the time we had reached the next island, Poros the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to peak through. We were only there for 40 minutes I can't say too much about it.

Our final island was Aegina where we went and saw the temple of Aegina and bought some pecans which are apparently their main crop. I liked the temple of Aegina more than the ruins in Athens, it seemed more put together and there were less tourists around so it was more personal.

As we headed back to Athens that day there was traditional Greek dancing! And of course I joined in!

The cruise was hands down one of the best parts of our trip! We had a blast!!!

Day 4: We slept in and went to the Archeological Museum for a few hours. It was chilly and a bit rainy out again so being inside was nice. After we went to the Plaka to explore again and to pick up last minute souvenirs. We also found a great restaurant where we hung out for a few hours. Heads up, if you're ever in Athens- get a spinach pie.

Day 5: Once again we spent all day traveling. This time we went from an airplane, to a bus, to a tram, to a train, to a cab. We didn't get back to our city until 3am!

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