08 April, 2010

Greece Photo Post! (Part One...)

Our hotel in Athens, Hotel Pergamos, was small, but really nice. The guys at the front desk were sweet and very helpful, and the rooms were great. It was in a slightly sketchy part of the city, but we felt very safe in our hotel. It had a huge balcony, and Emily and I spent several hours the first night laying on it and looking up at the regrettably cloudy sky. Our hotel room had an extra bed which we basically used to dump all of our things on, and I slept REALLY well every night we were there. The bathrooms were a little funky though. I think I mentioned it before, but toilets in Greece are pretty weak, plumbing-wise, so you're supposed to throw your toilet paper in the rubbish bin, not flush it. That was interesting to try and get used to. The shower was also very weird. It was open on 3 sides (all except the side where the shower head was) and the shower curtain barely reached the floor of the shower, so water spilled EVERYWHERE when you tried to take a shower. It also was so teeny tiny that it was completely impossible to move while in the shower, and the curtain stuck to you. So it was really uncomfortable and awkward.

Yeah, here's the awkward shower do you can see what I'm talking about. Take my word for it, you don't want to try it.

Our hotel had a really nice feel to it though, as though we weren't really staying in a hotel but more of a bed and breakfast. I really enjoyed it.

This is a really awful picture because it was getting dark out and my camera doesn't like low-light situations, but I had to post this, because it's the only image I have that can even attempt to bring back the feeling I had when I saw this. Imagine walking through a very urban area, and not even a particularly nice one. There's graffiti everywhere, gangs of rowdy people standing on corners, shops closed for the night, their windows barred... very downtown city-like. All you can see is buildings. Big, ugly, modern buildings. Suddenly, you turn a corner. And this is what you see. The feeling was indescribable. We just happened to stumble upon the Acropolis, no big deal or anything, right? Just the fact that this beautifully old piece of architecture overlooks the city like this, that something so massive and unlike anything I've ever known before can be part of someone's daily scenery amazes me. It's the first thing I saw in Athens that I truly loved, and I hope I never forget the way it made me feel.

Here's the Roman Agora. Again, sorry for the low-quality photos, but any I took at night are pretty much going to look like this. This was taken on the walk Emily and I took on our first night in Athens. We were climbing the hill you can see in the previous picture, trying to see if we could get up to the Acropolis. (the gates were shut, we couldn't.) But it was still a really cool walk. Again, just another assertion that Athens is a really really cool city.

For those of you who don't know, Greece is in the midst of some pretty serious labour strikes right now. We happened to stumble upon a protest on our walk, complete with chanting, yelling, air horns, and police standing shoulder to shoulder with their riot shields, forming a wall to keep them out of the street. There were pamphlets strewn all over the ground (I picked up a few, but can't read them!) passerby cheering, shaking their heads or just plain gawking like us, men with megaphones trying to rile up the crowd... It was really exciting. This is not the protest that turned into a window-smashing riot, that was the next day, and we weren't there for that one. But it was really cool to see this happening. I got a video on my FlipCam even, (Because I carry it around with me practically everywhere. Vadim would be proud...) and maybe will post it soon so you can hear the chanting and get a better idea of what it was like.

Our next big find on our walk was The Olympic Stadium. Emphasis on the capitalization of the word "The." I know I've mentioned it before, but being the only two people at that stadium at the time was such a cool feeling. It's pretty massive, and extremely impressive.

Here's just a funny sign we encountered, about what to do with your dog's poop. As you can see, they really didn't want the language barrier to be a problem here, so they were as descriptive as possible with the images. I do wonder, though, how on earth they enforce this in Athens. There are hundreds of stray dogs in the city, and none of those dogs have anyone to walk about with a bag to pick up after them...

Next day. We climbed the hill to the Acropolis again. (only this time it was open!) This is just a photo of one of the adorable little hillside streets we encountered, with a view of Athens behind it. The day this photo was taken was extremely beautiful. The air was a bit smoggy, but the sun was shining (we all got a little sunburned!) and the air was warm. It was great.

Another view of Athens, from further up the hill we were climbing.

Geoff, being a delicate flower and protecting himself from the sun. Or being ironic and protecting himself from the nonexistent rain. I can't remember which.

The Parthenon, which is currently being restored. I gotta say, if there's one thing I dislike about Europe, it's that nearly everything we see is in the midst of being restored. It's all covered in scaffolding and not very photogenic... Oh well, it was still really cool! All the stray dogs kept walking in and out of it, I thought it must be nice to be one of them, they get such intimate tours. They get to do so much more exploring, and they don't have to feel restrained by a tiny rope and a plaque that says "DO NOT TOUCH" in eight different languages...

So my computer won't let me upload any more pictures right now, but considering I took over 800 in Greece, be assured I have more and will upload them when I get the chance. As for what I'm up to now, it's getting frighteningly close to the end of term. We just received an email about the ICLC End of Term Dinner Party, which was terrifying. My mum and Amy will be here in exactly one month, and Julie and I embark on our grand Eurotrip just a week or so afterward. I'll be back in the US in under two months... it's a frightening thought. Before I got to England, I thought I would be here for such a long time! But it's flying by. And yeah, I've been getting a bit homesick lately, but I still can safely say I've been having the time of my life here.

Tomorrow, Emily Marshall and I head out to Oxford for two days -- the city of Tolkien, of snobby rich smart uni students, of Harry Potter's Great Hall, and of Rupert Giles! We went for a few hours or so after our Stratford-upon-Avon trip with school, but we loved it and wanted to go back for a longer period of time. We found dirt cheap train tickets to and from the city (and by dirt cheap I mean DIRT CHEAP. £4.50 round trip!) and equally cheap lodgings for the night. Totally spontaneous, and I'm looking forward to having some adventures. I promise to try and write more often, since apparently the wait between updates is making people antsy? My bad, I'm a busy girl! I'll try and be more regular.

Til then, I love you all.


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