Monday, December 1, 2008

Sunrise at Mount Lycadettus

So this morning, well it was basically still night, Caitlin, Kristina, Zane, Sarah Grizo and I went on an adventure to the highest point in Athens, Mount Lycabettus to watch the sunrise. It was a quite an uphill struggle to the top, and I was completely exhausted when we reached it, but it was more than worth it. We stayed up there for a few hours and watched as the entire city came to life. This was probably one of my favorite experiences in Athens, and I am so glad we did it. 

The city of Athens still sleeping

Beginning of a beautiful sunrise
Me: "Zane, will you take our picture?"
Zane: "Yeah but I can't get the sun setting in it"
Grizo: "That's because it's rising"

Love these two

Caitlin and I from the top of the peak, gorgeous view

Trying to see the Acropolis through the view finder

That's where I live! Behind the Old Olympic Stadium

Bell Tower at Sunrise
The whole gang 

I am still falling in love with this city and all it has to offer each day, I can't believe I have to leave in less than a week. I can't wait to get home and see friends and family of course, but I am realizing that once the stress of finals dies down in the next few days, reality will sink in, and it is not going to be easy to watch this amazing trip end. 

Sisters and Friends Visit in Greece!

I am so lucky to have such amazing sisters and their lovely friends that came to visit me, we had so much fun in a short week! The adventures started with their arrival on Monday afternoon where I met them at the Metro station after impatiently waiting for a while because I was so excited. After I found them and led them to their hostel in Plaka we made the trek up to The Athens Centre so they could see where I take classes, meet my friends and some of the Athens Centre staff. On the way, I took them to get gyros first of course because it is the greatest thing anyone will ever eat so I had to let them experience the greatness. After they saw my school and ate gyros we went up to my apartment for a bit before we had to go back to the Metro station to get Shawna so she wouldn’t’ get lost in the chaos of Athens alone. All six of us together set out back to their hostel before wandering around Plaka, to Monastiraki and Syntagma Square. Even though it was getting late so much of it was closed, we did end up at the Roman Agora where I told them a little bit about the Tower of the Winds. We stopped for a delicious first meal for them in Athens before I left them at the hostel for the night. Their second day of adventures took them to Delphi, and I was stuck at school all day so I didn’t get to join them but Wednesday we met up again and headed to the Acropolis.

Jamie and I on the rooftop of the Athens Center

Jenna, Kacey, Jamie and I out on my balcony 

I am so glad that I managed to go back to the Acropolis again before leaving Athens. I honestly forgot how incredible it was to stand up there, right next to the Parthenon, at the top of the city, completely breathtaking. I was upset that I didn’t remember quite as much about the different attributes of the Acropolis since Michael took us there way back at the beginning of the quarter, but I did my best to play tour guide. After giving them the full tour of the Acropolis we headed down to the Greek Agora for some more Ancient sight seeing. After a full tour including the museum of artifacts from the Agora, it was getting late and everything began to close so we headed back to Plaka to find a snack. We stopped at this little place that I have passed many times but never tried, but after the words “Ice Cream, Coffee, and Rooftop View,” we were sold. It was so nice, and a perfect view of the Acropolis, which got better and better the darker it got. Shawna taught me to play backgammon, Jenna was proposed to many times by the restaurant owner, and we ate delicious ice cream. It was a successful extravaganza and then we shopped our way back to the hostel where we ended up passing out for a little while before heading back out to grab dinner. It was another amazing meal with all of them full of lots of Greek cuisine variety. The girls had made a request to see the night life of Greece before the week was over, and t just so happened that my friends had decided to make a mid-week outing as an Irish Karaoke Bar! Which sounds strange and a little out of place in Athens, yes, but it was so much fun! Watching my crazy friends dance and sing their hearts out was hilarious, I did not participate, but maybe next time. I think the girls all enjoyed meeting my crazy AHA group as well.

Sisters at the Acropolis

The whole traveling gang

Megan, Shawna, and Jenna at the Irish Bar

My crazy friends singing "What a Girl Wants"

Katie and Jessi singing "Oh Honey Honey" with their backup dancer Tori

Derek sang a song that I can't even tell you the title of

Our flight left around 1pm that day so we took the bus out the airport and rode the on the shortest airplane ride of my life. I wish they could all be like that! George, the owner of our hostel picked us up at the airport, loaded us into the van and we drove the center of the island to the city of Fira where I our hostel was located. After getting settled we went to explore the look out point from the cliffs of Fira out towards the Volcano in the center of the caldera. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to forget how incredible that view was the first time, but it was just as spectacular the second time around. After wandering around for a while decided that we had better take advantage of the great weather and take a trip out to Oia, the location of the famous sunsets. Once the bus dropped us off it was apparent to me why they call this the “off season” for tourism. All of the shops and restaurants were closed and there was hardly any one else around except a few other tourists wandering the streets of Oia. It was completely deserted, which was actually quite nice to have less of a crowd than the first time. Sort of made me feel like we had our own private island. After taking in the amazing sunset for a while we ventured around to see if we could find somewhere to have a Thanksgiving dinner. At first we thought we were going to be out of luck since everything appeared to be closed. Though, after wandering some of the girls managed to come across a restaurant that was willing to serve us. Since it’s off-season they don’t carry everything on the menu, which was no problem for us because we basically just ordered all of it. It was Thanksgiving, which meant we had to overeat! It was all so delicious as always, and we headed back to catch the bus to Fira afterwards. Exhausted from a full day of traveling and eating we called it a night early.

Glorious and beautiful Oia

Sisters in Oia

Sunset in Oia

Favorite picture, credit to Megan

Day two in Santorini began with a short trip down to the end of the island to the little town of Akrotiri where there is an archeology site, which was closed at the time, and a beautiful beach. We played on the beach like little kids, as always for a bit, before jumping back on the bus toward Fira. In Fira again we decided to take our time and get some lunch since the next destination of our day was to the Wine Museum. Unfortunately, after we had eaten lunch, and taken the later bus out to the Wine Museum it had been closed for an hour. This was frustrating since the hostel owner, George, has told us it was open much later, and also the bus driver knew where we were going but dropped us off and abandoned us anyway. So there we were, not in a city, just left along the road outside of a closed up Wine Museum. Our solution was to walk towards the beach since it appeared to have some sort of civilization in its general direction. As we walked further and further we could see the airport in the distance, but what we reached first was some sort of military base surrounded by barbed wire fences, and men were guns. Curious to determine where we needed to go to head towards the airport in hopes of finding some help of some sort, I approached the men and asked if we could pass through his gates. He said no and looked at me like I was crazy, so I asked how to get to the airport, and he pointed to a dirt road and told me to follow that all the way around the base to the airport. So we continued our trek, only to find out when arriving at the airport parking lot that the airport runs on very minimal hours due to their limits flight arrivals, and their wasn’t a person in sight to help us. Desperate at this point I whipped out my phone and a call was placed to George, requesting either a ride or a couple taxis since he had given us the false information. He said the van was broken, but he would figure something out for coming to get us. Sure enough, not too long after he showed up in his car, which only fits four extra people but some how we squished 6 instead. It was a crazy adventure that didn’t result in any wine, so instead we went to the grocery store to get our own Santorini wine.

The beach at Akrotiri 

Jamie in a Cave!

We grabbed our wine and our delicious cheese, meat, and cracker hors we headed up to our rooms and took over the entryway for the evening. We ended up luring in two new friends to join us also. They were two girls that have been studying at a university in Switzerland. Kacey, Jamie and I enjoyed this excuse to throw in our family heritage card and spark conversation with them of course. Soon enough George had noticed our gathering and contributed many more containers of wine and snacks to keep us happy. After a while we ventured out to the Taverna that George recommended to us. After being so full on snacks and wine, I could only eat some delicious saganaki at dinner and then was ready for bed.

Shawna and Jamie 

Kacey and Jenna 

Megan and I

Sooooo much wine, thanks George

Our last day on the island was very low key that began with a late morning start. Some of the girls finished some island shopping and we all wandered around Fira one last time. Megan and I ventured down some of the famous 600 steps towards the old port. We only decided to go down about 100 of so because it was such an incline and we were limited on time, but it was still a beautiful view of the town of Fira on the way down. Finally the time came that we had to say good-bye to the lovely island of Santorini and head back to Athens. The plane ride on the way home was not enjoyable at all because of the high winds, but I was grateful to have Jamie talking to me about care bares and rainbows the entire time, my sisters are ridiculous.

Steps back up to the top of the city of Fira


Once we got back to Athens they checked back into the hostel for their final night. After a quick stroll through Plaka we headed back to Pangrati, the location of my apartment and school. Shawna had to have the great experience of gyros as well so I took them all back for round two. After that I did some quick luggage switching, while we spent some time at my apartment. Our last adventure was a farewell dinner back in Plaka. Just as amazing as everything else, we indulged in more amazing Greek food. I thought for a while that I would never want Greek food again because I was getting so sick of it, but those few days of being completely spoiled showed me that I was wrong, I will miss amazing Greek food so much.

After dinner I had to say good-bye, which is never fun, but it is so nice to only have to say good-bye for one week! I have the greatest sisters in the world, them and their lovely friends were so much fun to have visit!