To begin part 1 of 3 of my epic spring break series of posts, I'll start with stop one: Athens, Greece: Where the Dogs Rule and the Alphabet's Insane.
To begin, I will quote my guidebook: "The Greek attitude to animals depends on whether the animal is a cat or not. It's definitley cool to be a cat."
I beg to differ, guidebook. I believe that Athens has truly gone to the dogs. During our 2 day stay in Athens we befriended four stray dogs, my favorite being Romeo, because he was very cuddly and floppy:
On our first day we checked into our hostel (at 10 euros a night, it couldn't be beat) and checked out the balcony off our room. Then we headed to Syntagma Square, which is in the center of Athens and has many examples of wonderful stray dogs who guard fountains and historical places as well as signs that are translated into English for your convenience. No one warned me before we left that not only do Greeks not speak English, but their R's look like P's. After finding some fanastic ruins and some orange trees, we took a siesta and went out to dinner.
A note here about Greek food: do not expect to walk or even move for a few hours after eating. Even chicken and pitas are mysteriously heavy and make you very very sleepy. However, there were stray dogs to be seen and cappucinos and sangria to be had:
But early to bed and early to rise for vacationers. We got breakfast at the hostel (well, everyone else did. Mine was conveniently stolen by some other tourists and had to be remade. Jeez. Americans.) It was off to find the Acropolis, which would have been difficult, if not for these helpful signs:
We got to see the Theatre of Dionysus and the Parthenon (aka the Colosseum if you ask Andrew), which had an incredible view out over Athens, and many touristy pictures were taken:
That's the gang, courtesy of Andrew's long arm. From left to right: Tim, me, Greg, and Andrew. The jet-setters, if you will.
Many more pictures can be found if you click the link at the end of this entry. If I posted all of them, the Internets would crash.
Anyway! After playing with the stray dog protectors of the Acropolis, we went to the Temple of Zeus, which was interesting in that it looked like a giant bowling alley:
All touristing and no breaks makes we jet-setters a hungry bunch, and the boys let me lead them to the Gardenia Restaurant, which was both recommended by my guidebook and clearly named after me. It turned out to be in a very... Greek... area of Athens, far far away from the touristy areas we had been visiting. But, it was totally worth it - it was owned by a Greek woman who spoke English and mothered over us and her husband, who did not speak English, seemed very bitter, and spent the whole time we were there yelling at the news. We got more food than we could handle for about as much as a Happy Meal costs in the states.
The boys were being such good sports that they followed me to a sandal store that existed in my 2001 travel book but somehow did not exist in real life. But, en route, we found a street market and I got a pretty bracelet and some other souvenirs. The sandal store, however, was invisible. Tim and I decided that all this shopping required gelato, but we forgot that we were still in Greece (not Italy yet!) and could only find soft ice cream after an hour of searching. But, during that hour I also met Romeo, who is, in fact, the love of my life.
We got a quick dinner that night at "Quick Pita" (yay Greek fast food) and got to bed early, because we had some travelin' to do the next day.
Before leaving Athens we checked out the National Archaeological Museum, which, for a country that's got a lot of... archaeological stuff... was actually sort of anticlimactic. However, we did meet Scruffy, a stray dog who took a liking to us and followed us all the way back to the hostel, crossing intersections only when he had the walk signal.
Alas, it was time to leave Athens and take a train to Patras, where we would catch a ferry to take us to Italy. We got on a train and, after a half hour of traveling, everyone got off. We were under the impression that this train was taking us to Patras, as that was what we had been told, but this turned out to be a Greek practical joke on the Americans, so we switched trains and somehow made it to the port city of Patras. We found our "ferry", mainly because it looked like a cruise ship, complete with pool (not filled), hot tub (also not filled), and bar (okay, that was open). We boarded, and, with our "deck" tickets, had expected to sit on the deck, but were surprised by our own seats that proved to not only be too small, but amazingly uncomfortable. We killed time on the ship by playing cards and watching Miss Congeniality with Greek truck drivers, who thought it was hilarious.
I'll end this entry here (if any of you are still with me) with a to be continued and a link to the rest of my Greece pictures... click here!