First of all, let me just say that this post is clearly a little delayed in comparison to when the trip occurred. I wanted to sit down and pour out every detail of the trip as soon as I got back, but I needed some time away from Greece. In my mind, it needed a serious break before I could pick it up and examine it with a clear head.
Greece was, in an overall and general sense, an adventure. From the moment our plane landed, I was suddenly very aware that I was out of my element. I was no longer a part of the majority. I was in a country where I couldn’t read signs, much less understand strangers conversing around me. I have never felt a feeling quite like that before, and honestly, it was terrifying.
The flight over was long in the sense that, for fourteen hours or so, I was on a plane with no ability whatsoever to do anything remotely close to sleeping. I tried. I tossed, turned, sighed, read, and watched movies. I listened to soft music, loud music, everything. Nothing. I simply didn’t sleep more than an hour total from the time I woke up on December 26 in Virginia to the time I got to our second hotel room in Athens on December 27, well after dinnertime.
Yes, I said “second hotel room.” That’s not a typo, friends. Yours truly booked a 5 night stay at what is possibly one of the smallest hotels in all of Athens. I didn’t quite know that rooms could genuinely be that tiny over there, but they were. I’m about 5’8 and I laid on the bed for a max of two hours, crying and trying not to go into a full on panic attack as my feet pressed against the wall opposite of my headboard. The bathroom was about the size of my shower at home, and the shower itself was a square of raised tile only about a foot by a foot big with a curtain. I am not sure what I was expecting, but that was not it.
The neighborhood of our first hotel was, for lack of a better term, shady. I didn’t feel comfortable when our taxi driver pulled up out front, and I felt less comfortable once the sun went down. Two hours was plenty of time for me to know that I couldn’t spend 5 days in that place. So, after my best friend got a little bit of sleep and I cried some of my tension out, we were able to relocate ourselves to a much nicer Best Western hotel only about half a block away from the American Embassy. The room was bigger, much more similar to my personal preferences for accommodations, and there were police close enough to hear my screams should someone break in and try to kill me. I felt safe there.
Our first night, we walked down the road a short way to an intersection that had a handful of food options. We settled on pizza, naturally, and I learned that pizza is an excellent gauge for the rest of a foreign city’s food. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best pizza I’d ever had. Granted, I was already on edge, so we took our pizza to go and I was back in my bed by 10 p.m. with every intention of sleeping through the night.
Overall, my first twelve hours in Greece were not what I was anticipating. In my head, I never planned to be that terrified, scared, lost and anxious on a trip with my best friend. But I also learned a lot in those twelve hours. I learned that Greeks smoke everywhere they want. I learned that annoying children are not something you only find in America, that parents in Greece can be negligent at parenting, too. I learned that being a foreigner is something you can’t really quite put into words, but I plan on trying in the future… That’s another blog post, though.
Stay tuned, friends. I’m going to unveil the rest of my trip to Greece and (hopefully) not leave you with a bitter feeling toward myself or the country by the end of it.