The second week in Athens has been jammed with classes, homework, and field trips. I have been taking classes with other Franklin Pierce students at Hellenic American University in the heart of Athens. It has been very exciting to go to an actual university with international students. There are issues students cover here, just like they do at universities across the United States. On the days we have class, we have had to walk through peace demonstrations against the current government and policies of Greece's government. One of the more popular groups has been the youth communist group. Instead of asking students to join their cause when you walk by, the group members simply ask that you attend one of their "festivals." When I first heard it was a festival, I was a little skeptical, but one of our professors at the university said it is exactly what it sounds like. There is music, entertainment, food, and of course discussions about communism for Greece. We will see if I ever make it to one of them. They are about a 30 minute tram ride, but maybe I will go to see one!
On Wednesday, day 9 in Athens, I encountered my first protest. The protests here are not like the news outlets portray them to be in the United States. Our professors, guides, and locals here insist that the protests are hardly ever violent, or even heated. One of our professors has lived in Athens for 10 years, but has visited here most of her life. During this time, she has only seen one protest that turned into a riot. Other guides and locals say they have never seen a protest turn violent. They all assure us that Athens is the safest place to be, and it has the lowest crime rate in the world. After discussing the protests with the locals, I feel reassured that they are more about the issues than trying to incite danger.
On Thursday our group took a trip to Poseidon's Temple. The ruins were beautiful, but the trip there was a little less exciting. We walked about 30 minutes to the bus stop. When we arrived there around 1pm in the scorching heat of a summer afternoon in the city, we climbed aboard an un-air-conditioned bus with no windows. After waiting for about 25 minutes on the bus, the bus driver boarded, turned on the air conditioning, and we were off. We drove about 10 minutes to another stop that happened to be a short walk from our apartment. If this was not disappointing enough for our sweaty and exhausted bodies, this stop picked up more people than there were seats. I was squeezed between the window, and a very loud woman who apparently just went on a shopping spree. Her bags were on my lap, her lap, in the aisle, and her friend's lap. Although this seems like a terrible experience, it was all worth it about 2 and 1/2 hours later when we arrived at Poseidon's Temple. We walked up to the temple and then explored the rest of the island. I went with a few friends down to the beach and we found an onion growing in the brush on the way down. We have not eaten it yet, but we are going to include it in our next pasta dish. While waiting about 40 minutes for a return bus to pick up our group, a few of us discovered a unique water vending machine. The vending machine sold over-sized water bottles that often got stuck. If your water bottle got stuck, you were able to make another selection, in hopes of the machine dispensing the water. After perfecting the art of the machine, we were able to predict which row would drop 2 water bottles. After about 30 minutes of predicting which row would drop 2 water bottles, we got some change and loaded up on 50cent EURO waters for the 2 and 1/2 hour bus ride back to the bus stop by our apartment.
On Friday we did not have class, so we headed back to the beach. A group of us found a beach that had sand and a DJ on the beach. The sun was strong and the water was clear! It was such a great day at the beach.
On Saturday I took a trip up the hill. After many flights of stairs to get to the base, and I then tried to walk briskly up the zig-zag inclines to get to the top. It was totally worth it when I got to the top. At the top of the hill, you can see from the villages in the mountains, to the boats on the coast. It is such an amazing view! After the trip up the hill, I went to the local market to pick up some fresh produce. I was able to snag some grapes, peaches, tomatoes, lettuce, and a cucumber. Everything was very cheap and VERY fresh.
The fun did not stop on Sunday. I was able to get into a club in downtown Athens to see David Guetta perform. I made my way to the front early in the night, and was in the front row for when David Guetta performed. The club was sooo full and the show was so amazing!!!
Monday was a day for homework and recovery from the weekend.
On Tuesday we had classes at Hellenic American University. At night all of us students got together for a family dinner at the Z apartment. I hosted and made broccoli, chicken alfredo with thick noodles. Every student brought an appetizer. We had dinner on the balcony while watching the sunset against the coast line. It was such a great night.
On Wednesday we met our new professor and took a field trip to the Benaki Museum in Athens. Our professor talked about almost every piece in the museum and was very articulate in Greek history. It was so exciting to learn so much about such a large span of history in about a 2 hour tour. It was great!
Thursday, our 17th day in Athens we had our first test. It definitely brought me back to the school setting, but not for long. After our test, we went on a trip to a local rug store. At the shop we were able to learn about how authentic Greek rugs are made and how long it takes to craft each one. I was contemplating sending one back home until I learned the average rug costs about 1,900 EURO.
Athens has been so exciting and we have another busy week ahead of us. We tentatively have a trip planned for Turkey next wednesday. After we get back, a few of us are going to climb Mount Olympus and film the climb for a documentary. I will not be able to shower for 3 days, but I think it will be worth it!
Keepin' it classy in Athens
Videos from my adventures!!!