Monday, May 4, 2009

The Start of My Journey to Athens, Greece!

Ya sou! Lol that's hello in Greek for everybody wondering. Anyways I told all my readers that I would be updating my blog as much as I could from Athens to let you all know what's going on, so here's my first one!

My journey from Athens started with a flight from Ft. Lauderdale to JFK Airport in New York. That trip was shorter than expected. Combine that with an already lengthy layover and you get an even longer wait, about fours to be specific. To kill the time I talked on the phone, texted, listened to my iPod, watched a random bird fly through the terminal, and ate insanely expensive New York airport food. New York food is already expensive, add the "airport" part to it and that just makes it ridiculous.

The flight to Athens wasn't too bad, except for my friend who I was flying over here with had to sprint almost a mile just to make the flight. Don't worry, he made it. This flight, like my first flight, seemed to go shorter than I anticipated. I'm sure a few people thought that, but especially me because I thought the flight was going to be about 14 or 15 hours and it ended up being around nine. Still along time, but a great overestimation on my part. I watched "The Express", a movie based on the life of the Syracuse football great Ernie Davis. It was inspiring and made me want to get back out on the football field! It was a shame that he had to die so early in his life. Anyways, I can't forget to talk about the food on the flight. Well I actually could, because it was nothing special, slightly average airline food.

It seemed like as soon as we touched down in in Athens we had something to do. Hitting the ground running like that isn't too bad, but the seven hour time difference from where I live didn't really help things. We had to stay up the whole day so we could adjusted to the time difference, which was TOUGH! (We arrived in Athens at 9 a.m., which is 2 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) Our professor for the trip, the immortal Dick Gibson, took us to our apartment in the Pangrati section of Central Athens. When i say this apartment is immaculate, I am doing it a pretty good disservice. For four young men, there are three bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living room. The weirdest thing I've experienced in there so far is the fact that you are discouraged from flushing toilet paper. The pipes in Athens are apparently very old and small so too much paper in there could clog it up. What do we have to do then? Take any toilet paper (ANY) we use and put it in a plastic bag. I had to do it today, but I quickly took it to the dumpster downstairs outside of our apartment. Otherwise, I would have to say it is a pretty sweet deal for us to stay here.

As me and my roommate for the trip Steve waited for out other two roommates to arrive, we decided to give ourselves a tour of our temporary hometown. We walked around for a little bit and ended up at the quaint little cafe in Varnava Square. We got something to drink and we sat down to talk for awhile to kill time. What seemed like hours turned out to actually be a little bit over an hour. We saw a pretty disturbing sight that I'm sure could never happen in the States. A man had a baby in the front seat with him as he was driving. She was steering the wheel! It was funny, but not at all at the same time. This seemed like it could end up being a long day....

When our other two roommates arrived in town, all four of us and Dick decided to take a journey down to the Acropolis. That wonderful site can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Athens. The walk over there was not bad but I quickly saw the kind of driving that exists in Athens, or most of Europe for that matter. They have very little regard for pedestrians, and pretty much park wherever they see fit as long as it won't block the road. We walked through the street and passed some nice tavernas (restaurants, not taverns) before we got to the Acropolis. What a walk that was! I could say that about pretty much everywhere in Athens so far, if you stay here long enough, squats would be unnecessary, all you have to is walk up and down these hills. The Acropolis itself is a wonderful site and magnificent piece of architecture. Just imagining people building this mostly our of marble and on their backs astounds me. The view from the top of Acropolis was stunning, pictures will be put on later on. The funniest part was when a lady came running (or waddling) over to us after she saw us taking a picture with a JU flag in it. When Dick asked her what was wrong, all she could say was "respect". Needless to say, we were pretty careful with how we took our pictures after that.

At this point I am seriously tired, but we all (minus Dick) decided to walk around a little more. We went to a few little stores and I found this candy that's just like Twix except a thousand times better! And that's saying something because I love Twix. We then found an internet cafe which allowed to get my Facebook fix for two euros an hour.

After that, we went back to the apartment to get ready for our welcome dinner. All five of us met up with Nina, one of the ladies in chare of the whole program here in Athens. One of my roommates is crushin' on her, but I shall keep that identity secret. The dinner we had was wonderful and it was nice trying new stuff. although some of it really wasn't new. My entree was lamb leaves (I think) with french fried potatoes (think really healthy potatoes sliced up that taste really good, not much grease there). The waiter came with a shot of vodka before dinner and a shot of wine after dinner, which is custom here as I learned. It was a wonderful dinner, one that Nina called "the most fun I've been to". That's high praise because I'm sure she's been to many welcome dinners. After dinner the four of us students walked around for a little bit and stopped at a nice looking cafe and watched the end of a European basketball game. After all of that though, I went back to the apartment and completely knocked out. What a day, and that was only day one!

More to come soon....

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