October in Athens

Posted on October 11th, 2010 by

One of the coolest parts about living in Athens is that as a thriving metropolis, every new day brings some new and crazy experience.

Right now Greece is in an economic crisis, similar to the U.S. though it was not as stable in the first place. The Greeks are a people that are very passionate about who they are and how they are treated. They know how their country should be run and they are not afraid to stand up for themselves when necessary. Weekly strikes in public businesses and governmental offices is common. Occasional riots do break out, but so far, I have not experienced any. My school encourages us in attending such public protests, though they warn us that once you start to feel tear gas, it’s time to leave…

Riot police have white helmets.

I did however witness an interesting sports fan mob in front of my school one day. My school is located in front of the Kalimarmou stadium [ancient stadium but was used in 1986 olympics]. Apparently a bunch [and by a bunch I mean hundreds] of Serbian football [soccer] fans decided to use the stadium as their meeting place before the big game against Greece that night. They all had pizza and beer; they were drunkenly singing songs and became quite rowdy. Riot police [with shields and everything] showed up and things got a little violent. A couple guys started attacking the police and were arrested. I safely watched all of this from the balcony of my school.

I have three day weekends, which is plenty of time to travel around Greece. One weekend I spent on the Island of Paros. It was a very quiet and beautiful island. I mostly laid out on the beach and soaked up all the rays.

This past weekend I traveled to Mt. Olympus with some of my classmates. We were deterred from climbing all the way to the summit by an unexpected snow storm. To the right is a donkey from a supply train. On the left is the mountains, which were absolutely gorgeous. Mt. Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and was very majestic. I am very sore from the excursion [6 or 7 hours of hiking up and down] but it was definitely worth it; I especially enjoyed getting to know some of my classmates better.

Street festival w/ actors on stilts.

This fall Greece is celebrating the 2500 year anniversary of the famous Battle of Marathon. I got to hold a torch and volunteer at an opening ceremony at the tomb of marathon memorial service. On October 31st a marathon is being held in Athens. There is a lot of publicity because of the year marker; Athens will be a very busy city at the end of the month. Among other cool happenings around Athens, the 2nd annual street festival was right next to my school. I went to the opening act, though I wasn’t quite sure what it was because it was all in Greek-it was still cool to watch.

The weather is starting to get colder and by cold I mean into the 70’s. As warm as it is compared to Minnesota it is sadly no longer beach weather. I really enjoyed being able to hop on a short tram to the beautiful sandy beaches along the shore of the Aegean Sea. I am traveling to Istanbul and Cairo in the near future where I will be reunited with beaches once again.

Note the Parthenon reflected in my sunglasses.

I’m slowly falling in love with Athens;
I can’t believe I’ve already been here a month and a half! I will be leaving in all to short a time. The next few weeks are going to be hectic. I have mid-terms this week, next week I leave for the Peloponnese and Delphi and then the week after that I am spending in Istanbul, Turkey.

 


One Comment

  1. Lauren Swanstrom says:

    Melody,

    I stumbled upon your blog after glancing at GAC’s website. I graduated from GAC in 2003 and also did CYA! I was in Athens in the spring of 2002 and had a BLAST! I was also involved with Prepare while at Gustavus…sounds like we have some stuff in common. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself in Greece–I have such fond memories of being there! We lived in the Kolonaki area in Athens and there was a gyro place I frequented multiple times a week…at that time, you could get a gyro for 1.5 euro! (I’m not sure what it is now). I am glad to hear you are going to Turkey…I ADORED Istanbul. Some friends and I went there for our spring break and it was awesome (hit up Ephesus if you can, too). You have to be smart about your safety, just like in any big city, but we had a blast. Definitely go to the spice bazaar, drink apple tea and hit up the Turkish Bath (and tip if you go…I didn’t know you had to!) Have fun. And, maybe you’ve already found one, but let me know if you haven’t found a church in Athens and would like to. I attended two while I was there and could perhaps help direct you to them. :)

    Kalispera!