Sep 08 2007

Hello from Athens!

Published by at 10:33 am under Athens,Greece,London

Hello from Athens! We are currently sitting in an internet cafe, which is of course located between some sort of meat market and a purveyor of sidewalk handbags. But first, a recap of our short time in London…

We had a 9-hour layover in Heathrow, so we decided to go through security and see a bit of the city. One 45-minute metro ride later, we were at Green Park, right outside of Buckingham Palace. Green Park contains something called the “Canadian Memorial Fountain,” which struck me as odd, since Canada was still very much in existence when we left the States on Wednesday. Tall gilded gates separate the park from Buckingham Palace. The traditional guards that we associate with the Palace were all there, toting rifles and stomping on cue. Unfortunately, they are largely obscured behind all the Kevlar vests and sub-machine guns that adorn the “less traditional” guards. Still, we managed to take some pictures through the perimeter fence.

I would also like to point out that when I was almost flattened by a double-decker bus, it was only because I was chasing after Brittany, who had run into the street. She did look before crossing, but instinctually looked to her left, rather than to her right. “Look both ways” is our new trip mantra. The fact that our first official brush with death on this trip came within the intitial few hours does not bode well. Of course, neither does the fact that no one in London seemed able to understand us. And this is the only country we’ll visit where we allegedly speak the same language? Hm…

We returned to Heathrow in time to catch our 4-hour flight to Athens, which put us here at 4:00am. It turns out that our hotel is in what one might call a seedier side of Athens, so I began to feel uneasy dragging our luggage through the streets at this hour. The lowlight was when a beady-eyed rodent-like man leered at me flirtatiously and cooed, “bon voyage.”

We collapsed in our hotel room, and slept all day on Friday. We woke up very hungry around 7:00pm, which worked out better than I would have expected. Greeks tend to eat dinner between 9 and 11pm, so by the time we changed into our “non-American” clothes and checked our guidebook for food recommendations, we managed to show up at a taverna about the same time as the locals. The taverna was called Sholarhio, and the best part about the experience in Brittany’s eyes was that the owner initially took us for French. Given Brittany’s careful research into how NOT to look like an American tourist, this was the first small victory of the trip.

Sholarhio is off the beaten tourist-path, and this is reflected in its lower prices and more authentic fare. We chose to eat in traditional Greek style, by selecting several mezedhes to share, which are smaller portioned offerings (think tapas). 24 Euros bought us 5 mezedhes: pork with red sauce, fried eggplant slices, sausages, tzatziki, and something that the waiter insisted was not french fries but is in fact french fries. Also included in the price: a large bottle of mineral water, a basket of bread, a half liter of red wine (tastes like Franzia!) and some kind of dessert that you can imagine for yourself by combining the look of lemon squares with the exact taste of Frosted Mini Wheats. We finished in much less time than the locals, and we realized that this is a reflection of our American culture. The Greeks make an event out of dinner, and often take 2 hours or more to eat, regardless of the quantity of food. Apparently this extra time is subtracted from breakfast, because the only thing the locals seem to have that resembles breakfast is a pastry in hand on their way to work. Of course, this was fine by us, because it meant chocolate for breakfast today!

We are on our way to the Athens Archaeological Museum this afternoon, before catching a 9-hour ferry ride for Crete tonight. We will write again from there, and begin uploading the pictures we’ve taken. Hope everyone is well back home, and talk to you soon.

NEXT: I hate the boat »



6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Hello from Athens!”

  1. Hollyon 08 Sep 2007 at 12:38 pm

    This is like a book that I can’t put down!! Love ya’ll , don’t get killed :)

  2. Davidon 08 Sep 2007 at 8:38 pm

    So y’all’ll (do they recognize that word in Europe?) be happy to know that UVA beat Duke today 24-13. We managed to miss three field goals within 30 yards, which was awesome. UVA undefeated in ACC play! I also recommend avoiding the beady-eyed rodent man at all costs. Hope y’all are having fun!

  3. tayloron 09 Sep 2007 at 12:52 am

    I want to see pictures of your French outfits! Oh, and Greece.

    P.S. I loved the SEP article in the alumni mag.

  4. Donnaon 09 Sep 2007 at 12:53 am

    Hey Guys! I love reading about your travels. Ben you should be a writer- you have the touch. I cannot wait to see your pictures.
    Please be careful and I think it is funny how you know how not to look like an American tourist! Good job Brittany!
    Lots of love!
    Donna Chris and Reece

  5. Dadon 09 Sep 2007 at 8:24 pm

    The food looks great. I hope the both of you get some rest . Have fun at the disco!!

    Love ya, Dad

  6. Benon 10 Sep 2007 at 10:44 am

    David: I seriously expected y’all to trounce us. And as for whether or not “y’all” is recognized over here, I have to doubt it considering the difficulty the Brits had understanding us.

    Taylor: we’ll try to get some pictures of our “Euro-outfits” up soon. Brittany thinks of everything…

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