May 2008


(**sorry, I have no idea how to upload the vertical pictures. Help?**)

After seeing the main highlights our first day, we saw a few less-notable, random places on day two. A national park, which included a “zoo” with cages filled with chickens, donkeys, and a cat. Just a cat. A housecat. I didn’t take a picture at the time because, hello, it’s a cat … but I wish I would have captured the exhibit as evidence.

Somehow, we stumbled into the changing of the guard, who wear pleated skirts and shoes with giant poof-balls and will hold their legs in the air for minutes at a time, posing better than most yoga aficionados:

(If you notice, between their skirt and wool leggings, they have thick, white boxer-briefs. Ugh, I cannot imagine how much they want to melt in the summer heat. Maybe the skirts help create a breeze? I wonder if Greek women carry a cliched love of a man in uniform, waiting for the opportunity to tear off his … skirt in the heat of passion. But then again, since these men had more muscle than any other Greek man I saw, the ladies may have due cause to excuse the dress.)

We traveled up the highest mountain where Athens’ never-ending cement architecture was fully displayed (the Acropolis can be seen on the grassy hilltop in the second pic):

In the early evening, we took a tram to a nearby beach town. During cocktail hour, we received free shots from the bartender, which would also turn into a common theme, without knowing exactly what was in the glass. Sometimes it was Bailey’s based (such as here) and other times closer to household cleanser. But it was free. And, despite bad flavor, we really like free.

We walked along the beach. Viewing the water and the sites. I loved seeing that, amidst the Greek-slang ridden graffiti, apparently love is international:

And we finished our day watching the sunset.

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After arriving in Athens at 10am, feeding off the adrenaline that comes from arriving in a new city, regardless of the seven-hour time difference, we started our adventure. Athens was similar to most European cities. And I loved it. I love the cramped streets, a lack of skyscrapers, the unique color palate, the combination of smells that add to the pollution: B.O., exhaust, garbage, the occasional whiff of urine, and the ever constant cigarette smoke. I was in love as soon as I stepped off the metro. I have no idea why I am so enamored with these traits, but if I could find a job relevant to my career, I would move to Europe in less time than it takes to say kalispera (good evening, one of my two Greek words).

Once settling into our hotel in the neighborhood of Monastiraki, we wandered and somehow found the Acropolis, Ancient Angora, and a few temples that were measured in the number of thousand years B.C. Years of time eventually became incomprehensible. Oh, this is from the Minoan era of six-thousand B.C.? Yes, that seems old.

After a few hours of walking, the jetlag started to settle and a lunch-break was needed. We chose a corner café with live music – well, one man with a guitar. The best part about this place was the clientele. In one corner sat an elderly obese woman with her overweight daughter. They ate giant plates of pasta, slurping up the individual strands; the mom berated the daughter while she sat there, taking the verbal abuse, and pretending to concentrate on her meal. In the other corner sat five couples, all of whom were in their seventies and quite lively. They danced and drank wine and shot ouzo. I have a fear of turning into the former, but I hope I have the exuberance and enjoyment of the latter.

Not allowing us to sit idle as audience members, Cousin ‘Olly and I were soon pulled onto the dance floor. I tried to learn their dance steps, but, given my right-left disorder, I was not too successful, much to their not-too-subtle dismay. Through observation, I did learn that the couples act the dance as a flirtatious game of chase, and when the ladies are feeling particularly sassy, they slap their heel, causing the men to cheerfully back off as if warned.

Wanting to return the favor of the dance lesson, we asked the guitarist if he possibly knew any American songs. He nodded and played “La Bamba”. Sure. Close enough. Cousin ‘Olly and I tried a salsa-derivative but the face-to-face dancing with the men made them slightly uncomfortable; without the chase, I think we were considered harlots.

We crashed after our lunch party, waking up later that evening and venturing out to find dinner possibilities. We ate light and sampled our first carafe (read that: metal cup) of Greek wine.

This also marked our first disappointment with Greek wine. But certainly not our last.

Hi.

Remember me? It’s Molly. I used to write here.

After failing to meet any shipping heirs (or really any boys, more on that later) and therefore forgoing any Greek elopement possibilities, I have returned to the U.S. My trip concluded last night, after 24 hours of travel, eight of which were spent delayed at the Newark airport. Not the best situation, but I do love airports, so the delay was annoying but did not cause me to dramatically writhe on the cold, tile floor from excruciating pain. Though I did debate about the possibility. Just because I was craving attention.

The trip, needless to say, was wonderful. I highly recommend the venture. We had an amazing time.

We is myself and my cousin, who is named, sorry for this, another ‘Olly name. I know. The people we met while traveling thought we were giving fake names too. But maybe it added to our mystique. My ‘Olly Cousin is 34, single, works in PR, and lives in Seattle. Growing up, her dad was a pilot, which meant frequent trips to Minneapolis with airline discounts and family passes, and, as a result, she never felt like an out-of-town relative. We’re closer to sisters, and since our moms are sisters, the similarities were so much like our respective parent that at times, it was creepy and other times, it gave me an incredible insight to their dynamic. Either way, we got along splendidly.

We stayed in the Cycladic islands, visiting Santorini, Naxos, Paros, and Mykonos, and traveled with a balance of culture and relaxation. Each day, we would try to accomplish something meaningful before fully becoming acclimated to the island life. We’ve both done the backpacking-through-Europe thing, heavily saturated with history, museums and tours; this time, we wanted time to chill. Not to say that we ignored the sights, but after spending an hour at an ancient fortress or mythic temple, we rewarded ourselves with mid-day beer or five hours at the beach. All of life is a balancing act.

More later, pictures especially, but right now I am going to spend the rest of the day devoted to my work inbox.

I somehow managed to lose my camera the day before my trip. GODAMMIT, WORLD, I AM NOT IN THE MOOD TO PLAY GAMES. (But … ONE DAY! I am leaving for Athens TOMORROW. If you could see me right now, you would see me doing a little dance. In my cube at work. I wish it was something cool like a Rumba or something equally exotic sounding, but all I really know is the Hokey-Pokey. And the chicken dance. Awesome.)

Last night spent doing the equally important tasks: toe-nail painting and packing – and the packing mostly entailed organizing the clothing already piled onto my suitcase and deeming select pieces worthy. I’m pretty proud that my packing was even in the piling stage so far in advance; usually before any trip I pull a night-before all-nighter with laundry typically starting ‘round midnight. But, alas, The Brother is graduating college this weekend and his grad party is tonight. My social calendar is disrupting my procrastination, I hate when that happens.

My most recent Greece weather update was 68-degrees. Unacceptable. It’s 68-degrees here. The Internet must be wrong; I packed optimistically for warmer weather.

My packing for a trip like this is much less stressful than any other packing, probably because I would rather pack less than carry more. Wear, Rinse, Repeat. A few pairs of pants, many short-sleeve/sleeveless shirts, two skirts, two sundresses: mix and match as needed. She who finds the most combinations from the limited amount of pieces: wins. If I smell, I smell; if I am cold, I have a fleece; if I wear the same going-out shirt each night, I wear the same shirt.

I have a travel journal which will be updated regularly and I will try and transfer those stories here as often as possible. Unless, of course, I spend each waking moment with my Greek-shipping-heir boyfriend –in that case, updates may need to wait until I return home.

All that’s left on my pre-travel agenda: arrive at airport on time. Oh, and I have to find that damn camera. But Greece! Am so excited.

How is it that night of TV and Chinese takeout feels more like a date than any of our past nights at excellent, top-rated Twin-Cities restaurants? He let me order and I chose three entrées, eggrolls, and cream-cheese puffs (I was starving, and everything looked so delicious), and it still didn’t cost as much as we usually spend on the wine alone. It wasn’t supposed to be a date; none of the factors hinted at date … but it really, really felt like one. Maybe because with the former, our main motivation is to hang out with each other; with the latter, the food and the experience is the third wheel. And, oddly, I think wardrobe might have something to do with it. With takeout, I wear scrubby sweats and curl up on the couch. With a formal restaurant, I wear work clothes and heels and can maintain the distance better than with sweats. My guard forgets to stay up when I am comfortable.

“Why do you always text me that? Why do you care if I hate you? I don’t understand why it matters.”

“It just does.”

“Yeah, but why?”

“Well. Would it bother you if I hated you?”

“Could you treat me any worse than you did?”

“Alright, never mind.”

“Just saying, I already went through it, so no, I guess it wouldn’t matter.”

“I have dried blood in my hair.”

“Nice subject change.”

“How’s your puppy?”

“Much better, went to the spa yesterday. But why does it matter either way?”

“It just matters because I care about what you think.”

“Temporarily.”

“Jesus Christ, Molly.”

Tried salsa dancing last night. Was not too successful. The rhythm was relatively easy to conquer compared to my lifelong struggle to decipher my right from my left. I had no clue as to which foot went where when. I’ve always been that way; always needing that extra half second to figure out which way is which. When I had troubles at yoga, my worse-case scenario was facing the opposite way as the rest of the class. With salsa dancing, toes were potentially broken. Those poor bastards, maybe next time I won’t wear heels.

At least the guys weren’t overly interested in learning the steps. The extra tequila might have had something to do with that. The tequila also could have something to do with why Spin the Bottle Truth or Dare seemed like a fun bar game and why I came home wearing a different shirt than the one I left wearing. But then, I don’t drink tequila* so I am going to blame disorientation from right-left overload.

*Yes, sometimes, I do drink tequila, there’s nothing like margaritas in the summer. But I can’t do shots of it … or I guess I choose to refrain from shots of it. It’s kind of the devil.

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