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.

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