The first weekend of May I spent with two of my favorite Haverfordians, Rosie (who's studying in Athens) and Andrew (Copenhagen). It took a lot of leg work to get to Greece from Granada: 730am bus from Granada to Malaga, 1100 am flight from Malaga to London Gatwick, then 500pm flight from London to Athens, then an hour or so bus ride into Athens city center, and then about one block to the arms of Rosie and Andrew!
Athens is enormous. A lot of people told me that the city itself is just miles upon miles of urban sprawl, but I had NO idea how true that was. Athens as a city definitely holds the least character/uniqueness out of all the places I have been, but then again I know nothing about archeology and ancient Greece, so I'm sure for some people it must be breath taking. The Acropolis was pretty awesome to see, but it really means nothing to me. I think I loved Rome so much because I knew what I was looking at and what significance it holds for the world and history, whereas in Athens I'd see some site with a bunch of old rocks scattered in it from God only knows how long ago, and it would mean nothing to me. I can respect the fact that a lot of these things are super old which is pretty awesome, but nothing really took my breath away the way the Alhambra does or the way the Colosseum did.
Rosie lives in a lil apartment right next to one of the huge Olympic stadiums (no one is really sure what it was for, some sort of track and field event possibly) and lives with four other girls. Rosie's friends who I met were all really sweet and interesting girls, it was nice to see that she's in good hands over there in that huge huge city. My first night in we all went out to a karaoke bar and sang Mariah Carrey amongst many other things, terrifying most of the locals. But it was really fun to meet all of Rosie's friends and get to sing (something I don't do much in Granada for fear of killing Trini's eardrums).
My first real day in Athens Rosie, Andrew and I walked around all day and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. Rosie showed me all main sites in Athens, we walked through some cool markets, and had lunch at a cute little cafe. Because it was May 1, most things were closed for May Day -- the Greeks love any excuse to not work just like the Italians and Spanish, this Mediterranean lifestyle is getting contagious which is not good for my work ethic! At the end of the day we met up with Victoria, one of Rosie's friends who's from Alabama and goes to Notre Dame, who we were going to one of the islands with for the weekend. There had been a scheduled strike for the ferry workers that day (so appropriate) so our ferry didn't end up leaving until midnight, and we couldn't board until 11pm, so we all went out to a long dinner at a gyro place near the port. Although I'm still partial to shawarma more than gyros, they were pretty delicious.
The ferry we took to our island was HUGE. Apparently a lot of them have night clubs in them because they're so big, but we didn't hunt that out/hear anything about it. The ferry ride was about 3.5 hours, so we snuck into the nicer area (our tickets were mad cheap, and therefore for the deck, as in outside, in the wind, which we refused to adhere to) and passed out until we reached Paros: the home of the Frappe, and our residence for the weekend.
Rosie and Victoria had figured out the logistics of the trip all on their own, and found a cool little camp ground called Camping Koulah. Through a series of emails, Rosie and Vic got us a cabin that fit "2-3" people on the beach for 12 euro a night, aka for four people 3 euro each. You can't beat that. When we arrived at 3:30 am one of the owners picked us up from the port which was nice) and saw our "cabin" we cracked up. It was tiny. Basically a glorified tent. The cabin was in the shape of a triangle/verging on tepee, and inside had just enough room for the three mattresses lying sheetless on the ground. But really, what more do you need? She tried to offer us another cabin, but we said no and all squeezed in (luckily we brought blankets). The night was pretty chilly but we were all so tired we just layered up and passed out.
victoria in front of our cabin
andrew inside. it was .... cozy
The next day we got up early, rented ATVs and rode around the gorgeous island beach hopping all day. Paros is gorgeous and everything you'd want an island to be. Mountains, white washed buildings, blue skies, soft sandy beaches, and lots of little cafes to drink Frapes. I took so many pictures from the ATV (Andrew drove ours) and they really just don't do the island any justice. We had a huge taverna dinner that night of all sorts of traditional greek foods, and then went out and walked around during the night and stopped at a bar or two (nothing was really open since it is just the start of the season). I had so much fun and it was so nice to just enjoy some of my favorite people in a gorgeous new place. I really liked Paros.
Getting out of Paros turned into quite an adventure ... after a night of quasi hell: we didn't realize the water was undrinkable so Vic got pretty sick ("it's comin out both ends!"), mosquitoes attacking every piece of our exposed flesh (next morning: "All the cuteness has been sucked out of my face" - rosie), lack of toilet paper in the bathroom, general cold (i slept with ski socks, leggings, PJ pants, long sleeved shirt, tank top, northface, and a scarf while cocooned in my blanket), inability to sleep at all due to all of the above, and our terrifying British neighbor ("these walls are incredibly thin) who 1. basically lived in the cabin next to us, as in all year round, and 2. was not pleased when we burst into laughter about what a ridiculous situation we were in after Andrew asked the question "has anyone else been awake for the past three hours?". So that morning we got up as early as possible and, despite our queezy stomachs, we ATV'd to a few more beaches until we felt more stable. We got some gyros for lunch and went to check out of our "cabin" and then just go relax on a beach until our ferry back to Athens came. Little did we know what was in store for us.
When we went to pay, the owner (not the woman who had been emailing the girls) decided to charge us a discounted rate of 40 euros for two nights. Which was wayy higher than the price we had agreed to and way way way higher than what the cabin merited. This turned into a huge argument, since we were all a pretty scrappy and stubborn crew by this point and not willing to compromise to an obnoxious Greek know it all. The main problem was he had Victoria's passport, so we couldn't just pay what we wanted and leave. And he was refusing to give it back. This extended to two hours, with a lot of tantrums by the greeks in which they'd all pile into trucks or onto motorcycles and leave for 20 min, and then come back to see if we were still there. Straight out of a sitcom. Eventually, the owner said "well go to the police if you like I want my 40 euro." So, we went to the police. She called him, Rosie witnessed the call, and told him he could not hold Victoria's passport hostage. But when we asked him about the call he said "she said you give me money I give you passport." Language barriers are extremely frustrating, especialy when you know NOTHING of the language. At all. Not even hello (in my case, and Rosie takes ancient Greek, which wasn't much help). Long story short, the police ended up having to come down to the Camp and make him give us the passport, explaining that he could press charges if he wanted but would need a lawyer (and no Greek man is going to do that, it would require way too much effort for 15 euro). Then we paid our 24 euro initially agreed upon and exhaustedly walked to the nearest beach, bought some snacks and a bottle of sangria, and tried to process what had just happened. We all just ended up laughing at how ridiculous the past 12 hours had been.
We caught the ferry back to Athens, Andrew left the next day and I hung out with Rosie and her friends. I had a really good time in Greece, but was definitely ready to go home to Granada by the weekends/weeks end.
Favorite part about Athens: Paros, seeing friends, the backlvah (sp?)
Least favorite part: not really a fan of the city itself, can't put toilet paper in the toilet (HOW did they host the olympics???)