So although I come from a city just outside Boston, nothing could prepare me for the experiences I would encounter in the HUMONGOUS city of Athens. I have to be honest and say that I was not prepared for this trip. I had little knowledge of the Greek language and of the history of Greece. I would reccomend that anyone coming here not be like me and make yourself aware of your future surroundings. My first week has had its ups and down but it's only made me more excited about the rest of my time in Greece. After getting off the plane, which I must say I greatly enjoyed (I would reccomend Swiss Air to anyone), we were picked up by seemingly harmless taxis. If I only knew ahead of time what I was getting into.
Drivers in Greece show little if any regard for pedestrians. Many times I have been walking on the sidewalk only to find myself come face to face with someone on a motorcylce or moped. The sounds of motorcycle will forever make me glance over my shoulder. Speaking of sidewalks, they can be very dangerous as well because of the high content of marble in them. I am sad to say I have already suffered one embarrassing fall. I have noticed that people in Greece always take their time and are more laid back than Americans. This must be why they are always in such a rush when they are driving, they have to make up for lost time. So they breeze through red lights, hop on the sidewalks and let the fact that there are people there slip their mind.
Back to the taxi ride. We crammed into our very fancy yellow Mercedes Benz taxi. While stopped at a light, I heard a little thud on the right side. A young man on a motorcycle had hit our taxi while trying to swerve through traffic. I watched our driver throw his shift into park and sprint out of the car after him using words that I was told never to repeat. Now this made me very nervous because at any moment the light was going to turn green and we would have to move but then again we had no driver. He jogged back and after turned the light he pulled over to where the young man was waiting and they had a few words. I thought I was about to witness a fight before the young man sped off and our driver came back to the car mumbling under his breath. Interesting experience, indeed. However, my taxi actually dropped us off at out apartment unlike some of my fellow students so I consider myself lucky.
I have never really been away from home so this has been a unique experience for me. Although our apartment is small, it is quite homey and my experience in it so far has been more than pleasant. It doesn't hurt that the view from our rooftop is spectacular with the Acropolis on my left and Lykavittos Hill on my right. Everyday I wake up and am anxious to find out what I can discover today. I start my morning with a large Gloria Jean's coffee (which after working at Dunkin Donuts for 3 years is the absolute best I have ever tasted) and any kind of pastry from Beneth Bakery just on the corner. No matter what I encounter through the day I know it will surely be an adventure.
If I had to sum up my first week in Athens, there would be a few things I would say. One, I won't say Greek people are bad drivers but I can't lie and say they are good either. Two, Greek people are extremely friendly, are willing to help you with the language barrier, and appreciate any attempts you make to speak Greek. Three, I would reccomend that everyone try to eat "Greek" and not be asking for directions to the nearest McDonald's! Greek food is yummy! Four, the Greek people are extremely well dressed. I thought I possessed a bit of style until I came to Greece and found out i was mistaken. Lastly, Athens is a beautiful city enrichced with history but at the same time is extremely modern. There is a ton of things to do here and I hope that I will get the chance to experience it all. Oh, and one last note. My favorite thing we did in the past week is visit a beach on the Ionian Sea! Life is Amazing.
(Ron checking out my model pose at the beach!)