Friday, January 29th - Athens - 10:35 PM
EET 01 - 30 - 2010

Today was a good day!! The morning began with a good shower and a good breakfast, the two things that I judge all of our hotels by. We got cereal, fruit, breads, pastries, and a few other things, which does not sound like a lot, but compared to the breakfasts that we have been having lately that consisted of solely bread and juice, this was an absolute feast! Our tour guide from the previous day then met us and took us to the Acropolis, which was stunning. And I don't think we could have ordered better weather for the day either, which made the views amazing and the whole experience that much more enjoyable. Aside from all of the restoration going on and the scaffolding on the structures, the Acropolis retains the grandeur with which it was built. the Propylea has been wonderfully restored to allow visitors to have the grand gateway experience onto the Acropolis. It provides an incredible threshold from which to view the Parthenon, that even with the scaffolding is still a spectacular structure. And the Erechtheum has been restored to display much of its former glory as well. After exploring the Acropolis as a group, we broke up and had a chance to to sketch on our own, which was quite the daunting task. I mean, it is the Parthenon, the one and only, and nobody wants to mess it up. But after a little work, I think I got the proportions correct, which is really important to the integrity of the structure because so much of the design is based on proportion and symmetry. There were also stray dogs all over the Acopolis, which seems to be a common theme throughout Europe, to have stray dogs everywhere. But I don't think I would mind so much being a stray if I got to lay around on the Acropolis all day. I took a picture of a dog laying on the steps of the Propylea who just looked so content with the view from his backyard, which just so happened to be the Athenian skyline. Anyway, after the Acropolis we headed to the Stoa, which used to be a civic center and market square at the base of the Acropolis where civil leaders and philosophers would go to share ideas. It was an interesting space because there is a lot of vegetation that has grown into the Stoa now, making the ruins much more of a park setting, which I liked of course. After the Stoa we wandered through all of the markets in Old Town. The meat market so really disturbing, the fish market smelled even worse than the meat market did, and the produce market was drowning in the smell of Greek olives - it was an incredibly pungent place that market. But the fruit looked just divine - strawberries as big as my fist! We made our way to one end of the market where we wanted to get lunch and got totally ambushed by a Greek restaurant owner who shuffled us into and got us to eat at his restaurant. When we sat down inside, however, we looked at the menu and realized it was way over our budget. So we got up to leave and the owner started yelling at us to stay. Not in a mean way, just pushy, like he really wanted our business, even though he had a packed place. Anyway, we were all so flustered and taken aback that we sat back down, which paid off because we all got a gyro for only two Euros. So good! After lunch we got onto the metro to head to the seaside. We ended up having to take the metro, the bus, and the tram (successfully and unintentionally tested all of the modes of transportation that Athens had to offer), but it was worth it. The beach was beautiful, Lindsey and Jessie went running through the water, I didn't want to take off my shoes so I touched with my hand. It was getting to be late afternoon, so Lindsey and I headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit (finished my second book of the trip, going to have to hunt someone down for another). We then had our first group dinner of the trip and it was de-licious!!! We had salad and fries and moussaka and lamb and chicken and pork and an absolutely fabulous dessert. I was in heaven! We celebrated Lydia and Brandon's birthdays and the final night of the trip for Ryan's parents. It was a great meal, lot of fun. Tomorrow we are getting on a plan for the first time in weeks, not too excited about that, and heading to Turkey. I think this is where the real culture shock begins, should be very interesting!

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