Athens has a certain vibe to the city that I can’t exactly put into words, but the slightly anarchist street art and the mystical appeal of the ancient architecture makes it a place like no other. Various tiles and stones tend to make up the streets and pigeons will always find their way just out of your footing as you walk along winding roads with music flowing through the air. It really is quite interesting to explore because the city has so many centers, and not based around the business districts as often seen in the US. This might also explain why there is no one area with sky scrapers, or significantly larger buildings; Athens has grown in width, not height. Due to the layout, the hills that host some of the world’s greatest monuments, like the Acropolis, seem to be even greater, but some of Athens greatest treasures are simply spread throughout the city; architecture that is 1,000s of years old just resting amongst the still lively city.
One afternoon in this past whirl wind of the week I went on a walk with Paul and Grant, an ultimate throwback to a year ago in Hiroshima where we did practically the same thing on roads near Hondori. As we met up on the tourist street outside our residence, we set sail towards a large hill just south of the Acropolis. This wasn’t the tallest, or most amazing looking hill from the bottom, but it was a simple hike through this cute park plopped in the middle of Athens. Upon reaching the top we encountered a large monument-like structure, which to be honest we almost completely ignored. Not because it wasn’t impressive, in fact it was quite amazing, but the view of the city was absolutely incredible! You can see Paul and Grant checking out Athens in the photo above, but this photo really doesn’t do it justice.
Early in the week, on another occasion that involved a hill and an amazing view, TGS was brought back together for a welcome dinner of sorts. In the beginning we spent time chatting with friends that we hadn’t seen for a good month, due to spring break, but once they started making olive oil with this huge machine, we were all incredibly intrigued. Most of us had a go at spinning the wheel in circles to produce a very un-olive-oil-looking substance, but I guess we know that this process was close to what it means to make olive oil. Then more chatting began again as we took our places at the dinner table and started sharing around olives and feta cheese. After some more delicious Greek foods we were pulled into a whole out dance party that involved the tradition, and apparently tourist-appealing, plate smashing — I must admit, it was very great to break a plate into the big pile of plate dust and then continue to dance on top of it. Once the dancing and “Opa!” yelling came to a finish, we took a break by catching some fresh air outside, where we encountered the most amazing view of the city at night. Imagine the view of Athens above, but as tiny lights floating under a dark blue sky.
It was a similar view to the one we visited on Easter night, which was celebrated just a couple nights ago. In a city ringing with church bells and dimly lit with a thousand candles, we wandered to the top of another hill. At the switch from Saturday to Sunday, bells sounded around the city and fireworks sprouted across the view. Fireworks definitely don’t look as huge from above, but when there are 20+ firework locations, it is pretty hard to not be a bit in awe at the beauty of it.