Wow guys, it’s officially time for my last Travel Journal! I’m kind of sad about it, but happy that I took the time to make a separate post for every European country I visited. They were all so special in their own ways and deserved their time in the limelight. I also can’t wait to look back on these posts when I’m older and reminisce about my time abroad. So without further ado, here is my trip to Athens, Greece!
How beautiful are the sunsets in Athens?! Absolutely breathtaking, I seriously wish I could watch those every night! However, Greece was definitely the country that felt most foreign to me. It was rare when we found anything written in English, especially at any of the pharmacies. It was harder to communicate than it was in England, obviously because in England they speak English, lol. It was also different because of its government. From what I’ve learned, unfortunately the government in Greece is not doing so well, so the roads and sidewalks are pretty torn up in many areas. It really opened my eyes to just how blessed we are in the states and how much more needs to be done to help these countries. I know you probably think those kittens are pretty adorable in those pictures above. They are! However, they are stray cats that can be found all over the city. I’m sure the thought of kittens everywhere is a dream to some people, but it was pretty saddening to see so many homeless animals.
The Parthenon on the Acropolis
This was probably my favorite part of the trip to Greece. The Parthenon was built for the goddess Athena by the Greeks. It was meant to act as her home and sits atop the Acropolis. Athens is named after Athena and is one of the most beautiful assets of the city. Unfortunately, it was covered with a lot of scaffolding, but it was gorgeous nonetheless! It was a bit of a hike to reach the top, but the views took my breath away all the way to the Parthenon. Once we reached it, you could see all of Athens, and even the sea! It was a great photo op, so excuse the excessive amounts of photos. One of my favorite things was also the huge Greek flag that was waving. That flag in front of the expansive white roofs of Athens’ communities is indescribable. A large part of my heritage is Greek, so I think this place held a special place in my heart.
Endless Souvlaki, More Gelato, Baklava, and Falafels!
Guys….Greek food….wow. I really enjoy Greek food at home, with the rice, spanakopita, pita, yogurt sauces, grape leaves, and more. But it is a whole new experience to eat Greek food in Greece! There was the little place a few feet away from our hotel that had insanely good souvlaki. I had never had a souvlaki before this, but have seen restaurants that serve them at home. I’m so glad that I got to try the authentic versions in Greece, they were absolutely TO DIE FOR! Basically what it is if you’re unfamiliar is tomatoes, lettuce, tzatziki (a yogurt spread/dip), and your choice of meats wrapped in a large pita (the pita was grilled to perfection and was the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of pita!) Since I ate vegetarian on this trip though, I chose falafels as my filling instead, which were absolutely delicious. I wish I could have some of it while I’m writing this, lol! Since everything was mostly in written in Greek, there were limited places to eat, so we ended up going to this one little place quite often. I wish I could’ve branched out a little more when it came to food because I wanted to try it all! But we were lucky this place had such great souvlaki!
Another type of Greek food that I love at home and loved even more in Athens was the baklava. This is a sweet, rich Greek dessert that includes honey, nuts, and flakey crusts. It is absolutely to die for, so I ended up trying it at a restaurant on our final night abroad. That night for dinner I also got a Greek dish I had never tried. It was vegetarian of course with cheese and peppers I believe. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was very good and totally worth trying if you are visiting Greece. The fourth photo is the dish, so if you know the name of it, comment down below!! I think we all started missing Italy, so whenever we found a little gelato stand, we took full advantage. I ended up finding some vegan gelato and sherbet that was also very good!
Ancient Greek Statues and Art
Since this trip was all about art, of course we stopped at a Greek art museum! We walked around taking in the beautiful sights of ancient Greek sculptures, jewelry, kitchen utensils, and vases. I felt like I stepped into the world of Hercules, which I guess I pretty much had! Their works are gorgeous, and I’m so happy I got to see these things in person. It’s very different to learn about these pieces from a projector sitting in a classroom compared to seeing them in person. They knew real beauty and it reflected in their artwork.
Mars Hill (Areopagus or Hill of Ares)
This one place was extremely special and unique. Mars Hill also took a little ways to walk up, but was totally worth it. This little hill has a full view of the Acropolis and all of Athens. It was probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my entire life and I never wanted to leave that rock. Mars Hill is where Paul taught the Greeks about Jesus. You can find Paul’s speech to the Greeks in Acts 17:16-34. As a Christian, it was absolutely amazing to stand where Paul stood, speaking to the Athenians about Jesus. It is probably a moment in my life that I have zero words for because of how awestruck I was. I’ve studied the Bible my whole life, but to stand exactly where it all happened is just…unforgettable. On one of our last days in Athens, one of my professors read the passage from Acts aloud as we took in the views of Mars Hill. It was one of my most memorable days on the trip and I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything.
Side note: if you ever plan on visiting Mars Hill, be extremely careful! Because so many people walk up this rock every day, it has become slippery and there are no gates around the hill. You can easily slip and you’d fall down the cliff. So please proceed with caution!
Walking with the Nymphs and Satyrs
Another hill we walked up to see a contemporary art piece. It was a tent made from marble that faced the Acropolis. We had a very nice discussion about it but one interesting thing about this hill was it history with mythology. If any of you have read mythology like the Iliad, the Odyssey, or heard of any of the origin stories of the Greek gods, you’d know it’s filled with creatures like forest nymphs and satyrs. The hill we walked up was supposedly the place these creatures lived. I love Greek mythology, so it was so fun to think this was the origin place of those stories.
One of the main reasons Athens was added onto our Euroterm trip was to see the second half of Documenta, a contemporary art festival that we also attended in Germany. You can read more about it in my Germany post. However, I don’t feel it was super impactful for me, and that’s totally okay. There were simply other things that I found more important to include in this post, and the tent is definitely a contemporary piece that I wanted to touch upon.
Final Thoughts and Euroterm Reflections
As you all know, at the end of every Travel Journal post, I add in some extra photos and sum everything up. I seriously still can’t believe that this is my last post about Europe. I have enjoyed so much sharing my travels with you and reading your comments. It means to the world to me that you read them. I’m glad I could take you guys along and give you a little taste of these unique places. I hope to create more travel posts in the future, wherever life takes me!
Greece, thank you for giving me experiences I couldn’t have anywhere else. You connected me even more to my beliefs, my spirituality, my love of every new place and the world. Your uniqueness showed me there is always something new to see and adventures to have that I could never imagine. I found beauty in the small things that came from a great history. I can only hope I can visit somewhere as beautiful and enlightening like this again.
And to my entire Euroterm group, thank you for this unforgettable experience. It is something I will carry with me my entire life and it has changed me as a person. I could not have felt more blessed the entire trip, through the ups and the downs. Without every person on that trip, including my professors, it would not have been the same. Traveling back home, we were delayed for 10 hours trying to get from Greece to London and even through those trials and tribulations, I learned so much about people and how to handle difficult situations. From London, we all made it home safely and I thank God for that. Lastly, thank you to my family who made this all possible and for supporting this endeavor. I couldn’t have done this without you guys. Until next time, talk to you all soon! xx