Travel: Anafiotika

After we completed our descent of the Acropolis, we rendezvoused with a new travel-friend and took a break for lunch. See some of the fantastic food we had below! I am not normally a big fan of eggplant, but I rather enjoyed the Moussaka (it was probably creamy enough that I did not notice the typical flavors that I dislike).

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Completely stuffed to the brim, and being of the female species, we took some time to browse the quaint little shops in the immediate vicinity. I was incredibly tempted to purchase some carved olive wood utensils or sculptures, but I was hard-pressed to add another purchase to my backpack burden (given my incapacity to avoid buying a Venetian Mask during my stay in Venice).

I also really wanted to buy a toga despite how stereotypically tourist that act and owning that article of clothing would have been. Thankfully, my friend talked me out of it by commenting on the quality of the stitching and cloth versus the price they were asking.

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We then wandered through the quaint neighborhood of Anafiotika. It is a small, picturesque area that resides in the historical region called Plaka. Original houses here were constructed during the era of Otto of Greece when workers migrated to Athens from the island of Anafi in order to construct and refurbish King Othon’s Palace. It is from these small origins that these colorful, idyllic Grecian houses came to inhabit the northeast side of the Acropolis Hill.

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The beautiful scenery and the narrow streets were utilized by us in a valiant attempt to capture some model-esque poses and pictures amongst the whitewashed walls in stark contrast to the surrounding vegetation.

My attempt was  less than satisfactory given my travel lag from the tedious multi-transfer and ferry trip I took in the previous days to traverse the Mediterranean Sea.

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I caught some interesting pictures of graffiti when we finally emerged from the winding and step-filled paths.

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The day was wrapped up with a quick traditional Gyro for dinner, and savoring some frozen Greek Yogurt. ^_^

Travel: Acropolis of Athens

Cherishing the shut-eye, we rose late in the morning. Despite the  beautiful weather and the sun shining bright in the sky, and knowing that quite a bit of uphill hiking would be involved, we decided to hop a metro to the base of the Acropolis, grabbing some coffee and croissants on the way. At the foot of the hill, we were fortunate to get into the region for free as it was a celebration day for the country.

Some aimless meandering around the hill occurred while we searched for the appropriate path toward the top. On the way, we bypassed the Tower of the Winds.

2013-06-05 04.06.14It is an octagonal marble clock tower that resides in the Roman Agora whose primary function was to function as a “timepiece” or horologion.  The structure is 12-metres tall, has a diameter of 8-metres, and was topped in antiquity by a weathervane-like Triton indicating the wind direction. There is a frieze that depicts eight wind deities corresponding to the eight cardinal directionsBoreas (N), Kaikias (NE), Eurus (SE), Apeliotes (E), Notus (S), Livas (SW), Zephyrus (W), and Skiron (NW) – and below it, eight sundials.


Continuing up the Agora, we observed the ruins of the Temple Of Zeus from a distance, and a view of vibrant Athens.

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Not too long later, we ascended the steps of the Propylaea, a symbolic gateway that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis. (The Brandenburg Gate was inspired by this). Immediately beyond this window, one comes across the awe-inspiring Parthenon.


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Constructed from 447 to 438 BC, the temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena at the height of the Athenian Empire‘s power. It is recognized as the most important surviving building of  Classical Greece, and considered the culmination of the development of the Doric order. The decorative sculptures are the epitome of Ancient Grecian Culture, and this structure is an enduring symbol the continues to inspire future generations. It represents Ancient Greece, the prosperity of the  Athenian democracy, and the evolution of Western Civilization.

One of my favorite mythological stories, is of about how Athena beat Poseidon to become the patron of this great city.

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The citizens offered a competition to the greek gods in which each deity had to present a gift to the city, with the people serving as the judges. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident, and from it a salt water spring arose, providing a means of trade and water. However, due to it’s saltiness, it was not potable.

In turn, Athena presented them with the first domesticated olive tree. With this, Athena won the competition, for the olive tree provided wood to build and carve from, oil to light fires and cook, and olives as food.

Do you enjoy mythology? What is your favorite story? Why does it strike a chord in you?


Travel: Together at Last

I arrived in Athens just in time to rendezvous with my two friends for dinner.

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After, we walked through the streets and gazed upon the Acropolis in its nighttime splendor while relaxing on the square. Not too long after, a couch-surfing individual that one of my friends had been in contact with, arrived to socialize. (We were being hosted at another couch-hotel by a generous student).

Honestly, we were pretty skeptical.

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He took us down a questionable alleyway that was very close to abandoned in terms of human presence. My other friend and I were lagging behind and looking at each other with concerned faces. However, one friend courageously (or blindly) surged forward, and after swinging open an ominous wooden door, we were greeted by a lively, yet eclectic open atmosphere.

An upstairs level was accessed via stairs and an external porch, the open rooms play host to changing art exhibitions; unfortunately, I can’t recall what the gallery was exhibiting at the time. I remember it being dark and creepy, it may have centered around some context of violence.

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The ground floor had your standard bar and the individual associated with it. The four of us settled into a couple of chairs at a table, and the ladies ordered some sangria while the man ordered a beer.

To describe the couch-surfer as a “character” is to term it lightly. He was amongst the unemployed population of the suffering Greek population, and freelances in electronics repair. If you imagine a conspiracy theorist and an anarchist in one body, this fellow would be pretty close. He was also an avid smoker (as are most Europeans).

Calling it a night, we bid αντίο to our strange friend and strolled back to our couch-host’s apartment to rest and strategize for the next day. (This is when I found out that none of us are adept at falling asleep before midnight).

Travel: Longest Travel day EVER (III)

Finally emerging from Bari Castle, I was absolutely starving! I dragged my bedraggled and tired body back on route to the port hoping to grab some food on the way. Unfortunately, being a smaller coastal town, there weren’t a lot of options. I didn’t really have time for a sit-down, and the one food truck I passed didn’t have anything available! (Or simply didn’t understand my pointing or limited and slaughtering of the Italian language).

As a result, I finally make it to the port! (and consequently purchase my sustenance on board)

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The important thing to note is that the journey from Bari to Patras lasts for a minimum of 18 hours. The basic ferry ticket does not include a bed or an official seat. There’s some assigned seating in the form of small auditorium, but the rest is a lounge or public space. As a poor, traveling, recently graduate student, I opted for the base charge that went with my EuroRail pass. Therefore, I ended up sleeping on one of the booth seats that you often see in diners. Not exactly the most comfortable way to pass the night, especially if you are carrying all your earthly possessions in a backpack.

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Fortunately, I passed the time with some avid reading of my Kindle, some book-keeping for my expenses in my beloved Moleskine, and the uploading of all my media onto my Macbook Air. When it came time to pass out, I used my carabiners to strap the loops of my backpack to my belt-loops (This way I didn’t have to sleep on top of a lumpy bag, or cuddle it on my stomach. (Carabiners are my best friend).

18 crawling hours later, we dock in Patras Greece, exiting the ferry doors to the smell of the sea and fresh sunshine. Finding the bus-stop required to take me to town, I met up with some backpackers, a few traveling solo, and a few with friends.  1 hour later, we arrived at the main bus terminal. From there, it was either a 30 min walk to the train station (with questionable service) or tickets on a bus for about $25 Euro. We just went for it. (At this point we were waaaay too exhausted to even consider the alternative option).

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Starving, we used the time we had to venture up the street for food. And I got my first official taste of grecian food in the country of Greece at a placed called Snoopy’s!

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Granted it was a Gyro, which is actually pronounce yero, but for about $3 Euro, I got two Gyro’s and they were absolutely fantastic!

A 4-hour bus ride later, we reached the outskirts of Athens. (We meandered about confused for awhile until an english-species grecian helped us out).

The ride into the city center took us about 45 mins. Getting off, we had to take a bus in the opposite direction because the bus driver failed to notify us of our stop.

So let’s sum up my estimated travel time from Rome to Greece.

  • 3-4 hours train
  • 18 hour ferry
  • 1 hour bus
  • 4 hours bus
  • 45 min bus

Equals, it took me MORE than a FULL day to successfully physically relocate my body from the peninsula of Italy to the Peninsula of Greece. Whew!