Check that off the bucket list-
Swimming in the Olympic Pool
I had heard rumors that the 2004 Olympic Stadium in Athens was pretty unguarded, so this week my friend and I decided to venture out to it. The metro station and complex were ghostly quiet and as we walked in we waved to the only security guard stationed at the front gate. The modern, white buildings looked untouched until you got up close and saw that the seats, floors and ceilings were falling apart.
We walked around for a while and then decided to check out the swimming pool. Compared to the rest of the complex, it was pristine, and there were still diving blocks and lane lines. Someone had told us that the pool was for members of a fitness club only, but there was no one around. It was hot and we stood next to the pool for a long time, waiting for someone to come stop us. But no one did. So, we had to test it!
The things I should have done:
After spending 4 months in Greece, I have been kind of beating myself up over all the things I didn’t see. I guess the easiest way to get rid of this guilt is to make a list and promise myself I will see it all next time!
-The butterfly migration on Rhodes
-Halkidiki- The beaches here are supposed to be to die for.
-Mount Olympus- It’s a two day hike, but I would have loved to do it.
-The Ionian Islands- I have heard nothing but lovely things about this chain of islands.
-Delos- A good day trip from Mykonos, this island is in the center of the Cyclades. It was very important in ancient worship and there are so many awesome ruins on the island!
-Marathon— I originally wanted to run from Marathon to Athens and be all historical about it. Then I remembered that running is terrible.
-Greek easter- Oh what a celebration I missed! If you are in Greece around easter, try to befriend a Greek family, invite yourself over, and eat lots of lamb!
-The olympic torch running through Greece- I have been kicking myself for this, if you are in Greece before the olympics, look up when the torch runs through. The run it over the top of the Acropolis and through Ancient Olympia.
-Meteora (I know, what is wrong with me?)
How to apply for a Greek (or any) visa:
Hi! Did you know that one of the reasons I started this blog was because I was frustrated about the lack of info out there about Greece? I remember googling “tips for applying for a Greek visa” and coming up with nothing! I think it’s time we change that :)
The fantastic world of Greek scams and how to avoid them:
If there is a way to trick a tourist, someone in Greece has thought of it. Here are some things to watch out for to avoid problems while traveling.
-Speak less English and speak it at lower volumes, especially on public transit, where pickpockets will quickly scout out your purse.
-Refuse bread at the restaurant— yes, you didn’t order it, and yes, they put it on your table, but you will still have to pay for it at the end of the meal.
-Same goes for bottled water. Ask for water from the tap if you want to save.
-Never, ever fistbump the guy that really wants to fistbump you.
-The lady who says she is giving you a rose “for free” because you are “beautiful girl” is going to follow you down the street asking for money.
-Before getting in a cab, ask the driver how much he thinks it will cost to get to your destination.
-Insist that the taxi driver always, always starts the meter right away.
-Don’t put your cell phone, camera, or other valuables on the table at the restaurant. People may walk by and grab them!
-Ladies- nowhere will ever be as safe a place for your purse as IN YOUR LAP. Not on the chair next to you, under the table, on the back of your chair, etc. IN YOUR LAP.
-If someone is being rude to you, don’t give them business, even if that means standing up and leaving the restaurant. These are usually the people that will rip you off!
Sadly most of these were learned through first hand experience! Don’t be scared, most Greeks are very nice, these are just things to watch out for.
The Temple of Poseidon
This is a super easy day trip from Athens, 2 hours on a bus along the scenic coastline! The temple is on a hill above the town of Sounio, which is also very adorable and surrounded by beautiful beaches! Take a day to lounge, eat tasty Greek food, and check out the temple!
Psirri is my favorite night-time neighborhood in Athens. Gazi may be better known for its dance clubs, but the laid back vibe here is much nicer if you want to unwind. The streets fill up with people headed to hookah bars, late night restaurants, and bouzoukias (complete with traditional Greek food and Greek dancing) on weekends!
The Study Abroad List
I am half way through studying abroad, so you could say I’m having a mid-study abroad life crisis. Here is my list of things I wanted to do and things I still have to do!
__ Trick someone into thinking I am Greek
X Sea Kayak on Milos
__ Get off at every metro stop in Athens
__ Read a children’s book in Greek
__ Go to Greek soccer game
X Make 1 Greek friend
__ Go to an outdoor movie theater
X Haggle at the flea market
X Fight in the Galaxidi Flour War
__ Visit Meteora
__ Run the original Marathon route
__ Get a ride on a Vespa
X Stay up until the sun rises
__ Stay out all night on the beach in Glyfada
__ Visit the Valley of the Butterflies on Rhodes
X Pee. Somewhere in Athens. Outside.
X Visit Delphi
X Do some Greek dancing at a Bouzoukia
__ Visit a Rembetika (basically a Greek jazz club)
X Find and hang out with Greek hipsters
__ Find the best gyros in Athens
Phew! I have a lot of work to do!
Study Abroad Resolution #4:
Be a treasure box of happy memories.
This was a tip from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, that I think works very well for study abroad. Sometimes being miles away from home will get you down. You will think about how you went through all of Easter Sunday not knowing it was Easter and how chocolate bunnies cost $7 and how your parents didn’t email you and all your study abroad friends were out of town and on and on and on.
Stop the spiral. Buffer your life with happy memories to prevent sadness from shaking you up so much. Collect happy moments in any way you can- in your mind, in photographs, in quotes, in decorations on your wall. Finding a way to preserve those perfect moments that happen while traveling is so essential to me. If I don’t do it, I don’t really process or appreciate them. Documenting the happy stuff in pictures and writing helps me when I am sad, because I can reread the journal entries and look through the photographs.
Be your own treasure chest of happiness. It makes being homesick a little less sickening.