Okay, now for the part of spring break where we left Italy behind. We spent just over three days in Greece. Overall, it was great. The weather was gorgeous and the people were nicer than ones we've experienced in Italy. At first it was a little strange since Greece has an entirely different alphabet than English or Italian, but we soon realized that most people spoke at least some English and all of the street signs were in both Greek and English.
On Thursday we got up way early for our one-day, three-island cruise. The first leg of the trip took a long time, but finally we made it to Hydra. This island is your typical Greek island, though a bit touristy now. There are still no cars, only donkeys and carts, and the island is filled with quaint little shops, winding alleys, and the most breathtaking scenery.
After spending about an hour on Hydra, we boarded the ship again for lunch. It was a traditional Greek lunch, meatballs, a coleslaw type salad, and moussaka. We ate it because we were starving, but it was slightly disappointing. A far cry from the pasta dishes we were used to.
The other two islands, Poros and Aegina were more modern, with cars and paved roads. They were still beautiful though and relaxing. The ship itself was also a fun experience. We were probably the youngest ones aboard, not counting the children along with their families. Mostly the ship held Asian tourists of the 40 and above female variety. We also met a couple from Iran during lunch, which wouldn't be remarkable except for the fact that we saw them again the next day as we were both walking around Athens--quite the coincidence for a city of over three million people!
Our cruise lasted the entire day and when we got back to Athens we just wanted something to eat and our beds. And I have to admit, we wimped out and went to the McDonald's in one of the main squares of Athens. We were all craving chicken McNuggets and wanted to see if they were any different in Europe. Not so much--it was all the same. The menu board was a bit different; it offered regional foods as well as the typical Big Mac. They also have a Greek Mac, which is a Big Mac inside of a pita.
Anyways, the next day saw us waking up early once again, this time for a walking tour of Athens. Our guide, Walter, took us all over and showed us every major sight...in six hours. We were tired when that was done, but it was worth it to be able to see all the things we saw: the Parthenon, the ancient marketplace, the Olympic Stadium (from 1896), the Park...I have my pictures online here for you to see all of the sights as well! (Don't forget to check out Naples and Palermo as well!)
After the tour Walter took us to one of his favorite Greek restaurants so we could have authentic Greek food. I got the thanassis kebap--basically the Greek equivalent of a hamburger. It was so filling and after we were done eating we were reminded just why we loved Italy so much. As cool as Greece is, none of us could have studied there and survived with that food! We love our pasta way too much. Plus, I somehow picked up some sort of bug and I think it was food poisoning. Either way, something didn't sit right in my stomach!
On Saturday we just hung out in downtown Athens until it was time to head back to the airport for our flight back to Rome. We sat in a lovely cafe and enjoyed the free water along with our tall coffees and sandwiches (some things we actually can't get in Italy) as we people-watched. Our flight back to Rome was filled with Italian high-schoolers who sang the entire flight and clapped as we landed. I almost felt like clapping too, though--we made it back home!
After showers and some pasta it was nice to sleep in our own beds and wake up to our garbage truck like normal...but now it seems as though the fun is over as the final weeks of class get rolling!