Traveling abroad can sometimes be tough. I know I’ve touched base on quite a few things when it comes to long term traveling, but one that has really stood out to me lately has been the language barrier. It can be the biggest obstacle when traveling in certain parts of the world, and the locals either embrace you as a foreigner or they want nothing to do with you. When you come across someone who is willing to give you the time of day to either help you with directions, explain a menu item or just a casual conversation regardless of how well they speak your language, seems to be few and far between. But when you get someone that takes the time and effort, they truly stand out.
In the short amount of time we’ve been in Greece, we have come across several locals that not only are willing to help us, but are actually apologizing for their broken English. Here we are, in their country, not knowing a single word in Greek and they are apologizing to us. Its unbelievably heart warming that the locals here seem to be welcoming and accepting of foreigners and so far in the last 2 days I have been blow away by it. Right down to people smiling at you as you pass on the street, to a young 17 year old waiter attempting to explain his desire to move to Australia or Canada so he can better take care of his family. My heart is so warm for the Greeks in such a short amount of time. It has really opened my eyes to the way I interact with foreigners at home. I’ve been on the other side, I felt that embarrassment and have had people judge me, walk away or ignore me completely, all because of language, whether its fear or ignorance realted. I want all of you to keep in mind next time you come across this. Take the few minutes to help out someone who seems lost, try a bit harder to help understand what they might be asking and most importantly, smile and make them feel as comfortable as possible cause even one interaction can change the way someone views an entire culture.
Athens has been pretty amazing. Although we only ended up staying enough for one full day, I enjoyed it immensely! Stinkin’ hot at around 35 degrees, a dry heat though which is much better than a humid sticky heat. We spent the day walking around checking out the ruins. Mark and I paid 30 euro each for a multi ticket which was completely worth it. The sites included are:
– South Slope
– North Slope
– Kerameikos Cemetery Museum
– Ancient Agora
– Ancient Agora Museum
This ticket is good for 5 days and we saw it all in one. Out of the house at 7am and done by 530pm. We’ve gotten pretty good at this though. We did the same thing in Rome. Luckily all the to-see sights are within walking distance of each other.
Our first stop was the Acropolis. An ancient citadel located on a rocky hill above Athens. It contains the remains of several ancient buildings, the most famous one being The Parthenon. Its so amazing to walk around looking at all the ruins, the size of these columns and think that they had no machinery in these days. I wondered how they accomplished this. Its an amazing thought. We spent a good hour or more walking around before we headed out.
Our second stop was The Temple of Zeus, which is one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World. The statue itself is the ancient wonder but it was lost in a natural disaster so you just have to use your imagination. The size of the columns is enough to keep you in awe as you walk around.
Mark and I had read that there was lots of stray cats and dogs around Athens so we were expecting some hard to see things when getting into the city. I was surprised by the state of the animals we did see, which wasn’t all that many. Ive seen much more in Asia and in more devastating conditions. There are water and food dishes all over the city so the animals seem to be somewhat taken care of. I fell in love with a little black kitty when we were walking around the Ancient Agora. Missing an ear and sunning, she looked pretty hot so I gave her some water before we headed on our way out. She followed me for a little ways after that making me feel she was grateful for the gesture.
We made sure to visit the Acropolis Museum, an amazing modern museum filled with artifacts. As you walk around you have the gorgeous view of the Parthenon just outside the large glass windows. Its a must see when coming to Athens.
Greece was high on my list for my excitement level to visit, and so far, one day in, I am blown away by all of it. I am very sad to leave Athens tomorrow but unbelievably excited to see the much anticipated Santorini. A place that I have dreamt about visiting for a very long time. Only an 8 hour ferry ride from Piraeus, we should arrive mid afternoon.