Friday, April 29, 2011

Semana Santa: Athens

Athens is worth going to in order to take pictures.  It's not worth much else though, so they'll have to speak for themselves.

That said, I came to realize what an entitled traveler I am in Athens.  Until now, I'd been able to rely on either English or Spanish (or worst case scenario, pointing) to make myself understood.  A surprising number of people in Istanbul spoke English.

And then I was hungry in Greece.

On my way to take more pictures, I passed a roadside sesame bagel stand and noticed one bagel seemed to have some sort of filling.  Intrigued, I pointed to it and asked if it were salty or sweet.  "Salt, no," the man told me.  But sweet?  I asked.  Fruit?  He didn't understand and spat out a string of Greek.  I smiled sweetly and tried again.  Same response.  How much?  I asked, making a sign for money.  He replied in equally unintelligible Greek.  One?  I asked.  At this point, he threw up his hands with an unpleasant sound and picked up his newspaper again, right in front of my face.  

Well, EXCUUUUUUSE ME!!!  Sorry I asked one too many questions!!!  The American in me was mildly appalled and reasoned that, with the Greek economy in crisis, my business should be welcome regardless of my language.  I guess not!  And then the traveler in me rushed in and patted my head with a gentle "There, there, Natalie, it's different here" coo.  So, I guess I'm not as un-Americanized as I thought.  

I bought the bagel anyway.  It was okay.

But, in the same vein, few of my experiences were phenomenal.  Even a visit to the Poet-Sandalmaker was disappointing.

By the last day, I needed a change and decided to hunt up the coast.  Little did I know that the bus I chose would take me two hours away!  Getting to see the Greek countryside soothed all the chafing Athens had caused.  It was rugged and beautiful.  Suddenly, I had a new respect for Odysseus.  In fact, it made me want to pick up his story again.  Note: this is new and unusual due to overexposure at a very early age... occupational hazards of having English professors as grandparents!  That said, I would have liked to visit Athens with Grandaddy to hear his perspective and learn the literary facets!

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