As a Christmas present this year, my parents (ever-so-loving that they are) bought my sister and I a plane ticket to Europe. Tenaya finally cashed in her voucher and I found her waiting, bags in hand, on my front step about 2 weeks ago. . . okay, maybe that’s not what happened, but the end result is still the same: W-G sisters take Europe!!!
The first few days were filled with jet lag, walks through the National Gardens, visits to the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, National Archaeological Museum, and New Acropolis Museum. I enlightened her with the taste of Grill and Pita, that fantastic gyro place near my apartment which sells huge pitas stuffed with greasy meat, tzatziki, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and fries for only 1.80. She also came in time for CYA’s farewell dinner where we all dressed up and traipsed down the street in our heels to the cafeteria whose tables were laid with white table cloths, appetizers, wine, and bread. Tenaya acted as my personal photographer for the night, and would follow me around taking the last pictures that I would ever have with my friends.
The day that I was supposed to move out of my apartment, Tenaya and I made our way down to the port at a chipper time of 5 am and jumped on the ferry to take us to Naxos. Not only is it the biggest island of the Cyclades, and one of the largest potato producers in Greece, Naxos is also a beautiful island with great beaches! We stayed at a great hostel/hotel which was a pretty close walk to the rest anywhere we wanted to go in the main town. We spent the first day walking around town and exploring, ending our night at a little restaurant where we ended up meeting an interesting guy at the table next to ours. He was an anarchist who spent his life traveling around Europe, leaving the job when he was not satisfied with the employer. The second day we spent the day getting burnt and swimming at the beautiful beach, and enjoying the sunset through the Apollo’s doorway—the entrance to, and only remnant of an ancient temple right on the sea—and enjoyed a drink at a café right on the edge of the sea. As it is the biggest island of the Cyclades, we decided to rent a car the next day driving the scenic, winding roads of the island, stopping off at various sanctuaries (both Pagan and Christian), towers (for which Naxos is also famous), korous (male statues made out of marble) which were 20-40 feet tall, and sitting on rocks at the edge of the sea for a picnic lunch. We made it back to Naxos Town to buy locally made cheeses, olives, and other goods for a little dinner. Sadly, the next day we had to take the long ferry back to Athens, after having a wonderful relaxing island time!
In getting to Athens, we were a little worried about where we would sleep for the night, as I was already kicked out of my apartment, and the friend from CYA that we were going to stay with (her aunt lives in Athens) had decided to visit the islands before she went back to the states.
Luckily, Popi, the housing director, was at CYA when we went to use the internet, and gave us keys to an apartment which had not yet been cleaned. Hurrah for a night of free lodging! After we dropped our stuff off (which turned out that it was being used by another student and her friends as well) and went to do the last exploring of my former home. It turned out to be one of my favorite nights in Athens! We walked around Ermou (the street of shopping off of Syntagma), Monistraki, and in back alleyways that ran along the Roman Agora, Hadrian Library, and other sites up to the rock which juts out next to the Acropolis (where St. Paul converted Athenians to Christianity). When we walked up to the rock, we got the beautiful remnants of sunset, and were able to see the beauty that is Athens at night. We were greeted by two Greek men who meant no harm, who talked with us for awhile about traveling (one of them currently owns a bar in South Africa, and was back visiting his family), and who could not believe that Tenaya and I are sisters, because I am so tan and she has “white feta cheese legs.” On the walk back, past the Acropolis, we walked by the New Acropolis museum, where there was an orchestra and singers performing the soundtrack to Phantom of the Opera in the warm night air of the entrance. What a nice way to end my time in Athens! We finished off the night with a trip to the Ouzerie (like a tavern, but who specialize in appetizers and grilled meats to go with ouzo) to get Tenaya the traditional Greek dishes like fava puree, saganaki (fried cheese), tzatziki, wine, Greek Salad (tomatoes, feta, olives, cucumbers, and onions), and fried calamari (since they were out of the octopus we wanted to order).
Since our flight leaving Athens was not until the late afternoon, we were able to explore a bit more of the city. I toured Tenaya and one of the girls who also stayed in the apartment around, showing them Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora, but ran out of time, and was not able to make it to the Karimikos. Caught our plane, and were off to Rome!