I finally have a stable Wi-Fi connection- thanks to Bret and Deanna for letting me stay in their hotel room in Vouliagmeni!
I am going to highlight here my first impressions after arriving in Greece.
The first photo is at Monastiraki station. This was my first time walking off of the metro straight from the airport. If you look closely, you can see the Parthenon at the top of the hill. (You can only see this picture if you open the post-not from email)
My culture shock happened within the first few hours after getting off the plane. For everyone that I have spoken to about my first impression, they will know that I was (and still am) completely shocked at the amount of graffiti that is EVERYWHERE.
When you see pictures of Greece, you see perfectly white buildings with the blue shutters, walls draped with purple and pink bougainvillea vines, and perfectly detailed pathways to meander down. This isn’t quite the case in Athens. [Wait until you see the islands!]
I took this in Monastiraki which is very near the area of the Acropolis. It is so sad to see beautiful buildings being defaced by meaningless words. There have been some interesting artistic murals (which are actually pretty cool), but the amount of this type of tagging is disheartening.
Right outside our apartment, this street leads down to the coast line. Our beach is very rocky, but I managed to find a ton of sea glass. Not to mention, the rocks are very colorful – I have become a rock collector. Ha! Somehow one of my roommates managed to get me to sprint up this hill several times. I have not done it since…. *shame*
Unfortunately, stray cats and dogs are everywhere. I feel so bad for all of them. The pups just lay on this beach, sidewalks, and next to cafes hoping to get some scraps. The cats look all mangled and some have torn ears and missing eyes. In our courtyard, we have three kittens. My roommate, Soumo, decided to name them Obama, Trump, and Bush based on the color of their fur.
The town that I am staying in is Piraeus. It is the port of Athens where the cruise ships and ferries go in and out. There is a marina close by- I love being by the water!
So far the worst part about my trip- not having a washing machine or a dryer! Washing clothes in the kitchen sink and leaving your underwear out to dry where everyone can see is kind of difficult. No, I have never had to do this before. Yes, apparently I am spoiled. *I miss you dryer*
After settling in a for a few days, I finally got to go to work. The NGO that I am volunteering for is called Child’s Heart or [Η Καρδιά του Παιδιού]. They help those suffering from congenital heart disease by paying for expenses, treatment, lodging and provide mental health assistance to the families of the affected. So far it is very interesting and you can tell they love what they do! I hope my time here is well spent and I can help them with their efforts.
Getting around Athens is accomplished by public transportation. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour and a half to get to work. Today there was a bus strike, so all the buses didn’t run for about 7 hours. That can really mess things up since so many people rely on it. I hope that doesn’t happen again!
So far, everyone I have met through AIESEC have been really nice and accommodating. I currently have three roommates, two of which have been close companions who do everything together!
My first rooftop party was a few days after I arrived. The ouzo was flowing, music was blaring (although some Ricky Martin and Backstreet Boys got thrown in the mix somehow). It was a great night! This picture is definitely not the greatest: My two roommates on the ends, another exchange participant in the middle next to me, and two of our Greek friends.
These are just a few details about my first few days in Athens. I will post separately regarding different archaeological sites I have visited, delicious food as well as information on the islands.
It was very difficult at first, but I am now really enjoying the city and all the people I have met!
Sorry it took so long, but there will definitely be more to come! γα σας!