My adventure through islands, insects, and artifacts.
"ACK!! I've got so many bites!" I was scratching feverishly as my mom and sister looked on disgustedly..."where did they all come from!? WHERE?! Where are YOUR bites!? AHHH!" I maniacally counted each annoying little red welt, unconvinced that mosquitoes could be so ambitious. We were in Athens, slick with sweat, and generally unsatisfied with hostel life. The room was cramped with six saggy beds, the only alternative to frigidly freezing water was $0.75, the suffocatingly hot and heavy air wasn't remedied by even the smallest fan...and I had a bad case of the fleas. (I suppose I eenie-meenie-minie-mo'd my way to the worst choice of bed). As I was making cheesy jokes relating my infestation to the odyssey (the golden fleas...haha, get it?), my mom and sister were careful to quarantine me at a safe distance. I abandoned my pillow, but that was the best I could do. Ah, shoe string travel can be such an adventure.
We'd made it to Athens after a week of island hopping. In Santorini, we'd braved the mule ride from the port...an exhilerating, hair-raising 45 degree slope experience. We'd sunbathed on the black sand beach, clambered over the caldera, admired the white-washed, blue-doored buildings and swam in an eggily pungent hot springs. Our hostel, the worst in history, was fortunately flea-free. Instead, we battled two-inch-long cockroaches in a bathroom thick with stagnant urine. Hostel Anna anyone? don't do it! Santorini as an island, however, was breathtaking. Greece is just as you would imagine it, only a smidge more expensive and remarkably more beautiful.
Naxos and Samos were also absolutely lovely - we spent much of our time beach bumming, wandering the charming backstreets, downing gyros pita and Greek salad, and simply relaxing. Life was blissfully sunny and uneventful. When the time came to make it to the mainland - we found our place on the overcrowded ferry - with a lack of seats we bedded down in a hallway - and awaited our next big adventure.
We arrived, found a hostel (the infamous above afleamentioned), and spent one feverishly hot day exploring the Acropolis and the other ancient sites of Athens. I have to admit, after a life of hype regarding this legendary location - we were all a little disappointed to see the Parthenon covered in scaffolding. I suppose, however, that it will be worth it if the place is still standing in another thousand years or so. Maybe the fleas were simply making me a bit cranky. Hungry for even more history and ancient ruins, we decided to consult the Oracle of Delphi.
She didn't have much to say (it was too hot to prophesize, I think), but the site was absolutely incredible. Delphi is only three short three hours from Athens...but seemingly a world away. We were utterly charmed by the quiet cobblestone streets carved into the mediterranean Mount Parnassus, the friendly locals, and the unmistakable air of antiquity. It is always quite strange to realize that the history of the USA is merely a blip on the grand timeline of the world...the foundation of Delphi can be traced to 1600 BC!! Absolutely mind-boggling. We spent hours climbing about the ancient ruins - ogling the Temple of Apollo, the Treasury of Athens, the Stadium and the Theatre. Kelsey, with better knees and a sharper sense of ruin-curiosity, even explored a few dark and mysterious passageways carved into the mountain.
As a fascinating complement to the ruins, the museum housed some of the most remarkable artifacts I've ever seen. I've posted a number of photographs on my Picasa site, if you're interested. Frescoes, enormous statues, intricate carvings, jewelery, idols, ceremonial what-nots and mythological arts and crafts truly enlivened the experience. Once has to wonder - with all our plastic, steel and glass - what will remain of our culture a thousand years from now?
The nearby town of Arachova was next - quiet, very much local and utterly scenic, we were glad to spend our last days in Greece lazing around in a nice, (flea-free) hotel room, wandering the streets and breathing in the fresh mountain air.
Finally, we returned to Athens and I sent away my companions to the airport. I was heading back to Bulgaria - and, in truth, I'd missed it very much. I was tan, tired, enchanted by the many wonderful things I'd seen, and potentially rid of most insects. (I plan on bug-bombing my existence upon my return to the states, just to make sure my relief isn't...fleating. haha!) I was ready to go "home" before I went home.
Greece: ancient, a titch too expensive...but beautiful, enchanting, and well-worth the welts.