That time I sprinted/fell on the original olympic track

We woke up at the ungodly hour of 530 am to get on the bus and head towards Olympia; our final stop in Greece. Olympia is fantastic. The ruins are excellent, the stories range from “OH GOD” to “i’m laughing so hard I may have just peed a little,” and you can still smell the sweat from the Ancient Grecians who competed here.

The stadium is the it place here as we all began racing each other on what was the original olympic stadium. I was beyond improperly dressed but I ran anyway. In my flower skirt, tights and ankle boots with 2 inch heel it was not so much running as nearly tripping my way to a 200 yard finish but I made it nonetheless. I could practically hear Nike cheering for me which only throttled me forward…right into the sand. Oh well, I “ran” it.

I then laid in the sun while my friends continued inventing other ways to sprint 200 yards. Suckers.

The security guard was so amused he made an olive wreath for the winner of the boys sprint which in an unlikely turn of events Brennan, representing Reno and beer companies everywhere, managed to win. After his photo finish he smirked adorned his head with his wreath and asked where his beer was at. His victory statue will be sponsored by Pabst.

The wildflowers were gorgeous and girls were adorning their heads with laurels they had braided. I was obviously jealous of their effortless Free People look and tried to make my own. I was quickly reminded that flora and I have never gotten along. I quit trying to make a wreath and instead stuck flowers all over my hair for our photo shoot. They will be featured in the summer edition of Free People magazine.

Unfortunately all our Grecian fun has come to a close and we are leaving this evening. I am deeply saddened to leave this beautiful country, the land of Ouzo, sun, perfect frappes, cheap fruit, and way to many appetizers.

I am looking out over the sea as I write this on our ferry back to Italy where we will be spending our first day in Pompeii and then move onto Rome.

Spring Break is so exhausting.

Also: sorry about the lack of pictures my camera died while all this excitement was occurring blehhh

Revelations in Nafplio

A day without touring is a day to be cherished. A lot of other people in our group rented bikes for the day in Nafplio and tore up the town. I however, was not in the mood for bike riding and instead grabbed a Jack Kerouac novel and my journal and headed towards the water. I walked off the boardwalk and found a perfect sitting rock where the view was perfect. My sitting rock also included a perfect stream of sunlight and an occasional breeze. If heaven exists it looks remarkably like that rock. I read a little, a wrote a bit but I mostly just listened to my ipod looking out over the water.

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I love Greece.

I ventured into town by myself once again and poked into countless nooks and crannies, found a delightful half fallen apart pottery shop, bought a head scarf, and then got what would be my last greek fro-yo. I returned to my rock where I spent the rest of my afternoon feeling as if I was being filmed for a scene of either Mamma Mia or Sisterhood. It was that picturesque. People walking along the boardwalk were photographing me and pointing in jealousy. My inner queen was delighted and shook her long blonde hair at them while sighing deeply. Paparazzi so meddlesome.

I may have also taken a nap. It’s exhausting to be a queen.

That time I made a wish in an ancient Athenian Well

Athens.

With the media hype of the continued riots occurring here we didn’t really know what to expect and were planning on a quick trip to the national archeological museum and the acropolis then leaving before we accidentally got tear gassed.

However, although it is clear in every cranny there is an economic recession occurring here I never felt unsafe.

We started with the National Archeological Museum which is of course a must do while in Athens. It holds such treasures as the Mask of Agamemnon and so much incredible jewelry I actually saw some people drooling.

Also notable is the special exhibit that was occurring during our visit which held what is believed to have been the first “computer” it was used to track the moon and most likely utilized for navigating purposes.

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There will soon be an Apple model coming out that will not only be skinnier but also less gold more tin and everyone will want it so they too can track the moon.

The Acropolis closes at 3 so we made the walk up to the Parthenon after the museum so as to have substantial time at the top by the Parthenon. They hype is there for a reason. The parthenon is without a doubt an incredible treasure. The views of Athens are unreal as well. The security, obviously, at the Parthenon is tight as I got a whistle blown at me not once but three times. Pocketing a rock here is a federal offense…whoops also not allowed: holding up a sign or petting the many cats that infest the Acropolis.

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It was incredible regardless.

A trip to the Parthenon is not complete without going to the Acropolis museum which is at the foot of the Acropolis. It is built on top of an excavation site of an ancient Athenian town. You can peek down through plexiglass in a lot of sections of the museum and see that you are casually strolling over some incredible history.

Outside however, there is no plexiglass giving you open view of the village below. I spotted a very very old and dry well and threw/tossed in a coin. I expect Ryan Gosling to appear at any moment.

The layout of this museum is actually really unique and makes you feel as if you were walking through the Parthenon. Unfortunately, other countries don’t trust the Greeks to take care of their own stuff and most of the artifacts that should be in this museum are in both the Louvre and the British Museum and they apparently won’t return them to the Greeks. So a lot of the stuff in here is copies. It is still worth the visit though as they have 4 of the Carotid statues that are really something.

After this we meandered down to the Athens flea market where we interacted with some interesting characters and I ate more strawberries than is likely healthy. We also found Melissio’s sandal shop. Jackie O wore these sandals! Sarah Jessica Parker wears these sandals! The Beatles wore these sandals! Socrates wore these sandals!

You must buy these sandals.

There is so much to see in Athens it really cannot be done in just one day but as the political/social climate is so turbulent right now it’s difficult to go there and risk everything being closed. Which coincidentally the day after we left Athens the riots were so severe they shut down all of the Placa (city center) which surrounds Parliament.

Athens is a unique melting point of both incredible history and turbulent contemporary life.

No trip to Greece is complete without it.

That time I recited Robert Service in an ancient amphitheater. (Wednesday day 5)

We headed to Mycenae early after another large bowl of Greek yogurt. The ruins here are outlandish. I feel repetitive as there is no way to properly communicate the “epicness” of these ancient rocks. Lions Gate, beehive tombs, David Schliemann, The Iliad/greek soap operas all are things we saw/discussed during this venture. It was another spectacular view of a valley and me trying to guess various conversations that may have occurred in the old rooms. “Agamemnon, I need your help some loser Trojan ‘stole’ my wife and we need to get her back! Will you launch an entirely unnecessary war with me?!”-Menelaus.

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We then drove to Epidarous where we had a picnic in the parking lot then went to the incredibly well intact amphitheater. Issa sang, people told bad jokes, and I recited Robert Service.

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All this viewing of old rocks was exhausting and I took a much needed nap on our way back to Nafplio. This is where the real fun began. I had a perfect afternoon/evening exploring the incredibly quaint/picturesque city of Nafplio. We walked through the windy adorable streets that I took WAY to many pictures of then we took the hike up to the fortress. BEAUTIFUL. 999 steps are nothing compared to the unreal views of the peninsula and the ocean. Nicole scared me silly by jumping around the fortress wall causing me to have a severe anxiety attack but otherwise this walk was awesome. We then walked down to what could be a real beach sat on rocks talked and enjoyed the surf. There are beautiful walks winding all over this city and I kept having to stop myself from wondering why in the world I wasn’t living here.

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Also notable is my obsession with Greek alleyways/doors I didn’t realize this until I uploaded my photos and half featured these two things.

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Also greek yogurt fro-yo. Enough said.

That time I visited the Delphic Oracle (Tuesday Day 4)

This day began with experiencing a revelation upon eating an embarrassingly large bowl of Greek yogurt, or just yogurt since I am in Greece. This was a good start as my visitation to the oracle was imminent. Before I could receive my destiny we wandered through the museum. Now I’m going to be honest, museums just don’t do it for me. They never have. I respect them and I think they are are fantastic for preservation purposes but I always find my mind wander. I worked my way through the artifacts listening to passion pit and making my own conclusions about what the statues represented

Delphi is beautiful and the oracle’s area is unreal. To imagine people hiking up that mountain to receive wisdom is incredible and the stories that go along with it make you feel very small. These ruins are pretty magical and are a must do for anyone traveling through Greece.

I would not suggest however, taking a bath in the Oracle’s ancient bathes:

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Leaving Delphi we stopped for a group lunch outside Delphi. Greeks take food very seriously. Eating here is not a sprint but a marathon. The appetizer selection alone nearly destroyed me. Estimates reside around 5, before we even received our main course. I was so full by the time my main course arrived I could barely eat it and began muttering prayers when they announced desert. I made the rookie mistake of going for the bread basket at the beginning of the meal. I tried to slow it down and reject appetizers but when someone is offering you fried cheese that looks like a divine mozzarella stick you don’t just say no. You instead do some deep breathing exercises and continue to work for it.

This meal left me so full that I couldn’t eat again till dinner.

We arrived in Nafplio relatively late and did only a bit of exploring. Our hotel is on the edge of town, around 4 miles, and unless we were going to hitchhike (not recommended) or steal some poor Grecian’s lame donkey getting into town wasn’t happening tonight. We settled for a walk through a “trail” to the “beach.” Both of these terms are very very generous. The “trail” was a very questionable route that may or may not have been someone’s orange orchard and the “beach” was half marsh half garbage that had a 5 foot rocky area.

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Regardless, the water was pretty.

Tomorrow we are going to explore Mycenae, Epidarous, and then the actual town of Nafplio. Ruins on Ruins on Ruins

MONDAY DAY 3 or The day involving Nuns and Nakedness.

The breakfast at our hotel was delicious. The only way to properly summarize our entire group’s astonishment at the breakfast spread was an overheard comment from the always loquacious Tommy who stated, “wait a second we can eat all this stuff?!” and even better, “GUYS, there is BACON…for US.” Needless to say we are not used to such delicacies.

Our wake up call was at 715 which would be unfortunate if I had not given up negativity for lent so I strapped on a smile and downed two cups of coffee. We then got to spend our first 2 hours visiting one more monastery which was similar to the previous day: awestruck, dropped jaw, etc etc. However, this monastery’s time is limited as this picture shows:

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as you can see by the erosion, the rock is beginning to pose serious issues for the infrastructure. This was pointed out by Thomas who nervously said, “guys I’m no civil engineer or anything but the cliff’s proximity to the edge of that building does not inspire confidence.”

The porch of said building no longer has any rock beneath it. We realized this while 20 of us were standing on it. This caused us to all nervously return to the nunnery.

*I realized I forgot to mention that 2 of these 6 monasteries has been as our priest stated “stolen” by nuns. Those conniving nuns always stealing monasteries…*

Also while in the nunnery many a Hamlet reference was made. You know you are amongst college students when the immature comments become intellectually based, i.e. “Cass, Get thee to a nunnery you filthy trollop!”

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We are now driving to Delphi for the remainder of our Monday and having a rare insiders-only view of Grecian construction zones.  I have observed that they are either 1 of 2 things.

1) Absolutely no workers and a very sad looking abandoned back hoe.

2) or 5 men and 1 shovel.

On this drive I also witnessed what was possibly even more awe inspiring than the Meteora Monasteries and more visually alarming then roadkill in an all far to short 5 second visual assault.  A very rotund Greek man was casually picking up a sack of potatoes on the side of the road and I got an unhindered view of what is undoubtedly the largest crack of any object, human or natural, that exists on this earth. There are no words. My immediate instinct was that his pants were just at his knees. This was not the case. His crack went up at least halfway possibly 3/4th of the way up his back. I was so wildly taken aback that I couldn’t shout quickly enough for our bus driver to stop in order to properly experience this 8th wonder of the world. I cannot find words that can properly span the immensity of this crack when trying to describe it to my fellow travelers. They just can’t understand. Perhaps its better this way, that only I saw the crack that reduced me to tears from laughter not once but at least 5 times. My own special keepsake from Greece and the pleasure of knowing that somewhere out there a portly Grecian man is searching for pants that reach to his shoulders.

Also spotted along the journey: a much to small car with 8 large bags of both apples and oranges jimmy rigged to the top with bungee cords, SHEEP, the gully where Gerard Butler and 299 other spartans held back the Persian army,  and geography that can only be properly compared to the elfin kingdom from Lord of the Rings.

This drive’s soundtrack was a combination of Ben Howard, The Lumineers, and Mumford and Sons.

Our drive ended in Ieta Greece which will now forever hold special special memories. It strongly resembles California prompting many a singing of phantom planet. We then ate lunch admiring the ocean.

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Afterwards we realized we had 2 more hours of lunch and so we did what any logical 20somethings would do. We stripped naked and jumped in the ocean.

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It was both freeing and freezing. The original 4 of us soon turned into around 10 as more and more people from our Salzy fam stripped down and took the plunge as well. Exhibitionist fun was had. Following our skinny dip in the Mediterranean we picked some oranges off the lush orange trees incredulous that nobody else had eaten them. They tasted like lemonheads without the sugar on them. So tart that we all immediately spat them out except for Erin who thought they were “delicious”

QUALITY afternoon in Ieta.

Tonight we take Delphi.

SUNDAY DAY 2 or musings on creation and stuff

We exited the ferry to step into most peoples concept of what an impoverished country must look like. After 3 hours on a bus driving through said impoverished country the only general assessment i could make was is there a correlation between poverty and trash on the side of the road? Side note: this general “philosophical” (term used very generously) thinking is going to be a theme throughout this day. Then we pulled up in Kalambaka. WHOA.

The Meteora monasteries are the most incredible/breathtaking things ever:

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It is actually surreal that they exist. I thoroughly believed I was in storybook land at this point because wow. these things are incredible. I am still so stunned by these buildings that I can only use the word incredible and breathtaking repetitively and obnoxiously. My apologizes.

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*For a more informative history/actual facts instead of made up ones by me I would suggest googling them if you are curious…who wouldn’t be?*

The hike was stunning and the views were surreal.

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Side note: the skirts that I think are a delightful combination of both oppression and Little House on the Prairie are mandated by the Monks as women in trousers are indecent. We wore them in the name of “tradition”  However, they were actually rather slimming. Thank you monks.

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I then had a 10 minute muse sesh on existence while staring at the perfectly balanced rocks where the romantic/ideological side of myself wanted to believed said rocks fell perfectly onto other rock forming perfect tower. The scientific part of my brain told me this was ludicrous. I then with the help of my equally philosophical friend Chelsea discussed for an additional 10 minutes the dire consequences for Kalambaka if one of said rocks fell off. The consequences would involve smushing and desolation of farmland.

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Also notably if one watches a James Bond movie they are featured! I can’t remember which one specifically, but I do know it involves James Bond jumping from rock tower to rock tower, which is probably pretty cool.

We head to Itea tomorrow. Further musings to come.