My Mediterranean cruising began in Athens. I landed at the airport and immediately felt like I was at a freak show, but instead of being in the audience, I was the main attraction. I had never been stared at so boldly and unapologetically in my life. Have I been observed in other countries before? Absolutely, but it wasn’t so blatantly open. Most of the time I catch people giving me the side-eye, and they have the good grace to turn away when they notice me noticing. Not so in Greece. People literally stopped what they were doing in some instances to gape, one man even did a double take when I crossed his line of vision. Wow! This could go 1 of 2 ways in my head, I could either think of myself as the bearded lady or as a mega superstar…so I put my sunglasses on, held my head high, and walked like the hallways of the airport were my own personal runway. It was kind of awesome…
After I got over posing for my close up, I went in search of the exit and was confronted with Greek. It was the first time I ever really understood what people mean when they say “it’s all Greek to me”. The words were in Greek letters! (I should have been less shocked by this.) I had only ever seen them used in reference to the Greeks at college, so instead of spelling words, these letters represented fraternities in my head. How do you even exit the airport when the word looks like this: έξοδος? But my mind is trying to figure out what fraternity that might represent! My point is that I have no gift for languages, but I had taken it for granted that even when I don’t understand a language, I can still read the word and quite possibly make out its meaning. But this was literally all Greek to me. THANK GOD for tourism, because most generally right under the Greek word was the same word but with Latin letters. So in smaller print was the word: éxodos , which felt pretty self-explanatory (who knew that the book of Exodus in the Bible simply means “exits”, kind of anticlimactic IMO). So ten minutes into my time in Greece and already I am being unexpectedly confronted by my own assumptions. Sometimes I am so American!
I head to the subway, and as I emerge from the relatively short ride the first site to greet me was an Applebee’s. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was sorely tempted to stop for a quick meal, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t fly halfway around the world to have something that I could get at home. So once again I held my head high and snubbed Applebee’s for something more authentic, and I am truly happy that I did. Not only was the atmosphere at the little sidewalk café delightful, the food was quite honestly mouthwateringly delicious.
I spent just 2 days in Athens before I set sail on my cruise, the city was incredibly beautiful. Once you are in the city center you can see the Acropolis from seemingly every angle by just looking up. It sits at the highest point of the city presiding over the life of modern day Greeks. It was one of those instances when I know I am going to be impressed so intend to play it cool, but instead I was having to suppress my desire to grab people on the street and say “do you know how incredible it is you get to see this everyday in the normal living of your life?” I fully expect that they would have looked at me like I was crazy, but seriously they are already looking so might as well give them a good reason right?