My first week in Athens has been non-stop. Meeting people, socializing, figuring out a class schedule, unpacking, staying up late, and waking up too early to ensure I go on as many adventures as I can.
Our first outing organized by AIFS was a bus and walking tour of Athens. The guide explained the history of certain buildings and streets as our bus nearly consumed the small roads and somehow mastered tight turns. Notable stops we made were at the Panathenaic Stadium. The stadium was made of marble, initially intended for the Panathenaic Games, and was later used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games.
Next, we stopped by the Hellenic Parliament to experience the Changing of the Guards. The interesting choreography of the ceremony – featuring kicks and shoe scuffing – follows the hour-long immobility of the soldiers as they guard the Monument of the Unknown soldier.
Lastly, we went on a walking tour. Passing by churches with tunnels leading to the Acropolis, winding through the island-like streets of Plaka, and comparing souvenirs in Monastiraki Square, known for its flea market-like shops and restaurants that line the streets.
Delphi and Arachova
Delphi and Arachova are towns on Mount Parnassus known for skiing and as the historic site of the Temple of Apollo. Important decisions were made on this mountainside under the guidance of the oracle believed to remain in this sanctuary of Apollo. Once featuring over 2,000 structures, very few ruins remain after monuments and sanctuaries were deconstructed to re-purpose the material.
As I hiked up through Delphi, swerving in and out of monuments large enough to make me toss my head back and pieces small enough to make me crouch on the ground to see, I felt small against the history but lucky to be in the middle of it.
The oracle had spoken and I agreed – I am going to love Greece.