Saturday, July 3, 2010

It's all Greek to me! (I couldn't resist)


Night to Day; Watermelon to Chicken; Hockey to Riverdance; China to Greece!!

Picture's after Writing this time...
p.s. I'm not editing this one...so I apologize in advance for any mistakes...I'm a horrid speller.

Soo...as my plans shifted and morphed and twisted around while in China, I had at some point decided to leave Beijing a couple of days early and take a rest in Athens as my plane landed here anyway - and who doesn't want to see Greece??

As I said goodbye to the girls, I didn't really realize how much I'd miss having company. In Hong Kong I had grasped onto the chance at being alone and independent, and jumped at the opportunity to figure stuff out, wrestle with who I am, challenge myself, and establish my character apart from much of who I was before and didn't want to be, and push myself to embrace better things and be steadfast in who I am and what I value (What a run-on sentence! Sorry, I'll let you catch your breath........). I began to anticipate again a time of refreshing independence and another time of rest and growth...but upon reaching Athens (after making a hilarious new Italian friend who was living temporarily in China and forced to go home because she could no longer use her feet - whole other story, AND experiencing the worlds worst-run airport in Moscow), I found myself bewildered and not at all at peace in the way I had been anticipating.

But I wasn't fully alone - still bummed out - but not alone. After I retreived my luggage, I went to take out some euros and literally none of my three cards were working. Not one...at any machine, bank, store. Then I tried the internet...FB and Hotmail, both wouldn't work...and here I thought Europe would be a paradise compared to China (it turned out to be so in many respects, but at the time I wasn't feeling the warmest welcome). I went to a pay phone...only credit card access - super. Bewildered and discouraged, having been brought crashing down from my high romantic hopes of Greece right from the get-go...I went to yet another bank teller - desperate. The one I landed in front of was in the midst of a conversation with an older, retired looking gentlemen who worked there but was on his day off..The two gentlemen were able to retreieve a mere 20 Euros out of one of my accounts - enough to get me to my hostel and pay for one night - yessss....oh but wait, I was assured, much to my delight, that the metro was on strike for the day (I've got some great observations about the transportation system here in Greece...)...iye, what to do, what to do?

I must have been radiating helplessness though I was trying so hard to put on a happy face, as Nikolas (the older Gentleman's name) offered to point me in the direction of my bus that he happened to be taking as well. Okay, hope was returning. As we waited for the bus, and I milked all the advice I could about sightseeing from this grandpa as possible, he bought my ticket, AND we discovered we were headed to the exact same street, only a block away from where each other was going (he was heading back to the main bank where his office was...).
...I want to intercede here to explain to all concerned that I WAS being very cautious, and constantly playing things alertly by ear - but he ended up paying for my subway too...and carrying my giant bag to my hostel, much to my opposition...and trust me...a man of 65 could NOT run away with that thing..so I wasn't worried...

Okay, so essentially I was shown directly to my hostel, having had everything paid for (I love being a charming foreigner), and even had my bag delievered much to the thankfulness of my shoulders... then..when I asked where a good restaurant to eat for cheap was - he offered dinner but no worries! That's where I gracefully declined and hung out around the guys at reception for a while.

So getting to my hostel was sweet (the money ended up being sorted out once I got ahold of a computer), but I was still pretty bummed...and realizing more and more that the Medditerannean is simply not meant for one. But of course, I wasn't about to waste away, so I went out and had some incredible food, miandered up the highest mountain in the middle of athens...and watched the sunset and made some more friends (two Geology Students from England, and an old but very peppy flight attendent from Montreal who gave me the scoop on how to sneak into the bar on the top of the Hilton Hotel to nab a view and picture of the Acropolis at night...) inbetween taking moments to just sit and enjoy everything.....as mellow as I was. The night was gorgeous, and I just chilled out, let myself try to figure out what was up with me...and just soak it in.

The next day was incredible...in the way that I had imagined it could be while on the plane...It started out with copious amounts of food (pictured), and then essentially was made up of an entire day of wandering around the Acropolis, the Agora, the temples, the Plaka market, up and around the ally ways, stopping at cafe's every so often, etc. Being on my own this time allowed me to stop several times and ponder life in the very same quite places the greats did once upon a time..

Athens and Thessoloniki (the city where I am currently - I want a day early to try to catch the train because there is NO schedule information available - there is no schedule...you just show up and hope there's a train...no working phone numbers to the stations, no internet info; nothing - AND I've discovered...Greek guys are very quick to talk to you - but are literally usless in wanting to offer any substantial help. Greece trains, buses, and subways run when they feel like it.).... have become really calm places of reflection. I've only got two weeks left overseas...I can't even believe it. I know I will miss what I've been through here immensely.... but the time sitting alone atop ancient ruins and by the sea have caused me to really solidify who I am when I get back. Of course I'm still me....but the amount I've learned and experienced and been taught would be an utter waste if I returned the same...It's pretty wonderful how traveling can change you, especially when you seek to recognize and find lessons that aren't so obvious. Sometimes we change without trying, but most of the time positve change is something we have to be first open two, and second push to continue and work on.

I've got another couple of crazy weeks ahead, and I'm so pumped to finally be doing this other build that I've been wanting to do since the fall (sorry Megsy, you'll get yours soon!! love you!!! :)). I'm ready to get my hands dirty again, and looking forward to the final things God's gonna teach me before I return to Waterloo (and of course the Btown, for a bit ;)). I've thought long and hard about this past year, and those before...and who I really want to be at my core; the values I've got or want to have, the character I want to posess and work on and fine tune.... and the strenth I find in the one who has done, is doing, and will do all of this in me. It's going to be messy...but I'm not settling for average, I've been looking at where I've gone wrong in the past, and what I need to put myself into boot-camp for, which a lot of this trip has been... and this year is pretty exciting as I begin to make goals and look at my desires (that are hopefully not my own) for what is going to go down over the next twelve months and on and on.

Hold me accountable - call me out...and if you want, I'll reciprocate...... coffee date, anyone?

I think that's all for now... I didn't really plan this blog out too much, so I probably missed some things that should have been mentioned...but I'm going to include some pics after I write so hopefully they will inspire me to fill in the details that I've missed.

Athens and Thessoloniki DID turn out to be amazing - not in the extatic way that I anticipated, but in the calm, assuring, steadfast to wrestling to peaceul, thankful and quiet ways...which was probably needed after the whirlwind of China, and before the blitz of the coming two weeks.

Thanks all again SO INCREDIBLY MUCH for your prayers and support and friendship...keep in touch STILL...even though I'm home soon doesn't mean I don't want the life updates still, or the jokes, or words of encouragement...everything is appreciated and I'm trying to stay on top of all the emails...so be patient with me...but don't stop...I love you guys!!

Also, if you have any suggestions about movies that I've missed this summer - please make a list...I'll have some work to do.

Oh, and NO ONE tell me what's happened on The Office, Glee, Bachelorette, esp. the office... I don't want to hear anything that has come from Dwight's mouth until I've heard it myself...and then can repeat stuff back to you. Laura, that means you. ...and everyone else.

Oh and happy belated Canada Day, everyone!! I'll have to set off some fireworks when I get back too just to make up for missing it...so cheesy, but so necissary every year...

I've got quite the list of stuff to accomplish when I get back...suggestions and company welcome...including getting a job..or two..please pray for me!!

and also that my India visa will work out - every city I go to doesn't work out with timing/process so I only have one option left - here's to hoping :).

What I rambler I am!! Apologies for any of you who bothered to read past the airport stuff...or even past the pictures. I appreciate the dedication more than you realize!

opa!! (does anyone ACTUALLY know what this means?!)

see ya soon,

- gray



First Meal in Greece!! I was starving and so obviously this was amazing - Moussaka with Greek Salad (look at the size and imagine the taste of the feta - mammamia!)
On to of L-mountain (Highest in Athens...and there's Charlie in the background)
Athens! First Night!


Sunset...yeah...I stuck around...

Breakfast! Baklavah and coffee


View at breakfast the next day...


Okay so this was breakfast on Day two...literally this was the "half-Gyro portion" ....I actually didn't have to eat ALL day until a small dinner at 8:30pm....and it was cheap too!!



22 Ezra - I bought one of these guys and shipped him home to guard our doorway...like?








Parthenon!!


Dogs EVERYwhere...and bigger than the ones in China...chillin at the Parthenon..Pepper, don't be jealous





The Chinese can't get enough!! I met this girl when she asked me to take a picture of us on the hill!! She's heading back to China in two weeks...we bonded.
...AND Shout out to K-wol and Turner gifted kids - Oedipius Rex, right here!!


Ancient Agora where Socrates chilled...and Acropolis in background...


Breakfast...


Lunch...more baklavah... peanut, pistachio and orange...I need to learn to make this stuff - I WILL learn to make this stuff....writing that down now...

Cabbage salad...taking a break from all the pastries - still amazing though!


Breakfast! Fresh apple pie - just made...and Frappe... once again...didn't have to eat till dinner :)



Thessoloniki!! "The White Tower" in the backgroun apparently used to be red from executions...so they painted and called it "white" for a better image...

1 comment:

Melisa said...

I LOVE your writing!! And this makes me miss you a lot!! I want a coffee date when you get home... you can buy ;) lol jk

love you!!!

Melisa (talsma)