Exploring Athens with locals
Do you ever feel like sometimes you travel around the world and end up somewhere that feels like home? Greece had that effect on me, and it wasn’t because they had the same language, lifestyle, food, or any other indicator of familiarity. Instead, it was ‘just a feeling’ (as cliché as that can possibly be)… a sense of belonging and of identification with the way the Greeks live and think.
It probably helped that a dear Greek friend of mine and Triptrotter, Sofia, hosted me in Athens. Thanks to her I got the true ‘Triptrotting’ experience, being able to live life as the Greeks do. I stayed with her and her family in their house in the suburbs, which was a great base both to explore the city and to get to know a Greek family. They even invited me to a family lunch and swim at their grandparent’s house in the country, complete with Greek salad and octopus!
Through Sofia I experienced Greek hospitality, friendliness, and open-mindedness. Her and her friends took me gallivanting about the city, educated me about the recent riots, showed me the best place to get a piercing, explored art exhibits and funky courtyard bars, even visited some of the hostels to meet up with other travelers (by the way, I’d totally recommend Student Universe to find hostels in Athens).
Together we convinced sailors to let us on a cruise, talked our way into the captain’s control room, and even into wearing his hat! We took road trips down the coast, traipsed around tiny Greek towns, discovered secluded beaches. We visited her friend’s island summer retreat, went on boat rides with them, saw horses swimming in the water and a man who was Jesus reincarnate in bathing trunks. We ate and ate and ate, from traditional souvlaki to picnics by temples to fresh market produce and restaurants in public squares. We enjoyed an awesome Urban Adventures tour of the Markets and Ruins in Ancient Athens. They took me to graffiti-lined alleyways, activists squatting in a park-turned-vegetable garden, on walks around the Parthenon. They even taught me that water-bottle prices were regulated by the government, so that hot, thirsty Greeks always had access to hydration. (Clever, n’est-ce pas? But I wonder what the IMF has to say about it!)
All in all, I had an absolutely wonderful three days in Greece. In many ways, Athens felt like a secret Montreal/Brooklyn/Melbourne, just with fresher food, friendlier people, and fantastic weather (sunshine!). I could not recommend it more highly, and hope that no one is dissuaded by sensationalist media reports of riots and random violence…I know that I’ll be back!
Check out more of my Ultimate Adventures through Europe on Triptrotting TV!
Posted on October 3, 2011, in Ultimate Triptrotter and tagged adventure, celebrity Triptrotters, host, Round the world, RTW, study abroad, tips, travel, Travel like a local, travel tips, TTTV, Ultimate Adventures, Ultimate Triptrotter. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.