My favourite city in the world is Athens. I’ve had very little experience in cities, but so far, this is the one. Ironically, upon my arrival in Athens, I hated it. The bustling city was just not my thing. I’m from Canada and I could get lost in my backyard. I’m not very used to the way of the city. I hated how loud it was, all the smells, and the air was thick with grime and sweat. I felt nauseous. It was like I had been thrown in a washing machine and everything was spinning around me. I felt like there was a barrier between me and the earth and that there was a layer of concrete over everything. The sky was a glassy opaque colour, and everything was so arranged. I was in a grey cold box. The next day I had the same feelings and I was very much looking forward to hopping on a boat and getting to Lesbos where I could finally feel the earth beneath my feet again.
The day after that we had planned to go to the Acropolis. Many people were still sick from the wave of flu that had been going around, so the plan was canceled but a few of us decided to go anyways. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe this hidden gem is in the middle of the city. We walked past the old amphitheatres, like the ones you see in the movies and climbing over two thousand year old steps. It was unbelievable. Once we reached the top we got to see the Parthenon and the Erechtheion, Isabel and I became so annoyed that there wasn’t a way to see it all in all its former glory thousands of years ago. Once you walk across the whole Acropolis there’s a lookout, and you can see the whole city; from the neighbourhood we were staying in; to the markets and stalls; the boats in the harbour; and all the surrounding mountains. I was overwhelmed with curiosity.
After the visit to the Acropolis I started noticing the small things that made the city a happy place. Seeing the city from afar had given me a new perspective. Its like when you are up close it was all very overwhelming, but after seeing it from afar and touching a bit of its history, it made it more beautiful. Now I noticed the sleepy mountains that surrounded the city. I appreciated the old cobblestone streets that lined the Plaka and the fairy lights that were strung up across the streets at night. I loved how you could basically walk anywhere you wanted to go. Like the ice cream shop. My favourite flavour was after eight, which is basically mint chip. I savoured the taste of vinegar and olive oil on fresh bread, the sweet peaches that could be found all around the city, and the delicious fried cheeses we would get every dinner. I also started to appreciate the sounds of the city at night. It was a machine that never stopped running. There were always cars speeding along the roads, people chatting late into the night, and music running throughout the streets.
I loved the oldness of the Athens. It amazed me that people had been walking, where I had been walking, thousands of years ago. The old temples were so cool, and I fell in love with the ancient greek culture. The stories of the old gods interested and captivated me. Ruins were dotted everywhere in the city, and I felt I was walking on top of the ancient city of Athens. There were also temples everywhere, and it was like walking in a time machine. After leaving Athens I was so sad. I wanted to stay and I made a promise to my self to go back and see it again – maybe even as an archaeologist.