As some of you may or may not know, I went to Greece last week on New Years eve. Here’s a blog post!
I spent an incredible 10 days at home before flying to Athens. It was short, but so needed. After finishing my semester in Denmark, all I wanted to do was rest my head on a familiar pillow and be in the company of my family and friends. I also missed the mountains and it was a joy to be back in nature. But if you know me, I can’t sit still and a new year meant a new adventure!
My flight from Vancouver to Athens was long. It was also December 29/30 and I was anxious to be in Athens with my friends. First it was a flight from Vancouver to Calgary. I had to do some quick shuffling between domestic and international airports before taking my second flight from Calgary to London. I had to take a third flight from London to Athens.
But… of course, my last flight was delayed.
The airport was packed and it was hard to even find a free seat to drink my okay coffee and okay croissant. I was among one of the many busy and tired looking faces at the airport in London. The flight was delayed two hours. Finally, it was time to board. Finally to GREECE.
When I arrived in Athens I couldn’t believe it. My friends: Greek, Japanese and Austrian, greeted me dressed like Greek gods. Draped on top of their regular clothes where white sheets wrapped with several knots and pins. They held a sign that said ‘Welcome Lauren to Athens’.
I immediately forgot how tired and sleepy I felt. It was completely overthrown by emotions of happiness and excitement. Ringing in the New Year was incredible. I LOVE GREEK FOOD! And I am so thankful that my hosts’ parents were generous and cooked for us all the time. Seriously, when people say they can taste the love in homemade cooked food, it’s true. I felt so loved through food.
Friend celebrations proceeded family celebrations on New Years day. If Greeks love food, then they doubly love to drink and dance. To be honest, it was kind of a blurry night. The next two days as well we found ourselves sleeping during the day, and awake all night.
Two things stood out to me about my (new) Greek friends. (1) They’re kindness and idea of friends are family, family are friends (2) Their more carefree attitude towards time – sleeping when they are tired and eating when they are hungry. They had a flow that wasn’t defined by specific times.
Acropolis of Athens
“Wake up, wake up” said the Greek.
This was obviously new to me. I’m always the first to wake up in the morning and tip toe around the house. But now the Greek was waking me up! Clearly, I’ve been influenced to sleep on Greek timing.
But I was so excited to wake up because today was our only full day for an adventure. Unfortunately, and this is seriously too bad, that amidst this incredible trip with friends we had to write a group exam paper. This paper took away four full days of our short week together. If I were somewhere boring and forced to write a paper… fine. But to be in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and be tied to my chair and write for 10 hours was painful.
We hopped on a bus and started our walk around and into the Acropolis museum. Being in Athens with a Greek host is incredible, we were entertained with stories of Ancient Greece, of history, arts, mythology, conflict, drama, love, muse… it was inspiring to be surrounded by it all.
We began our walk to Acropolis.
The stories of Greece and Ancient Greece continued as we walked closer and closer to the top of the hill.
When I was deciding what to study for my bachelor (years ago), part of me, at the time, had an inkling to studying philosophy or history. Maybe it would have been crazy, but these subjects make you think in a way that’s so different than business. My eyes lit up as I walked through centuries of history with my Greek friend.
I was in such a happy place. The weather was perfect. I forgot completely about the exam. I was in Athens.
We walked down the hill to Plaka, which was beautiful. Another sweet taste of Athens from the handmade gifts and smells of different Greek food was lovely. There were a handful of touristy/souvenir places, but everything seemed good quality. We continued to walk more of the city. In the evening we played an escape room… with a zombie. All of it was new to me!
“I see, my dear Theaetetus, that Theodorus had a true insight into your nature when he said that you were a philosopher, for wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. He was not a bad genealogist who said that Iris (the messenger of heaven) is the child of Thaumas (wonder).”
The Dialogues of Plato — TheÃ¦tetus
Est. 400 B.C.
Διά τὸ θαυμάζειν ἡ σοφία
(wisdom begins with wonder)
The good news, we finished our paper. But it was really unfortunate that the paper took away our time exploring the city, but I came to Greece to experience Greek hospitality and I did in every sense. I felt at home from the moment I stepped into his home until the last goodbyes with his friends and at the airport. These feelings will stick with me for a long time. I hope to return one day soon! There is so much more of the city, and more of the country still left to explore.
Some of my other favourite moments/things not mentioned above:
1) My Greek friend(s) teaching me Greek
3) Learning the alphabet, happy birthday, “I will change neighourhoods” song in Greek (you have to be Greek to understand the last one haha)
4) Greek coffee
5) Greek seafood – octopus
6) Greek soups
7) Greek cakes
8) Ouzo / hot wine-honey
9) Making Japanese curry for an international dinner
10) Learning about Greek celebrations/traditions and Greek dancing