Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 1st, 2010 - Monday

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot.

The world around me is getting significantly bigger as my time here goes by. I find myself realizing a lot about my own ignorance towards the world and the people that are living in other countries. Today I woke up very eager to go out and explore more of Greece. Athens is completely different from Vienna. This place is loud, dirty, bohemian and absolutely beautiful. We spent a lot of the day walking, and walking a lot. My hip was hurting me pretty badly throughout the day, so I was walking far behind the group mostly by myself. It was nice to have the separation and be able to meander slowly, not letting any details pass me by.

We had breakfast with President Hagerty and his very nice wife. They gave us these candied fruit that were delicious and I FINALLY had normal, American coffee. I sucked down three cups before I had to stop myself. That is the one thing I miss more than anything: a big ol’ cup of coffee. Mmmmmmmm. After that, we went to a museum and looked at a history of Greece, which was interesting. It was hard to pay attention when all I wanted to do was run around outside. I especially fell in love with the jewelry that was in the exhibit.

After that, we went and walked through the craziest little market place I have ever been to. Gypsies, old Greek men and others all shouting and hustling everyone to buy stolen things for cheap. I’m glad we didn’t have time to go shop because I would have come back with a second suitcase of stuff. Then, it was my favorite part of the day: Lunch. And holy tomatoes was it a lunch. I got a Greek salad with pita. This was not a typical salad. This salad put to shame any salad I have ever had. And the tomatoes, which are my favorite thing to eat, were the ripest things that I have ever had the pleasure to engulf. I also had a lovely cup of Illy espresso, which is my favorite brand thus far.

After lunch, we went off to climb a mountain. Being a cripple with an ulcer, I opted not. I took the little trolley up the mountain. Best six euro I have ever spent. When I got to the top, the view was extraordinary. I then got to give a math lesson… excellent!

That night the group finally got some free time. My friend Cristina and I went out for dinner, another meal, which I consumed in about 1 minute. After that we went out with our other friends to get a taste of the nightlife. Athens is most definitely the place to be if you’re looking to be outdoors and have fun.

Having this opportunity to travel to Greece is eye opening. This area is going through a huge economic crisis. Being someone who is very interested in human rights, it is extremely liberating and enlightening to be in the middle of a country that is going through such a large change. Walking through the protests, seeing the police teams with riot gear on and carrying machine guns is heavy. I love that I am seeing people standing up for what they believe in, regardless of what it is.

Another thing that my time in Europe has done for me so far, is to reestablish my thankfulness to be American. Walking around Greece, there are endless gypsies and poor, illegal immigrants. It was very hard for me to comprehend that all of the venders and people selling things in the street were mostly likely victims of human trafficking. I could never imagine having to make a living by selling lighters or washing windows of cars in the middle of the street. It is all a lot to soak in, and I am beginning to view myself very differently, and perhaps starting to see the world around me more clearly.

Maegan McGlone

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