As I stood on a hilltop in Athens, the Parthenon towering over me, I realized that this was where the great writers and poets of ancient times had lived. A day later, as I was looking out on the glistening caldera in Santorini, in awe of the beauty, I began to wonder if I was in a dream. Ever since I was twelve, when I first saw those beautiful shots of Santorini in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, my dream was to stay in one of the white cave-like houses built into the mountainside of the island. Not only did I live my dream, but I also got to experience many other places in Greece, where I was exposed to people of all different nationalities and cultures.
When we arrived in Athens, we were exhausted. Because of the time difference and being on a plane for ten hours, we had lost an entire night of sleep. The plan was to get to the hotel and take a nap before we did anything, but I found myself unable to sleep because I was too excited. I wanted to take advantage of every moment we had in Greece. So my parents slept while I anxiously sat outside on the balcony.
When they finally woke up, we headed to the Acropolis. We had to hike for about three minutes until we reached the top of the hill where the ruins were located. Honestly, I wasn’t excited about seeing the Parthenon and the rest of the Acropolis. I had always imagined it as a bunch of rocks dumped in the middle of a city, but I was wrong. The ruins were on top of a hill looking over the entire city of Athens. At the time, it was the most amazing view I had ever seen. This experience showed me that you can’t really imagine what a place is actually like until you see it in person. We also had a tour guide, Maria, who told us all about each ruin and what it had to do with the ancient Greeks and mythology.
It turns out that Greek people will like you a lot better if you try to speak their language. We went out to eat twice a day and, because of the ninety degree weather, stopped at even more places to buy drinks. If the waiter looked unfriendly and seemed like he was in a bad mood, it would only take a simple “yassas” (hello/goodbye), or “efharisto” (thank you), to cheer him up. He would immediately smile and perk up.
The next day, we packed up and went back to the airport to fly to the island of Santorini. Although I had enjoyed Athens, I wasn’t sad to be leaving. The main reason I wanted to go to Greece was to go to Santorini, and the time had finally come.
When we got to the airport, a taxi driver was there waiting for us with my dad’s name on a sign. It took about twenty minutes to drive to the town of Oia, where we were staying. Being in a car in Greece was a scary experience. Everyone drives extremely fast and the streets are very narrow, with cars weaving in and out in between each other. When we got out of the car, a man was waiting for us. He carried our luggage for us to the place we were staying. This was a good thing, because in Santorini, there are tons of steep steps that you have to go up and down to get to your house. It was a good thing I had been working out everyday because you need to be in shape to walk around that town.
After we walked down about ten steps, the village built into the mountainside came into view. Words can’t describe how I felt when I saw that view. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life, and I couldn’t believe I was actually there. This was what surpassed the view of Athens from the Acropolis. I knew from the pictures that it was an amazing place, but seeing it in person felt so different, almost dreamlike. We spent three nights there and saw how different Greek culture was, especially the restaurants. Everyone ate dinner around nine o’clock and the shops stayed open all night long. I would order a glass of wine and the waiter wouldn’t even think twice about it. In Greek restaurants, you always seat yourself. The waiters only come up to you to take your order and serve your food. They leave you alone for the rest of the time.
Something really special about Oia was the sunset. It was like a huge event that everyone in the town attended. They would all come out, sit on the ledges of their houses and just watch it.
The last place we went was a town called Nafplio. It was a beautiful town with many interesting people. Many people thought I was Greek and would come up to me speaking the language. When I told one person I only spoke English, he kept trying to talk to me anyway and I was actually able to have a small conversation with him through motions.
Greece was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Everything about it was beautiful, from the weather and scenery to the difference in culture. Although there will be many more exciting times to come, those are ten days of my life that I know I will never forget.
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