The beauty and challenges of Greek culture | My Family Travels
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"Where in the world is the flusher on this thing?" I had prepared myself for cultural differences like unusual food, unique clothing, and foreign languages; however I had not planned on playing hide-and-go-seek in every bathroom stall I entered. Believe it or not this was the ONLY thing I never quite adjusted to on my trip to Greece.

This was my first major international trip. I had been to Canada and Mexico, but there was no major language barrier or cultural differences. Going across seas I knew would be a unique experience. First thing I learned is that toilets don't necessarily have handles. Rather, one must hit a large button that says "stop", contrary to what the average American would think to do. Being naive, I had spent about three minutes looking for the flusher and decided to take my chances by hitting the "stop" button. I was rewarded by my risk, but later discovered every bathroom is different and returned to the "flusher search".

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

My trip to Greece is a surreal memory. I spent two weeks learning parts of a foreign language, adapting to a new culture, and having the time of my life. Every majestic picture of ancient architecture is amplified in my mind’s eye. The first day in Athens, as tired as I was, came to be one of the best days of my life. I quickly learned that there can be not better food in the world than a Greek salad with a gyro, especially when one is famished for something besides airplane meals.

Athens is a beautiful city filled with lively people. The whitewashed homes are situated upon the slopes of rolling hills and mountains. On top of the Acropolis, one can look over the expanse and admire the Aegean Sea. A breath of salt air is ever present through the crowded streets. Pedestrians and motor bike riders swarm together on the sidewalks. Tavernas and shops are filled with the locals and tourists alike. Simply walking through the streets one can see the mixture of ancient and modern civilization. As we watched the changing of the guards by the Unknown Soldier’s tomb, I discovered I loved this city and its culture.

Of course, there is a lot more to Greece than Athens. We were traveling with a group of about twelve people and were commuting by tour bus primarily. After about three days in Athens we took the bus to a pier. I have never been on a cruise ship before, so when we finally boarded our ship, I thought it was gigantic. Later, when our tiny boat docked at Mykonos, I discovered that other cruise ships were about three times larger than ours. However, our ship served us fine and was fairly affordable. Over a five day period, we traveled to the most beautiful islands I have ever seen. If I had to choose a highlight of my trip, it would be this cruise.

I have a few recommendations for anyone who wants to visit Greece. First, I highly recommend taking an island cruise. It is perfect for people who want to see a lot of beauty and experience new cultures. Second, spend about three days in Athens to see everything there. Third, don’t visit every ancient ruin site (which is practically impossible). I suggest The Acropolis, Delphi, Ephesus (in Turkey), and Olympia for your primary visits. These are all wonderfully preserved and fascinating ruins. Forth, try a lot of local restaurants and tavernas for a unique dining experience. Lastly, always locate the flusher on the toilet before you use it.

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