Adventures in Athens

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Last week was my winter break at school, and what better way to spend it than in Greece?! One of the girls in my study abroad program and I flew over last Thursday and didn't get back until Friday (hence the radio silence here). We decided to split our time between Athens and Santorini, starting with the land-locked city.

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Pretty much all I knew about Athens before going was that it housed the Acropolis and it was one of three cities in Greece I knew the name of. So the three days that we were there were filled with exploring and discovering this metropolis. When I was on the phone with my dad at one point he said it was like the New York City of Greece and I completely agree -- there's a hustle and bustle to the city that is reminiscent of NYC, a pulse of life that sweeps you into it from the first moment you're there.

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We ended up in a hotel that was minutes away from the square of the Acropolis on foot, and we could see the Acropolis from our balcony. The first hotel we were supposed to stay at was creepy, in a not-so-good part of town, and a 20 minute metro ride away from anything we would want to do. So we trusted our guts and booked at a different hotel, which was a much better experience. I'm glad that we paid for the first night and were able to move, be in a place that was exponentially better for our experience and peace of minds.

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When we weren't busy falling head over heels in love with Greek cuisine (which I miss sorely right now -- why can't I just walk out of my apartment and be able to get a gyro for 2€?) we tried to visit as many of the ancient sites as possible. The first one we explored was the ancient Agora, which we actually found on accident while looking for the entrance to the Acropolis.

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We found our way to the Acropolis next, and I know I've said it before here but having the opportunity to be in the presence of such rich history is insane. I will never get over just being able to walk into the Acropolis, stand less than 10 feet from the Pantheon and the old Temple of Athena.

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Unfortunately it was really rainy the day we went, and I was wearing my black ballet flats, which meant the climb was slow and anxiety-ridden -- any misstep could cause a colossal fall. But getting up to the Acropolis? More than worth it. It was breath-taking and one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

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There was graffiti EVERYWHERE in Athens, and most of it gorgeous, but these two pieces were my absolute favorites of all that I saw during my stay.

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We also visited the Arch of Hadrien, after getting profoundly lost, and I promise it's more impressive in person. Same with the Panathenaic Stadium. I was showing these photos to my mom over FaceTime and I had to explain to her that the scale of the Stadium is far greater than my camera could capture or convey.

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Yes, in the rain, I climbed all the way up to the top of the Stadium. Which is made of marble. How I did it without falling or slipping I will never know.

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This tunnel lead to a gallery of all the previous posters and torches of every Olympic Games. The entire thing reminded me of The Hunger Games, to be perfectly honest, of when Katniss is describing how previous years' arenas become resorts and tourist spots. How when the Games happened in Athens it was most likely a bit more bloody than they are nowadays.

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Of course I got first place -- in what? It doesn't matter. But there was strength in that podium that I try to remember every day I feel small.

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One of the highlights of Athens was definitely this over the top, decadent hot chocolate. Melted dark and white chocolate, with milk chocolate whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. What more could a girl ask for?