And we’re back in the USSR… just kidding. We are back to blogging but we’re in Athens, Greece – the birthplace of democracy and sworn enemy of all things Communist and Russian (just like America until a week ago). As with all our travels, we went to Greece because flights were cheap and, after checking into a hotel with a bed little better than most foldout couches and arguably containing bedbugs, we set out for a weekend of adventure. But fo’ real, the mattress felt like it had fallen off a truck on the highway and been run over a few times and this is coming from people with really low standards for travel accommodations.
First stop, ice cream. Breakfast of champions. We would have opted for something a bit more wholesome but we didn’t know that Athens was in a different timezone and we way overslept. Must have been the luxurious bed we had to rest our heads on. After a quick brekkie, we were on a mission to see some very old stuff. I’d love to tell you that we went straight to the Acropolis but our navigational skills aren’t the best and it took a while of wandering around Greek side streets and winding alleyways to find it. Mostly we just kinda assumed that going up the giant hill would eventually get us there – and it did! – but there was some backsliding occasionally to make it to the top. The view was spectacular and after all that walking, we were both starving. A short 2 hours later, we’d found the best souvlaki ever at a place that’s been in business for the last 65 years and is run by the grandson of the owner, and had plans to chill poolside before going to a fantastic dinner.
Sunday morning, the sun was shining and we thought the best plan we could make was to go to the beach. Greek beaches are supposed to be beautiful, right? So we asked the front desk for directions and set off on the metro towards a bus that was rumored to take you to the beach. The metro we navigated like the public transport experts we are but the bus, a vehicle in about as good shape as Greece’s economy, was another story. This veritable death trap fit you and at least 100 of your closest friends, as long as you didn’t mind getting body slammed by the door every time it opened and closed, like Ryan. Trust me, you don’t wanna ride the bus like this. We both grimaced each time the driver slowed down to pickup more passengers, since nobody was getting off and we were well past critical mass at this point. A quick 40 minutes and 40 bruises for Ryan later, we began to question whether we were going to the right place. Without Wi-Fi, it was difficult to know.
We made the decision to get off the bus when we saw some girls who looked like they were probably Greek and might be dressed for the beach if you kinda squinted your eyes. Turns out they were speaking Portuguese but we didn’t know this until we’d followed them the better part of a mile through a residential neighborhood. But eventually, they did take us to a park beach that looked like a place meth addicts go to relax with their cousins. After more walking, we found a semi-sandy spot next to water and celebrated our success. Though some brave souls ventured into the water, we preferred to take our chances with the needles and tetanus and sat down on the sand, watching a yoga class struggle on their paddleboards in the shallow waters.
After some 30 minutes of stubbornly pretending we weren’t overly disappointed with the “beach”, we reckoned that we ought to be heading back, considering we had no earthly idea how to actually get back to the hotel. In hindsight, we probably should have looked up the bus stops in the reverse direction as well. Luck was on our side however, and we made our way back to the road where the bus let us off just in the nick of time, leaving us to sprint across the street to catch the bus in the opposite direction (hoping not to wind up like our President). Magically winding up back at the metro station, we became fast friends with a cool American, with whom Ryan chatted about basketball while I feigned interest as best I could.
Back in the city, we made one last pitstop for souvlaki (Savvas) before sprinting to catch the airport bus. Our trips are just never complete without at least one near-miss on public transportation.