While visiting Athens I saw many interesting sights that impressed me. This trip was my first time outside of the United States and was very excited to experience a completely new culture, especially once with such a rich history as Greece possesses. The sight that left the greatest impression was beholding the Parthenon in person. I honestly was expecting to be underwhelmed, similar to the disappointment that tourists visiting Texas feel when they see how small and unimpressive the Alamo actually is. Fortunately this turned out not to be the case as the Parthenon was truly a marvel that left me filled with wonder and awe. To think that a structure of such brobdingnagian proportions was built thousands of years ago made me feel deep respect and reverence toward the ancient Greeks. I learned that an effort to restore the Parthenon has been ongoing for the past fifty years and much has been improved. I was a little saddened to see the beauty of this structure marred by the presence of modern construction equipment but am eager to make a trek back to Greece when the renovations are complete; which is projected to last an additional fifty years!
Another sight that I found intriguing was the changing of the guards in front of the parliament. Personally, I found this event in and of itself uninteresting and failed to see why anyone would be intent on watching their awkward march. However, the fact that this event did garner so much attention and excitement fascinated me. The roads had to be blocked due to the sheer multitude of tourists and natives alike gathered to witness this event on a brutally hot day. Trumpets were blown, pigeons were scattered, and it was difficult for one to maneuver in such congested confounds. The spectacle lasted several minutes and once the guards took their proper places, the crowd retreated and order was restored to the street. I cannot think of any similar event in the United States that would have this effect on the populace: http://youtu.be/PiEnd6JOBTw
The characteristic of Athens was very laid back and friendly. Most of the people were eager to communicate with us whether or not they were well versed in the English language. It didn’t seem that the people were in a mad rush to get to a place and took their time on activities that we would normally get done quickly. For instance their culture of eating is very different from ours. The Greeks take their time while eating and will lounge around for about an hour while enjoying something as simple as coffee. The change in culture was evident the day of our arrival when we were invited to eat dinner at a local Greek restaurant. The food was delicious and the ingredients were fresher and tastier than anything I’ve ever had back in the States and they were very generous in the portions they dealt us. However when we were full and thinking about moving on to finding our hotel the servers kept us longer and served us even more food. The Greeks taking eating more seriously than we do and will take much more time to savor and enjoy a meal with the company of others. I am the type that eats food quickly so as I can move on to another activity. Getting used to spending longer time on meals was a bit of a culture shock for me. They were also very generous and gave us free drinks on the house just for our group displaying an amicable disposition towards them. We were very grateful and impressed by their hospitality and frequented this particular restaurant multiple times during our stay.
An activity we did in Greece was visit museums. There were many interesting and beautiful relics to see and I was able to learn so much about Greece’s past culture through these trips. Our guide Nena was very well organized and knew the facts like the back of her hand. She showed us all the important sites that had a relevant impact on the shaping of Grecian history and culture and it was a shame that we couldn’t have stayed a little longer to see everything Athens had to offer. I felt extremely fortunate and grateful that I had the opportunity to stay a little over a week in that ancient city and hope it will not be last time I see it.