So following the Parthanon, we went to eat and relax until our next planned event. Fish Pedicures. Apparently, this is something known to Greece and some other parts of Europe. The fish are from the carp family and essentially, eat the dead skin off your feet. Such a weird experience having small fish swimming between my toes and scratching at my ankles.Well I first thought that Torino’s public transportation was crowded and then I went to Rome. Well Greece is a whole new ball game. In Torino and Rome, only times like “rush hours” were bad. During Greece’s rush hours, I became a lab rat corned into a pole with everyone else’s full body on top of my own. So on Saturday in Greece we decided to go to the beach. It took about an hour to get out of downtown Athens to the beach area. An hour of lab rats making their way from the subway and then to the bus which took us to the beach. Never have I been so uncomfortable or been so aware of my personal bubble issues. Well, being that we were all stacked up on top of each other, we happened to be standing on top of a couple of Greek girls our age. Every where in Europe, students learn English for the most part, so we took our chances and struck up a conversation with them. They suggested that we go to the beach they were going to, as it would only be 4€ to get in and they would have chairs and umbrellas. Once in, we were lucky enough to find a stack of chairs before the beach was completely full.
On the ride home from the beach there was a whole new ordeal of public transportation. While standing, waiting for the bus, an old woman came up to us asking us something in Greek. We kindly tried informing her that we only spoke English. Well, she all of a sudden started speaking an English-very surprising for not thinking they might have enforced English as much during her time in school. She seemed a little flustered about which bus she was to be getting on. She got on the same bus as us and that is when the chaos began. A middle aged woman, who I could only see the backside of, was sitting in the front of the bus. The older lady, who had befriended us, walked towards the front and said something to her and then came back. All of a sudden a full on Greek-woman-yelling fight was going on. The lady in front was having a fit. We were told that the older woman with us had told her to not have her shoes on the seat and to put them on, as she was in public. The bus ride lasted for 40 minutes, so did the fight. A small, young Greek man had also gotten involved. He was also telling the lady in front to put on her shoes, to get off the bus and then calling the police for the problem she was causing. Of course, this is only our view point from not knowing a word of what was being said, unless an occasional English cuss word was thrown in. After we got off the bus, the Greek man decided to push the lady carrying her shoes. Therefore, a fist fight began to happen among the young Green men. At that point, our walk became a fast, power walk away from crowd towards the metro station. If this was all about the shoes… I’m floored about the culture values in Greece.
One of the main differences that we noticed in Athens was how poor the economy is, as we have heard. Riots had broken out recently within the city. Once out of the touristic areas, the city was dirty, poor and old. Although, beautiful to see, an experience I would never take back, I would probably not go back either. I hope that Athens and Greece as a whole, can one day come out of their financial crisis, if not for the community but for the wonderful history that exists there.
That night we decided to head more towards the busy, more modern side of Athens. Plaka is the name of the neighborhood that is known for being a tourist attraction in the area. On the way to this area there was modern architecture and global stores such as Nike, Forever 21, and McDonalds. It was a long street leading into the start of Plaka. We bought more souvenirs and did a little shopping.
Our last stop was a restaurant one of the Greek girls from the beach suggested to us, known as 360. Atop the restaurant you could pretty much see a 360 degree view of the city. From the Parthanon, to the rolling hills surrounding the city and the downtown area.
By the next morning, we were ready to head back home. Still, I am grateful for less hustled and less touristy home of Torino. It is nice to take a weekend to visit the touristy city where almost everyone understands English, but it also is nice to really feel like I am abroad, with an expectancy to try at least a little bit to speak their language.