europe Travel

Day Two in Athens: A Real-Life Itinerary

Read part 1 of the itinerary here

Sweet Sins

In Russian, the walnut is referred to as Greek nut. The connection between the word and its country of origin occurs to me at the age of 24 as I sit down at Stani, looking at the Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts in front of me. I appreciate the hunger of the early morning hours to try as many local dishes as possible before my stay is over the following day. I dare to give Greek coffee one more shot since the day it first disappointed my tastebuds back in 2010. I may not like the taste any more than I did the very first time but what can I say? At least I have learned to respect its notes of bitterness and aftertaste of ground coffee.

Street Art

Outside in the rain, my first thought is to walk towards Syntagma Square before I figure out how to continue. But the ground is wet and slippery, and the turns and intersections on my digital map confuse me. A few metro stops later I approach the old mosque in the middle of Monastiraki like the day before. Somewhere past the shops and bakeries, the buildings are lined with street art. Weeks away from finishing my BA in Political Science I am in search of a graffiti showing Merkel and Tsipras. My search turns up nothing of this sort and yet the narrow streets offer an ever-changing scenery of colorful street art pieces.

Walking Tour

In the remaining hours until the Myth and Legends Tour I found on Couchsurfing, I continue my walk through the Monastiraki flea market. I do not play chess and neither have I ever tried backgammon, yet the wooden boxes outside one of the stores whisper buy me, the moment I lay eyes on them. Tourist that I am, somewhere, deep down in my heart, I drop by one of the stores selling soaps, candy, olives, and anything one could associate with Greece in general. I refrain from introducing myself as Geman, playing the Belarus card instead. Yet, the shop owner can’t be fooled. “Yes, you from Belarus but…you live in Germany!”, he exclaims with confidence. He is just as confident that I will be the next chancellor of Germany. I look much better than the current one, after all, he adds. I thank him for his encouragement of my path as a hopeless political science major by buying a bar of soap.

By the time I reach Thiseio station the rain has stopped but our group keeps clinging on to the hot cups of coffee in our hands nevertheless. We follow Nataliya from Thiseio to Plaka, carried away by her stories of Greek myths, pretending we don’t mind the cold at all. Dedicating at least one day of my travels to a Couchsurfing event has become routine over the last few years, not least thanks to the great people I have met among its participants. On the top of a hill, the storm intensifies, making our layers of clothing useless shields against the harsh wind. Zeus must be angry for the taverna around the corner from the apartment has run out of moussaka for the day.

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