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Thursday, May 20

Well, the trip here was about like you'd expect. Long plane rides, airport delays, no sleep, etc. Our first flight from Litte Rock to Atlanta was about an hour and a half, but since Atlanta was having bad weather we were forced to delay takeoff and therefore arrived in Atlanta with just enough time to walk to the gate and board the plane. That trip was the longest. Over eight hours to Zurich, Switzerland. :-( But they served us a decent meal (I had veggie lasagna) and showed Patch Adams as the in-flight movie. So time passed fast enough, I suppose. We then tried to go to sleep, but everytime I nodded off Greg would change positions. Not to mention my legs kept falling asleep because my feet didn't reach the floor. That gets ~really~ old after a few hours. So neither of us got any sleep. In Zurich we only had about an hour-long layover before we boarded our last plane. At that point we were so tired that we did manage to get some sleep on the two and a half hour flight. But when we got to Athens everyone was kinda like zombies. Fortunately we went to our hotel and had time for a nap before dinner. You have to remember that we left Searcy at 11:00 am (while we had both gotten up at 7:00 and I had gone to bed the night before at 4:00) and arrived in Athens at 2:00 pm the next day. So we had been through 12 hours of trips before we got to Athens, technically three hours later than when we started.

The hotel here is nice. Certainly not classy, but great for people on a budget. Everyone is two people to a room, each of which has its own bathroom. ::laughs:: There's so little water pressure in the shower, I worried that I would never get all the shampoo out of my hair. Our room is just like all the others: two twin beds pushed together (which don't even share the same sheets). But you know we're so exhausted that we don't mind. We've had two dinners so far. Last night's was spaghetti for the first course and meat-on-a-stick for the second. Good thing I didn't want another course. Oh, and ice cream for dessert. ;-) Breakfast was standard toast and jelly, cheese, and a few things obviously just for us. There was cereal and potato chips (yes, for breakfast!) and fruit. Tonight's dinner was quiche (yes, for dinner!) and roast beef with rice-shaped pasta. Well, I ate a lot of bread, and of course ice cream. We had lunch boxes (that we didn't pick out) in the National Garden today at 2:00. By that point I would have eaten anything. It was a big sub-type sandwich--which I reduced to just a loaf of bread--with potato chips, an apple, and a small thing of orange juice. The apple might have been okay if it wasn't warm, as was the orange juice. Well, it went along well with the warm water we had bought earlier that morning. So tonight after dinner we got 10,000 drachmas (about 300 drachmas to one dollar) out of a local atm and bought a 170 drachma coke. I think I'll save it until tomorrow, though this caffene-deprivation headache is not fun.

Today we went to see the Acropolis. That's this big hill where the Parthenon is. The whole thing was just huge--there's other buildings besides the Parthenon there. All of it was religious stuff, but it's so hard to tell when all the statues and scuptures on the walls are gone. There was a ~lot~ of scaffolding everywhere. The tour lady didn't say what it was for, but it looked to me like they were adding some of the pieces which were laying on the ground back to their original places. Heh, there were cranes inside the Parthenon, which really looked weird. I only took a couple pictures, because the postcards looked much better. Oh, and there were ~tons~ of people there. Several little-kid school groups of Greek kids, smaller groups of Asians, lots of American and English couples and families, and many more. I guess that should be expected, but it was still a bit disappointing. Also, the view from the hill was just unbeliveable. Athens is a ~huge~ city, and it can all be seen at once from the hills. About as far as we could see were buildings and buildings. It's a very spread-out city, though most of the houses were four to six story apartment-types. The traffic is bad, but for someone who's been to Italy it wasn't very scary.

We also went to Mars Hill, which is just below the Acropolis. Heh, if you could call it a hill. It's more like a big rock, really. All made of marble and quite slippery. That's where the Apostle Paul presented the Gospel to the Athenians in Acts 17. The tour lady said there used to be seats carved into the marble for the 50 judges of the assembly there, but any trace of them is gone. It's really sad to see how far gone all these things are from what they used to be. So many conqerers ran off with the expensive works of art or set fire to the buildings. But I guess I should just be impressed that they're still there at all. Their size is still overwhealming, and imagining what they must have once been is just mind-boggleing.

We also went to the Agora, the ancient marketplace of Athens. A smaller temple there is in good shape, but everything else was just stone foundations. It reminded me of pompeii in a way.

We then drove around part of the city seeing the present-day important buildings. Many of them are built in the ancient style, which look odd in the middle of the more modern buildings. And none were as big as the ancient temples. The Temple of Zeus is right in the middle of town (though the Acropolis is too, it's set up on a hill) and only 15 columns remain. It was a very sad sight to see.

The rest of the city is very much like an old Northeastern U.S. city. There are modern, expensive shops as well as smaller ones. Many of the signs are in English, though these are by the American companies here. I think almost everyone here knows more English than I know Greek. The Athenian who's running our visit here tried to teach us some, but it was very hard to understand what he was saying. The tour guide was also like that. She was more difficult simply because of the vocabulary she was using. Some of the words were familiar, but it's so hard to distinguish the consonants they are using. It took me several minutes to figure out that one of the theatres was in honor of the god Dionysius (sp?). They just put the accents in different places, use different vowels, and again the consonants are hard to distinguish. But our teachers couldn't understand well either, so there probably won't be a test over it. Yes, they do make us take notes as we visit all these places. Fortunately, Greg took notes so I got to take pictures. I only took about 20 pictures today, but I had only brought one roll of film and was being conservative. I probably could have taken 3 rolls today alone. I hope the whole trip won't be like this!

It was cloudy this morning and quite chilly when the wind blew, but by the time we left the Acropolis the sun came out and we warmed up. I even got a mild sunburn today. I hope it isn't like this for long; I didn't bring many warm clothes.

Tomorrow we're going on a short, one-day cruise to two nearby islands. No one has said what we're going to do on these islands, but I hope to get some shopping in. They have so much neat stuff here, but I don't see how we could transport much of it very far. We've already been to some tourist shops around the hotel, but haven't bought anything yet.

The next day (Saturday) we're going to the National Archaeological Museam, which I've heard is very very large and boring if you're not into that kind of stuff. I think it's interesting, but it really depends on how long we stay.

Sunday is a free day, and Greg and I have no clue what we want to do. Monday starts our four-day cruise, which should really be neat.

I inquired today about a local internet cafe, but apparently there's not one nearby. So I don't know when I'll be able to send this out. Hopefully some time before we reach Florence (the next Monday). So far, the converter seems to be working, but my laptop is still making funny noises.

Everyone in our group seems nice enough, though no one has really befriended us yet. We haven't found anyone yet that we have much in common with. I guess we'll settle in soon enough, but it's kinda awkward right now. People ask us questions like, "How long have you been married?" and then get up and talk to someone else. It's a bit annoying, but I'm giving it time. I guess neither of us has felt well enough to be more aggessive in meeting people. Greg felt sick on the planes and I feel sick every time we get on the stupid bus. My allergies are still attacking--I'm glad I brought a lot of kleenex!--and Greg's eyes are always red. I hope we can get over that quickly!

Well, that's really about all there is to say right now. I hope to be able to write every night or at least every other night. When I get back, I'll eventually scan in all our pictures, label them, and put up a website of our whole trip. That'll take awhile, but it should be worth having in the end. I haven't decided if we're going to develop our film here or wait til we get back. A friend of mine took ~twelve~ rolls over here before her camera broke. When she got back and developed them, ~none~ of them turned out at all. That's really scary to me, so we may decide to pay the higher price here just to be assured that things are working.

If you know of someone else that would like to recieve these, have them send me an email at and just leave a short message.

Angelique Moses

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