Athens, Day 1: Waiting for the rest of the committee to arrive

Today, the other eleven members of our GMS GOC committee arrived (there are thirteen of us). While I know two of them already, this is my first time meeting the others. I am the new guy on this committee, but I already feel like I’ve been working with all of them for years. They are working on a nickname for me, and I promised them that sometime during the next few days I would do something, good or bad, that will help them.

Since most didn’t arrive until late afternoon, I spent the morning roaming the city. After breakfast and a few errands, with Reuben (head of our committee), we split and I roamed a few more streets on my own. The main roads are very busy, but I’ve found some real hidden gems by exploring the smaller, quieter streets.

There are a bunch of little parks scattered throughout the neighborhoods. I also really like the small shops, some of which are hidden down stairways leading from the narrow sidewalks (like in NYC). Every block or so, there are newspaper stands (kiosks?) that sell beverages, cigarrettes, gum, candy, newspapers and magazines. Some have souvenirs and maps. Some have other small trinkets and necessities. The vendors are also very helpful when I asked for directions and translations.

I’m not sure if it’s just the neighborhood I’ve been exploring, but there are a lot of pharmacies and hospitals around here. I like a lot of the buildings too. There is an eclectic mix of old and new, ancient and modern. I saw one building that I could have sworn was a significant historical monument, only to read the sign (thankfully translated in English) to find out that it was a dentist’s office.

It was a little cooler today. There was a very nice breeze for most of the day, making it much easier to stay out and roam for longer periods of time.  I received my “uniform” today, which thankfully consists of a dry-fit polo shirt. That should make it easier being out while I work.

About the food: It’s only been a few meals, but I am impressed with what I’ve eaten so far. Daphne’s Greek Cafe (in the US)? Meh. Daphne’s Cafe in Athens? Party in your mouth, and everyone is invited. Seriously. So. Good.

I don’t have any food pictures yet (I know, what’s wrong with me?), but there will be some in the near future. So far, I’ve been taking care to eat very light and healthy. I’m trying to keep from being bogged down, since there is so much walking required over the next couple weeks. I want to keep high energy, so I’ve been looking for meals high in fruit and vegetables. This city makes it very easy to find healthy food.

I did splurge on a pita (gyro) for today’s lunch. I just have to say three things about it: 1) from now on, I am eating pitas with the french fries inside of it (how it’s served here). YUM! 2) Even though I ordered it from a fast food chain (Goody’s), it was tastier than a lot of pitas I’ve had in Southern Ca. And 3) YUM!

About my hotel: It says it’s a four star hotel. The outside looks like a four star hotel. But the rooms? The rooms make you think, “Whoa, did I get on to the wrong elevator?” Perhaps the stars are given out by a very jovial, all-accommodating kindergarden teacher who doesn’t want anyone in her class to fail.

But, I’m not complaining. Why? Well, 1) I’m not paying for my room, 2) it’s a place to sleep, and I’m not sharing with anyone (for which I’m extremely thankful), 3) the staff is very helpful, and 4) I like that it’s located slightly away from the main hub of all of the World Games activities (less crowded and noisy at night). Plus, it’s in a really neat neighborhood.

Oh, and another “fun” fact about the hotel? The elevators fit one person and one piece of luggage at a time. It’s funny when we try to pack a bunch of us in at the same time. It feels like a Dial (soap) commercial, “Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everyone else would too?”

Tomorrow, as a group, we’re going into full tourist mode to tacke the Acropolis (Akropoli?) and some more touristy spots. I’m really looking forward to that.

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