The Athenian Mound

High Above Athens
      I'm in love. Now that I've delved into the true city of Athens, I am able to see past the creepy winding alleyways decorated with graffiti and embrace the beauty and character of the ancient land and people. We really do have our own little town away from the big city. Since there are no skyscrapers, Athens seems much smaller in certain places.

    We walked around downtown Athens--roughly a 10-minute walk from our apartment and I felt like I belonged there. On the way, we passed through a park where our guide stopped us for a moment. She pointed out how many people were out during the day. Since the day was unseasonably warm, the Athenians took their families out to stroll through the park and enjoy the weather. That, she said, is the Greek way. Relax. Get away from it all.

    Downtown shows the wear and tear of a city. Graffiti everywhere, dirt, smog, the whole sha-bang. Yet, once we got off the main road, we entered into a whole new Athens. Our guide brought us into a courtyard where tiny streets with shops selling everything imaginable veered off from the main central point. We, along with every Greek family in Athens it seemed, enjoyed lunch in the promenade and walked through the Athens flea market. Not like other flea markets, this one had legitimate clothing stores and shops, and no one ever got in my face to purchase or haggle for their goods.

    After strolling for a while, my girl cloud reconvened with the rest to walk up through the richest part of athens. Right underneath the largest mountain in Athens lies this wealthy district. One road led us through shops up to and including Dior, Chanel, Prada, etc. I may have drooled a little. Okay, a lot. However, past the glitz and glam lies the steepest mountain I have ever seen. A small staircase is the only way up which zig zags bag and forth for what seems like miles.

    With no guide rail to reassure my safety, I climbed nervously and quickly. After a half hour of intense climbing, we reached the top. Truly, the greatest scenic overlook of all time. Though Athens lay far below me in a cloud of smog, I could still see the city in its entirety. Also on top of this high-peaking mound lies a monastery. Inside, I found a few candles which I lit and placed along other commemorative lights. Though I'm not incredibly religious, this seemed right. For all my loved ones--those who have passed and those still alive--I wanted them to be there with me. For all of you, there is a light in Athens.

    After having my moment with whatever spiritual force I let guide me, I left the monastery and sat on the wall of the mound overlooking the vast city. In the distance, yet far below, the Parthenon still sits on the acropolis---a symbol and object which the city holds so dear and something I've studied my whole life. Right there. In front of my face. In that moment, I couldn't help but feel changed. As my classmates took turns taking pictures of each other, I closed my eyes and embraced everything I could hear and smell and sense around me. As a city, Athens is incredibly quiet. No loud horns, no yelling, no craziness. For the Greek people, relaxation comes naturally. Attempting to fit in with the Greeks, I exhaled and took in the sun setting over the Parthenon one more time. What a sight.

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