Thursday, April 24, 2014

Greece, Part Two (Delphi)

This is a continuation of my previous post here.

Susan and I awoke at some ungodly hour of the morning in order to get our stuff together and hike back to Syntagma Square and grab a taxi. Our ultimate goal was to get to a bus station and head to Delphi, but for some reason there is no direct way by bus or metro to get to said bus station. The Athenians really thought that one through. There are all sorts of well-meaning wikis and how-to's online for ignorant foreigners, but I don't think I found a single one that made much sense. We just skipped the whole process and asked a nice cab driver to take us straight there. And that he did, for less than $10, which was surprising.

The bus station wasn't much to look at, but then again, I don't guess a bus station really needs to be extravagant. However, I would kindly request that, in place of a glorified hole in the ground, they get some actual toilets. And perhaps those toilets could be equipped with a toilet seat, unlike most of the ones I found in Athens. The beautiful exception was this jewel we found at the Olympic Stadium:

We ended up on the 7:30 bus to Delphi, on which Susan immediately passed out. Unfortunately, I wasn't made for sleeping in just any old place, so I stayed up and listened to music and watched as the landscape transformed. One of the most surprising features of the farms that I saw along the highway was that they contained entire fields of solar panels. I thought that was quite progressive and would later ask Christos about it (our CouchSurfing host and some sort of alternative energy engineer). Apparently he hates the solar panels (or at least the way they were implemented), as no one can afford them and now the country is in debt in yet another way because of it. Oh well. There were a ton of olive tree farms along the way, too. It's amazing how abundant olive oil is around Spain, Italy, and Greece. You can get gallons of it for a few euros. Even our canned tuna was sitting in olive oil instead of water. Talk about amazing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Greece, Part One (Athens)

I cannot emphasize enough the contrast between my first welcome to Spain and the one I received this time around. Whereas I first arrived in Spain in September 2011 with two large suitcases (one of which was missing a wheel for whatever reason), with a limited knowledge of Spanish, and with no idea where I was supposed to go, this time I was greeted at the airport by Susan and Dani and got a ride by car directly to the apartment. Along the way, we talked in both English and Spanish, and I even got to impress/insult Dani with an elaborate Spanish blasphemy that I had learned in my wonderful profe's class last year. Although the weather was grey and wet, the welcome I received this time around was a warm cup of hot tea compared to the sweaty, sun-burnt, exhausting lack of a welcome Madrid first gave me.

To be honest, I was somewhat worried about living in a bigger city too. I've never spent more than a week or so in a big city, so the prospect of spending the next three months here was somewhat terrifying. I'm typically a fan of smaller towns, even if they lack as many options for gluttonous activities. Fortunately for me, Susan has been living in Getafe, which is a much smaller barrio of Madrid. So, as it turns out, although Getafe is just a few train stops away from the city center, it's tranquil and uncrowded here. Plus, this is the view from our terraza:

Susan and I had a very enjoyable anniversary weekend the weekend after I arrived. We took a stroll through the nearby park, Los lagos, and made a trip to Sol, in the city center. We cooked a delicious meal of salmon and rice on Saturday evening, where we learned that sometimes companies use cashews when making pesto, and are much less likely to make that abundantly obvious here. Thankfully, my allergic reaction was extremely mild and, from what I could tell, entirely external. On Sunday, we ate at a nearby Japanese restaurant in Getafe and got some sushi that was overpriced but riquísimo.