|Our neighbors in Athens|
We found an apartment through Airbnb and chose to live like regular Athenians, or rather Athenians that couldn’t speak Greek. It was fun living in a normal neighborhood, shopping at the supermarkets and bakeries, and acting like we’d lived there our whole lives—except we got lost a few times. Plus, it was a lot cheaper than a hotel. During our ten days there, nearby shop owners and residents started to recognize us and wave at us like old friends. It’s the kind of place I could definitely live long term, though the air quality was a little iffy.
After Tian Tian’s eye procedure, the doctor wanted to see him every day, which meant we couldn’t take any trips to the beach or the countryside. But we had a little free time, and Tian Tian recuperated quickly, so we decided to visit the local sites—you can’t go all the way to Greece and not do at least a little sightseeing. One afternoon, we went to the big Acropolis Museum, the Parthenon, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Roman Agora, and other ancient and very Greece-ey places.
After spending the afternoon visiting lots of old stuff, we decided to head back to our little apartment and cook dinner like normal, non-tourist folks do, so as to not strain Tian Tian too much. Before heading to the bus stop, we found ourselves in Monastiraki Square as the sun set and the full moon rose, surrounded by tourists, locals, and the sounds and scents of Greek culture and food. It was tough to leave such an exotic and beautiful scene, so we bought chicken gyros, barbecued corns-on-the-cob, and drinks, then sat down on the steps to enjoy the atmosphere.
A very talented young man started a live concert, playing about a dozen different types of flutes. The ethereal sounds of his music floated through the crowds and echoed off the buildings. The full moon brightly lit the busy square. The Parthenon glowed on its perch above us, overlooking the city like a friendly sentinel. And the gyros and corn tasted great.
|Tian Tian's New Best Friend from Somalia|
Given that we were in a foreign country, surrounded by immigrants of another culture and language, and it was well after dark, I think some people might have been nervous in a situation like that. Well, maybe I’m just naïve and like to see the good in people, but I felt very safe and comfortable there. In fact, if Tian Tian wasn’t so tired, I would have wanted to stay there all evening, listening to the flutes and talking with our new friends.
We eventually took a very harrowing taxi ride back to our apartment and retired for the night. But I’ll always remember the evening our family of three from America joined a small crowd of Somalis in downtown Athens listening to flute music under the full moon.