Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Athens to Barcelona...what a ride!

After leaving the amazing natural splendor of Milos Island, we hopped a ferry and landed in Pireaus port, Athens. This is not a place for the timid traveler, to say the least! We arrived after dark, and having not been to Athens before, had to navigate the port and the metro to find our hostel in the dark! Not to worry though, God has had our backs non stop!! Due to the help of a very considerate Athens native with a blackberry who happened to be sitting next to me (Amy) on the ferry, we received some detailed directions nearly to the door of our hostel and got there quite safe and sound at around 11pm...and quickly collapsed into our bunk beds! The next morning we ventured out into the oven also known as Athens, Greece. In the heat of the day we explored the Acropolis, waiting in lines and dodging other tourists at every turn. Although it was quite amazing to walk on paths that were so ancient and realize the number of feet that had tread the paths before us, it wasn´t our favorite place to be!! It was still fun, though, for me to see up close and personally the quintessential structures that I had to study in architecture history.

After the sweltering heat of the Acropolis hill, we made our way to the next line where we waited to get into the new Acropolis museum. Our motivation to visit this had a bit more to do with the air conditioning than with anything we could see inside! After recovering in there, we decided to tackle the other major tourist attraction right around the corner, the Agora and Areopagus. It was quite humbling to climb the slick marble of the Areopagus and know that we were standing in a place where Apostle Paul once stood and delivered a sermon to the Greeks (Acts 17).

Dripping with sweat, we walked the narrow streets back to the hostel, collected our bags and headed off for the metro to take us to the airport. Then the adventure really began...the metro line we wanted to take was closed and we had to take the much longer route...if we thought we were sweating before, that was nothing!!!! We arrived at the airport about 40 minutes before our international flight to Barcelona was scheduled to take off! We had to find our way from the metro station to the check in point, and the signs were less than helpful. We did make it to check in though...and then ran through the airport (we are not even kidding about that one....just so grateful to only have a backpack and no other luggage in tow!). I don´t know that I´ve ever traversed an airport where the gate was so far away from the check-in. I also don´t know if I´ve ever come across a security station that moved as slowly as the one we had to pass through, or if we had ever dripped with so much sweat as we did that entire day. Fortunately, the line was short and we made it to our gate with a few moments to spare before boarding! What an adventure that we will not soon forget and hope to not repeat ever again on this trip (or any other)!!!

So, upon landing in Barcelona, the adventure continued. Again, we landed after dark and had to navigate another unfamiliar metro system. We made it to our metro stop, but couldn´t quite seem to find our hostel. We literally wandered up and down the same street for about 45 minutes, carrying our 20 lb bags on our backs, until a helpful taxi driver and some students were able to point us in the right direction. I don´t know if we have ever been so relieved to see a sign in our lives. When we crawled into bed that night, we vowed that we will NEVER arrive in a new town after dark EVER AGAIN!!! We decided to take the next two days off from everything and bummed around the hostel all day, napping, reading, doing laundry... Yesterday evening, we finally emerged from the hostel where we were being travel-weary slugs, and Sherri discovered her perfect food, spicy chocolate chicken! What a combo, but she loved it!

During our two day travel sabatical, we also seemed to take a sabatical from our posts (sorry about that!) and used all our internet time to do exhaustive planning for the next legs of our journey! That exhaustive planning has continued until today when we finally were able to make reservations for our train out of Barcelona to our next destination, Varenna, Italy. We also had success in booking some nice places to stay in Varenna and the following spot, Gimmelwald, Switzerland.

With the planning done, we finally felt relaxed enough to really take in the sights of Barcelona today. We visited the most famous work of architect Antoni Gaudi - Casa Batlo, Casa Mila, and Sagrada Familia (an incredible cathedral that continues to be built more than 117 years after construction began). What a was awe inspiring. We´ve also enjoyed exploring the famous tree-lined street, Las Ramblas, and the narrow, crooked, personality-filled streets of the Bari Gotic, where our hostel is located. Tonight, we simply strolled the streets and listened to the various talented street performers....only blocks from one another were an accordian player with the fastest fingers we´ve ever seen, a sax player, and a guitarist. Amazing sounds, and what an atmosphere! It was quite relaxing, and Jen, you would be so proud that we just sat and soaked it all in!

Tomorrow night, we take the night train to Varenna (so that we arrive in the full daylight the next morning to find our next home!). Before that, though, we plan to explore the well-known park, Monjuic. Hopefully our next post won´t be so delayed as this one was...

Love you all, Amy and Sherri

ps...We so enjoy reading all your comments! Please keep them coming!


Anonymous said...

Spicy chocolate chicken????!!!! REALLY?!!! You really ARE an adventurer!! 'Cause there ain't no way I'd even TRY that nasty stuff. lol

GREAT pictures. :) I must say... I'm really disappointed though... I really expected the ancient architecture to be much bigger than the span of your arms!!! I've been deceived for quite a while now... :( Thanks for helping me put it all into perspective. lol

Love you guys... (My favorite is STILL the two lounge chairs in the middle of no where)

Love Brenda

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I think I could handle that spicy chocolat chicken. Maybe you can figure out how to make it for us, Sherri. We did miss you guys, but after 10 straight days of whirlwind travels and experiences, you sure did NEED a sabatical from everything. I think I would be very happy just looking at pictures of Athens - in that heat you would have a very grumpy traveler on your hands. I don't know about Verenna, but Grimmelwald should be very relaxing. Are you at the train station or airport in the picture, Amy? I'm glad I don't know about your late arrivals and all till after the fact - but you are covered in prayer and I praise God He's keeping you both safe. But I'm glad your planning daytime arrivals from here on, that's smart. Thank you for the post and pictures.

Love you both,

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy & Sherri,
WOW!!! I just looked in on your travels. What a trip! I'm so proud of your courage and adventurous spirit to do this. Everything looks so beautiful, including you both.
I'll be watch your next leg of the journey.
Mary Ann Weber

Anonymous said...

oooooooohhhhhhh...I can't wait to see the Italy pictures...Sherri, you know I LOVE Italy...YAY!!! I'm so happy for you guys...HAVE FUN!!!!!! Can't wait till you get back!!!
Jenn Jones :)

Anonymous said...

Hi girls,
I am such a dufos. Just looked at the pictures again and read the words under "agora", and realized that you are arriving at night at the hostel - residencia - duh! Have another fun day!!
Much love,

Anonymous said...

HI friends!!Thanks for the note Sherri. We are well. I love reading your blog. I am looking forward to seeing all the wonderful pictures you are taking. did you fill up your SD cards yet? lol. Blessing of Peace and safety to you both. much love, Rosie

Colleen said...

Yea God! You two are certainly using your adventurous talents to the max! We are rejoicing & so thankful you're taking the time to share your great writing, photos & fun. We are with you prayerfully and loving the divine appts. Hugs to you both! Peace & much joy ~ love, Colleen & Tom

Anonymous said...

So good to get a report on your travels! Thanks for checking in with all your adoring fans. I think this trip should have been picked up as a reality TV show. What adventures! You both look great!!! Very proud of you for taking some time to refresh and recoup. You may have removed a few places from my travel list, but you've also added several. As to the spicy chocolate chicken....yikes! Definitely ain't Tex-Mex! Continue to walk in His favor and you and miss you both!
Cindy H

Anonymous said...

I have never sweat more in a day than the day I walked around Athens. Just thought I'd share :)
Love reading your adventures. Been reading aloud to my parents here in Georgia.
Love, Jennifer Christine Deaton