You ever have a lot of fun and then wake up the next morning feeling like a zombie ate half your brains, but it doesn’t make any sense because you weren’t even that drunk the night before?
On Tuesday I attempted to go for an easy hike to Mount Lycabettus, which is located right in Athens and only 300 meters above sea level. I’m from Washington STATE (not DC, please stop mixing those up they are not even close). 300 meters above sea level is not a damn thing to a Washingtonian. The peak, according to google maps, is only a 54 minute walk from my air bnb so I thought, considering the hike wasn’t so strenuous, I would walk to the beginning of the trail as well.
And then I remembered it’s summer and I’m in Greece. I of course remembered that 30 minutes into the walk when I had to duck into some park, which I’m pretty sure is just a teenage make out spot, to shade myself under a tree. I seriously couldn’t unlock my phone using my fingerprint because my hands were so sweaty my phone couldn’t scan it. Once I got access I found out it was over 100 effing degrees outside and gladly gave up on my hiking mission for the day. This was clearly ‘duck into a bar’ type of weather.
I wasn’t far from the Plaka district of Athens, and from what Tripadvisor had told me earlier that day, Plaka ‘is a picturesque shopping neighborhood that I cannot miss’. Plus most of the stores also have AC. So I didn’t miss it!
I’ll be honest, it’s touristy. But give it some time (which I have more than enough of right now) and you’ll find some real gems.
The first few shops I went into had a lot of the same dresses and jewelry and olive wood salad mixers, etc, as the stores right next to them. But every once in a while I would drag my feet into a store and see some things I hadn’t seen anywhere else. This happened at a store that I can unfortunately not tell you the name of, because it wasn’t on the outside of the store and even if it was it would have been in Greek.
My agitation with the Greek alphabet does not at all reflect how I feel about Greek people though. Because as I was shopping around this fantastic store, I met the store owner, shop keeper, and the guy that makes the jewelry himself. And he was somehow convinced that I was descendant of Greeks. I tried to convince him that I wasn’t, but I’m kind of ethnically ambiguous. This happens everywhere I go. And I’ve learned not to argue with the Spanish, Italian, and Greek people of the world when they tell me that I’m from their motherland, especially when I don’t know enough about my actual heritage to argue with them.
So the wonderful old Greek man who owns this store was obviously very concerned when I told him that, no, my boyfriend wasn’t in the store next door, but that I was indeed traveling alone. He told me how careful I needed to be, and even gave me a glass sculpture depicting an eye to protect me. And, most importantly, he gave me a huge genuine hug on my way out the door. I wish I could help you find that store in the future, he was exactly the kind of person you want to meet. As a traveler or as an anyone, he’s just great and so is his store.
But then after that, with my glass eye protection sculpture in my hand, I went to a fancy Greek liquor shop.
I also cannot tell you the name of this place, because Greek alphabet. But I walked in, was informed of being Greek again (which I again denied half-assedly between giggles and pinky promises that I’m just American) and was then offered a bunch of free samples of ouzo.
They all taste the same. All of them. I couldn’t tell the difference between any of them. And I don’t hate the flavor of any of them, I actually like the taste of ouzo. REAL ouzo that is, the syrupy garbage we drink in the states is not the same.
Eventually I wandered back to my air bnb and threw myself into bed. But when I woke up the next morning I felt like I couldn’t move. Like someone had strapped me to The Machine from Princess Bride over night and the life had literally been sucked out of me. I’m no rookie to hangovers. No hangover can keep me from things that I want or need to do. But this was different. Was this different because I’m not used to ouzo? Or is mixing different ouzos a bad thing to do? Or was it because I was wildly dehydrated?
Then the next day I got a lava hot fever and my entire body was so sore it felt like I had been in a car accident and I remembered that ‘Oh yeah, I got five vaccinations last Satrurday, so maybe some of those symptoms are kicking in”. If you’ve been keeping track this post is being written on day three of this terrible feeling, so it could very easily be some good ol’ yellow fever Saturday side effects to blame. But the blame could also fall on ouzo. It’s too easy to drink and accessible to not be a suspect. All these super friendly Greek people, how could they all be this nice without being at least a little bit buzzed off of some locally sourced Greek booze?
I’ll do some more ouzo research when I don’t feel like I’m literally dying from yellow fever and let you know.