Part 4: Greece / by Adam Travis

So here we are, the final chapter. Life has been hectic lately: we're moving out this weekend. I spent the other night wrestling a couch off a balcony, up a flight of stairs, back down and out to the curb after it didn't fit through a doorway. Time to write, therefore, is a nice break from packing, lifting and sweating.

If this is the first post you're reading, make sure to read up on the first three parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

CORFU

When we left off last time, we were making our way through the strait of Corfu, on our way to the island's main city by the same name. A short nap, a few snacks and a Gravol later, we were docked.

 Quiet street corner outside of old town, Corfu. 

Quiet street corner outside of old town, Corfu. 

 Pulling into the ferry port in Corfu. 

Pulling into the ferry port in Corfu. 

We bussed to our hotel in the south of the city, near the airport and unpacked for the umpteenth time. A short while later, we met back with our group to walk to the old town for dinner. The light on Corfu was magical; we walked along the bay towards old town as the evening sun bathed the old Venetian fort in golden light.

 Venetian fortress, circa 15th century. 

Venetian fortress, circa 15th century. 

Later we arrived at a hole-in-the wall family restaurant with just enough tables to seat the 15 of us. Small in size, the little tavern left us fuller than we had been all month. Steaming hot moussaka, saganaki, and a Greek salad made for an excellent first taste of Greek cuisine. 

 Food and entertainment were both in abundance. 

Food and entertainment were both in abundance. 

 Reflected light outside a cafe in Corfu. 

Reflected light outside a cafe in Corfu. 

The next day we walked back into the old town to do some shopping and down a fredo cappuccino or five. By noon, though, the heat had gotten to us and we retreated to the hotel to meet up with the group and head across the island to the beach.

 Morning report, Corfu. 

Morning report, Corfu. 

Despite a meandering bus ride (which we barely made it on), we got to the beach with plenty of time before our scheduled pickup. The beach was sandier than others we'd visited so far, the water was perfect and we even found a nearby cafe willing to spot us some ice for our ouzo.

 Morning light in the Corfu's old town. 

Morning light in the Corfu's old town. 

 Palaiokastritsa beach, on the Western coast of Corfu. 

Palaiokastritsa beach, on the Western coast of Corfu. 

The ride back was quick, thanks to a deal we struck with our bus driver from the day before, and we had just enough time to freshen up for dinner. We took a short walk from the hotel to a park overlooking the water and sat down at a tapas restaurant. Mussels, fresh tomatoes, warm bread, eggplant dip and marinated lamb filled the table and our stomachs. That evening, we took over the hotel patio with the group to enjoy our second-last evening together.

ATHENS

The next morning we were up with the sun to catch a mid-morning flight to Athens. Our hotel was all of an eight minute walk to the departures terminal; it's hard to beat that level of convenience. A quick flight and an hour's bus ride later, we had arrived at our hotel. Not a minute too soon, either: five minutes after we got off the bus, the street we had just been on was filled with people protesting the ongoing garbage strike in the country.

 Scaffolding on building, meant to protect pedestrians from debris. 

Scaffolding on building, meant to protect pedestrians from debris. 

 Mailboxes in Monastiraki neighbourhood. 

Mailboxes in Monastiraki neighbourhood. 

Our hotel was in a rougher part of Athens, exacerbated by a struggling economy and influx of immigrants. We were within walking distance of the Acropolis and the historic Plaka district which we'd be staying in tomorrow and for the rest of the trip, but were still on edge walking back to the hotel after the sun set.

 Acropolis as seen from Monastiraki square. 

Acropolis as seen from Monastiraki square. 

That evening we ate our final group dinner at an open-air family restaurant near the Plaka then sauntered through the streets to a bar with live music. On our way back, we stopped at a bakery to grab something sweet as a nightcap and said our goodbyes to everyone.

The next morning was the first of a few days Brianna and I would have to ourselves and to be honest, they've started to blur together a bit. We spent the first day cabbing across historic Athens to a hotel in the Plaka and spent the afternoon exploring the winding streets of the old neighbourhood, throwing in a visit to a fish spa along the way.

 Signs of the economic crisis linger in all corners of Athens. 

Signs of the economic crisis linger in all corners of Athens. 

After a restful day (and with fresh feet), we took on the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. It felt surreal to stand at the feet of a structure so saturated in history, to realize that I was in front of a building that has lasted eons and left generations of people as awestruck as I was. Even under repair and clothed in scaffolding, it's an imposing structure.

 Parthenon, Athens.

Parthenon, Athens.

 A crowd in the entryway to the Acropolis. 

A crowd in the entryway to the Acropolis. 

The heat on the hill was nothing short of oppressive, though, and we hiked down to visit the accompanying Acropolis Museum. The museum brought in a lot of context to what we had seen on the hill. Statues, figures, carvings and relics of daily life filled the museum. Underneath the building's glass floors was the excavation of more ruins, another example of history's inescapable presence in the city.

 A man walks outside the Acropolis Museum, built above an ancient village. 

A man walks outside the Acropolis Museum, built above an ancient village. 

That evening we escaped the main streets of the Plaka to a more low-key restaurant, then paid a visit to Brettos. Brettos is an old distillery in the heart of the Plaka, known for their huge variety of spirits and very Instagrammable bottle wall.

 Brettos bar, and their Instagram-famous bottle wall. 

Brettos bar, and their Instagram-famous bottle wall. 

 "When the ouzo is strong"

"When the ouzo is strong"

The next day was our last full day in the city and we made the most of it, with a hike up the hill of the muses, which overlooks the Acropolis, a trip to the National Gardens to cool off and escape the heat, capped off with a rooftop movie with a view of the Acropolis.

 Workers in the Anafiotika neighbourhood, South of the Acropolis. 

Workers in the Anafiotika neighbourhood, South of the Acropolis. 

 The historic and touristy Plaka neighbourhood. 

The historic and touristy Plaka neighbourhood. 

Sitting out in the cool evening air, the Acropolis lit up to my left under a crescent moon, it was unbelievable. It's not often you realize a moment will be one of your favourite memories while you're still living in it.

 Acropolis lit up at night, under crescent moon. 

Acropolis lit up at night, under crescent moon. 

The next morning, we packed our things, hopped in a cab and drove down along the coast to the airport and took off for Canada.

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