Before I begin writing about the various adventures Ryan, Courtny and I will be going on over the next few weeks, I have to give a few shoutouts. First, shoutout to everyone’s favorite Southside buddy, Jess Shannon, for coming up with the name of my blog. Next, shoutout to Benedryl for working its usual magic on the flight over the Atlantic. Lastly, shoutout to LeBron James—this trip will be much less stressful without the emotional and mental weight of free agency bringing me down. Welcome back to Cleveland, LeBrodigal Son.
And that is where my journey began. Well, technically it began in Chardon, but for the sake of transitions, we’ll say it started off in Cleveland. And while the trip from Cleveland to Athens has been exhausting, nothing too crazy has happened, for which I am incredibly grateful. It was a bit humorous when Courtny and the fam were getting nervous as we frantically searched for her locks 4 hours before the flight. If you have ever flown with my sister, Julie, you will know why I was more confused as to why we were anywhere near ready to leave for the airport at that point. Of course, we made it in plenty of time and took of from Pittsburgh to begin our journey. Instead of boring you with details of the Alitalia in flight meals (and the freight train nature of the flight attendants when they push the carts), I will give you a brief history of how we ended up booking a trip to Greece and tell you of our journeys in Athens.
It all began after my passport lost its stamp virginity in 2012. After a brutal 5-hour flight to LA, I popped my trusty Benedryl and slept for 11 of the 12 hours to New Zealand. In a whirlwind 10 days, Julie and I explored the countryside like the hobbits we are. That trip opened my eyes to how much I wanted to see different areas of the world.
Let’s go to November of 2013. Like anyone who lives in Northeast Ohio, I spent many of those cold days indoors, looking at pictures of beaches just to keep my heart warm. Then on an especially bitter Monday night over Thanksgiving Break, Ryan and I did what any two college dudes would do when there were no classes the next day—drank white wine, watched Planet Earth, and decided to go on a tour to the Greek Isles. It wasn’t hard to convince Courtny to come along—just a few days earlier she was saying how badly she wanted to go to Santorini.
After an agonizing 7-month wait, we arrived in Athens, Greece. I’m not going to lie—first impressions were not great. I was already wary of Athens before the trip, but I was still surprised by the number of tagged buildings and run-down apartments. Our first night, however, fully made up for the drive through the slums. We went to a great little hole-in-the-wall bar, had one of the best mojitos of our lives, and then spent the evening exploring the well-developed areas of the city. These spots—the rooftop bars, the shopping centers, the ancient ruins lit up for all to see—make visiting Athens completely worth it.
After catching the metro back to the hotel, it was time to head to sleep and get ready for day two. Hopefully my writing is much more interesting when I describe day two to you, but I’m not sure. I know you’re all super hyped about this blog, but you have to understand that I’ve had 10 hours of sleep over the last 3 days (with a solid 4 more hours coming tonight). Plus it’s tough to focus on blogging when you are about to go to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. But here I am… On to day two!
This morning we woke up at 7:30 to head to the Acropolis. Not surprisingly, Courtny and I almost missed the bus. Once we got on, we went and saw Athens’ version of the changing of the guard, which was a bit goofier and not nearly as impressive as the same event in Washington, DC. They had these weird slipper things on with big furry balls (for lack of a better term… more furry ball jokes will come later in the week).
We then headed to the Olympic stadium, which was predictably awesome. But the main event was of course the hike up to the Acropolis. It is a truly incredible place and the city looks absolutely stunning from that high up. Instead of seeing graffiti and dirty apartments, we could only make out the beautiful rooftops and the stunning coastline. Our tour guide, Georgios, took us at the right time of day as well. There were plenty of people there, but it was nothing compared to the masses of tourists that would make their way up in the early afternoon.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the various ruins downtown. There are plenty of ridiculous pictures that will be posted once the trip is over. A lot of them include me doing the LeBron pregame pose, as a way of welcoming him back to the 216. That’s right, ladies and gentleman—I don’t care how tired I get, I can still bring this thing full-circle.