Anyway, I'm here! Staying in a cute hostel between Syntagma Square, the temple of Zeus and the Plaka, where I just ordered too much food for dinner (Joyce, you know what I'm talking about) but managed to eat most of it. Psomi (bread), cucumber and tomato salad, and gemista (tomatoes stuffed with rice, pine nuts and herbs and baked until it falls apart in your mouth and basically digests itself. YUM.)
My roommates are two impressively tanned french girls who chattered away this afternoon while I napped and dreamed about how to talk to them about premature wrinkles and see if they've ever been to Ibiza.
I did an obligatory stroll through the Plaka/around the base of the Acropolis. Do you have an idea of what this might be like? Does it involve the amusingly familiar notes of Zorba the Greek coming from some light-strung terraced taverna that fade as you walk away and are replaced by a cheerful bouzouki medley? Are cats everywhere, languidly stretching in front of blankets laden with fake designer bags? Do you smell cigarettes, roasting meat, flowering trees, dust, and something that smells both musty and cold, like eating gelato inside of a closet filled with coats that have mothballs in the pockets, which is the only way I can think of to describe the smell of marble that is layered under everything else. Because all these sensory imaginations are accurate.
Greece is not at all boring but a little predictable. The light - the light! Everyone talks about the LIGHT because it is true. It's different here. During the day it is bright and pure, throwing everything into sharp relief, color-saturated. At dusk it softens until it wraps everything in a mild glow. The sunset over the hills ringing Athens takes the sky from ruby to coral to a dusky blue before settling into pitch.
I am familiar with this neighborhood but I usually stay in Exarchia - the funky area of students and communists and bonfires blasting music in the middle of the night. I didn't stay there this time but I actually miss it - I know where everything is! A gyro place, a bakery, a crepe place, an oh-so-charming taverna. Tomorrow my program starts and I will leave this neighborhood and go over to Kolonaki, a fairly swanky area where most of the foreign archaeological schools are housed, as well as luxury shopping and a hospital and a few museums.