Perfectly Imperfect Greece.
On Tuesday, I marked another item off my bucket list – Greece. For years I’ve longed to travel to this country full of history and culture – the first modern Olympic games, Greek gods and goddesses, mythology, ancient ruins, beautiful white houses with pretty blue-domed roofs and blue doors… wait, where are those white houses?
Once again, I landed smack dab in the middle of culture shock where another hard lesson awaited me.
If any of you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram, I was super open and transparent with you earlier this week – as I’ll continue to be throughout my journey. Greece was not at all what I expected. Hollywood portrayed this idyllic lifestyle – blue Mediterranean waters, beautiful cobblestone streets, lots of white and blue. I’m here to tell you, that’s not in Athens.
As I flew into the city, I kept looking for this picturesque scene I’d created in my head only to be disappointed by flat roofs, lots of cable and electric lines, and filthy streets. Luckily for me, I managed the metro brilliantly thanks to some helpful directions from my hostel. Once I settled into my room, I ventured out to what the receptionist claimed was a beautiful view of the city at sunset.
As I walked, I noticed TONS of graffiti and a stagnant smell of urine. In fact, I passed a gentleman using the restroom freely on a light pole….at 5:30 p.m. mind you. But I’m in Greece, I told myself!
Once I’d huffed and puffed my way up the hill, I must admit the view was absolutely worth it. I climbed to the highest point on the hill, then up a few more rocks (because that extra foot and a half matters when taking photos) and simply sat there taking it all in.
The view was not at all like I expected, yet it was perfectly imperfect – just. like. me.
I sat there observing my surroundings on the hill – a couple wrapped in a warm embrace, a few guys drinking a beer in between laughs, two girls lost in a deep conversation. Here I sat, in THEIR city, completely judging it – and them.
Who do I think I am? At the moment I was both mortified and humbled. To my right was the setting sun and to my left the rising moon. While I am normally drawn to the sun, today it was the moon that beckoned my attention as it hung beautifully just over some mountains on the outskirts of Athens.
Who am I to judge? I’ve often pondered this question. I should have been beyond grateful. I was sitting on a hill in Athens, Greece – literally my dream come true. So I did what I always do when I begin to see the lack in my life – I look for abundance instead.
Every day I keep my gratitude journal (I’ve referenced it here). The three things I started with on Tuesday included:
- Finding a taxi when all of Barcelona was on strike
- Catching my flight
- Successfully navigating the Athens public transportation system
But once I began to look for abundance, I couldn’t stop. I also thought of my kind taxi driver from this morning, the sweet guy at the security checkpoint in the airport who spoke English when I needed it, seeing the sign for boarding the plane which allowed me to bypass the line I was in, the sweet English men who sat next to me and told me all about their holiday, the kind woman who didn’t quite speak English but assured me I was on the Blue metro line to Athens, the woman at the reception desk of my hostel who got me water after I carried my bag up a flight of stairs.
Over and over again, I recognized my day was filled with good people and kind moments when I took the time to stop and acknowledge it.
While Athens may not be the ideal Greece I’d painted in my head, that holds true for many things in life. How many times do we paint pictures only for reality not to live up to it? How many times do we approach a relationship with one-sided expectation only to be let down?
So I am taking the next leg of this journey one day at a time, attempting to be more open-minded and less judgmental – of me, my surroundings and those around me. Experiencing different people, places and culture is what this journey is about after all.
PS…I’ve since been reassured that those white houses and blue domes do exist on the island of Santorini, which I will not be seeing this time around.That’s okay though!
PSS…I’ve now ventured out to other parts of Athens, and just like Barcelona, it’s capturing my heart in its own unique way. I’m about to go exploring for my last day on the mainland. I’ll keep you all posted!