Much has happened, the biggest of which has been a visit from my family to Bulgaria, the completion of my fitness room project at the orphanage, and a trip to Athens (from which I just returned last night). These large scale events always make writing much easier for me, because sometimes it takes something big to make me recognize all of the smaller noteworthy things, reflect on them, and then finally share them with everyone. So I'll start with the event that's still the most fresh in my mind - the trip to Greece, and then I'll work back from there, and hopefully the momentum will help get the words out.
Originally I had planned to go to Belgium, and had booked a flight out there and made all the necessary reservations and plans and everything. The first flight got cancelled due to the situation arising from the Icelandic ash that blanketed northwestern Europe for a bit. I arranged for a flight a few days later hoping that everything would be cleared up, and upon arrival to the airport a few hours early, it seemed that everything was a go. However, at 4:30am, the departure board suddenly changed to show a big red "cancelled" notification next to my flight again. A young Belgian couple next to me contemplated taking a bus from Sofia to Paris, and then on to Brussels. I contemplated following them (since the window in which I could take vacation was closing), if only that trip wouldn't have taken over 36 hours. My best laid plans had suddenly been lost in the volcanic ash forever, and so I trudged back temporarily vacationless to Sofia's center to reformulate things.
After a time, I got it into my head that I would head south into neighboring Greece. Armed with my guidebook and a sleepless mind, I quickly pulled together something vaguely resembling a trip, and would spend 4 nights in Athens and its environs. It struck me as I finished making these hasty plan and laid down for a quick couch nap before heading to the bus station that this is probably the only time in my life I will have been able to, almost completely on a whim, change my travel plans form one
Athens had always been a place high on my list of places I wanted to visit, having studied Greek mythology and history for a majority of my childhood. The stories always captivated me, and instilled in me a deep interest in history. It was exciting to finally step off the bus and have everything made real.
I think the first thing that struck me was how big and modern the the city of Athens is. I think in visiting these historic places we originally have this romantic notion that it's all ruins and history, without stopping to think that over the course of 3000 years, a very real city has developed on the same spot. The result is an awesome layering effect - having ancient ruins laying directly beneath newer buildings from the late 1800s and then modern architecture topping it all. This creates a real sense of place while walking around town.
After arriving I walked directly to the center, where I had a quick breakfast and then headed straight on to tackle the sights - the most impressive of which is the gigantic Acropolis, to which I'll dedicate another separate blog post.