My first steps in Europe was taken in Piraeus, Greece.
I have a soft spot for Greece.
Greece wasn’t just my first European experience, but was also my first time visiting a another country. I’m from the American North East, but as different as the south is to where I’m from, Greece was literally whole new world.
The language barrier hits you like a sack of bricks. I understand the thrill of traveling is different for each person. For me, I’m first swelling with anxiety and culture shock until I begin exploring and identifying cultural commonalities.
What I love most about Greece is its history.
I’m an American. The culture I was brought up on is routed in Greek Democracy.
I’m a scholar. The routes of my educational background is derived from Greece.
I’m an artist. My favorite fantasies are Greek. Hercules. The Odyssey. GOD OF WAR.
You get the point.
I’ve been blessed enough to have traveled to Greece twice, once before getting married and a second time shortly after my daughter was born.
Collectively I’ve visited: Athens, Piraeus, Lavrion and Cape Sounion.
Despite two trips to Greece existing years apart, I noticed something strange.
During my first visit, I climbed the Parthenon and saw a dog sleeping along the route. I remember thinking to myself how weird it was for people to bring their pets so far up the trail.
Of course, the dog didn’t have an owner. The Parthenon dog was a stray. I’d later come to understand that Athens is full of stray dogs.
My two trips to Greece were four years apart, and I still saw strays. It’s no secret that Greece has and continues to endures financial hardship. As much as I love Athens, the stray dogs served as a visual reminder of Greece’s economic distress.
Despite it’s financial hardships, Greece is a fantastic country to visit with much to discover. I’ve been to Athens twice and have barely scratched the surface.
Of course, I have one more Greek trip I wish to complete. I’ve stayed at amazing Italian villas, but have never seen Santorini, Greece. Only in pictures shared from friends of mine on Facebook. Until then, I’ll leave you with my favorite picture from Athens. There’s actually nothing touristy about it. I’m just sitting on a set of steps along the Acropolis of Athens trying to get my kid to smile at the camera.