Ithaca by Cavafy

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Thanks For Following

In closing, Greece was surreal. The reality was better than the fantasy, it always delivered. Studying abroad is a great experience. I made lifelong friends, met people from all over the world, experienced a new culture, and learned so much, from the classes, the country, and the people. I feel like, as Taso would say, I have become a citizen of the world. If there is one piece of advice I can give to anyone it is this, TRAVEL! Go outside of your comfort zone. Be open minded. Try different things. Meet new people. Appreciate what you have. Learn from the world. Only then can we attempt to make it better.

I am ever thankful for being able to have this experience and I would not trade it for anything in this world

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At 3:30 a.m. Mom and I went to the airport and flew to Verona, Italy. We met her friends Morando and Mary who took us to their beautiful house in the Italian Alps in the remote town of Ortise. I napped for a little while and then we had a nice dinner and met some of the people of the town at the local pub. The next day, we went to see the Dolomites. It was absolutely beautiful, but it was a twelve hour day in the car. Then, we had dinner and went to bed. The next morning, we walked around the two villages and experienced a little bit of mountain farm life.

We had lunch and then it was time to leave. Morando and Mary are such wonderful people. Mary is a published author, I want to learn Italian, just so I can read her books. They took us back to Verona and we said goodbye. Mom and I immediately went to find Juliet’s balcony. We got there just in time. I snapped a few pictures and then we were the last people in before they closed. I wrote a quick letter and placed it on the wall of love. We were so lucky to make it there, if we were even a minute later, we would have missed it. Mom and I walked around a little bit, but we were so exhausted that we went back to the hotel and crashed.

We woke up at 5 in the morning and went to the airport. We flew an hour from Verona to Munich, had a few hours in the layover, and then took a 9 hour flight from Munich to Dullas Airport. Luckily, we were in business class and got the nice seats with space. I watched Some Like It Hot, great movie, read a little, but mostly slept. Once we got to the airport, Leesha’s boyfriend Matt was going to pick us up, because Leesha couldn’t. (Leesha is one of my best friends) Matt kept saying we on the phone, so I thought that maybe Leesha came with him, but he said she wasn’t. When we finally found the car, Leesha ran out of it! Best surprise ever!!! It was so good to see her. Then we began the six hour trek home through DC. We all got dinner at Alonso’s and then finally, we were home. I hung out with Leesha and Matt a bit and then the left for Virginia. I tried to organize some things, but my brain was not working at all. I passed out at nine at night in my own bed.

Goodbye Greece

Mom took my stuff to her hotel and then Taso and I went off to shoot the last few pieces of my documentary. It was fun to do some filming together. We shot Aristotle’s Academy and then we went to the Hilton to get some panning shots of Athens. We went to the roof, but the swanky restaurant was closed and it looked like the sliding doors to the deck were too. However, I had a feeling that we could still get out there. I walked to the end of the hallway and I saw some tables against a large sliding door. People usually put stuff in front of doors that are unlocked. I walked up to the door, flipped the handle, and pushed it open all the way. Taso was shocked! He just said,

“Leah, you’re my hero.”

I replied with,

“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

He just laughed.

There was a big screen that almost went to the ground, but the beam left a few feet of space at the bottom, so I slid my camera gear underneath it and then I shimmied under it myself. Taso crawled under also, and I got the perfect panning shots I needed!

We got out of there quickly and then did the last interviews in the lobby. I interviewed Taso and then he interviewed me. After that it we took the metro back to the main transfer hub and then said goodbye. I couldn’t believe it. It was all really over, the program, the documentary, being with my awesome new group of friends. I was so flustered that I accidently took the metro the wrong way. Whoops! But then I realized, it’s not over yet. The program may be over, but the adventure is not. I still have to edit my documentary. My new amazing friends and I will still hang out in Seattle. Greece will always be with me in my heart.

I met my Mom and went walked around Athens a little bit and then had dinner at place that was suggested to her. It turned out to be the same restaurant where the whole group had dinner our first night together in Athens. I felt like I had come full circle. Mom and I spent the night on the roof of our hotel watching the sky change behind the Parthenon. I was skyping Maddie and tried to show it to her and then Mom went down to the room. I sat on the roof for a little while, trying to soak in my last few moments with Greece and thinking about how grateful I was for the most amazing experience. Then I said goodbye to my great love. I tried to remember, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

Vitalo on Evia Island

The next morning, thirteen of us got ready to go to Evia, Taso’s island. Shelan and I said a ten minute, heartfelt goodbye. It makes me sad just thinking that we will never be roommates again, but it was great while it lasted. I also said bye to Tani and the remaining people left to take the metro to the bus stop and then a three hour bus ride to the island.

We met Taso’s cousin, Evangelistsa, at the station, and we rode in the back of trucks to her house. Once we were there, we had a fabulous lunch, all made by her with local vegetables, fresh calamari caught that day, and other awesome food. After that, Taso took us on a tour of his village, sort of the autobiographical tour of Taso. It started to rain, but it was still neat to see Vitalo. The rained didn’t stop the entire weekend.

We didn’t get to go to his beach, but we did play cards like old men the whole weekend, it was actually pretty nice to just do nothing. The last night, Taso had us go around the table and say some closing thoughts. It got pretty heavy in the room and I almost cried, but I kept it together. We left in the morning and when we returned to the hotel, we all said our last goodbyes.

Athens on my Birthday

Birthday Bash

I awoke on my birthday morning to a beautiful day. I received a few calls from people who had my Greek cell number. I read Joe’s card that he wrote me and it was really sweet. I ate breakfast with Chris, Jenny, Marilena, and Kelsey. It was Kelsey’s birthday also. She turned 21 and I turned 20. After breakfast I skyped with Matt and then got ready for the day.  We all got on the bus and met another tour guide, Dionysus, awesome name right? We drove through many cool parts of Athens and then arrived at the Acropolis.

First, we stopped to see where Socrates was kept in prison. It was pretty cool, considering I’m going to be taking a class completely about him in the fall. It looked like a pretty spacious cave, but it was still a prison. After that, we walked up to the Acropolis. It was unreal. I had seen from afar a few months ago, but walking around it is completely different. It was pack with people from all over the world, literally. We learned that the side the Parthenon that most pictures are of is actually the back. The other side is the front because it faces the sun. It was built to appear straight and even, the stairs are actually convex. The pillars also curve. It is absolutely unbelievable. While the Parthenon is gorgeous, I feel like it has become the cliché of Athens and Greece in general.

My favorite part of the Acropolis was the smaller temple with the Caryatids, they are beautiful. Of course, the ones on the temple are replicas and the authentic ones are in the museum, but it’s still breathtaking. Sculpture fascinates me, they looks so real. The folds of their togas simply flow down their bodies are if they were cloth instead of stone. After the tour was over, I walked around by myself for a little while. I tried to find a quiet place to sit and think, but to no avail. I couldn’t believe that it was my 20th birthday, I was an
Ancient Greek and Rome history major, and I was at the Acropolis!

We ran into the couple from the theatre that had just got married and talked to them for a little while, small world. As I stood there with my friends and gloried at the Parthenon, I was mystified at how it has survived thousands of years. It served multiple purposes based on who conquered the area. It even lived through being blown up by more idiots. (It would be awesome, if men could stop blowing up ancient moments or building modern cities on top of them.)

Soon, it was time to leave, Shelan and I were walking back down from the Acropolis and I slipped a little. I told her I had a feeling I was going to fall. Not five seconds later, I stepped on random piece of marble and I could feel myself falling. Luckily, I knew it was going to happen, so I crossed my legs and put my arm out, and it turned into more of a graceful glide. Obviously, that was the best way to leave the Acropolis.

After we met everyone outside, the planned day was over, and we could do as we wished. Shelan, Reyna, Tani, Jenny, Kelsey, and I went to meet my Mom and then we went to an awesome lunch with an absolutely delicious cake. Later, we journeyed down the Plaka, the main strip for tourist shopping, and got a few last things. Then we proceeded to the main street for regular shopping and did some more damage.

After that, I said bye to Mom, and we all to the metro back to the hotel and had dinner. When dinner was over, Taso took all of us to the Chocolat Café for Kelsey and my birthday. It was unbelievably awesome with all kinds of sweet goodness. Reyna, Shelan, and I stopped to look at all the cool street jewelry and they bought me a pair of earrings that I wanted for my birthday. I have awesome friends. Then we took the metro back with some of the other girls and I crashed into bed.

What an amazing birthday.