Kalimera! I’m back from Greece and surprisingly awake for the day after a trip. It was such an awesome experience and I wish I could have stayed longer, but here’s a short (cell phone) photo recap –
We (three other speakers from abroad and I) stayed at the Fresh Hotel in Athens. It was perfectly located and the staff was great. There was a full breakfast every morning and a great bar on the 9th floor rooftop with views of the Parthenon. Highly recommended! Here’s the view from my balcony.
So many wonderful streets to wander! On Friday night our hosts, Elina and Valia from Ftiaxto.gr hosted a fabulous dinner in a Greek restaurant just beneath the Parthenon which is lit up beautifully at night. They ordered tons of dishes for us to try family style and it was all delish. There were carafes of wine (which is pretty cheap in Greece!) and lots of dessert too. It was also my fellow speaker Grace Dobush‘s birthday so we celebrated with profiterole cake and singing Happy Birthday in English and Greek.
On Saturday we spent the day at the conference. I have a few pictures at the end which aren’t great, but I’ll definitely share the photos from the official conference photographer when they are up. Interestingly the conference went from about 11am to 9pm which I found unusual. People get a later start in Greece and eat dinner much later than we do. That night after the conference we went to a cool cocktail bar and it didn’t start to get crowded until nearly midnight, which was when we were leaving. Maybe I’m just getting old?
On Sunday I went sightseeing around Athens with Azra from DaWanda which is kind of like the Etsy of Europe, though it’s used by many US sellers as well. It was a perfect day to wander around and take in the city.
So many small streets to explore. We left our maps in our pockets and just went whichever direction looked cool. Since the Parthenon sits atop a large hill we could stay oriented pretty easily and not get too far away. But even if we did, cabs are pretty inexpensive and easy to find in central Athens.
Ta-da! There’s quite a view in every direction from the Parthenon.
It was windy up there, but a sunny and beautiful day to be sightseeing.
We went to the new Acropolis museum on the recommendation of many of the Greeks we met. They described it as really nice and much more organized than most things in Greece, and we agreed! The museum is a must-visit and really beautiful. It’s built atop these old ruins which you can see right as you enter.
Inside there’s a huge collection of statues, ruins and other artifacts from the Acropolis all displayed beautifully.
It’s incredibly modern and looks up at the Parthenon.
Athens has a lot of street art and other graffiti. I liked this one.
Lots of beautiful churches everywhere, like this one with a band out front.
Walking around you run into ruins in many different places – it’s pretty amazing.
And here’s a shot from the back of the auditorium at the conference which was held at the American College of Greece which seems like a pretty cool place to study.
Because half the conference was in English and half was in Greek there were translators for both in a booth in the back and all attendees had headsets so you could listen in your language of choice. We felt like we were in the UN or something The translators did a great job even when there were 6+ people on a panel – it was very easy to follow.
A few more things!
– Elina and Valia and the Ftiaxto.gr team were such wonderful hosts, arranging for every need while we were there. I can’t thank them enough!
– It was really great to get to know them and spend time learning about Greece not just a tourist, but from actual Greeks. I learned fun facts like jogging is a relatively new trend in Greece and when you see people out for a run some Greeks will point at them and laugh! (Not to be mean, it’s just still such an unusual sight!)
– Starting a business definitely seems more complicated and confusing in Greece than in the US. I’m thankful for all of the online resources that helped me in the beginning and hope that more crafters in Greece can make their way and help one another get up and running. They are certainly creative and hardworking enough to do it.
– Tsipouro is the new ouzo.
– So many smokers in Athens. Coming from the US where smoking is becoming pretty unusual, it was shocking to be in a bar or restaurant and have the majority of the people smoking!
– Also lots of protests. We had to turn around in the car because roads were blocked off, saw police in riot gear blocking a road when we were sightseeing and could hear the megaphones from the rooftop bar of the hotel. All that said, it was very organized protesting and I never felt unsafe for even a minute.
– It was wonderful spending so much time getting to know my fellow speakers Azra, Grace and Liana Kabel and learn more about their craft experiences. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same with out them and we’re already planning a reunion next year!
– Today Lufthansa announced that they are cancelling zillions of flights this week due to a pilot strike. I got home just in time… or did I? I would have enjoyed a few more days in Athens!
– I was in Greece for 2.5 days and spent 48 hours traveling. That’s not an ideal ratio, but it was totally worth it!