Wednesday July 29th,
Monday afternoon Morgan and I hopped on the train outside our hotel and took the half hour ride into downtown Athens where we got off and walked another 10 minutes to the Panathenaic Stadium. This stadium is the only one in the world this size that is built entirely of marble, but that’s not the real reason it’s famous. Back in 1896 the Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games for Greece. This was where the games began that we have all come to know and love. This afternoon was epic for me to say the least.
Now not a lot of you know this, but I once had dreams of being an Olympic hopeful. Yes I know almost every kid at one point in their life thinks they are going to go pro or be in the Olympics but it was different for me. I started racing about as soon as I could run. I used to race my dad through the fields at our home in Northern Indiana. At first I was left in the dust, but eventually I started beating him.. bad. I’m pretty sure this is when I first fell in love with racing. Before the glory, the ribbons, the records. Back when it was just me and dad. But you see, I didn’t out grow those dreams of the Olympics. I still wanted it bad, but by the end of my high school Track and Field career my body thought differently. I had been through foot surgery, multiple back injuries, and experienced more joint pain than an 18 year old ever should, so I turned down the scholarship offers and walked away. I knew that if I couldn’t compete and give it my best then I wouldn’t.
But you see I never stopped loving the sport, the passion is still deep inside me, and that was very evident yesterday stepping foot in the stadium. It was so exciting for me to be in a place where so many Olympians had competed, and others had visited looking for inspiration. I walked up to the last row in the center of the stadium and just took it all in. Every last detail was amazing. To think of what an honor it must have been to have competed for your country in the original games is mind boggling. It truly was a great day to be a Greek in one of the greatest stadiums in the world. I might not be an Olympian, but I was able to represent my univeristy and sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, in a truly remarkable place. That feels a lot like winning to me.
And then I stepped foot on the track and it all came back to me, it was great. Morgan and I set out to run around the track where so many Olympic athletes had before us. At one point Morgan said, “Hey this isn’t a race.” But for me insticts and old habits must have just kicked in. It felt like I was back running the good ole 400 meter dash, which had always been my favorite race. I guess I really can’t put into words what this afternoon meant to me besides saying it was amazing and maybe one of my favorite afternoons yet. I’ll always be a die-hard fanatic with the Olympics, and this trip to Athens, Greece just made it ten times worse.
It was hard to just sit down and relax the next day after just an exciting trip to the Panathenaic Stadium, but we hadn’t really had a chance to just enjoy Athens for it’s natural beauty and weather. Over the previous two days Morgan and I did so much sight seeing that we really saw all of the things we had on our main list that were must-sees. So that next day we relaxed, bronzed, and took a couple laps around the pool at our hotel sky-deck pool. It had a great view of the ocean and mountains far off in the distance, and of course a clear sky with great rays. It was nice spending this time talking with Morgan about our internships and lives over the past month. You never realize how much can change till you spend a month in a foreign country with people you don’t know.
Another thing I never realized how much would change are my taste buds. I think I’m going to surprise my mom when her pickiest eater comes back home not so picky anymore. I have grow accustomed to eating fruits and vegatables daily, which I never used to do, and actually enjoying them. Along those lines, Tuesday evening, I had my first tradition Greek gyro. Pita. Tzatziki. Tomato. Lamb. Onions. Pita. It was heavenly. I mean this was one good gyro. I really think I love traveling so much because I love eating all of the food. I would go back to Greece in a heart beat just to eat another gyro.
All in all at the end of the day Morgan and I could easily say we had an amazing time in Athens, Greece. It showed me so much, yet left me wanting to see so much more. But don’t worry guys, I’ll be back to tour the islands.
Morgan and I got up this morning at 4:50 to head to the airport in Athens to catch our flight to Geneva, Swtizerland. It was a rainy day when we got here so we just settled into our hotel, did some souvenir shopping (which is expensive if you didn’t know), and got dinner. We explored a little bit to get familiar with the area and we are starting out our day tomorrow morning with a run, breakfast, and then heading to a local farmer’s market. I’m excited to see what new adventures Switzerland has in store for the two of us.