As if Italy wasn’t amazing enough, next we flew to Greece.
Our plane landed in Athens in the evening, and we quickly noticed the spectacular view from our hotel’s roof- the Parthenon. A small, unsatisfied group of us took a late-night stroll to get a closer look at this monument before tucking in for the night.
Athens surprised me. It was just as cramped as Rome, but not nearly as classy. Graffiti covered all the buildings. Neon pictures and words coated every wall in thick layers, making one indistinguishable from the next.
In our first full day of breathing Greek air, we visited the Areopagus (fun fact: Areopagus auto-corrects to Asparagus), a small plateau above Athens but below the Parthenon. The eagle-eye view of the city combined with the warm weather and cool wind gave me a spirit of adventure and a sense of the majesty around me.
Next came the Parthenon.
It loomed above, breathtaking and intense, in all its dramatic glory. It was art and music literally put into stone.
Our last day of sight-seeing in Europe brought us to the ruins of Corinth and Mycenae.
We stood where the Apostle Paul stood over 2000 years ago. We read passages from Acts while standing where they took place. Like reading Narnia in a wardrobe, or Harry Potter in King’s Cross Station.
We walked through the legendary Lion’s Gate, entered the Tomb of King Agamemnon, dipped our feet in the turquoise Aegean Sea, shopped for souvenirs, mountain-goated through the ruins of an ancient battle-fortress city, and then pulled an all-nighter in order to arrive at the airport at 3 am.
We ended strong.
“All that is gold does not glitter.
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
-J. R. R. Tolkien
All of these old monuments and ruins have stayed strong, deep roots of Western civilization, standing tall for century after century, refusing to bow under the gaze of onlookers or the oppressive weight of time.
I crossed the world with an amazing group of wanderers; we somehow managed to get lost only a few times. Every second of that trip was gold, and it all glitters in my mind.
My eyes will always sparkle when obscure details of Rome or conversations from Greece pop into my head; I will always smile when others mention the Parthenon or the Sistine Chapel or even gelato; my heart will always swell with joy when I see the stunning pictures or hear the hilarious stories.