Our last night in Thessaloniki came too quickly, and now we have completed a two-day road trip to Athens.

My favorite memory of these past few days was our final dinner in Thessaloniki. The food and wine were superior to most other Greek restaurant food I have had on this trip, and the entire experience was extremely family-like. We were essentially alone in the restaurant and our conversation and laughter filled the cozy space. The sound of music weaved into these as more and more of the decorative instruments came down off the wall, creating a homey melody.

To witness it was to be a part of it, and to be a part of it was to love it.

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Me, Kristina (our RA) and Suma (another student) at our farewell dinner in Thessaloniki.

The road trip, like any other, included burger stops, staring out the window, motion sickness and many deep, introspective thoughts. What it held over many others was the opportunity to visit Meteora, a place of many monasteries and nice views, and Delphi, a place of incredible history and more nice views.

Meteora and Delphi were incredible places to visit on our journey to Athens. Although both were home to my archenemy (lots of stairs), they provided a look into different aspects of the ancient world: Meteora into early Greek Orthodoxy and Delphi into mythology.

While I have out-churched everyone else on this trip doing work for one of my stories, Meteora still succeeded to shock me. The monasteries are balanced on boulders hundreds of feet in the air, and the surrounding area is entirely composed of rocks, trees and nature. It really makes you feel as though you are going back in time.

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One of the old monasteries that we visited, which balances on rock and has a view of the city below, mountains and forests. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

Delphi, too, was like a time vault, but into an even more ancient era. I was thrilled to see artifacts of ancient Greece from as early as 6th century B.C. (and some probably even older than that), including the mostly intact frieze from the Treasury of the Siphnians. I was extremely excited about this in particular because when I learned about Greek mythology in elementary school, I was most interested in friezes and the stories they told. I even drew a full frieze on my miniature temple replica, which was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine (I knew what was up, even back then).

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A panorama of the frieze from the Treasury of Siphnias. Photo by Sophie Cannon

And, of course, Delphi also had some incredible views.

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Wow. Photo by Paxtyn Merten

I already love Athens. It is to Thessaloniki as New York is to Boston: more city-like, more people, faster paced and less homey. While I miss the familiarity of Thessaloniki, I am glad to finally be working in the big city. It finally feels more like a work trip than just an extension of school, and I am ready to get into the groove.

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