As I rolled out of bed at 5:30 on Thursday morning, I realized that I only had about forty five minutes to shower and be completely ready to leave on our ten day journey. We were about to take a train to Thessaloniki, fly to Rome, see Pompeii, go to the Vatican on Easter Sunday, travel to Poland, and see the Auschwitz concentration camp. A very packed ten days which we are all looking forward to. After showering and adding in our final touches to our one 8kg bag that Ryan Air allows us to carry onto the plane, we weigh our bags one last time making sure they will meet the requirements. What it came down packing was about three shirts, two pairs of pants, and a minimal amount of toiletries. To say the least, us girls struggled the most to face that fact. Once we all ready and waiting at our door for the boys to meet us down there, we sang Happy Birthday to Ashley since she is now 21 years old!
The boys met us downstairs and we ventured off finding our way to the nearest Metro station. I must say, 6:20 in the morning was the earliest I had seen the streets of Athens. There was no hustle and bustle. Only silence surrounded our group of nine, with the occasional roar of an old car engine or moped driving in the distance. It looked like a ghost town. As we walked, we could smell the sweet aroma of bakeries cooking their first batches of pastries for the day. A black cat crossed our paths. We all hoped that it would not actually bring us bad luck for the rest of the trip.
Once arriving at the Metro, Libbey Station was our next destination. After getting our tickets, we showed up at the metro stop perfect timing. We didn’t even have to wait a second to get onto the train; we were able to just walk directly in. Only a few men in business suits and a couple of men in their twenties who looked like they were just coming home from a night of partying surrounded us. Everyone sat and stood in silence. Surprisingly, it only took two stops until we made it to the train station where we would get onto the train for the next six hours.
Winding through crowds of people at the train station until we finally found the correct spot to wait at wasn’t necessarily the greatest morning wake up. Since we were all so excited to spend the next ten days traveling Europe, none of us really seemed to mind the early wake up though. We passed by a few café’s with quite a few early risers sitting, enjoying their coffees and pastries. Everything smelled wonderful. Our senses were going crazy from being teased by all of the different scents we walked by. Every time we walked by a café, a few of us contemplated just running in quickly to grab something to hold us over for the train ride. As much as we wanted to, we held ourselves back in order to keep up with the group. Fortunately, we finally realized that the train station was only about a five minute walk away. In order to get on this train, we had pre-ordered tickets. As Matt handed the collection man the tickets, we quickly spotted out a food stop to grab something before the train arrived. There were so many options: powdered croissants, pizza with ham and cheese on top, bougatsa (a Greek flaky pastry with a thick creamy filling), deli sandwiches, sugared doughnuts, hot dogs in croissants, and sesame rings. They all looked so amazing, making my decision difficult. It took me a few minutes to decide, especially since the price was nothing compared to the amount of food you were given.
Decision made. A slice of pizza and water it was. As we waited by the thick yellow line that warns you not to cross, we could see the train chugging along in the distance. We gathered our floppy, half-empty bags and watched as the graffitied train slowly came to a stop. We found the correct cabin that we were assigned to and once we were on, we shuffled through to find our assigned seats. I had never been on one like this before, probably since it was going such a far distance. Some of us put our bags on the racks above our heads while others used them as a foot rest. Once we comfortably sat down in our seats, our snacks were our first priority.
We studied our surroundings, making sure everything was safe and that our whole group was seated nearby. Unfortunately, we are constantly being reminded to keep a close eye on our belongings since there are pick pocketers everywhere. Thankfully no one has had to deal with that problem yet and hopefully no one will have to…knock on wood!
Although mostly everyone else on the train was sitting in silence, our group just could not stop talking and giggling back and forth. Maybe we were overtired from staying up late the night before, or we were excited to spend the next ten days traveling different parts of Europe. Or maybe it was just a mix of both! Who knows, but needless to say, we were all very excited for what was to come.
It is such a blessing that we are all able to experience all of these amazing things. A lot of people can’t even say that they have been outside of the United States. Here we are traveling from country to country. This is definitely an experience of a lifetime that I hope none of us will ever forget.
There we were, sitting, sleeping, and dreaming about our upcoming adventures. Six hours pass. Just enough rest to keep us going for the rest of the day in Thessaloniki. And tomorrow, Rome. Such an exciting week ahead of us. I can’t wait to see what we happen to run into during all of our adventures!