You should go to Greece

October 17, 2007

Law school applications have dominated my life as of late, so I haven’t had much energy to spend elsewhere. One particularly theraputic way to take breaks was to reminisce about a place with sunny skies and breathtaking scenery:

This is me at the Acropolis overlooking Athens and the Mediterranean Sea. See how happy I look? That’s because I was in Greece. You should be in Greece, too.

A nice perk of working for a multinational law firm is that, with a roster of clients spanning the globe, one can be sent on business to any number of places. Sometimes it means getting stuck doing document review in Iowa; other times it involves sweating through a Houston, Texas summer conducting interviews. But there are times when you’re asked to travel somewhere a little more desirable… like, say, Athens! Back in July, at the last minute, the firm sent me there to assist in an investigation, and while the workload and the hours got somewhat tiresome, the good times more than made up for them.

The highlights of my trip (and some reasons for you to go, should you need any):

– Greek wine gets my seal of approval. It’s cheap and vastly underrated. Greece’s Mediterranean climate resembles that of Italy, a country far more renowned for its winemaking. I shared in a bottle of Greek wine nearly every night I was there, and even with my snooty sensibilities, I was always impressed.

– Food = damn tasty. The less local offerings like steak tended to be less than remarkable, but regional favorites like fried feta, gyros, and baklava were as abundant as they were delicious. Pireaus (west of Athens on the sea) is home to dozens and dozens of great seafood restaurants, with catches so fresh you wonder if your meal was swimming that very afternoon. Also, try a chocolate waffle with ice cream – you won’t be disappointed.

– Especially in professional settings, the contrast between American and Greek attitudes about work, even life in general, was stark. They make us look like joyless anal retentives by comparison. Working with Greeks was often frustrating – we Americans with our Blackberrys and to-the-minute email responses, our Greek counterparts with their sometimes leaving the office early and returning voicemails on a more leisurely schedule. Still, there is merit to the idea of not taking one’s career too seriously and spending the weekends relaxing on a beach.

– The Acropolis. Perched atop a large, steep hill in the center of Athens, it’s breathtaking – beyond the ruins you get a 360-degree view of the sprawling city. I’d suggest either arranging a tour guide or at least having a history book handy to get a richer sense of the ruins’ backstories. Hiking up there is good exercise, too, which you’ll probably need to work off the metric tons of fried/battered/oil-drenched cheese you’ll consume.

– The Greek Islands, especially the smaller, less frequented ones, are little paradises – beautiful scenery, laid-back people, and more than enough outlets for good food and drink. The sand quality of the beaches tends to be so-so, but who needs pretty sand when you’ve got cool, blue water, mountainous views, and a pair of sunglasses? Don’t be afraid to do some exploring, both among and around the islands. Hydrofoil ferries make interisland trips quite short, and the islands I visited were ideal for an afternoon hike.

There’s something special about the place… the islands in particular. Touring the islands by sailboat for a few weeks would be the perfect honeymoon. Not that I’m looking to get hitched anytime soon.


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