12 Words Everyone Gets Wrong (via Cup of Jo)

When I came across this list on Cup of Jo the other day, I couldn’t help but think about my Prague ESL days. One of the unexpected parts about teaching English was how you (or at least I) started to love and know by heart the little quirks of spelling and meaning that most/many native English speakers could care less about.

Disburse vs Disperse?

I mean really, who knows?

We English teachers do :)

Check out this list to see if you match up!

Oh, and also, by the way, on a related note, I think the word usage/grammar police should by now accept that “literally” has a new meaning. Language has evolved with this one. Get over it.

…(“alot” though is still wrong)

8 Other Places to Visit in Athens (Besides the Acropolis)

So you know you’re going to be seeing the Acropolis.

That’s a given.

But what other places should you explore? I mean, Athens is big, chaotic, and steeped in history, everywhere (and the Acropolis is only one thing). Luckily for you, we spent one day walking tirelessly from one to the other, and covered a good amount of the tops sites in our one short day (If I did it again, I’d block out two days in Athens).

Here is the (kinda?) comprehensive list of the other ruins and places to visit in Athens (besides the Acropolis)!

1) Philopappou Hill and Phynx Hill:

Needing no ticket nor entry fee, we accidentally wandered up these hills after leaving the Acropolis. Only after being on the hill (and extensive map-guide comparison) did we discover that Phynx Hill is actually where the original Assembly of Athens met. It’s the actual birthplace of Democracy! (and it gives a pretty stunning view of Athens, as well)

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2) Plaka:

The neighborhood right below the Acropolis is inevitably touristy, but still filled with nice (and convenient) restaurants and cafes. Perfect for a cool Frappe after your early morning (hot) hike around the Acropolis!

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3) Temple of Hephaestus (part of the Ancient Agora):

The Temple of Hephaestus (patron god of metalworking and craftsmanship) is definitely not the biggest or oldest temple in Athens, but it is the best preserved and therefore deserving of a visit. Largely standing today as it was constructed, it gives you a taste of what the other temples would have been like, had they not been destroyed at one point or another. And it’s right above the Ancient Agora, which makes it an easy stop! (Part of the Combo Ticket)

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4) The Ancient Agora:

Like my previous post on Athens and the Acropolis, you would probably also benefit from a guide here. The Ancient Agora (meaning marketplace) is fairly large and nicely full of plaques and information at each point of interest within, but someone to bring this whole area to life would make a more worthwhile experience. But regardless, definitely don’t miss it! I mean, for centuries it was the center of economic and political life for one of the most celebrated western civilizations, after all, and there are a lot of amazing facts and stories to go with that! – just be prepared for not much shade throughout, though…  (part of the Combo Ticket).

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5) The Roman Agora and Neighborhood of Monastiraki:

The Roman Agora was the center of Roman Athens and is also home to the ruins of Hadrian’s Library. Both are worthwhile to visit with rich histories to tell. And getting an image of this ancient library with it’s great hall, walls filled with papyrus scrolls and collections of little reading rooms to the side is quite fun. Plus, it borders the Monastiraki neighborhood – the neighborhood for flea market stalls. You’ll find every type of Greek-themed souvenir imaginable, and if you’re looking for a little tchotchke gift to bring back, just walk half-way down a street here! (the Roman Agora is part of the Combo Ticket)

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6) The Temple of Zeus (and Hadrian’s Arch):

Guys, the Temple of Olympian Zeus is MASSIVE. Partially because of the set-up (the Temple rising out of a square-mile of nothing helps) but also partially because…it just was the biggest temple in Greece – period. – , walking up to the Temple is quite an awe-inspiring experience. It would have been amazing to be dwarfed by the temple when it was fully standing and built. Pictures just don’t do it justice :) And leading right into it is Hadrian’s arch. That Hadrian. He got around. (both are part of the Combo Ticket)

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7) The Panatheniac Olympic Stadium:

In the late 1800s this stadium was rebuilt from the ruins of the ancient stadium to host the first modern olympic games. It costs 3 Euros to get in and comes with an audio guide, which is pretty cool! I missed it on my trip since we only had one day in Athens, and I will definitely someday be coming back to see it!

8) The National Gardens:

The large national gardens are really quite magical and restful. Plus, they are right by the Panathenaic Stadium (and Temple of Olympian Zeus), which make them a great place to sit in the shade and recharge for a bit. Or stroll around in the shade and recharge – whatever you feel like doing!

 

Whew! I don’t know what you guys think, but those are more than enough ruins and places to last 2 days! I know we tried to fit in as many in one day as we could, and by the end we were exhausted and even had to skip a couple. Again, if you have the chance, 2 days in Athens is probably ideal!

Also, don’t forget water and sunscreen! You’ll really be wanting both…

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New York City in the Early 2000s

In honor of my upcoming trip to NYC, here are some photos I recently uploaded onto my computer while home in CO. (btw, I have a strong feeling I’ve shared some of these before, but I can’t find it on the blog. So I apologize if some of these are repeats!)

I took these with a…regular? camera, and black and white film back in 2002 or 2003, I believe. (the third one is of Ground Zero)

And I think I did a pretty good job with the photography, even back then.

But then again, New York just kind of lends itself to B&W. I think I’ll exclusively shoot without color when I visit this time.

It’s just too temptingly romantic not to :)

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5 Awesome Links to Make Your Friday Better

New York City ✰✰✰

Eep! I’m off for this beautiful city…next week! Hooray for a little weekend away (being on the East Coast makes this so easy! Things are so close together!).

Want a game to play on your phone that is just gorgeous? (so what if I look for that in a game??)  Check out these.

Bike like a pro athlete, eat like a pig.

Norway’s new currency is pretty great :)

Ok, so maybe I just clicked on this link because it had a “Czech” pun on it, but still, Ikea in the 80s is great….

Smart ways to spend your storage space.

Prague Review: Monolok Cafe

The first time I went to Monolok was because Erika invited me to bring my laptop to work and grab coffee one drizzly Sunday at a new coffee shop that had just opened up right next door to her flat*.

And immediately, as soon as we stepped in, I felt a sense of yes. This is a place where I can spend my Sundays “working”

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Monolok was one of the first Prague spaces I saw that so easily embodied the modern, hip, NW-inspired coffee space – all warm woods, white walls, and stainless accents.

And then when I sat down to order, it proved itself to be even more of a blast from home. French press and drip cone coffee? WHA?? No place had that in Prague.

We immediately sat down near the wide windows, ordered omelettes, and split a large American-style pressed coffee pot.

It was heaven.

Since then, I’ve been back many times, trying their excellent-without-fail espresso and coffee drinks, sampling their breakfast menu (nice Livance [pancakes] and sandwiches), and enjoying the quiet back patio in the sun, or the basement full of extra tables and couches. I even planned both my trip to Croatia and my trip to Greece at those tables!

Really, if you need a little break from too many dark pubs, this light-filled space should be on your next lazy afternoon list.

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Logistics:

Here’s the website with menus for food, drinks, coffee, desserts, drinks, etc. Beautiful website, don’t you think? Only thing is it doesn’t seem to have an English option. Use chrome and that oh-so-useful automatic translate feature :)

Their address is Moravská 18, Praha 2, and they’re open 7 days a week, but open a bit later on Saturday and Sunday.

The drip coffee is a little more expensive than your average coffee drink, but not that bad (and it is really good drip coffee – which if you’ve been traveling in Europe for a while, you might not have seen in a while…)

They have couches and tables inside, with more downstairs (if you crave the European cave feel), and tables out back if it’s warm enough.

Enjoy!

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*so for those in the know, yeah, she had a pretty swanky address – and a gorgeous apartment to go with it!

 

Athens Is Awesome, And You Should Couchsurf There

In Athens we couchsurfed, and you should, too.

We stayed with an awesome host who lived in a suburb right off of the end of the red line (Aghios Antonios for those of you who have a bizarrely good grasp of Athenian Metro Stops).

And can I just say, meeting our host was just about the best time of our entire Greece trip?

First of all, we went to Athens thinking we’d kinda suffer through the busy city, do the necessary touristy things, then peace out to the islands where we’d have the real fun because, you know, “Athens is just a polluted, crowded city.”*

But THEY WERE ALL WRONG.

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Not only was Athens so much more gorgeous than we were led to believe,** but it was vibrant and full of life and smells and food and history. Just history around every corner, in every crack and deep down in every street.

And secondly (and more importantly?), our host made the entire experience that much more meaningful. We met her, her son, her mother, and her brother, ate homemade (vegan!) Greek food, and talked late into both nights in her courtyard on topics from the crisis to Greek education to travel to food.

Because of her we spent time out of the hustle and bustle of touristy Athens, and instead walked through (still busy) neighborhoods, said hello to the neighbors across the street, talked to her son in our pitiful Greek, grabbed wine at the local grocery stores, and spent time playing with her cat under the cooling grape arbor.

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We got to connect and learn about Greece in a way we never got to do throughout the rest of the trip.

And not surprisingly, I think that made our experience in Athens all that it was.

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So don’t skip out on Athens, but give it (at the very least) a full day in your Greek itinerary.

And – AND – if you want to make your experience even richer, go over to couchsurfing, start your profile (if you don’t already have one), and find yourself a wonderful Athenian host to stay with!

Just don’t forget to bring a thank you hosting gift :)

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*What I’ve heard from almost every person who’s visited Greece ever.

**I realize this might have something to do with it being windy and therefore swept clean of pollution, but it really was just so beautiful!

The Biggest Regret of My Trip to Greece

Ok, so, really, the biggest regret of my trip to Greece would probably be that I only had 10 days.

I mean, do you know how big Greece is??? People block out a month for just the island of Crete. There is no way we could have seen more than the absolute highlights in 10 days. And even then, we had to choose between the highlights, cutting out Meteora and any mainland areas of Greece and any islands not right on an easy path (next time, Rhodes, next time).

But besides that (mini-rant over), the biggest regret of my trip to Greece…

…was not ponying-up the cash to get a great tour guide for the sites of Athens.

IF YOU GO TO ATHENS, HIRE A TOUR GUIDE*

Because even with Triposo and photos on my phone of relevant guidebook pages and the handed-out maps at the entrance of each of the different Athenian ruins, I’m still left with...erm I think this was this amphitheater? No. It was the Odeion of Herodes Atticus. Did we come in at this entrance? …maybe? Oh!! I know that’s the Parthenon. Go me!

It’s kinda sad.

BUT, I can still show you all the pretty photos and give you the basics, and then I’ll leave it up to you to be more responsible and hire someone who really knows what they’re talking about.

So enjoy! The Acropolis, on a very very windy (and stunningly clear) day:

 

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We walked through empty early morning streets from the center of Athens (Syntagma), through the tourist neighborhood of Plaka, and up to the entrance of the Acropolis by the Theater of Dionysos.

We then climbed up past it and started to the left, along the Stoa. And already, at that point, the city of Athens starts to stretch out before you, as far as the eye can see.

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When we reached the edge on the left we hit the Odeion of Herodes, which they use for concerts and plays still today! If you have the time, getting tickets to a performance there would be an amazing experience.

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We then turned right to join the (already full) crowds entering the upper city walls through the Pinakotheke (the impressive entrance that would awe visitors as they were dwarfed by its sheer size).

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And bam! You’re at the top and there’s the Parthenon!

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And my goodness, photos just don’t prepare you for how big the Parthenon is. The reconstructive efforts are amazing. Each piece is labeled and categorized into massive, heavy piles then painstakingly placed where it belongs, the missing pieces filled in with new stone.**

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And as you can see, the reconstruction is still going on today (and will for quite a few years).

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Once you hit the top you have a gorgeous 360 view of Athens. Just ignore the huge crowds and it’s almost like you’re alone, overlooking the windy, clear city.

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And of course you have the other buildings to see, the temple of Athena Nike, the temple Erecthion where Poseidon and Athena contested for Patronage of Athens (Athena won with an olive tree…somehow),

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And the ever-famous Caryatids (these are the copies – the real ones are in the Acropolis museum).

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Even if you don’t hire the (hopefully) vast knowledge of a guide, the Acropolis is still beautiful and grandiose and well-worth the visit. It really is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s all those things you learned in school (over and over again, if your schooling was anything like mine….we loved the Greeks) right in front of you, grander than you imagined.

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Logistics:

A cool site and  article that is informative and goes over some fun facts about the Acropolis is here.

The Acropolis is open from 8 am to 8 pm, roughly, with some different hours in the winter (and on Monday?). Definitely go in the early morning or late afternoon/evening. Not only is it not as hot at those times (the sun beats down on the Acropolis mercilessly and you do a bit of hiking to get to the top. Even on the very very windy day that we were there you could still feel the sun), but there are also fewer people.

Definitely bring lots of water! And maybe a snack.

It’s 12 Euros for entrance to the Acropolis, which is automatically the combo ticket. The combo ticket allows you to see not only the Acropolis but 5 other sites around Athens as well! And if you’re a student or senior (or have your student ID card still….shh) it’s 6 Euros.

Do note that the Acropolis Museum is another 5 Euros – it’s one of the few things in Athens that isn’t covered in that combo ticket.

And in case this hasn’t come through enough in this article, HIRE A GUIDE. It will be a much more enjoyable and memorable experience, I promise :)

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*Unless you happen to be a real expert in Ancient Greek civilizations…

**It would still be here today if some jerks hadn’t bombed it

8 Awesome Links to Make Your Friday Better

Paris, France

A pretty good commercial.

This store owner’s first name is Holiday!! I’m going to visit this store when we go to New York. :)

Amazing photos of the Underground Railroad.

ANYONE ELSE PUMPED FOR 2016?? I know I am. Ahhh…coffee.

Everyday objects made…worse.

The Oatmeal’s take on Columbus Day.

The best new building (officially) of the world.

I hope this comes through – it’s a link to Reza Aslan just clearly and passionately lining out why CNN (and Bill Maher) were being racist.

And speaking of racist… And side note – we’re all clear that racism is specifically Prejudice + Power, right? and that sexism is Prejudice + Power? Everyone can be prejudice, but only white people can be racist and only men can be sexist. (not to disqualify any hurt anyone can feel over prejudice comments – and that yes, those prejudice comments can come from anyone else, regardless of race or gender etc etc) Oh, and that there are a multitude of experiences and an overlapping of privilege and lack of privilege within each group. Whew. I think I covered the basics.

A song to start off your weekend!

And a lastly, a really great post by a fellow expat 8 secrets no one tells you about being an expat.