Days 2 and 3 — Athens…finally!
We arrived in Athens at 1:30 am. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed up this late (on purpose) before in my life! Our flight to Athens was also delayed and our luggage was lost. So we were super tired, but in good spirits.
Our taxi driver (whose daughter’s name was Agape which I learned means “love”) gave me a bunch of Greek candies. It was the best kind of candy I have ever had. The taxi driver also gave me an extra lollipop — it tasted like peach, orange AND lemon. He also gave me a traditional sesame and honey candy. It was crunchy and tasted really good too.
After a good night’s sleep, I was able to see the Acropolis from our hotel. When I first saw all of the old ruins I was really amazed and couldn’t wait to explore them. But it was a hot day, and we didn’t have a change of clothes so mom decided we should check out Syntagma Square which was a huge garden and park. We saw turtles, ducks, chickens, peacocks and A LOT of pigeons. But I found a bug that looked like a leaf and I let it crawl on my hand. The but was a lot cooler to me than the birds! I also found a really cool tree to climb, but dad was afraid I’d slip. Later, I drew a picture of my favorite things from the park.
It was a really hot day (for us) but as we were eating lunch, it started to rain! We didn’t expect THAT to happen! At lunch, I noticed that most people do not use ice in their drinks, but it was such a hot day that we HAD to ask for some ice in our drinks.
Next we went shopping. I don’t really like shopping so I got a chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream instead.
After an afternoon break, we hopped on a bus to catch a view of the city. It was cloudy out, and it seemed like a good time to see the Acropolis (since it wasn’t the hottest part of the day). We got off the bus and hiked our way to the top of the hill. The stone and rock path was pretty slippery and dad noticed clouds getting darker. Just as we reached the top, it started pouring down rain, with thunder and some lightening too! It NEVER rains like that in Southern California. We all got soaked! I was a little scared, so we got down the hill as fast as we could.
The next morning (Saturday) I got to train at Alliance Athens with Professor David Dimopoulos Said. I had a private lesson and learned the waiter’s sweep with two arm bars that can be done after the sweep. I also learned a cool guard sweep. He was super nice, and really wanted to work on moves that worked for my style. I really think I’ll be able to use the moves I learned in my next competition!
After the lesson, I stayed for their kids class. I had asked Professor if his class ever plays dodgeball, because that’s one of my favorite ways to warm up. He said they did, and we got to play two games, but they used a smaller ball (we use a large exercise ball at Paragon). At my academy, when you get hit and are out of the game, you have to do some push-ups (usually 15 or 20). Alliance Athens doesn’t have to push-up rule. But I didn’t know that, so when I got hit, I started with my usual push-ups. The other kids didn’t know what I was doing. When my parents explained, then the other kids ended up doing push-ups too! I hope they didn’t mind.
We got to do some three minute matches, and I found out that the boys in the class were some real beasts! Check out the bruise I got! Professor said there aren’t a lot of competitions in Greece like at home, but I think those boys will do great in their next one.
The move of the day, that we learned was a triangle, and I figured out that “trigono” means triangle in Greek.
After two hours of training, I was really sweaty. I definitely needed some lunch! After lunch, it was off to port to catch our boat. We start our cruise today!
[Mom’s note: I just want to jump in here and say how impressed I was with Professor Dimopoulos Said. He was so gracious and kind, very welcoming and knowledgeable. I really appreciated that he took care to show Eli moves that suited his style and his body type. He was an excellent teacher, and very well-suited to communicating with children. I am sure Eli will look forward to having the opportunity to train with him again. He is doing wonderful work to help the sport grow in Greece, and we are happy to support his efforts. Thank you so much Professor for a memorable training session!]