Miriam in Thessaloniki, Greece // 3rd Report

Time flies and now I find myself in the beginning of 2022 with a bit more than 3 monthly left in Greece. Covid is still around and keeps us busy especially with the cold weather. But I guess there are better days to come (Covid-wise), at least when the weather gets warmer again… Hopefully. Since my last report a lot of things happened. I traveled for my voluntary service quite a lot within Europe plus I took some holidays to explore more from Greece. So let me tell you:

At my work in the project management department, I was and still am involved in different international projects within Europe. Those projects are for example about racism, about the support of unemployed youth or about participation of youth in sustainability. Because of my involvement I traveled to Malta, Slovenia and twice to Italy, last autumn. Honestly speaking, 2021 was the year I traveled most so far which is kind of ironic considering there is a pandemic going on. So, this makes it quite special for me including the fact that I have gained huge learning possibilities for my professional but also personal development. That is definitely something I am extremely grateful for. And of course, the sightseeing possibilities that come with those work-related travels s are pretty amazing. Surely, in the morning and afternoon you must attend meetings BUT later on (or sometimes in the lunch break) you can check out the cities or take even some tours there. During those travels the north of Italy impressed me a lot. To be honest, I had some prejudice towards Italian people and Italy itself because of previous experience and because of general stereotypes. Although I was aware of them, I could not make them just to go away… But being several times in Italy and seeing very beautiful Italian cities, meeting very different people, kind of did the job for me.

One of my highlights within the last 3 month was a short road trip to the Peloponnese which is a peninsula in the south-west of Greece. It has a lot of different archeological sites, beautiful nature and beaches and interesting old cities. BUT everything started with a disaster. Originally, I started to plan this trip with 5 friends of mine. We wanted to go to Peloponnese with a big car for one week. Unfortunately, their roommates including one of my friend got covid and ALL of them had to go into quarantine. That happened 2 DAYS BEFORE we wanted to hit the road. I did not have to go into quarantine. That’s why I had to make a decision: To stay or go anyway. I decided to go anyway. I packed my stuff, planned a route and made everything ready to go. Then a surprise happened only hours before I wanted to leave: Another volunteer which I did not have much contact with before joined me because he wanted to visit his friend in Patras (which is on the Peloponnese). This way we ended up travelling together not only to Patras but further on (later with his friend, too). The plan was to enter the Peloponnese through Patras and then go south through Olympia, Nafplio and later leave the Peloponnese through Corinth which is the connection of the peninsula close to Athens.

On our way to Patras we drove from Thessaloniki to the Oracle of Delphi, which is in the north of the Peloponnese. Delphi impressed me a lot. In ancient Greece it was considered as the center of the world and a lot of people went there to get advice… and I can totally understand why people had visions there. It’s a very beautiful place in the middle of the mountain side where the oracle with a lot of different temples was built. From Delphi we had a tough change because Patras is quintessence of a Greek big city… High white square building with several floors lined up at the coast… but you have the see that kind of makes it even and we could park the car directly at a parking lot at the sea (which is indeed a questionable architectural move). But that means the sea was the first thing we saw in the morning :).

Next day  I went on with my journey to the archeological site of Olympia.  It was an interesting day of Flashbacks because I was already there a long time ago when I was 6 years old. I didn’t remember the temples of the Olympian archeological site but I remember the huge amount of vases and mini cooper statues in the museum… that left an impression on me as 6 year old child.(probably an impression of perplexity). Because as child I was not so sure what old broken vases and cooper statues have to do with Olympia the sports event I loved to watch with my parents :D. After Olympia I visited a Greek friend and we went together to Nafplio and then to Corinth. During this week I checked out as well the archeological site of Corinth which is pretty beautiful and as well the castle of Nafplio and Mycenae the palace of Agamemnon… so the trip involved a lot of history, interesting sites and above all beautiful nature. On the downside gong by car through Greece is pretty expensive. The gas is at the moment more expensive than in Germany and the highway cost a lot. On the upside the feeling of freedom while travelling through this country with amazing weather, close to the seaside being able to stop whenever you want to chill a bit on the beach or to have a walk was very beautiful…

And that’s that. Soon after the road trip and some more work meetings winter arrived step by step in Greece and I realized that the majority of my time here is up. But it is good like this. It has been an amazing time so far and I enjoyed every minute but I realized as well that I have some very important people sitting right in Germany.  But before I go there are some last things to come. I can’t wait.

Over and out.

Miriam is hosted by United Societies of Balkans on the project “Global Difference Makers”, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and JUGEND für Europa.