Athens was an anthem of, "I can't believe I'm here. I can't believe I'm here. I can't believe I'm here."
It took two flights from Melbourne, through a night in Singapore, to arrive in Athens in the morning. Back on the road. Everything I needed strapped to my body.
It's hard to describe exactly how good that felt. Conveying how natural the road feels, how complete and content I feel while travelling, isn't easy. It's like you spent your entire life existing in black-and-white and suddenly, you step into a world of colour. Like you blink and a thousand new colours blossom into existence.
I didn't have a plan but I never really do. I thought to stay in Athens a few days and then head elsewhere to see more of Greece. But hostels outside of the city were expensive and getting there seemed confusing and I really, really liked Athens. I booked a bed in an empty hostel where I usually had the room to myself and could spend the evenings chatting with the young man from Mexico who managed the place. His name was Christopher and he had a long love affair with the road. He spent his youth daydreaming about the world but kept falling in love with girls and then he had a baby and then his baby died and he fell in love with another girl until finally, he was not in love. And in that moment, he decided he had to go before he fell in love again.
I could relate. Not to every detail but I understand how love changes things. It makes staying seem worth it. When I was there, sitting in the hallway with Christopher, I had a lover back in Australia. Someone that made staying seem worth it.
But the road the road the road...
Always the road.
I walked for miles and miles every day, waking early to photograph the morning light and then resting through midday and walking again in the evening to find the sunset. My feet hurt, my skin burnt, my mind spellbound. How wild it was to be there, with ancient ruins cresting hilltops and poking out from under grassy mounds, cobbled streets, warm hazelnuts from street vendors, graffiti on the walls, plants crawling out from balconies. I jumped fences to find myself standing beside pillars of stone, a fleshy dwarf next to rocky giants. I took a boat to Agistri island and I should have missed it—I really should have missed it—I have no idea how I made it there in time, wandering to all the wrong terminals and all the wrong boats and finally running in the right direction with a round Greek man shouting "GO GO GO!" with an encouraging, lopsided grin. I walked around that whole goddamn island. I stared into the blue water and breathed in the pine trees and I prayed for figs and then stuffed my pockets when I found them.
One evening, Natasa walked into my hostel and it really didn't feel like we hadn't seen each other in three years, which is almost always a good sign. We were so busy talking that we nearly forgot to eat. The day ended with a big vegan pizza from a restaurant on a hill and free dessert.
The next day, we decided to walk to the ocean. I hadn't seen a sunset in months. On the way, there was this big, wide, long street and on this big, wide, long street were big department stores with big windows and they were technically open for business but all the lights were switched off because they couldn't afford the electricity. Everything looked sort of dusty and dim. A faded green pick-up truck drove down this big street and from it a man on a megaphone was calling out. He was announcing, to anyone who would listen, that he and his partner would buy anything you had—cupboards, drawers, bits and bobs, anything at all, anything you could sell.
C'est la vie.
Again and again, moments took my breath away. Moments stole my breath and then crawled into my lungs, nestled into the spaces between my eyelashes, settled into the corners of my mouth. The sight of a sunset, observed from a flimsy plastic chair with my friend beside as we munched on carrots and cucumbers. The city of Athens at dawn. Standing alone at Acropolis as the sun crested over the mountains and turned a blue dream into a world of golden light. Sun beams over the ocean. An old woman telling Natasa and I to keep fighting for a better world. A horse in the streets, bubbles floating overhead. How lucky lucky lucky this life on the road.
Photographs from October 2017.