Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day #1: Introductory Walk and Climbing Mt. Lycabettus

Today was our first day of class. We met at 10 am outside the academic center to begin our journey. Our Professor led us on an introductory walk to the neighborhood. He showed to us several practical places to know such as the grocery, a euro exchange and a bakery. We also passed an outdoor theatre that plays the newly released American movies with Greek subtitles.

The main feature of the trip was to climb Mt. Lycabettus. This mountain in the middle of Athens gives you the best vantage point to view the city. There were some interesting flora and fauna on the way up such as pine trees and huge agava plants (the ones that you put on you if you get a sunburn). At the top of the mountain, there was a church to Saint George and a restraunt, which would have cost a small fortune to eat there. The church was quaint but still beautiful. The pray offering candles smelled very good, like honey.

Interior/Altar of the Church of St. George.

The restaraunt near St. George.

Here is the church of St. George.

The view from the top of the mountain. Here you can see the Acropolis.

The group then continued onto Syntagma Square, meaning the Constitution Square. This was named for the Constitution King Otto was forced to sign in 1843 after a riot by the people. It is still a popular place for political demonstrations. And, as expected with the turbulent economic times in Greece, there was a riot as we walked by. We saw the tomb of the unknown soldier and the palace built by King Otto, where now the prime minister or president resides.

Another great feature of the day was our Traverna dinner. Our class went to dinner with our professor to have an introduction to the food. For our appetizers we had fries, fried zucchini, deep fried meatballs (spiced with the secret ingredient of mint), Greek salad and breki mezes, known as the "drunkard's snack." The last was my favorite. It was a pork dish flavored with cinammon. The main course featured meats such as lamb, chicken and pork. The night was finished with a stroll around the city.

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