Monday, June 28, 2010

My Big, Fat, Greek..Bachelor party?

My travels in Greece have taught me, a very Type A, organized person, who likes to make to-do lists and organize calendars, an important lesson. In the relaxed world of the typical Greek lifestyle, I am embracing my downtime. Time without homework, studying for the next exam and extracurriculars is a welcome change. Life with this new laid-back attitude has also brought spontaneity into my life. Three of my friends and I embarked on a ferry from Paros to Syros on Friday night. Vacationing from one island to another is such a hard life. Before departure, I didn’t know much about Syros or what it had to offer. I didn’t have a list of attractions to see or even the name of a hotel to stay the night. However, yet again the hospitality of the Greeks arose to the occasion. Arriving on the island, we were greeted by groups and groups of hotel and hostel owners trying to vie for our attention and our euros to stay at their place. After getting an offer of $12.50 euro a night at a hotel, we agreed. At the hotel, a woman settled us into our room. As a woman aged no more than 30 years, she knew we were here to have a fun girls’ night. So she brought us a radio from her own house next door to our room to accommodate us. Then after we complimented her nails, she told us she went to cosmetology school and offered to do ours the next day. This proved to be a good start to a great night. Then a taxi driver drove us back into town to his favorite taverna. There, I indulged in amazing lamb chops with a side sauce of mustard and a taste of my friend’s grilled octopus. We toured the shops and the square before looking for a taste of the nightlife.

As we passed a bakery to use the WC, the employee stopped us to ask us where we were from and what we were doing in Greece. After answering his questions, he offered us something sweet. We didn’t even buy anything, but the native Athenian, relocated to Syros, wanted to extend his welcome to the Americans visiting his country. This is just another example of Grecian hospitality. After this pleasant surprise, we continued on to explore the town and find a bar. Little did we know, what we entered was a bachelor party. The interesting thing about this bachelor party was that it included multiple generations. There were both men and women from both families (the bride and the groom) from the ages approximately 18 to 80. The people were enjoying food and drink at a local bar near the port. Furthermore, not only was the party open to women of the family and even the bride, but as strangers, my three friends and I were invited to stay after we realized we unknowingly crashed their pre-wedding celebration. Throughout the night, they motioned us to join the circle to dance with them. And they also gave us shots to partake in shooting Yamas to the couple and their new life ahead of them. This experience as well as the fire-jumping at the Midsummer Night’s Eve celebration showed me how celebrations in Greece are not about exclusivity but inclusivity. The Greeks I have met like to include everyone, even non-Greeks, in their celebration. It is about community and sharing. The welcoming attitude keeps the people together. In America, if you had crashed such a family affair, even accidentally, it would not be taken well. You would be at least kindly asked to leave and given a “look.” However, in Greece, it was just more people to celebrate with and taken with a more the merry the attitude. Not only did they let us stay, but they even welcomed us to celebrate with them. It was also surprising that the wedding was at 7 am the night after the celebration. Despite the early start of the wedding, the Greeks, of all ages, continued to party until 3 am. This showed me another interesting aspect of the culture. Greeks tend to stay up later, start their day later and compensate with a siesta. It also showed me the Greeks know how to have a good time even as they get older!

The days of Syros consisted of two days of complete relaxation. We walked to the beach from our hotel and stopped by the mini market and bakery for snacks. Then Dora, Amanda, Rachel and I had lunch at a restaraunt overlooking the water. The last dinner I had in Syros was a pork gyros and a greek salad on the water at the port. After we paid, the water gave us free vanilla gelato and brownies! We returned late at night to Paros. I was suprised at 11 pm on a Sunday the shops were bustling! Earlier that day, when my friends and I came back into town early to shop in Syros, nothing was open. Suprising how the Greeks schedule the shop hours. Off to class tonight, stay tuned for more on island life later!

Fire Burning, Fire Burning on the Dance Floor

Yea, I jumped this fire. No, seriously, I did! I went right through it.

The men in the boats bringing in the fire to light the bonfire.
My shrimp pasta had the WHOLE shrimp including the head.

The girls at dinner. Our table was on a dock over the water.

The sunset at dinner on Midsummer Night's Eve.

Today, we did service learning on the beaches picking up trash. This class so far is basically a tour of all the best beaches in Paros. We travel to each beach, pick up trash and take swim breaks. This helps the community and we have a great time. Later we’ll work on the marpissa paths.

Every time I think I have had the best dinner or seen the most gorgeous sights and beaches in the world, Greece surprises me with something even better. The Ferangas beach today was gorgeous. My new favorite sound is the crystal clear waves hitting the pebbles and rocks on the beach. The foamy waves crash onto the shore, roll the rocks back into the ocean and create a soothing rattling sound. At the Ferangas beach, the bartender gave us free frappes in appreciation of us cleaning up the beach. At another beach, a woman stopped and asked questions about who we were? Where we were from? Was this our countries idea to send us here on our holiday to help clean Greece? The hospitality and generosity of the Greeks continues to surprise me.

We returned to the aliki beach, where we cleaned earlier, to celebrate Midsummer Night’s Eve. All over Europe, there were celebrations. On Paros, they celebrate wth fire jumping. You jump the fire three times for good luck in the next year. The celebration started out with a traditional Greek dance. The first one was a syrtos. This dance is in a circle. The person on the end has their hand on their hip. The second type of dance was a ballos. This is a “couple’s dance.” The circle breaks up and groups dance together.

After the dance, there were boats that carried red, shining torches onto the beach to symbolize it was time to lit the bonfire. After the bonfire was lit, the real festivities began. All of the kids were very enthusiastic, and crowded around the fire. There was no hesitation as the little boys hurried to jump the biggest fire. After a good amount of the younger boys went through, my classmates and I gained the courage to try. I was slightly worried looking at the flame (see above) but it was an adrenaline rush! It wasn’t even overtly hot. It felt like you walked by a fireplace. I continued jumping my three times for good luck and cheered on my friends. Also at the celebration, in typical Greek fashion, was food and drink. They even handed it out to the people free. There was the best octopus I have ever had. Granted I have only had it once before, but it was pretty good. I also had a dish of shrimp spaghetti at the restaurant nearby. Also at the festivities was soma, a type of Greek moonshine. After experiencing the night’s festivities, I felt like I was beginning to get a view into the real Greek lifestyle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Day in Paros

The entryway to Hotel Aegean Village. My new home for four weeks.

Patio to the apartment. Check out those grapes!

This is a typical street in Paros. The streets are gorgeous. The stones on the sidewalk are lined in whitewash to catch the moon light and reflect it at night.

Arriving in Paroikia, Paros, I was greeted unexpectedly by a crowd of hotel owners flailing to catch me as a customer. I kept walking by them looking for Susan Sutton, my professor. After meeting at the windmill, she led us to Hotel Aegean Village, where I am staying for the next four weeks. The island is quite a throwback from living in the big city. Athens was dirty, marked with grafitti and full of stray dogs, cats and people. There was water dripping from the upper balconies and puddles on the street. You couldn't make it half a day without having to wash your feet.

Paros seems more like fantasy than reality. Quaint streets of white washed buildings, none over 3 stories as mandated by law, are highlighted with blue shutters and doors. Occassionally, you’ll see red and once even a hot pink door. The streets are all made of stonework, which is traced in whitewash to catch the moonlight at night. The Hotel Aegean also is accented with grapes over the terrace, as well as olive trees and other fruits. The apartment is much smaller than the one in Athens, but the courtyard and the building itself is charming. It is also nicer to be closer to my classmates. A good number of them are also in the Hotel Aegean Village. After a brief orientation, we were treated to a feast.

Just when I think that I have had the best meal of my life, I am yet again surprised. One gift on being on an island is the seafood. An advocate of sea food by early exposure to sea food on the east coast, I am always eager to have good sea food. Living in the Midwest now makes this a rariety. The dinner started with tsatziki and bread followed with Greek salad. Then they brought out their house salad. It was topped with gold fish just like at mother bear’s! It also had a sweet vinagrette that tasted like a mix of raspberry and vinagrette. We were then treated to these tomato puffs, meatballs and French fries. It just kept coming with a dish of sautéed mushrooms, that were perfectly flavored and covered in butter. Then eggplant dish was brought out after being marinaded in a sweet balsamic. For the sea food component, we had a type of fish salad, which was cooked and served with a mustard sauce on the side. Also, we had deep fried calamari, which was perfectly complemented by the tsatziki dip. It was a dining experience of a lifetime. Eating all these gourmet food, overlooking the Aegean sea. Although, it is not the Greek way to have sweets after dinner, we were served honey puffs, dripping with honey and cinammon. Despite this smorgasboard which most likely is gaining on my waistline, it is said that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world. This could be attributed to the use of olive oil, a monosaturated fat.

This first dinner won me over on day 1 that life on the island was going to be good. Later that night, Rachel, Amanda and I went out on the by the shore. The waves were hitting the rocks harder at night and the moon shone over the waters. We shared a pineapple drink. We enjoyed our tropical drinks seaside in the company of a Los Angeles fellow, a guy from Finland and a Paros native. The Paros native who sported eccentric red and green hair was an interesting character.

In our first class we learned some statistics that put Greece in perspective. I included the following from our lecture if you are interested: Greece is 1 ½ times the size of Indiana. It has 10 million residents, of which 1/3 resides in Athens. There are 13,000 residents in Paros year round. Greece is in the South East corner of Europe on the Balkan penisula. Paros is one of the Cycladic Islands of Greece. Cycladic is a reference to the circular formation. This island has the charm of the old world. Cars are not allowed in the “old part” of the town and are relatively scarce overall. Susan also lectured on the natural setting of Greece and three components of the climate: sun, mountains and the sea. In the Mediterranean climate, there are cool, rainy waters and hot, dry summers. The average summer temperature is 80s and winter is 40s. The terrain has 80% mountains. The coastline is 9,000 miles and 2,000 islands of which 170 are inhabited daily.

The second night we went out to watch the Greece V Argentina game. It was great since we were so close to the water edge we were practically on the rocks. Everyone got snacks for the game. I had a great crab sandwhich with oregano chips. Most other people got crepes or beers and nuts. Aliza got a great chocolate-strawberry crepe. The others watching the game were mostly natives. We were surrounded by enthusiastic Greek men fans cheering the team on. Unfortunately, Greece lost the game. It became very quiet everywhere when Argentina scored the two goals. No one even kept up the conversation. The night finished off with a peaceful night in the courtyard with my new friends.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm on a Boat

The view from the back of the Ferry.

The view of an island from the ferry.

The last night in Athens was a good way to cap off my four weeks of experience in the city. We found a picture perfect taberna two streets up from our apartment. The owner as usual haggled our group of five girls and one guy into the restaurant, but this Greek man was the most persuasive salesman. He offered us the college student dinner. As a father of two daughters also studying abroad, he had empathy for us in a foreign country. He said he wants his daughters to be treated like this so he was going to feed us right. For 10 euro, it was all you can eat of a variety of foods! The waiters, despite their lack of English, proved to be as sweet as the restaurant owner. We were served bread, tsatziki, garlic bread, spring rolls (phillo with ham and cheese inside), zucchini balls mmmm, breki mezdes, saganki, Greek salad, and watermelon and melon plate for dessert. The wine they gave us was very sweet and strong, so we didn’t have a lot of it. However, the waiters kept pouring more into our cups so we would stay longer. The dinners here are so integral to the culture. That, combined with my affinity for food, explains why almost every post includes something about our meals. One aspect of the food culture is that they eater later. When we are finishing up eating, is about the time that the native Greeks begin eating. Their meals also last longer and involve hours of conversation, mingling and lingering. The abundance of food at dinner makes up for their scant breakfast of frappe, cigarette and maybe a pastry. I trade that in for a fredduccino and spanakopita if I get breakfast. Most of the time I hold out until our lunch at the school cafeteria. The hospitality of the restaurant owner was a good end to my experience with native Athenians. Sam Southworth and I walked Andrew back to his apartment. After such a huge dinner, a walk in a cool Athens night was just what I needed. A long walk made the nights rest more like a nap before Sam Bruni and I woke up to catch our ferry in Piraeus. I was surprised at how smoothly and efficiently catching a taxi to Piraeus for 15 euro was as well as buying my tickets, storing our luggage in cargo and finding our seats. We had nice travel companions sitting next to us. There was a language barrier between a middle aged Greek woman and a stereotypical Greek grandmother but they managed to strike up a conversation. For a conversation based mainly on gesticulations and my limited Greek, it was fairly successful. We covered that I am from Chicago, a student studying in Paros and I like food. My favorite part when they pointed to my ring finger and asking about if I had a boyfriend/significant other. This was pretty amusing. The grandmother was sweet and cut me pieces of her apple and gave me candy. Sam didn’t accept it, but the grandmother tried to insist. The view from the ferries is gorgeous as well. The islands are gorgeous, the water is a shade of blue incomparable to any other shade I have seen and the skies are clear. I land in an hour in Paros and look forward to my anthropology class. I look forward to gaining even more insight and knowledge of the food, islands and people.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot town, Summer in the City: Last Weekend in Athens

A picture of the guards marching to Syntagma for the hourly changing of the guard. I love watching them march in their uniforms and wooden shoes that they clack together.

This is a close up of the "winds" of the Tower of the Winds. This monument is a water clock decorated with figures representing different winds. The colder winds have on shoes and jacket, but the warm winds, like the south, have no shoes and are dressed lighter.

I love this picture. This is a column from the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.

This is one of my favorite monuments. This picture features the temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens with the Acropolis in the background. This temple was finished by Hadrian in Roman Imperial fashion with Corinthian style columns. It is even bigger than the Parthenon!

The view of the Acropolis from the Pnyx, where the Athenian Assembly met.

Heart mosaics that I saw in the Roman Agora.

A herme at Olympic Stadium. There was a young man's face on one side, and an older man's face on this side. This is a symbol for the god Hermes. They were placed on crossroads and country borders for protection of travelers.

This is me sitting in the regal seats in the Olympic Stadium with the view of the Olympic Symbols in the background.

This is me in letters, standing at the pnyx, with a view of the acropolis in the background.

Time flies in the big city. The past four weeks feel like they have gone by faster than I have ever felt time pass. There has been so much to do and so much to see, the days and nights run together. I haven't been diligent in keeping up this blog because I have been so occupied and therefore its been almost a week since I have last written!

There is so much that I have learned and observed that it is hard to record it all or even recount everything that I know now. From the small things like the social nuances, reading the signs in Greek, learning how to use the public transportation system to the academic things like learning the history of the agora and the construction of the Acropolis, I have gained so much experience from this time in Athens. But as much as I liked Athens, I am ready to go spend my time in Paros and see the islands. I think I will like the island life better. Athens is nice, but it is a bit dirty and sketch in some areas. As my friend Ben said in his facebook status," goodbye Athens-monuments, hagglers, hobo dogs, brotos, 1.80 E. gyros, CYA, cars that'll wake you up at any notice, and peeps that I met."

There were a couple things I was suprised about being in Athens though. It seems like the people here are very nice and really promote the idea of xenia, a host relationship that treats those who are far away from home as friends. The natives are very helpful to tourists. Even if they don't speak English, they attempt to draw pictures to help us find our destination. Some Athenians even bought us wine and prepared us food. There may be a lot of hagglers, which I am not a fan of pushy salesman even in the States, but sometimes you can get a good deal. Although, the waiters and shop keepers are more pushy than I'd like. Some of them are pretty clever though. One waiter had the line "this table is for models, this table is for supermodels, you girls sit with at the table for supermodels." Once the boys got free water, wine, bread, dessert and 10% off! I have not gotten any deals that good but I have gotten my fair share of desserts and drinks. The other thing I was suprised about is that I encountered some examples of racism. They are not too fond of some asians, like my friend Ben seemed to be treated a little less well than us. And even more blatant racism was when a restraunt owner turned away a black people from eating there, winked at us and said we don't serve them here.

It is also interesting how the unions operate here. The metro system has been down since Thursday and will be through Tuesday of next week. This is really inconvenient because then it is difficult and a lot more expensive to get around. If you can't take the metro to Piraeus, the port city, you need to take a taxi. The taxi isn't cheap but I need to go to Piraeus Monday to catch my ferry to Paros.

In terms of class this week, we visited the Olympic Stadium, Lysicrates Monument, the slopes of the Acropolis, the Pnyx (where the Athenian assembly met( and did a tour of Roman and later Athens. Then we also toured the Numismatic Museum (Heinrich Schliemann's House) and the Benaki Museum. The Olympic Stadium was neat because we could sit in the seats. We also walked around the track and in the tunnel where the athletes came out. It is pretty cool being able to say my apartment was right next to the Olympic Stadium. The Lysicrates Monument was erected by the choregos patron Lysicrates for the first prize play judged in the Festival of Dionysus around 334 BC. The rich persons could be exempt from taxes if they sponsored plays in the festival.

The slopes of the acropolis we saw the theater of Dionysus. Here the plays of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus were performed. That was pretty awesome to sit in the same seats as the spectators of those original plays. The pnyx was interesting to see because it had a great view of the acropolis. The last couple days were spent writing my term paper and preparing for the final exam. After that, a relaxing weekend ensued. My friends and I went to Lake Voliagemni Beach and spent the day. Sadly, I am extremelllly burned. Turns out a pale, swedish blonde + only 15 spf sunscreen + mediterranean sun =burn kate :( Nevertheless, it was a relaxing day. Tomorrow, I will be packing and departing for Paros! stay tuned for life on the islands and check fbook for more pictures.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Corinth and Perachora

Ancient Greeks offered copies of whatever ailed them to the gods. These copies were so good that doctors were able to look and them and offer a potential diagnosis. There were copies of legs with displaced knees, arms, hands with arthritis, feet, breasts and male reproductive organs. Breasts could be difficulty with lactating or cancer. The male reproductive organs most likely were due to fertility problems.

The girls and boys doing the sorority squat in front of the temple at Corinth.

The fountain house and other remains at Corinth.

Rachel, Cassandra and I in front of the beautiful waters of Perachora

Look at how pretty the water is! If you look closely, you can see the sea urchins. But you want to stay away from them, since they are prickly.

This is the bema where Paul spoke to the Corinthians.

Firday we visited Corinth and Perachora. This day was especially interesting since it gave us such good insight into the career of archaeology. That day we were allowed to go on-site where they were digging. This is also riveting since Corinth is longest continually excavated site. The dig began in 1890. Guy Sanders, a famous archaeologist trained at Princeton and Harvard, gave us a tour and a talk. What was especially entertaining about Guy Sanders' talk was when he was talking about the bodies they excavated. For example, in one area they found an abundance of older men. Therefore, they labeled that as a graveyard behind a monastery. The most intriguing body he discussed was marked with thick, bowlegged legs (indicates he was a horsemen), wear on the right shoulder (fought with his right arm), and his fingers cut off. This means he probably died in battle and put his hands up in defense. It sounds like a fun job to interpret these findings, kinda like forensic anthropology. Guy Sanders also informed us how they figured out the plan of the town. For example, they determined one shop was a fast food joint of sorts because the abundance of chicken bones.

Another archaeologist gave us a tour. This archaeologist focused more on buildings and pottery. He told us more about the lay of the land in relation to the plans of the city. My favorite part was seeing the bema, where supposedly Paul addressed the Corinthians! Our professor walked us around the site, and then onto another musuem. This one was interesting because it showed artifacts of copies of human reproductive organs, legs, arms, feet, hands etc.. Apparently, ancient greeks offered copies of what ailed them and offered them in gods in asking for healing. Then in Perachora, we saw the temple of Hera Liminea.

After our day trip, we returned to Athens. My room mates Justine, Anita and I went out on the town for dinner that night. Anita (who is Indian) brought up how she missed Indian food. We then decided how good Indian food sounded. After some googling, a trip on the metro and walking about, we found the restaurant. We had parathas ( a type of Indian bread) with chutney in three different flavors including tomato, onion and ginger (my favorite since it was sweet). We had chicken curry for our entree. There was also hummus as an appetizer. For dessert, we went to get gelato. I had hazelnut and caramel gelato.

Side note: While I am on the topic of food. The next day we had the best pork souvlaki ever at Savas Cafe at the end of Mitropoleos St. Soooo good. Also, that day I had watermelon and mint gelato. Interesting combination, but I'm always a fan of gelato :)

Next blog: features the stadium, theaters, lysicrates monument, slopes of the Acropolis and the Pnyx.

I can't believe I only have three more days in Athens!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Visiting the Mysteries of Eleusis, Trip to the Agora, Riding down to Piraeus

Me at the Gypsy castle of Eleutherae

An example of a funerary statue relief.

They had the tablet which centralized the standard measures for feet, arms and hands. Sam K. is shown here comparing herself to it.

The yachts are shown in the dock here.

This week has gone by so fast. The days and nights are blurred together with fantastic sights and memories. I can’t believe there is only one week left in Athens before I move to Paros for the second summer session. Monday was lecture in the classroom but Tuesday was another day trip. We journeyed to West Attica and saw Eleusis, Eleutherae and Aegosthena. This was the best class ever. Any class that ends with hours of swimming in the gulf of Corinth is pretty baller.

Eleusis is one of the leading towns in Attica. It is important because it is a great religious center known for the "mysteries of Eleusis." The Eleusian Mysteries are not completely clear but are connected to Demeter. It is also the birthplace of Aeschylus, a famous tragedian.

Eleusis seems to be independent city of Athens, seperated by a plain, but is an Athenian cult. We saw the temple at Eleusis, then we ventured to Eleutherae. Here we saw one of the best preserved Greek fortresses and the gypsy castle. That day we had great food. We made spanakopita, penne and marinara supplemented with olive oil, tziki, feta and bread. For dessert, I had a great chocolate bar, which had chocolate ice cream on the inside and was coated in orange chocolate.

The next day, Wednesday, we went to the Agora. The agora is a market, which is more or less equivalent to a Roman Forum. The Agora was built in 150 BC after Alexander the Great dies. Athens was the center of philosophy and educations. Princes of royal houses would come here to study and later donate to the city. The Stoa of Attolis is an example of an "alumni gift." Here we had the behind scenes tour by John Camp at the Stoa of Attolis. We were able to go in storage and see the remains of bodies they found in the area as well as amphoras. It was interesting to learn that one is able to identify the trade routes by looking at the amphoras (which hold material such as oil) and other remaining pottery and dating the pieces.

Thursday, we took a trip to Piraeus via the metro and saw the museum there. Piraeus could be thought of the other part of a dumbell with Athens at the other end. They are both part of a greater area, seperate but connected. Pireaus is the port city. This is where we took the ferry to Crete and where one takes a ferry to the other islands as well. This was a leisurely walk through the city and the museum. It wasn't that intense of a history lesson, but there were a few key monuments. It was cool to see all the ships in the port. Stay tuned to hear more about my trip on Friday to Corinth and Perachora as well as my last week of classes in Athens!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Prophesies at Oracles of Delphi and Capturing the Minotaur at Crete

The Oracle of Delphi

It says Kate!

Dolphin fresco in the Queen's rooms

Me in front of the Bull Horns

The Oracle of Delphi involved more walking than expected but well worth it. If you were an athlete competing in the pithian games, you would have to walk all the way up the mountain and then expected to run races on top of that! The bros and I gave high fives to all the elementary school kids on the way up the mountain. Small world, we met a group from valpo university. Half way around the world, and we met someone from Indiana! There was a group of students from Valpo University. We also saw the omphalos, which supposedly if you touch it it is a gurantee to come back to Athens. We also saw the treasury of Athens, the actual temple where they got prophesys, and the track at the top where they held the Pithian games. The boys in our class held a foot race to reenact it.

This past weekend, we took a trip to Crete. We took an overnight ferry, which was difficult to sleep in those chairs but most convenient. We arrived in Crete at 6 am to a dead town but a beautiful sunset overlooking the lighthouse and the bay. The group had omelets and sweet frappes before making the trek on a 3 hr bus ride to the palace of Knossos. Being geeky classics majors, we were persistent to make it there even though it was a longer commute than we thought! There were a lot of german tourists. I felt at home with the tall blondes, and got to break out my awesome german. I even said danka to someone who took our picture.

The ruins were more restored than I would like, but it was still good to see. On the way back, we discovered chocolate croissants at kiosks that were soo good. After returing to Chania, the port city, we decided to swim. The beach was cold and there were sun showers but the gorgeous white sands and mountain views were more than enough compensation. So far Crete is my favorite. I am partial to the islands more than Athens.

The guy at the restraunt we ate at in Crete suprisingly said hola to us. He gave us free shots of raki at the end. Overall best weekend so far. The girls and I went shopping in plaka. For souvenirs, I bought got ouzo and shot glasses, a blackberry tie for my Dad and worry beads.

We also found this wonderful place where they sold knockoff designer purses. One of the workers went to university of Indianapolis. I got an italian designer purse and a burberry wallet with my bag purchase. After our sucessful shopping endeavors, we had fredduchinos with the view of temple of hephaestion, stoa of attopolis, acropolis and Parthenon. On the way back to the apartment, we walked through syntagma and saw Athens beach volleyball golden cup. Later, we went out to the bars. At the bars we ran into a group of Delta Chis from Georgia Tech. The social chair introduced himself as the ADPi sweetheart and was super excited to meet us. Then he and I exchanged the dchi handshake and took adpi/dchi pictures. What a small world! Tomorrow should bring more adventure with a day trip to Eleusis!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The National Museum, Acropolis, Acropolis Museum

Ben in front of the Mycenean Golden Cups

Me in front of the Parthenon

The Golden Mask of Agamemnon

In my short time here, I have learned much more than my lectures in class. After being exposed to the modern city of Athens, I am enlightened about Greek culture. My eyes have been opened to the ancient history of Greece as well as the character of the modern people, the character of the city of itself and even the food. To start simply, the food is quite good. I will go through feta and olive oil withdrawals when I arrive home for sure. The dinners come in several courses starting with salad, a variety of appetizers and a meat dish. The salads here are made of feta, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes. You know it isn’t Greek if it has lettuce. I was surprised French fries and fried zucchini are a common appetizer here. Others include spinach, saganaki, tzatziki and bread. The tzatziki is an amazing cucumber, yogurt dip. Saganaki is a fried cheese that they light on fire. The main dishes I have had are lamb chops, souvlaki and breke mezedes. Souvlaki is very good and made of meat grilled on a skewer. Breke mezdes is a pork stew with a hint of cinnamon. Another good dish is moussaka. I think of it like Greek lasagna, but made with eggplant, tomatoes, olive oil, herbs and spices, and meat.

Most of the people here are very friendly and willing to teach you a few basic words of Greek. Less people speak English here than in Italy though, and it can be difficult occasionally to communicate or get directions. The language barrier can be daunting when you are trying to figure out the streets and signs and menus since it is a different alphabet. It is useful to have a classmate that speaks fluent Greek because it saves us from cheating waiters who falsely promise us free things to eat at their restaraunt! That is a big thing here. All the waiters from each restaurant try to stop you and convince you to eat at there. They tell you their food is better than anyone else’s. The people in business here are very pushy.

It has been a dream to visit here. The classics major geek that I am, the sight of all these artifacts and ruins thrill me. I can’t believe I am seeing these sculptures, buildings and ruins that I learned about since seventh grade in person. I remember sitting in seventh grade in Mrs. Hatch’s Ancient History class and learning about the Golden Mask of Agamemnon. To see it in person among other great and renowned works at the National Museum is almost inconceivable. The acropolis and acropolis museum was equally amazing. We even got to go behind the scenes of the propylaia of the Acropolis during class and lectured by one of the leading archaeologist.