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.