The next week flew by with lots of work being put into presentations and papers and in anticipation for VISITORS! Martha (my future roommate in Ann Arbor) and Erin (a friend from a few classes and mutual friends), are studying in Aix-en-Provence for the semester and decided they should visit me for their week-long break. Quite the brilliant decision!
After finally deciding on which island to go to for the 4-day weekend, we were able to book last minute hostel and ferry reservations for Syros, Greece, capital of the Cyclades. We set the journey off on an interesting note: by taking a 7:30, we had to leave my apartment at a bright-eyed 5:30 to leave us enough time to walk to the metro, take it to the bus, get off the bus too early, catch the next one to take us back to the metro, and grab our reserved tickets... Luckily, everything worked out fine, and we were able to take the cruise-ship sized ferry through the sunrise on the Aegean sea.
Our first day on the island, we had a bit of trouble finding our hostel. This was justifiable consider the the directions on the website said to "walk a few meters into the center of the town [Ermoupolis], on your seventh street on the left there will be a big clock and you will see the entrance to the market..." you get the point. However, we did not stress, for we had all the time in the world and decided to make our motto for the trip: every idea is a good idea. One of these ideas was to take the bus across the island to Kini, a beautiful beach town which was almost completely deserted due to our timing. We were able to take a walk along the coast, and eventually found the one open restaurant to have lunch on the water. Participated in the long-awaited siesta and went to a cute seafood restaurant facing the water. I gave Martha and Erin their first experience of a taverna dinner, ordering many of the favorites (tzatziki, bread, greek salad) and a local gem (grilled swordfish). We explored the dark town and climbed up to one of the many beautiful Orthodox churches on the island.
When venturing down again, we learned that there would be a Carnival in the main square, however it ended up being a bunch of little kids dressed up in Halloween costumes, their parents (some dressed up, others not), and Latin music being pumped from huge speakers set up by the DJ controlling it. (We learned that the Greeks don't know how to do the dance to the Macarena... how sad.) Realize we weren't welcome at this party, we went off in search of dinner, and later, a bar to celebrate Erin's 21st birthday! We met a few nice Greek guys but ended up cutting the night short (just an early 3:00am).
One of the views from the big church to the church of the night before and the Aegean Sea Ermoupolis, Sryos: February 13
Saturday was Erin's birthday, and in celebration, collectively, we made a list of 21 things to do on her 21st. These ranged from 'eat breakfast on the roof of the hostel' to 'get a picture on a moped' to 'learn how to say "it's my birthday" in Greek, and tell a Greek person'. By the end of the next day, she had completed 17 things, and those that were left were completely unachievable. We had a big/fancy dinner at a local taverna (one of the things on the list) where Erin and I split grilled stuffed squid, slow roasted lamb with rosemary, and a Greek salad. What a wonderful meal! That night, we took a taxi up the mountain into a separate town called Ano Syros (old syros) where the oldest town on the island is located, and where cars cannot drive in the narrow streets. We weren't sure exactly what was going on there, but from the information we had gathered, it would be some sort of Carnival celebration sometime around 7 or 8. The atmosphere was quite festive; Everyone from kids to grandparents were dressed up in wild and crazy outfits (including quite a bit of cross-dressing), and it felt a cross between Halloween, 4th of July, and a parade party! It would have been a bit more fun if we had known a family who lived up there, because as we walked back from the costume parade (which is what ended up happening), covered in confetti, there were potlucks going on in all the buildings we walked past. This kind of fun family affair is essentially the only thing that has made me miss home.