Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Life of Athens

Full moon over CYA's Academic Center (where all my classes are held), Pangrati, Athens

Often, I avoid writing in my blog thinking it will take a long time, and cause me to miss out on other things. However, once I put off writing, I do more things, and it takes longer to do. So the following is a weeks worth of craziness, and in the future, I will try to update it more often.

Last weekend, Athens was lucky enough to have a few warm days. According to my standards, it was beautiful, and I was able to sit outside and read one of the days, and wear a sundress and sandals without being too chilly the other. The Greeks, however, were still wearing their fur coats, and gave me looks as if I was crazy. Little do they know...

In front of the Stadium on a beautiful spring day, Pangrati, Athens, January 30

Classes are finally starting to pick up. After the first few days of background material, we are getting into the subject material such as the funeral games and Olympics (for my Ancient Greek Athletics class) and the Greek origin story (for Mythology and Religion). However, where there is interesting material to learn, there are also projects and papers. I, mistakenly, signed up for presentations in two of my classes at the very beginning of the semester and have two papers which closely follow these presentations. At least the subjects are interesting: Artemis and Pelops for the presentations, and comparing a different origin story with that of the Greeks for my paper.

I went out with Lily and Liz the other day for drinks at a swanky bar in Kolonoki. Had a fun time, but I doubt we'll go back considering how insanely expensive the drinks were. We're starting to figure out this whole night life scene of Athens. Nobody dances... ever. If there are people dancing, it's the Americans with the Greeks standing around the borders of the dance floor nodding their heads. Also, there is no point in going unless you get there after about 1:30 or 2 and stay till 5 or so. As you can imagine, I cannot compete with this lifestyle very much, and often resort to staying in. (By often, I'm comparing myself to many of the other study abroad kids who go out 5 nights of the week or so.)

The Greeks make up this nightlife by drinking coffee... lots and lots of coffee. There is a whole art devoted to the process of making and drinking the coffee. Frappes, blended NesCafe (instant coffee) with a small amount of ice, milk, and lots of sugar, should be sipped very slowly and the last inch should be left at the end (which is better to do, since it's a bitter froth). Then, of course, there is the traditional Greek (also known as Turkish) Coffee sometimes found in the States. This is almost like an espresso, but made with a TON of sugar, and the grounds are left at the bottom. Needless to say, one is not supposed to drink all of it unless wanting to consume the bitter grounds. This should also be sipped slowly over long conversation debating politics and football (soccer to us Americans).

To supplement my eating, traveling, drinking, and socializing habits, I am getting a job busing in a fancy restaurant a block away from school. The restaurant put a call out for two girls to come in, and my roommate, Joyce, and I were the first two to reply! We'll be going in for a test run sometime this week. It won't be much, but at least we'll get tips and a meal! After we met the owner, I headed over to my weekly marble-carving class. Got to work on my marble for the first time! By the end of the class, I had 80% of the outline chipped away by hammer and chisel, a numb thumb and forefinger, and a sore arm and shoulder for the next four days.

Last Thursday was Tsiknopempti which translates into "smoked day" or "eat meat day." All of Greece goes out to Tavernas (small, family owned restaurants) and does exactly as the name suggests: eats a LOT of grilled and smoked meats. According to Orthodox tradition, it is the last day to eat meat until Lent is finished with the Resurrection on Easter. However, in current times, people eat meat up until Lent, and then go meat-less until the end of Lent. Regardless, I went with a group of 19 of our closest friends to a cute Taverna on between our apartment and school. Great food including, tzatziki, french fries (which they serve with EVERYTHING), fried cheese, fried zucchini and eggplant, mint and lamb balls, chicken in a cinnamon tomato sauce, greek salad, and grilled lamb. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but it was delicious! And to finish off the fun affair, at the end of the meal the waitress gave us streamers to throw at each other and across the table. Quite the festive event!

Group at the taverna for Tsiknopempti, Pangrati, Athens, February 4

And, because this blog is sooooo long already, I'll talk about Saturday's field trip, and Sunday's superbowl-ness in the next blog.

A little teaser for the next post: Me at Sounio, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea from the Temple to Poseidon

Thanks for reading this far, I hope to make them shorter for all of you in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Long is fine...after all you are doing so much. Cool about the job. Some extra jingle in the pocket is always handy. Love your description of the marble sculpting...I always wondered if it was tiring. Maybe it gets easier when you get to the fine detail work :)
    That taverna party sounds great...all the food except the french fries.