Sunday, September 30, 2007

Today was one the best days I've had in Greece. We all piled in the van and Kosta [Elias's son] drove us an hour away to Lindos. Lindos is a little tourist-y, as are most beautiful places in Greece. The beach was packed; for some reason we see German tourists everywhere, and a few of the people who taught us in Dion studied German in college. I was unaware of the Greece/Germany relation. I wonder if there are a lot of Greek tourists in Germany? Perhaps.

Anyway, we walked past the beaches to the area with the cliffs and went cliff jumping. Well, I jumped off the tiny one, it was only about 15 feet. There was a 20 or 30 foot one, and 4 of the boys jumped off the 70 foot one. THAT was cool to watch, but a little scary when one of the boys jumped and didn't stay together, he just sort of flailed around. We had sandwiches with BACON for lunch [bacon as Americans know it is impossible to find here. They just cut ham into the shape of bacon].

We spent all day swimming and jumping and taking pictures. The water wasn't like the water in the Carribbean, it was this unreal blue-green. You could see straight down, probably like 20 feet to the bottom. Amazing. I'm going to sleep so hard tonight, I can't wait.

Charlotte, Lauren, Margot, Jenna, Athena and I went into Rhodes city the other day to get laundry done & explore. It reminded me a little bit of Newport; cleaner than the other cities I've seen, not as insane, but still somewhat tourist-y. We looked around the shops a bit before they closed at 2 [siesta is turning out to be really annoying] and then had pizza and sangria at Pizza Hut, which was a HECK of a lot more expensive than it is in the states. We racked up a 54 euro bill, which is...I don't know, probably something like $70 or $80. Ridiculous. But tasty.

So now there's 3 cats who roam around our house and as of recently, a rottweiler & something mutt.

Oh and I finally have my address! In case anyone wants to send me letters. Or American magazines [Jane or Bust, preferably]. Or my Harry Potter 7. Or peanut butter. Or Corn Pops. Or a movie [Almost Famous, any Harry Potter, Monty Python's the Meaning of Life, etc.], Or anything, really. I love mail.

Maggie Sullivan

Soroni Apartments
Paideia Program
care of: Maria Tomazos


Soroni, Rhodes, Greece
TK 85106

Right now I'm sitting with Allen and we're listening to Usher because the other boys are gone so they won't make fun of him.

I was going to post pictures but it doesn't seem to be working. Another time. I should probably go to bed soon because I have the torture that is 8am Byzantine Art History. Intro to Greek Mythology is excellent though. Send me mail!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

from Rhode Island to Rhodes Island

We're finally here. Our apartment/room is nice enough. We have a balcony, a tiny bathroom and a little kitchen area, but no oven so we're a little limited as to what we can cook. They give us groceries once a week of bread, meat, cheese, cups, cereal, milk, juice, and a giant jar of nutella, naturally.

We have internet, but it's two blocks away in a room. It's literally just a room on the street with tables and chairs and a wireless connection. Strange.

It's so nice to not be living out of a suitcase.

A bunch of us went to the beach today. It's rocky, but really nice, and literally about 2 minutes from our house.

I'm sort of sick right now, but Tylenol cold & sinus is keeping me functioning.

I thought I had time to write a longer entry, but I just realized I should be eating dinner in about 4 minutes, so I guess not.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

sketchville, gr. population: me

Sadly, none of our hotels have been as nice as Delphi was. Our hotel in Olympia was semi-sketchy and not very appealing. There was a pool on the roof that looked like it was last cleaned on the 17th of never. We were only there for one night though, so that wasn't too bad.

We were supposed to be in Sparta for 2 nights, and Athens for one but they switched it around. Our hotel in Sparta was really nice, I slept like a rock [finally] which was strange considering the bed was wood, concrete, wood, matteress.

Today we left Sparta early to go to Mycenae, Nemea, and...some place else with a huge theatre that I can't remember the name of. Very hot, and lots of travelling. We also saw the oldest structure in Europe, the Lion Gate at Mycenae.

We're now in Athens, and it's living up to the title of "Dirtiest city in Europe." It's dirty, sketchy and hotel is gross. It looks over a bunch of trash and other cement buildings. Here's part of a review of our hotel I found online.

This is a poor excuse for a hotel. Small, cramped rooms...the furniture, carpeting and walls were well worn and dirty. For the most part it was easier to walk the seven floors than to take a chance on the elevator that seldom, if ever, worked. Lots of drugs being dealt in the open around the front of the hotel with dazed teens slumping against the wall or laying on the sidwalk. The staff was surly and unhelpful and could care less if they waited on you or not.

Welcome to La Mirage. Apparently the mirage is a decent hotel. Another one said that others they stayed with got itchy from the dusty blankets & assumed dust mites. Gross. I want to sleep on my luggage.

We can't wait to get to Rhodes. They bring us to the airport 6pm Friday night. It's supposed to be rainy while we're here, but the forecast in Rhodes is 70-80 and sunny every day. It's weird to think that on Tuesday we'll have been here for a month.

Anyway, here's some pictures. Sorry if they're screwed up, I'm not entirely sure how to post them on here.
They are: a room in the Rotunda of Gregory in Thessaloniki, sunset over the Dungeon, graveyard next to our Dion apartments [Danielle just informed me that Greeks consider picture taking disrespectful to their dead. Whoops.], Dougie! the stray dog we adopted, and the view from a restaurant at some beach near Dion.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Oh wireless, I hardly knew ye

I have no idea what town I'm in and I've spent 9 hours of my day on a bus but I don't care because our hotel has WIRELESS IN THE LOBBYYYYY. Praise Zeus. We left our "apartments" in Dion this morning around 6:30am. Dragged all our luggage down the street to the bus stop, intending to take a bus from Dion to Katerini, and another from Katerini to Athens. The bus driver, upon seeing 12 kids with at least 2 bags each, chose not to stop for us. We had to call 2 different taxi drivers to send 4 taxis. One taxi driver actually took 3 people to the bus stop in Katerini. The other driver charged each of us 20 euro for a 5 minute drive to another random bus stop on the side of the highway, saying he didn't have enough time to take us to Katerini.

Foreign taxi drivers will be sentenced to the sixth circle of hell, because they are sneaking, lying, THEIVES.

So we get on the 5 and 1/2 hour bus to Athens. We get glared at and snapped at by stupid old Greeks to take our feet off the seats. We feign American ignorance and put them on the seats anyway. We get to the Athens bus stop and meet Prof. Tomazos who FINALLY did something for us-met us at the station with another bus so we didn't have to meet at a hotel we didn't know the address of and weren't actually that sure of the name. We get on this bus for a 3 hour ride to wherever-we-are-now. It becomes a 4 hour ride because a gas truck turned over and they made the highway a 1 lane road. Arrgg. But I don't care because we have wireless, and a TUB and a TOILET WITH A REAL SEAT. There are so many squatty-potties [a toilet with no seat. Makes no difference to dudes, but it's a bit uncomfortable for us ladies] here, but I just put toilet paper down and sit on them anyway because I know the second I try to squat my thigh muscles will give out and I will crash through the door and pee all over myself.

We met a few new kids. Not much to comment on, they seem nice.

Greeks are so strange. They will sit at a bar or a cafe for hours and hours with one drink, but on the highway they all drive like the blessed Apocalypse is coming. They overtake each other constantly, it's like a big death race. And they always honk at each other, as a hello. Only one honk though, which is usually "watch out" for Americans. It's like the whole country knows each other. And they have no regard for pedestrian’s at all-they'll drive full speed right at you.

Danielle told me I'd lose weight in Europe because the food was so much better. Let me break down the greek food pyramid for you. Bread, meat, cheese, french fries, nutella. That's it. So much for weight loss.

We hiked around Mt. Olympus on Monday. That was BEAUTIFUL but the hike was poorly orchestrated. Our teacher told us we were walking an hour downhill to a monastery. We hiked uphill and downhill for 2 and a half hours, only stopping once to look at a church. She didn't make sure everyone had sneakers or water. Half of us were in flip flops and nearly everyone was dehydrated by the end of it.

I'm uploading pictures now so you'll be able to see those soon. I'm starving and would like to look around the town, but the urge for the internet is trumping both those desires currently.

This place looks like the Greece I picutred. We have a balcony that looks over a mountain range and a huge valley. There's actually vegetation here, a nice change since all I've seen is land that resembled a desert.

PS. This just in. We're in Delphi.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

camera help

The other day I was taking pictures in our little common room & all of a sudden my camera lens started zooming in and out, but wouldn't go fully in [like it does when I turn it off]. Now here's what happens: I turn the camera on. The lens zooms in and out but won't fully go in. The screen is black and says Access. After the lens zooms in and out a bit, it says "Turn the power off, then on again." I do that, but it doesn't help. The screen stays black and the lens won't go in completely. I thought it was because the battery was dead but it's not. I can look at pictures already on my camera and put them on my computer but I can't take any pictures and pushing any of the other buttons doesn't do anything. I have a Sony Cybershot, 8.1 megapixels but I can't remember anything else about it because I don't have it with me.

Can anyone tell me how I might fix this?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I kept forgetting to mention this

We've seen a million ruins of temples, villas, sheilds, gravestones, public baths, statues, tombs of Macedonian Kings, incredibly intricate mosaic floors, gold wreaths, jewelry, vases, things that were left in the graves, theatres with their original seats still intact, but this was by far the coolest: we saw the theatre where King Philip II was murdered by his general's, which is THE SAME PLACE where Alexander the Great was made King.
HOW COOL IS THAT. Seriously.
P.S. Ancient Greeks used to punish men who cheated on their wives by removing their hair downstairs and putting a radish up their bum. Who knew?

this ain't my momma's greece

I came here expecting what everyone had told me: that it was beautiful, that everyone spoke English, etc.

That's sort of a lie.

Everyone does not speak English. Well, they do, but they speak English like I speak Greek. They have the very basic words down, but neither of us know enough to communicate with each other. I can hardly order a gyro. It's frustrating. Sometimes I can't believe I came to a country where I don't even know their alphabet, let alone language. I am getting better at the alphabet though; remembering that a "p" is an "r" and an "n" is a "v".

The country is pretty- all flat, flat, flat, until out of nowhere-mountains. No hills, just flat land until it rises up into the clouds. But they don't take us to the places they take tourists. A lot of the country is extremely rural or run down. I'm not kidding when I say a good portion of the population of Dion uses their tractors as cars. I've driven by abandoned cars, billboard's advertising things from last year, buildings so dilapidated they look like something out of a World War II photograph. It has it's own kind of charm, but even Thessaloniki and Katerini have been like this. It was surprising, I was expecting quaint white and blue houses with cobblestone streets. I think that might be more on the islands. I do like it here, it's just different.

It actually got cold here the past few days. We're in northern Greece and it went from being about 85-90 degrees and 80 degrees at night to about 65 and in the 50s at night. It was pretty shocking-suddenly we were all in jeans and sweatshirts and using our comforters. Obviously 50 degress isn't normally that cold to me, but I guess we had all adjusted to the heat better than we thought.

Lauren is climbing Mt. Olympus right now. I spent the night in Margot & Jenna's [two sisters in the program who have been in Thessaloniki/Rhodes since the summer] apartment. We took the bus up with Charlotte, Steve, Paul and John. Carolyn and Sondra are living with Margot & Jenna once we all split up, so they were there too. And, true to his forgetful nature, Mr. Tomazos didn't tell his daughter than any of us would be in the apartment, so she was there too. There are 3 sets of bunk beds, one small and one large mattress for the 10 of us. It wasn't too cramped though, the apartment has 3 bedrooms. The bunk beds are hardly comfortable though. But Tomazos's daughter made us all breakfast in the morning! Spanakopita, Lukanakopita, some other kind of pastry that reminded me of french toast, and chocolate milk. It's funny, I came here expecting to have to adjust to the food, and the 3 most prevalent items I've seen here are french fries [always available as a side, and present in any gyro], hot dogs [Lukanakopita is a hot dog with a ketchup like sauce inside a pastry. They eat it for breakfast and it's better than it sounds] and chocolate milk.

My feet are going to be covered in calluses by the time I come home from all this walking. It's probably a good thing, considering the food. They're big fans of pork too. We've gotten that a couple times for dinner-porkchops, cut up pork, pork on a stick. We've also gotten moussaka which is eggplant, meat and creamy cheese, stuffed peppers, and a PLATE OF GREEN BEANS. Nothing else, just a big ol' plate of green beans in a tomato sauce. I recall eating a lot of bread that night. I'm about to eat my first crepe, probably with a crapload of Nutella. Yum.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

This will have to be quick because the stores are re-opening [they close from about 2-5 for siesta. I love a culture that naps]. Anyway, I'm in Katerini again. They drive tractors as cars in Dion so we're counting the days until we can leave. Still having a good time-ate a stuffed pepper! I'm so adventureous overseas. Working on getting a new phone charger. Don't expect post cards or decent updates until I'm settled in Rhodes. European espresso makes me reeeeeally jittery. Annoying. It still amazes me the intimacy between everyone we live with. We walk around in our underwear and talk about poop. It's like having 20 brothers and sisters. Off to shop!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

i return!

Finally, I found an internet cafe that can put my blog site in English!

Getting to Greece was hell, if hell is dirty/hot/sweaty/smelly/in another language. Because of "weather in New York"-man, that stuff is everywhere- our flights from Boston were delayed. I got into New York around 12:15 and spent about 2 hours doing everything short of using a lasso to find an employee who could tell me where the Olympic counter was. By the time I found it, they wouldn't let me on my 2:05 flight, and put me on the 4:30 one instead. Insert histerical tears here, because I am convinced that I am now totally alone in this situation/airport/universe. However, Lauren's flight was so late she missed it too, so we both got on the 4:30 flight to Athens. I entertained Lauren on the plane by lip synching to my ipod. Apparently Greeks clap when they land in the mother country.

We get off the plane to find that one of my bags has been left in New York. Thank you, JFK. We drag our 50 lb bags around the airport in desperate search of food. Everyone is smoking. Grandma's are smoking. Teenagers are smoking. I was sitting next to a baby that I am fairly certain was also smoking. GROSS. I am a spoiled American used to making smoker's feel like social pariahs, but here, they reign supreme. We got pizza & condesending looks for our $50 bills. Everyone hates making change.

We navigate the all-greek map for the metro [Thank Zeus for Lauren's 2 semesters of Ancient Greek] and we're on that for an hour. Slowest metro ever. We arrive and lug our bags up a flight of stairs. Allow me to mention that it's now about 1pm on Sunday [6am on Sunday RI time]. I have been awake since 4am on Saturday, with the exception of maybe a 5 or 6 hour nap. Lauren has not slept. We have barely eaten. We are, judging from our headaches and swollen hands, severly dehydrated. We buy tickets for the train to Katerini and find it doesn't leave for another 4 hours. Oh joy.

We sit in the waiting room, watching a 90 pound woman light up a cigarette as long as her finger, while staring at the universal "no smoking" sign. We listen to all greek annoucements which might as well be in gobbledegok for all we understood. We feel our stomachs gnaw at our insides because there's nothing to eat except for gross train station food. Someone thank Nana for those granola bars, they saved my life.

We get on the train for about 3 hours. They made us check our luggage. Very sketchy process. Because of a fire on a train, they make us get off after 3 hours, and get on busses. No one speaks enough English to tell us where to go. We see our luggage & have no idea where it's being taken. We finally just get on a bus & hope for the best. We're on the bus until about 11pm. We get off to find that our luggage isn't on our bus, and we have no clue where it could possibly be. We get on another train to finish the trip to Katerini, having no idea how to tell which one is our stop. We get off the train around midnight, and miraculously, our luggage is sitting at the end of the platform. Prof. Tomazos has sent someone to meet us and help look for our luggage, but since we already found it, he tells the taxi where to go. We get to the apartments [I use the term loosely] to find 3 students sitting outside. Thank god they were, because the gate would have been locked and we would have been sleeping in the sheep dookie covered street. Everyone was really nice, and had some horror stories of their own. We take ice cold showers [literally, ice cold. We didn't know we had to turn the hot water heater on] and pass out-me, without a pillow, because it was in my other bag. It didn't matter by then.

For anyone who's wondering about my safety because of the fires, for now I'm fine. They're farther south of us at the moment. In about 2 weeks I'll be going to Athens to do all the tourist-y stuff but they're hoping to have it cleared up by then. Greece appealed to the European Union to send foreign firefighters and military.

I'm already picking up some more greek-please, thank you, water, etc. I've started eating my gyro's with tomatoes. I lost my phone charger in our mess of a room. Our bunks squeak whenever you move. A stray dog we've named Dougie follows us everywhere. There's 20 of us stuffed into a hallway. We have one tiny common room/laundry room/smoking room with a fridge, a wooden bench & a few plastic chairs. We have 2 showers and 4 toilets, and somehow no one has killed each other. Yet. Dion is teeny tiny, but we're making the best of it. And the wine is TASTY. Gotta catch my bus back. All for now.