A Travellerspoint blog

A rainy movie night in Athens

rain -7 °C

I've learned one thing today. If rain is in the forecast, even if it is sunny, take a raincoat and umbrella. Because you never know when the sky will open up in Athens. It's been a school week as usual here. Not much interesting to report actually. Tomorrow, on the other hand, there is a trip to the Lavrio technology park and then on to Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. I think it will be a good day trip. I promise photos!

Tonight the center did a movie night for those who were interested. We watched Pote tin Kyriaki (Never on a Sunday) with Melina Mercouri, one of Greece's most famous actresses from the 50's and 60's. It was a fun film and gave us a bit of a look at an older Athens and Piraeus. If you ever get a chance to rent it and watch it do. I don't think you will be disappointed. We weren't. Unfortunately it started to rain about 20 minutes before the movie ended, hence my warning about umbrellas and raincoats. Needless to say my 10 minute walk home got me a little wet. But I'm home, dry, and ready to hit the sack so I can get up and maybe go to the laiki in the morning before we leave on our day trip. Did I tell you I'm loving these three day weekends?

Posted by oceanchild 13:30 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

A thunderstorm last night....

What better time to learn some Greek

sunny 21 °C

We had a wonderful thunderstorm last night. I do love a good thunderstorm if I can stay in and dry. I was going to head out toward the stadium to see if I could hear the music from the benefit concert (the benefit was for places burned by the fires in the Pelopenesse last year) but just about dark the sky opened up and the rain came down. I suppose Zeus was not very pleased because some lightening bolts were being thrown! So I stayed in and studied Greek. Speaking of Greek, I think it is about time I taught all my readers some of the basics. It's really not that hard. Even the Greek alphabet comes to you fairly easily after a while. You will catch on!

Here you will see Greek followed by a pronunciation and what it means in English. Syllables that receive accents are italicized. Accents are very important because a change in the accent can change the meaning of a word. Some pronunciations are a bit different from English. The CH in chero poli would be more like an H from the back of the throat, not like the sound in character. Give it a try!

Γεια σας – Ya-sus – Hello (formal)
Γεια σου – Ya-su - Hi
Χαιρω πολι – Che-ro po-li – Pleased to meet you
Καλημερα – Kali-me-ra – Good morning
Καλησπερα – Kali-sper-a – Good evening
Αντιο –a-di-o - Goodbye
Πως σε λενε; Pos se le-ne - What’s your name?
Με λενε... – may-le-ne – My name is...
Τι κανεις; Ti ka-nes? How are you?
Καλα – Ka-la – Fine
Ετσι και ετσι – et-si k’ et-si – so so
Ευχαριστω – Ef-ka-ri-sto – Thank you
Παρακαλω – par-a-ka-lo – Please/Your Welcome
Ναι –neh - no
Οχι – o-hi - yes
Συγνωμη –si-ghno-me – sorry/pardon

Those are the basics for simple conversation. Now you have no excuse for not speaking Greek to me.

Now, about that thunderstorm. I took my camera out on the balcony and tried to get some photos of the lightening, but it never happened. I guess Zeus was tossing them in the wrong direction. What I did get were some photos of the street, the rain, the sky, and Lykavittos hill. Exciting I know, but it's all I have to offer today.

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My street at night. Thank goodness for those shutters that block out the light. The building you see in the photo is some sort of school or recreation center, I'm not sure. But I am sure that it gets darn noisy at times!

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Where are those lightening bolts? Don't you love all the antennas?

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It's raining again....(now I have Supertramp stuck in my head)

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Lykavittos hill.

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Lykavittos at night

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Lykavittos in daylight

One of these days I am going to get to the top of Lykoavittos Hill. I understand the views from there are phenomenal if you make it on a clear day or at sunset. Thankfully there is a funicular (a sort of trolley that goes up the hill) that will take you there. I'm not sure I am ready to tackle Lykavittos on foot yet. The weekdays are staying busy with school work. It's no where near overwhelming though, just helps keep me busy. Speaking of busy, I should do some more studying so I can ace that quiz tomorrow.

Adio!

Posted by oceanchild 08:01 Archived in Greece Tagged educational Comments (0)

A rainy weekend in Athens

semi-overcast 20 °C

Rain. It was a welcome thing in Athens this weekend. It cooled the temperatures and settled the dust. After a busy day on Friday I was able to settle into my room on Saturday and get some work done. Work. Isn’t that a dirty word? I suppose it is why I came here. To expand my knowledge. So like the academic geek I am, I went to the library, read and sat in my room later studying my Greek language material. I’m starting to catch on but I am not sure I will ever like conjugating verbs or declining nouns. I’ll get by though. Ef-kar-e-sto! (thank you!)

Saturday night some of us got together and had dinner at one of the girl’s apartments. It was cozy. The apartments aren’t made for large gatherings but we had a good time. It seems like even the simplest foods here taste good. Pasta with olive oil and garlic, fresh salad with Greek dressing, and good crusty bread. Top it off with a bottle of wine from a vineyard in Santorini and it made for a very satisfying meal. With our bellies filled we headed out to Thissio via the Metro to see if we could find a music festival that we had heard chatter of. Not having specific directions we had no luck. Instead we ended up wandering the streets. A local saw us and told us there were no tourist places down one street. Head back to Plaka he said. But we didn’t want to go to Plaka! We gave up trying to find the festival around 10:00 and finally stopped for gelato. I had pistachio. It was lovely. Sorry, I forgot my camera, so no gelato snapshots.

Sunday we decided to go shopping in Syntagma. What we didn’t realize was that most shops are closed on Sundays. Now we know. Walking about Syntagma yields some interesting sights though, even though the stores were closed. My favorite was the display in this lingerie shop. The equivalent of Fredricks of Hollywoods I suppose?

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Not sure about the zippers as masks. Weird.

There are some familiar sights as well. Applebees anyone?
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I know if I am every craving American food there is certainly no shortage of it in Athens. Pizza Hut, Dominos, McDonalds, Subway, TGIF can all be found nearby. I’ll stick with Greek food as much as I can. McDonalds appears to be fairly popular with the local population though.

I found it rather odd to see three Native American’s playing Native American music in Syntagma. They were selling CD’s, but it seems an awful long way to come to sell a few CD’s on the street. I’m guessing they were authentic Native Americans because of their appearance. Who knows, it may have just been a gimmick. But they seemed authentic.

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The music was nice though. They were pretty good on those flutes.

While most of the stores were closed we did hit the 3 Euro clothing store, which happened to be open. Unfortunately I found that what is labeled an XL seems to fit only a Barbie doll sized person. Is this some statement about the size of Americans? Or are Europeans just living a dream? I haven't seen many obese people here, but not everyone is a size 5 either. I have a feeling any clothes I purchase here will have to be bought at pricier store.

Since the stores were closed I suggested we walk to Monastiraki and find the flea market I had read about in my guidebook. A short walk from Syntagma and we found the flea market, along with the crowds. The Athens flea market is very similar to flea markets in America. Some permanent shops lined the streets selling everything from clothes to knick-knacks while one street was reserved for vendors who put out their wares on the street.

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A new facebook profile pic?

It was an interesting and eclectic mix of items. Very similar to what you would find in a US flea market. Greek LP’s. Assorted musical instruments. Old phonogrpahs. Telephones with actual dials.Sheet music.

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Yes, that says Beethoven. I have to remember that mu+pi makes a B sound. Maybe Beethoven will help.

Jewelry. Wall décor. Junk in general.

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Hookas.

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No, I don’t think I’ve seen to many hookas in US flea markets. Now they have me wondering if there is a hooka bar anywhere in Athens. Maybe I’ll have to wait for Istanbul. I know, strange for such an anti-smoker as myself. I don’t get it either.

If anyone can tell me what “safe pants” are I’d appreciate it. I am guessing they are the equivalent to Depends? Keep you safe from accidents of incontinence? But “safe pants?” Couldn’t they have thought of a better name?

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Having explored the flea market we walked through the National Gardens on our way home. The Gardens are a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Athens. It seems to be a family friendly place complete with balloon vendors and a children’s library. Interesting that American characters are so prevalent here. Spongebob and Dora are universal I suppose.

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I came home and did the afternoon quiet time. I think I’m getting too accustomed to the quiet time for naps. It just won’t work when I come home. Too bad. I kind of like the break in the day. I spent Sunday night studying and finishing Greek language homework as well as “skyping” with a friend back home. Skype is a wonderful thing. Much better than the rates you pay for international cell phone service. Skype helps me keep in touch with my husband as well. Thanks to Skype and IM we have been able to be in touch at least daily. I’ve even skyped with my cat, Willow. I don’t think she gets it though.

Last but not least, today is my daughter Bridget’s 27th birthday. Happy Birthday Bridget! I miss you and love you! I’ll leave you with a few Athens felines. Enjoy your day!

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Posted by oceanchild 05:16 Archived in Greece Tagged shopping Comments (0)

Doing the tourist thing

and doing the local thing as well. All in one day.

sunny 25 °C

It is rather neat to be living in a place and not be a tourist. Like today I completely did the local thing. For the first time I went to the laiki. The laiki is the weekly open-air market.

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It’s a bustling busy place were one can buy all manner of produce, paper goods, plants, linens, and clothing. It’s also colorful.

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Eggplant of some sort. I'd love to learn more about the Greek foods and produce.

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Assorted vegetables

Cheaper and fresher than the supermarket, the produce is wonderfully flavorful. The grapes I bought today were like eating candy they were so sweet. White grapes from a US supermarket will never fill the bill after snacking on these little gems.

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I will look forward to the laiki each week now. It is not something the tourists do. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a tourist in Pagrati.

But today several of us decided to do the tourist thing and visit the Acropolis. We started out by boarding the Athens sightseeing bus, which is suppose to take you around to all the rather touristy sites for a mere 5 euros. A ticket is good for 24 hours and can be used on all forms of transit. Seemed like a good bargain at the time. The sightseeing bus is supposed to stop at certain stops every 30 minutes. We boarded at the stadium, almost on time, and got off at the University of Athens.

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The statues were most intriguing, especially the “sad man” statue. I’m not sure who he is, but the expression is, well, quite expressive. Not one I've seen on too many statues before.

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After a walk around the university we wanted to board the sightseeing bus and make our way around to the Acropolis. We were told earlier that there would not be a stop at the Acropolis due to a protest. I think the protest had made it up to the university though. I’m not sure if the protest had anything to do with the un-timeliness of the bus. In fact, I am not really sure what the protest was about.

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It was interesting to watch though. And thankfully was peaceful.

We finally decided taking the metro to Acropoli was going to be our best bet. The metro here is nice. It’s clean. It’s quick. It’s fairly easy to use. It got us to the Acropoli metro station quicker than we could have walked. Saved a few steps of wear and tear on the feet as well.

So there we were at the Acropolis. The one thing most people come to Athens to see.

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Yes, I'm really here. And some of my fellow students insisted I have the photos to prove it.

Lucky me, my student ID got me in for free. I can explore the Acropolis over the next three months as much as I want and it won’t cost me a dime. Hopefully. I thought I would be a bit more awestruck that I was once I got to the top and near the Parthenon. I think the mass of people and the huge quantity of scaffolding actually took away some of the awe. I do understand the need for restoration though.

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But still. The Acropolis. Wow. To think I’ll be having class here at the Acropolis on several occasions. Up close and personal.

The Acropolis cat was not so willing to be photographed.

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I did love the Karyatids on the Erechtheion. The Karyatids, statues of women, were used in place of columns on this porch. These are not the originals. Originals are housed in the Acropolis museum.

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The view looking over the ancient agora was stunning. Thankfully it was a rather clear day. You can see one of the most well preserved buildings, the Haphaisteion, in the center of the photo. I can't wait to make it to the ancient agora!

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The theatre of Herodes Atticus was quite impressive. They were setting it up for a classical concert. Now that is something I would love to do!

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On our way back we walked a bit through Plaka. I of course found cats who were nice enough to oblige me with a pose.

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I'll leave you with this. It's me. Wondering what it would be like to spend eternity as a statue.

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Posted by oceanchild 11:14 Archived in Greece Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

A walk about Athens

and other strange happenings

sunny 19 °C

I went for another one of my solo walks tonight. I’ve come to enjoy the time alone in a way. I am able to reflect and really pay attention. When I’m with a group I tend to miss a lot. I like being with people but when it’s me and my camera three is a crowd.

Tonight I walked down Vas Constantinou past the stadium and onto the other side of the Temple of Zeus. At first I wondered if I was going the right way. I became a bit concerned that I would get lost, but I had my map, my phone, and my sense of adventure. My intended destination was Plaka which is near the Acropolis. I found some interesting graffiti on the way. I keep looking for different types of graffiti around town. Most of what I have found has been just words scrawled on a wall. Interesting words and pictures that we have yet to figure out.

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Like crew and buns.

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I’ll have to do some research to see what the significance is.

Gangs?

Who knows. But I like this one.

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I made my way down past the Temple of Zeus and ended up turning down Syngrou, which went in the opposite direction from what I wanted. I finally figured out how to make my way toward Plaka by going up through Makrygianni.

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Plaka is quite a different Athens from Pangrati where I live. Plaka is closest to the Acropolis and therefore caters to tourists. I didn’t make it up to the Acropolis but got close enough for some photos.

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From afar

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A little closer....soon I'll get as close as you can!

I heard more English there than I’ve heard in a week, outside of my fellow students. I find the tourist sections of places a bit annoying because of the crowds, but I did find some familiar sights. Like the blue “evil eye” that was ubiquitous in Turkiye.

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I was going to buy some but found that I had left my money purse at home. Next time.

Yes. Plaka is pure tourism. I do like the pedestrianized streets in Plaka. It makes for nice walking.

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I was really craving some gelato, but with no money I was out of luck. So I walked on.

It was worth it. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This scene was priceless. I just had to snap a photo and he was more than willing to oblige saying "well I have hands, what am I suppose to do with them?"

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I just had to laugh.

Keeping with one of my usual themes when traveling I found two cats who were also willing to pose.

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Looking not too happy

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Moving my way through Plaka I eventually came out at Syntagma Square. It seems Syntagma is where I always end up.
It was a good thing though. I found an ATM so I was no longer without cash. I browsed Public, which is similar to our Best Buy, only hipper. I mean, they have a café and had a group that was singing rap from the balcony. What more could you ask for? I contemplated purchasing a printer but decided not to at this point. Printer was cheap. Ink is outrageous. I did stick around and enjoy the music though.

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I ended up at Politi.co, which is advertised as serving Anatolian cuisine. Of course my eyes lit up at that. I was simply ecstatic when I looked at the menu and saw several familiar dishes. Lamachun, doner kebap, Iskander kebap, and Adana kebap.
Yes, I was a happy woman.

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I had my long sought after lamachun. It wasn’t Turkiye but it was about as close as I am going to get until I can make it there. I normally don’t dine alone in a “sit down” restaurant but tonight I had no qualms. Lamachun made my evening complete.

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The spicy Adana kebap didn't hurt either.

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I'll leave you with food, and with food for thought. I thought this was apropos in today's economic climate.

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Posted by oceanchild 14:02 Archived in Greece Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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