περιπέτεια και ρουτίνα — adventure and routine

I feel like I’m finally settling in. Last night a group of the other girls came over — Dana and Ali brought pasta and wine, and we provided eggs and potatoes and carrots from the Friday market — and we all just sat around and ate dinner and drank wine and had a pleasant, laid-back Friday night. It was really kind of amazing and lovely, and as I said to Dani (one of my suitemates; I should probably do some kind of intro post for people who aren’t here, shouldn’t I?), those sorts of evenings are just as much Experiences Of Athens as, say, seeing the Parthenon, or the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square.

Which I did, in fact, see! Click on the picture to see more pictures from our walking tour around Syntagma Square and Monastriaki.

But that was yesterday.

Today, Dani and Rachel and I went grocery shopping. We needed a lot of basics — bread, salt, pepper, cheese, olive oil, pasta sauce, juice . . . which when I list them sound not quite as basic as they seemed when we were shopping, but whatever — and since we’d gotten a flyer advertising deals at a place called Lidl, we thought we’d try to find that. Google Maps is not entirely reliable — maybe because we’re trying to use it in English, and this part of the world is in Greek — but we got directions to what we thought was the store and headed down Filolau, the busy street outside our house, in the direction we’d never gone before.

We ended up wandering away from Filolau, thinking we saw a market in the distance. After a few false starts, we did find one — not Lidl, but a bonafide butcher’s shop. Now, as a lifelong vegetarian, walking into a store that had whole sheep hanging up, skinned and de-hoofed but otherwise mostly intact, would’ve been Experience enough. I think Dani and Rachel were rather taken aback by it, too. But they had bread and balsamic vinegar, too,  so it was useful as well.

As we headed for the check-out line, a bulky employee nodded to us and said hello. I could hear he had an accent, so I assumed he was Greek, and all three of us greeted him in Greek. A moment later he was talking to us in English — with an Australian accent. “Now, you and you,” he said, pointing to Rachel (tall and redheaded) and Danielle (tall and blonde), “are from the States, but you,” he said, pointing at me (short and dark), “–are you Greek?”

I couldn’t help it — I laughed. My aunt Stefanie, who’s Greek, and Liz, the professor who told me about the program, both said I could pass for Greek. I thought they were nuts. I’m way too pasty white to pass for Greek. But maybe, if I get a bit of a tan and learn enough Greek to actually converse . . .

Anyway, the rest of the morning/early afternoon, we kept exploring for a market. We found all kinds of exciting things: an organic market (expensive, but we finally found hypoallergenic detergent for Danielle), a pet store (with the most adorable puppies and kittens, some of whom are no doubt destined for a life on the streets, like Scout or Aphrodite), a book shop (selling Twilight in Greek), and shop after shop selling clothes from €3 to €80.

Eventually, we turned back down Filolau and finally found a market Rachel had discovered with Tricia, where we did our shopping and schlepped back home. Danielle and I spent the afternoon in the apartment; I researched Catholic churches in the area, because I’d like to go to mass tomorrow and on Easter Sunday — maybe even during Holy Week. (Chances that I’ll keep going after Easter seem slim, in no small part because a fair number of weekends will be spent traveling — but this is Easter.) Turns out that the church just behind our street on Timotheou is Catohlic, and they have mass at 10:30 (presumably in Greek), so.

Danielle and I explored that area of Pangrati a little more, and I had a brief conversation with a shopkeeper who approached when we came into her shop, and said something in Greek. I looked sheepish. “Parakalo? Then kataleveno — milate anglikka?” She looked startled, smiled sheepishly, and held up her thumb and forefinger, and I laughed and said “Ligo!” Translated, that’s:

Me: Please/pardon? I don’t understand — do you speak English?
Her: [Negative!]
Me: A little!

After that, we had to head back to the apartment, because we were having dinner at our professor’s at 5. This is ridiculously early for dinner in Greece. We’ve been eating around 7 or 8, and that’s pretty early for dinner in Greece. 5 PM is like a late lunch. But we had pizza, and olives and feta and bread, and retsina (white wine with pine resin), and it was a fun get-together.

Afterwards we walked over to the First Cemetery, and I’m just going to put some of the pictures I took here.

The front gate.

If anyone makes a "Blink" reference I will smack them.

Angel on a tomb.


The other side of the tomb.

The inscription. The name of the boy the tomb is for? Maybe the whole monument? I'm not sure; it's a huge monument and it's right near the entrance, which makes me think it ought to be for a family. Anyway, I think the inscription reads "Georgakis Stef Pesmazogloy / 1926-1936".


I love this one -- the person buried here is evidently some kind of aviator, and the angel is holding an airplane prop.

I wonder if this thoughtful angel is modeled on the person buried there.

Weeping angel.

My goal is to learn enough Greek to read that book.

One of the more modern grave decorations.

Three angels on a ship. (And my knee in the lower left corner.) By this time it was getting dark and I started using the flash, so it's rather creepier than it has a right to be. Also, I find it interesting that all the tombs are labeled "oikos": "home."

The front gate as we left, with the rising moon.

Tonight, the rest of the group is going out to investigate a bar. I am behaving like a stereotype of some kind and going to bed so I can go to mass in the morning.

Dang, and I haven’t written at all about the market yesterday, or the tour around Syntagma Square and Monastiraki. Well, there are pictures of the latter, so it’s not a total loss.