20 June 2007

MORE things I love about Greece...

* People from Germany, Switzerland, France & the US sitting at a table together on an island in Greece.

* During that traditional dance, feeling like I've taken a step back in time.

* Changing on the beach & people thinking nothing of it; everyone has to change right?

* Glyko tou koutaliou stafyli, a traditional dessert which is small berries that I've never seen before drenched in honey. For that matter, the fig ice cream with pine reisin, yum!!

* The click-clack of Komboli, worry beads, in the hand of every 10th man down the street. Flip, click-clack, click-clack. Flip...

* The safe feeling of being in a familiar neighborhood.

.... to be continued...

Things I love about Greece!

* The scenery. I didn't expect it to be so arid or for the water to be ascold. Handsome Greek men who look like a statue could be carved by looking atthem, also part of the scenery. There are more mountains than I expected &the wind blows a lot on the islands, which makes you forget how hot it Reallyis.* Bottled water from local springs.

* The food ... It's fresh (which is a luxury for me now) & regional (always aplus) & simple (enjoy food as it is, right).

* Free Ouzo, Raki, & food.

* Wine served form a barrel.

* Hearing, "Hello beautiful, what can I do for you?"

* When telling someone that we're teachers, people all but bowing down in ourpresence. We are celebrities.

* I have such a "charming & engaging travel partner." & by that I mean thatI'm seeing ALL sides of Jenny. (hint: always know where a coffee shop is!)

* Internet Cafe's that charge 2.50E an hour.

* The Unbearable Lightness of Being Kundera... a book I'm obsessed with, thanksto Jenny. Kurt Vonnegut is next on my list, after my next book, thanks toJenny again.* Cobble streets with designs made out of rocks.

*Welcomed stray dogs & cats.

*My new dress.

* Dancing with strangers to traditional songs & feeling like we've know eachother for ages.

* Seeing & being in the presence of ruins from civilizations that are fromthousands of years BC. The quality of their work is unmatched by our presentday frame of mind which is 'build without character.'

* A sandy beach (there are a lot of pebble beaches).

* The next stop...

13 June 2007

Hania (Xania, Chania), Crete Island

Remember how I told you that I'd back up. I didn't quite go all the way. I'll tell you a little bit about Epidavros & then about how we finally got to Crete (cret-E).

'Epi' means multiplication & 'davros' means sound waves. There is an amazing theatre which any entertainer would love to perform in.

.... I'll have to come back to this later.

Delphi & Nafplio

We have landed on the Island Crete, in Hania, after much debunk-tion. Let me back up & tell you a bit about Delphi & Nafplio & then I will tell you where we are now.

Delphi: This place was rightfully named 'the navel of the earth.' It was named this because Zeus released 2 eagles on either side of the world & they met there. There are remnants upon remnants of the buildings from this site. It's truly magical to think about people coming together to build such a quality place; the energy just builds as you are there. The photo of the imaginary once was is incredible. The museum had a lot of great pieces that are well preserved & they're not all behind glass & velvet ropes; there's an unsaid respect to not touch the objects (& people in every room with laser guns). You won't regret going to see this 'spirit of place.'

Nafplio (meaning Navy, ships): Jenny & I unknowingly went on dates in this original capital of Greece. Let me start from the beginning. One of the great things about Nafplio is that it has loads of stairs & alleyways 8'-10' wide on the Venetian style housed old side of town. The alleys are littered with vined flowers, mostly pink, which link balconies on both sides of the alley & allow a flowered walkway for you. They are used for shops, restaurant tables, walking, & driving cars & scooters. There are 3 fortresses, 2 land bound & 1 island. We stayed at a hostel, Dimitris Bekas, which felt like a flat where we lived among locals & looked over the water. The hostel was at the highest you could go with the stairways & right below the oldest fortress in Nafplio. To the E we could see Palamidi fortress, which claims to have 999 stairs to the church. I stopped counting at 917 when we arrived at the top. I didn't know where the church was until later.

Let me tell you a story. Saturday we went to a Taverna for dinner & while finishing the last bit of our red house wine (a daily dinner ritual so far) we were brought another 0.5 liter on the house. Enjoying the traditional music & before 1/2 way through that we were offered another 0.5 liter of wine & asked over to a table of 6, mind you this is in one of those 10' alleys. We joined a group of cats our age. Introducing ourselves, the 2 girls of the group were very good with English: 1 is an English professor & the other a lawyer. One other older guy, George, was
pretty good with English, but not as talkative as the girls. Whew, I need to make this short, or you won't read all of it. So, we had some akward moments with not being able to understand some of the conversation. That was ok; we're used to it being immersed in a Yup'ik village, right. One of the guys was being very flirty with Jenny. We had lots of clinking of wine glasses cheers, singing & dancing at the table. The ladies invited us to go to the islands with them the next day, but we wanted to go to Epidavros & so it was decided that we meet the next day for dinner, same taverna. The girls invited us.

to be called 'Hellas'When we went back, only 2 of the guys met us, the one that is Smitten with Jenny & his friend & old boss George. They are civil engineers, well Leftaris will be soon. So, even though it was akward Jenny & I had drinks with them & then met their group of 30 or so (out of 50) for dinner, music & dancing. One of the guys at our table the previous night plays the accordian & there were 2 others with a clarinet & a small drum. We ate, we drank, we danced with the big group. There were several types of dances, mostly to the beat of 3, but we only danced the one that is like a swirl of people arms raised, feet tapping, & smiles. It was loads of fun. All the while though, Jenny is being proposed affections of love & the wantin to marry, holding hands, arm around her, etc. They told us they were not like the men who hunt little beautiful fish & spear them. They invited us to stay in their homes when we are in that area. Jenny, I hope this does you justice. n She was very polite, but also pushed his hand away & moved his arm. George said that Leftaris is inexperienced, clearly. They're from a village outside of Mt. Olympus, so it kind of makes sense. It didn't feel threatening, but it was uncomfortable. They walked us home, well 1/2 way because there were too many stairs, we said goodbyes & then Jenny allowed the feminist in her to vent about how he can possibly think he can posses her by throwing his arm around her, etc. Somehow this doesn't quite capture the essence. Through this we also learned a lot about the Greek language & history from their perspective. For instance, they really prefer instead of Greeks, because that name was given to them by the Turks & refers to someone of a lower standard. George tapped the back of his neck to explain this. We had to read a lot of body language.

....to be continued.


First of all, I have to say that Athens Backpacker hostel is soo savy! It's right smack in the middle of a good end of town, including within walking distance from a lot of cool sites & the metro. Like many places in central Athens you can see the Acropolis from the rooftop bar.

Yesterday, I arrived at the hostel before Jenny & before checkin. I was so tired I crashed on the couch for 2 1/2 hours. After settling in we went out to walk around & get our berrings. We ended up getting into a couple of monument places free, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Arch of Hadrian, & Acroplolis. It was Global Environmental day so they were letting people in for free all day. We ate great food & heard some great live Greek music. Nevermind that it took us 1 1/2 hours of looking for a particular place to eat because we were turned around with our map. Once we knew we were reading the map correctly, we decided to eat elsewhere. :-) Today, we went with a group from the hostel to walk about for a couple of hours & ate our first real Gyros, lamb.

It's interesting how familiar some things seem & how foreign the language feels & looks. I'm usually pretty good with new languages, but I'm having a hard time with this one. I know how to say thank you though (phonetically, a-FAR-east-ro). There are tons of stray dogs |& cats. We were told that if the dogs have a tag then they have been nuttered & deemed safe & released. The cats come around a lot, even at the outside restaurants, but none so far have been bothersome, just quiet eyed begging. There were some boys biking around on the streets & it felt very familiar to me. It seem like village standards where the kids bacially roam around where they please. Although, here there are very narrow streets & motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, cars, buses (electirc & gas). Seeing these ancient century upon centry old ruins juxtaposed among clay tiled roofs, cars |& glass buildings has been interesting at every glance.

Tomorrow we're going to Delphi, the navel of the world. It'll be a 3 hour bus ride each way. We'll spend another night here & then head down to Napfilo the next day. Napfilo was actually the original capital of Greece until it's Independance (from Turkey, i'm guessing-I'll find out).