Archive for September, 2009

Life is a runway

September 30, 2009

Today I had no classes because my professor is in Paris for the week.  She went for business, not pleasure; fitting seeing as no one seems to work here in Greece.  Everyone is always drinking coffee.  I guess you have to go to Paris if you want to work.  So my roomie and I took advantage of our free day to walk around and explore Kolonaki.  Kolonaki, apparently, is where it’s at in Athens.  It’s the fancy rich neighborhood where everyone goes to be seen.  Every woman in Kolonaki was complete with a Louis Vitton bag, enormous sunglasses, high heels, long hair extensions, and tight clothes.  And I thought I was looking good with my ray-bans and eclectic little necklace that I made….more like looking not rich.

 Hey, fine by me! I’ve mastered the art of window-shopping and people watching.  And man, were there peeps to see.  We walked down a little side street lined with cafes looking for one to enjoy a nice 3-hour coffee.  As we strolled, I began to feel like I was on a runway.  Except that I wasn’t the model, I was Carrie in that episode of Sex and the City (The Real Me) where she falls down and becomes runway road kill.  Per usual I stuck out, but not just because of the blonde hair this time.  I stuck out because I wasn’t wearing designer duds, carrying shopping bags, or trotting with a sugar daddy.  O an open table at the next café straight ahead! Relief.

 And then I realized something, the café that I was at, the street that I was on, the city that I am in is designed for people watching.  ALL seating at ALL cafes and bars face the street.  And everyone is looking at you.  If you don’t like the spotlight, then this isn’t the country for you.  I know what you’re thinking (if you know me well that is), I hate, absolutely despise the spotlight.  How can I love Greece so much?  You’re forgetting that I’m also oblivious to my surroundings and can use this to counter the stares.  But you know what? I’ve also gotten used to it.  And I do it too, I’ve become a starer.  I no longer think that I am being sexually harassed when Greeks stare at me, question me, or give me free food.  They are just being Greek and they do this to everyone.  Greeks are the most interactive and amicable people. 

 Later on we found a great lunch spot.  Cheap, delicious, and the menu had no English (all good signs)! “number, number,” the waiter said.  I thought he was trying to tell us that we had a certain number for our order?  No, he wanted to give us his number.  Maybe a few weeks ago I would have left and thought that he was a creeper.  But lets be real, I was hungary! and if I lived by those standards I would never be able to go anywhere in Athens.  As we finished up our kotopolo gyros the waiter gave us some stuffed mushrooms on the house.  They were sooooooooo good.   

 New Englanders would be skeptical of free food, and offended by such interactive strangers.  If you looked at someone in Boston, like they look at one another here, you would be a dead man.  But maybe that’s what makes Greece so great.  Greeks want to know who you are, what you’re all about.  And they do so through the five senses, in a way.  Looking, listening, talking, offering you food, and well smelling?  I can’t make that one work.  They are just curious about humanity-and in this way they are more conscious, more alive.  Sure there are creepers here and there.  But all you have to do is look straight ahead and keep on walking.  Because in America life is a highway.  But in Greece, life is a runway. 

 Love

TZEINA

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The truth about the blue booth

September 29, 2009

Currently in Athens city-center, Syntagma Square, there are large blue stands with loud pop music playing and flat screens televisions.  Initially, I thought that they were set up for some sort of performance.  But, it has been over a week and no performance has enveloped.  They have tables and chairs set up outside of them and I see groups of people sitting in them all of the time.  So, one day I decided to sit at the mysterious blue stand and see what happens.  Nothing happened. 

 I didn’t know what they were, but I knew that I wanted them gone soon.  They are annoying and they ruin the atmosphere of the square.  So I asked my Greek Key teacher Maria.  In Greek Key, we go on walks all over Athens to areas that we otherwise might not explore on our own.  I saw a mini blue stand in the neighborhood we were exploring and pointed it out to Maria. 

 “O, those are for the elections coming up.  They are for the extreme right, very conservative party.  Such fucking shit. I hate them,” she explained.

 Mind you, I’m still trying to get used to my European professors and their badass nature.  Maria, and the rest of Athens I later discovered, rolls her own cigarettes.  The first time that I met her she was smoking one, but it’s homemade look made me think that my professor was smoking the wacky tabacky.  Professor Stavros even cussed out some Italian tourists, in Italian of course, because they were letting their child run around the Acropolis as he was trying to teach.

 But the real shock is that I, a member of the Cousineau-Roberts liberal mecca, sat at a right wing party propaganda booth in public.  Hilarious.  I guess ignorance really is bliss-and sometimes the truth is just plain embarrassing.  Well, if I’m gonna be a pseudo-conservative it may as well be in a foreign country. 

 On the bus ride home yesterday I was thinking about Greek politics and asking Joanna (Arcadia social director) about the right-wing party and their elaborate set-ups in Syntagma. She said, “I don’t really understand why they are playing such loud happy music.  We didn’t really have a great year with the fires and financial downturn.”  In that same moment, a fight broke out on the bus.  Between some punks? No between two (and then three) old men.  I mean yelling, hands up in each other’s faces fighting.  I have never seen someone that old become that heated about anything.  It was great.  I waited till the next stop to get off because I didn’t want to miss anything (like I can understand right? It was all in Greek).  But their tones and movements said enough.  Apparently, they were arguing about politics with the elections coming up. 

 For the first time I really saw Greece in it’s true form-as the birthplace of democracy.  As the home to the original freethinkers.  While I may not know about everything that is going on around me (ie the blue booths), I like to think that my curiosity might make me a freethinker as well.  A democrat wouldn’t have sat at the blue booth…but maybe a freethinking (and genuinely spacey) person would have. 

 (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, Uncle John)

 Love

 TZEINA

Undefined Greek Time

September 28, 2009

Greeks do what they want.  They are not concerned with time or following a precise system.  Much of this stems from the fact that Greeks are freethinkers – the original freethinking man.  Discussion is perhaps the most valued Greek pastime; and man can conversing Greeks pass the time. 

 10 minute coffee break on the job? Try 3 hours over which 1 (count um 1!) drink is enjoyed/sipped.  It’s really an art form, to make your beverage last that long.  Think that the owners will get pushy if you stay that long and only order a 2 euro drink?  Quite the opposite actually; they immediately think tourist.  Lucky for me, my general appearance identifies me as a tourist rather than the rate at which I drink coffee.  What happens over this long coffee?  Just talking with friends.  I have never known a culture that values friendship so strongly.  No one is ever too busy to sit with his or her friends and converse for hours on end.  No blackberries, no laptops just good company.

 Smaller stores don’t abide by exact hours of operation.  Restaurants will serve you till the wee hours of the morning, but not generally before 1pm ever.  And taxis do not always take you where you want to go.  “Gazi parakalo,” we asked one cab driver Friday night.  “Ohi, too much traffic sorry.  I can take you to Syntagma?”  Huh?  No?  Isn’t that illegal?  Did he say no because we weren’t Greek?  Maybe, it happens.  And there are no laws (like there are in NYC) that prevent taxi drivers from denying someone a ride.

 Our professor later told us that the taxi driver probably said no merely because he didn’t want to drive through traffic.  But even our professors are caught off guard sometimes.  When I ventured with Joanna to buy a student monthly transportation pass, we were told, “Ohi.  We might have some on Monday.” Even though they were posted as being available.  Joanna was certainly annoyed, as it requires a specific student id, passport, and passport picture for me to attain the transport pass (essentially the same requirements for a student visa).  But she wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t really either.  After all, in America the DMV is in no way anymore helpful or efficient. 

 As much as I’ve come to love living on Greek time, I wouldn’t say the same for Greece’s transportation system.  And while, you can’t always get what you want, you can try sometimes, and you just might find you’ll become a little more Greek.

 Love,

TZEINA

And just like Splat!

September 25, 2009

Athens is not exactly known for its cleanliness.  One classmate of mine asked Joanna (Arcadia social director), “I thought that Athens was cleaned up a lot since the Olympics.”  She replied back, “it is cleaned up.  Now there are people who pick up the trash off the streets every night.”  This is true as I have spotted them occasionally.

 But, Athens is a little grimy.  Everyone smokes.  Everyone.  And, everyone smokes a lot; 25 cigarettes a day? That’s a light smoker.  Also, everyone smokes wherever they want even though a law was recently passed that prohibits smoking inside.  There are still ashtrays at every table and cigarettes are often sold at restaurants and bars.  Even the vendors at the market that I frequent smoke heavily, over all of the fresh produce.  Smoked pears anyone?

 Athens is also full of graffiti.  It’s on the buildings in my hood and on churches too.  Not to mention the presence of stray dogs everywhere.  And get this, today I’m strolling down the street when SPLAT!  A bag of trash comes flying out of someone’s apartment window and lands inches in front of me as it bounces off the dumpster.  Hmm, that’s funny the dumpster is shut closed; were they aiming for me?  Well, it certainly wasn’t the first time I had something unwarranted land at my feet in Greece.

 However, apparently Athens is going through a renaissance.  What used to be an old factory district is now an area full of great bars and large restaurants.  And the graffiti is considered decorative news, not destructive vandalism.  As for the stray dogs, they are all collared and vaccinated-and also quite fat because they get fed often.  I’m not going to be petting them anytime soon, but now they aren’t so bad.  And the cigarette smoke? Well, I’m getting used to it.

 Athens is a little bit dirty, that’s for sure.  But sometimes it’s the grit that makes it shine.  And when the grit lands directly in front of you, it might just make you shine (that is if you’ve got a sense of humor about such things). 

 Love,

 TZEINA

Greek Street Cred

September 24, 2009

Being aware of my surroundings is not exactly something that I excel at.  Sure I notice the Temple of Zeus when I pass it on my way home and the Panathenian Stadium is hard to miss.  I certainly seem to notice details, like the funny little trashcans at the acropolis in the shape of a pillar (my classmates think it is a coincidence).  But as far as street smarts go, I’m lacking. 

 However, in this very busy city, I am learning (whether I want to or not) to be more observant.  It comes as a necessity here in Athina when cars/mopeds/motorcycles/four-wheelers do not stop on a red light unless a pedestrian is crossing the street.  “Jan, I’m a little bit concerned about crossing streets.  Red lights seem to mean nothing here” one student said to Jan, Arcadia Center’s program director.  “Well, you just have to hurl yourself into traffic once the walking light is green.  If they don’t stop just give them a dirty look and they will.”  Or they might not; two students got hit by mopeds last year.

 Okay, note to self:  Glare both ways before crossing the street.  Today, as I tried to cross the street a moped was going full speed ahead towards me.  I put my new street cred into action and glared at him.  The moped stopped.  Hmmm, this new awareness of my surroundings thing is going well so far.

 Later on, my art class went to the new and very controversial Acropolis museum.  Well I was certainly observant there.  Everywhere that I looked there was something to see.  Up there was the reflection of the Acropolis.  Down, through the clear floors, there are newfound ruins that were discovered during the museum’s construction.  Left there was ancient Greek pottery; right there was the renowned (and cheap) Acropolis Museum Café. 

 I was so aware of my surroundings in fact, that I became unaware of myself.  Was I feeling O.K.?  Hmm, is it hot in here?  When can we sit down again?  Mayday Mayday, Jayna’s going to faint.  And I didn’t even realize it like I normally do.  Mind you, I generally am aware and choose to ignore it.  But this time I was unaware of my own very familiar symptoms.  Great.

 When my hearing started to go, I finally ended up mumbling, “vasalvagal…hypoglycemic” to my professor as I ran towards the nearest bathroom.  The museum guide was laughing at me.  I managed to get myself together and I ate a pear that I brought with me.  Of course that was all that it took for me to feel better. 

 When I rejoined my class my professor said, “ok? Now you present your statue.”  Cool.  I had to speak to the class about a statue that I had been observing. I don’t really know what I said seeing as I was just regaining consciousness.  All I know is that it could have been a lot worse.  What if I had fainted onto a statue (they are freestanding, no glass).

 A mortal fainting among the gods, how fitting.  And as long as I’m mortal, I better continue to build up my street cred.  But apparently, street smarts will only get you so far.  Self-awareness is also required to reach the finish line, and maybe, if you’re lucky, to Olympic gold.

 Love,

 TZEINA

Goldie Locks and the three (or five) bakeries

September 23, 2009

It has become quite clear that there are a lot of bakeries in Athens.  On my two-minute walk from the Arcadia Center to my apartment I pass by five.  FIVE bakeries.  Naturally, I have chosen to endeavor on a hunt for the perfect cookie.  Greece has all these different types of little cookies-kind of like those ones that you find on federal hill, but more.  I have tried chocolate dipped, sesame, coconut, almond, and spicy pepper? amongst others.  But I haven’t found “the one.”

I have bought these different types of cookies from all of the bakeries near me.  I bought almond cookies from the extravagant one on the corner…good but not great.  I tried chocolate dipped ones from the new one that opened next door to my apartment…up there!, but I like their baklava better.  I also bought some sesame ones from the bakery across from my ATM…they were good but their olive bread takes precedence.

So, quite literally I felt like Goldie Locks trying everything.  How do I distinguish which bakery has “the cookie.”  I mean honestly if things kept on going like they were, my hips/wallet was going to be collateral.  What to do, what to do???

Well, the woman in the bakery next door spoke English to me when I tried ordering in Greek.  Much appreciated, but I don’t like that.  Surprisingly, I’d rather make an ass out of myself butchering the Greek language than speak English.  “ena froule parakalo?” (one strawberry please? Referring to the mini strawberry cookie).  “You want the strawberry one?” she replied.  And I’d rather struggle to understand her reply in Greek than hear English….that bakery is too English.

 The woman at the extravagant bakery on the corner is pleasant but not interested in having a relationship with me (crazy sounding to expect right? Well I’ve come to expect it here.  I wave to the butcher everyday and haven’t spoken more than two words to him.)  That bakery is too aloof.

The bakery across from my ATM is certainly friendly, but it’s a little expensive compared to the others.  If I shopped there frequently I would need to walk across the street and hit the ATM afterwards every time.  What a fitting location.  That bakery is too pricey.

 However, the bakery near Arcadia Center is considerably cheap.  The women who work there are always friendly and inviting.  And the best part is, they only speak Greek.  Well isn’t it obvious then that this is the bakery that must have “the cookie.”  Not necessarily, I initially thought.  It already has the best chocolate croissant, it can’t also have the best cookies (I reasoned.  Great logic huh?).  I just had thought that every bakery would have something special to offer-something specific that it was great at making, and I already deemed this one as chocolate croissant heaven.

 Well it turns out that it also houses “the chosen cookie.”  I order a sampling of three different types to have during my two and a half hour kaffe today before class.  The first one was too sweet.  The second one was too small (I wanted more).  But the third one was the one.  It melted in my mouth.  It was lemony and covered in powdered sugar, and just plain delicious. 

Yesterday I was at the Acropolis for my first class and then at Dionysus’s Theater for my second class.  I went to the market and then had an amazing language class with Apostolos.  A monumental day (literally) to say the least.  And today, I slept in, did some homework, strolled my neighborhood, took a long kaffe break and then went to my Greek literature class.  Uneventful? No equally monumental to yesterday because I found “the cookie” that I enjoyed at “the café.” 

Sometimes I feel like Athens is so large that I can’t possibly find the best of everything while I am here.  But today I was reminded that the best of the best is often found in unexpected places; and sometimes right around the corner.

 Love,

 TZEINA

Don’t talk to strangers. Unless you are in Greece

September 22, 2009

The concept of privacy, of minding your own business is not exactly an everyday value in Greece.  While I realized this as soon as I arrived, it has become especially apparent lately.  I am not criticizing this cultural norm, I am just trying to get used to it.  And I’ve been going to bed every night thinking that I was getting used to it.

 That is until Olga woke me up yesterday as she cleaned my floor.  No, Olga is not my fourth roommate-she is a woman who cleans our apartment.  Imagine my surprise when I open my eyes to see a woman who I do not know in my bedroom mopping my floor.  Not only was I just waking up, I was also quite confused that someone would even be cleaning my apartment.  “Kalimeraa Kalimeraa.  Tikanis?” Olga says completely normal, as if it was no big deal.  “poli kala, esis?” I said.  Meanwhile I’m searching my brain for “I’m confused?” “who are you?” in Greek.  But just like in class, I blank and continue to repeat the four or five words that I remember.

 Maybe she is a neighbor?  One of my classmates had a neighbor come into her apartment looking for a feather duster once?  Nope, she’s already got a mop.  Hmmm.  Flight or fight?  Definitely flight. (Have I ever chosen fight?).  My roommate informed me that she was our cleaning lady.  “We have a cleaning lady?”  I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one.  Olga continued to talk to me when I was eating in the kitchen, and flossing in the bathroom.  Apparently, my ratty boxers and morning breath were not going to prevent Olga from talking to me.  I only felt like an idiot for not knowing more Greek.  Generally, this feeling occurs later on in the day rather than immediately when I wake up.

 Later on that day my Professor took a classmate and I to an art gallery opening for American artist, Mark Titchner.  The Exhibit is called, “The Age of Happiness.”  It was great and had captivating installations.  She (our professor) offered to take the whole class but it came as no surprise that only I and another girl, my roommate Melissa, wanted to go.  Going to a gallery opening with a Greek who has connections? What’s the hesitation? On the way there our professor asks us every question under the sun.  She wants to know everything about us and she wants to help us in any way that she can.  Sure my professors at Elon are also interested in their students-but man, southern hospitality’s got nothing on Greece.  So we go, and meet the exhibit director and all these other important people with her. Everyone she talked to who worked at the exhibit wanted to know who we were?  What we thought?  It was strange to be amongst so many clearly upper class Greeks.  It was stranger when they wanted to actually talk to us and apparently to also know our life stories. 

 One vendor at the market today certainly acted like he already knew my life story, “you are form America.” (I only spoke Greek to him, again I think it’s the hair? Or my height?)  “You like george bush.  I like him. He is gay though.  I like obama.  Welcome to Greece.  You will like my oranges.”  I will not buy your oranges again malaka.

 It was only after that rather one-sided conversation with the smartass orange vendor that I fully appreciated “Greek nosiness.”  (not sure what else to call it)  Because unlike the orange vendor, most Greeks are not looking for a laugh from the blonde giant roaming their market.  They are merely curious and caring.  Their questions are genuine and so are their hearts.  Mind your own business?  What kind of rule to live by is that?  We are each other’s business, all of us. 

 Love

 TZEINA

Hydra Heaven

September 21, 2009

If you could combine Italy, 19th century Britain, and Greece you would end up with Hydra.  I honestly feel spoiled for having been able to visit such a beautiful place at such a young age.  It was breathtaking.  And it turns out its got some great history to tell.  Even though it is a small Greek Island, Hydra was once (1800sish?) the homeport to over 2/3 of the Greek navy during Greece’s fight for independence from Turkey.  Because of this it became know as “Little Britain.”  And it kinda felt like a little Britain-with colonial lamp posts and cannons everywhere.

It also kinda felt like Itlay.  The “mansions” (now mostly small villas and hotels) look Tuscan in style.  And the countryside in the mountains has those “Tuscan trees.”  Further, no cars, mopeds, or even bicycles are allowed on the Island so it was incredibly serene, clean, and quite.  Donkeys and horses are pretty much the only form of transportation.  For the most part the island is designed for walking.

But Hydra is nonetheless very Greek.  As soon as we got off the ferry, Costas (everyone is named Costas!-or Nikos) who runs the villa that we were staying in came to the port to meet and greet us.  He even brought his puppy, Nino.  “Yiasas Yiasas, welcome.  Nino and I go everywhere together so I hope you don’t mind.”  He walked us to the villa and stopped for some errands along the way.  I held Nino’s leash while Costas went to buy fruit.  I’m in Hydra for 10 minuets and I already have a best friend. 

We got to the villa and Costas served us the fruit and juice he had just bought.  We asked him how long he has been on Hydra.  “O about 25 years now.  I came for a weekend and decided to stay and run business.  But this is my last year on the island.  I’m moving to Athina with my wife and kids.  So I’m gonna sell this house.  You three are my last guests to ever stay here.”  No pressure though.

Now I was beginning to feel the Greek in Hydra.  In Greece, it seems that everyone on an island (who wasn’t born there at least) got there unplanned just like Costas.  And I can imagine why.  Leaving on Sunday was difficult enough.  But I don’t really understand how everyone on Hydra makes ends meet.  I mean the island definitely sees money.  I was there during the low season and saw some of the biggest yachts I’ve ever seen.  But as far as the locals go, I don’t really get it.  Costas for example, did not charge us what he would charge others for his villa.  And I could actually afford to eat at Sunset Restaurant (BBC’s #2 most beautiful restaurant in the world?) and sit in the same seat that Catherine Zeta Jones sat in when her and Michael ate there (the waiter was very excited to tell me and then show me in pictures despite my larger interest in the grilled octopus I was trying to eat).  There was also a wedding on the island that weekend-and we were offered free wedding cake.  Don’t take candy from strangers.  But if you don’t accept a piece of wedding cake from a Greek well look out my friend!  (it was vanilla and lemon) Furthermore, even the starving artists of Hydra cut me a deal.  “posso yani?” I said about two paintings.  (one 20 euro and one 5 euro).  “Eh dio? 20 euro parakalo.”  Let s face it I’m not built for bargaining so you can imagine my excitement when I was offered something for cheaper.

“ohi, you should have tried to get them for even cheaper. He would have agreed to 15 I bet.” Costas later informed me.  And another one bites the dust.

Ultimately, Hydra is a combination of cultures and beauties.  It’s got British charm and Italian luxury.  But it’s also got Greek hospitality, which borders on stealing, and “Greek Time.”  Done with dinner?  Why would you want the check when you can sit for two hours and relax.  At one taverna, we literally could have dinned and ditched.  Where were all of the waiters?  Sitting inside smoking and eating of course!  So I guess all in all Hydra really was all Greek to me.

Love,

TZEINA

Not all who wander are lost…except for me

September 21, 2009

Take a wild guess at what happened to me today?  I got lost.  But I never felt that “I’m lost anxiety!”  It’s amazing to me that I can manage to navigate my way on the metro to get to my Athens On Site archaeology class on time (More like a “where in the world is Professor Stavros?! Class” as well).  And then I walk a simple route, and end up lost.  Maybe Zeus is looking out for me when I need to get to class and letting me get lost at all other times for a good laugh.

Of course, Professor Stavros is not that impressed with my navigational skills, but I am.  Today I was feeling victorious for having arrived at the seemingly unmarked location Stavros requested that we be at on time.  And as soon as we are all there Stavros says, “ok you guys want to walk with me now?”  I’m thinking that we are probably going to some random area of Athens.  Nope, we went to the Athinian Agora ruins.  Don’t get me wrong I was very excited to have class amongst some of the most extensive ruins that I have ever seen, but I could have easily gotten there without having gone on the metro.  I guess Stavros is going to teach me more than archaeology. 

After class I decide to walk home through the national gardens.  (transportation tickets are 1 euro each?!) It’s pretty much a straight shot from city-center through the gardens, past the stadium, to my neighborhood.  Or is it?  It was probably the paths in the gardens that did it.  They wind every which way, and there are always families, kids, and ducks to distract me.  I exit the gardens thinking ok I’m gonna see the stadium!  Well instead I saw the national guards changing (an elaborate event that involves enormous steps and shoes with pom poms on them).  What a surprise! Was I back at parliament? Because that would be bad as that is where I entered the gardens.  No I had arrived outside the “President/Prime Minister’s” house, which apparently also has guards.  Maybe he could direct me?  Probably not seeing as he stepped down recently.

Ok well, I’ll walk left.  I soon saw fountains and large hotels, and lots of embassies.   Definitely not my neighborhood-too many people in suites.  I swear no one works in Pagrati (my hood).  All I see every day all day is people sitting having coffee, smoking-or kids running around rampant.  Even when they “work” they don’t really.  I practically made my own coffee the other day at Costas’s café.  So I rounded the block and started to walk right. I spotted the stadium. Home! 

Well I then thought that it would be a good idea to buy baklava from my favorite bakery.  I bought two different types (there are nearly 100 different types).  Walking back to my apartment I stopped on my street to look in to a new store.  What was it going to be?  Another bakery-surprise surprise.  It had these delicious looking chocolate balls! I’m getting one soon.  So I continued walking home. Only I passed my apartment.  I was literally standing next to it (the new bakery is right next to it) and I continued walking!

I guess sometimes those who wander are lost. 

Love,

TZEINA

Ps going to Hydra island tomow until Monday! Yiasoo! Will have cell

Barbie Goes to Market

September 21, 2009

Athens is famous for it’s ruins.  Although, everyone knows this, I never realized just how many ruins there are.  In my first class today, Art and Archaeology, we met up at the National Archaeology Museum.  After analyzing some works, we went downstairs to the courtyard to escape the aggressive tour groups upstairs.  It seems that anytime after 9:00am, retired masses of 40 or 50 people from every country visit the museum.  Understandable, as Poseidon, (or is it Zeus? Archaeologists still disagree), beckons international gazes among other well preserved statues.

In the courtyard there are benches, a cafeteria, and yet more ruins.  A classmate asked our Professor Sanders if the outside air would eventually damage them?  “Well it’s certainly not the best place for them, but they are from the Roman period which everyone dislikes.”

Dislikes? I kinda like it?  She explained further that, “Greeks love and hate their ruins.  They love them because they are famous for them.  They hate them because they continue to pop up everywhere.”  Want to make a renovation to your house?  Well an archaeologist has to come first to make sure you’re not going to build on some undiscovered temple.  Apparently that is more common than one might think.

My next professor, Stavros, explained this further.  We met at a church in Athens for class, Athens On Site: Archaeology and the City.  “Athens is simply ancient ruins that have been recycled over and over.”  Even in the metro, there are ruins. 

Greeks love their culture, but they don’t like when it encompasses their daily lives.   Just like they don’t like newcomers to the market as I soon found out.  When I ventured to my neighborhood market for produce I imagined it quieter than the last time as it was almost over.  Fat chance.  There was more yelling.  People were bagging up vegetables as if they were preparing for a flood.  I only needed a couple of vegetables and some fruit.  Apparently, that is not an option when the market is about to close in an hour.  Everything becomes a “kilo for .50 euro” or something similar.  So as I tried to pay for two cucumbers, the vendor took my bag added about 8 more and then I paid.  This continued to happen for every other food I bought.  Cheap yes.  And a great deal for fresh produce.  I just ended up with more than I expected.  More than I could handle.  I walked back to my apartment looking like a black market veggie vendor because I had so many bags.

It was funny, kind of like a wake up call.  I thought I knew how the market ran after having gone last week.  However, I discovered a whole new aspect of the market.  Although I didn’t enjoy it at first, as eggplants were literally slipping from my grip, I like having a fully stocked kitchen now.  I can look past the hoard of produce I have and see myself attempting to cook it all-or just make Greek salads over and over.  They are kind of like my Greek ruins.  I have too many, and they take up space, but I appreciate having them. 

Love

TZEINA