Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Night in Athens!!!!

Last night we went to see Lil’ Jon at club W in Gazi. We had trouble finding the club in the beginning. We asked just about every person we saw if they knew where the club was, but no one really spoke English. We finally made it there and we saw a huge crowd in front of the door. There were so many people trying to get into the club and we didn’t have reservations. We slid in on the side of the crowd and then pushed our way to the front. Sheila and I were at the front of our group so the girl appeal could hopefully get us in. After a few minutes, we were in the club! I had never been to W before, and it was such an awesome venue. The DJ booth was huge, and was in the middle of the club with an oval dance floor surrounding it. We pushed our way to the front of the stage early so we would be able to see Lil’ Jon up close. We were all front row when he came out. He was such a good performer. He poured champagne onto the crowd and I got soaked. It was so cool! The whole show he was throwing stuff into the crowd and pouring shots into people’s mouths. After the show was over, Sheila, Stef, and I were brought to the VIP section of the club to hang out with Lil’ Jon and his posse. He kept taking shots with us and taking pictures of us on his phone. We all danced together and had fun! While we were at the VIP table, Sheila and I met two other girls from America that were studying abroad in Athens too. It was such an amazing experience. That was the perfect way to end my time in Athens. It was such an awesome night with all of my friends. It made me realize how much I am going to muss Athens. For 2 Euro I saw Lil’ Jon perform and got to dance with him at his VIP table. Priceless…. but that’s Athens Baby!


PHOTOS :)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericatomaszewski

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last few days in Greece


Thursday was one of those days I wish I could re-live over and over again. Our group took a trip to the National Gallery in Athens. It was the perfect wrap-up for the semester. We toured the museum and were able to make connections from so many different eras in art. After the museum, we took a walk through the city and were able to see the landmarks we had to take pictures of on our first day for the scavenger hunt!

After our walk we ended up at the National Cemetery. We walked through to admire the monuments of so many famous Greek people. We ended up at Heinrich Schliemann's grave. We read poetry, drank champagne, and celebrated the semester. It was such an amazing day!

For most of the night I studied and worked on final papers and such. My roommate took a picture of me as evidence that I actually do work! I moved my desk into my room and literally just sat and did work for hours. It was so crazy.

Later both apartments met up to commemorate the amazing times we have had this semester. All of our Greek friends came over! It was such a fun night :)

Its really weird that in about 72 hours I will back in the United States chilling in Nashua. It feels so surreal. As much as I want to see my family and friends, I would like to come back here next semester. I definitely love it in Athens and do not want to go back to school in Rindge :( It is going to be a difficult adjustment to go from the bustling, carefree city of Athens to the boring, tiny town of Rindge.

However I am truly excited to see my family and friends. It is probably going to be the best Christmas I have ever had. I am going to appreciate everything so much more now. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Espana!


On December 3rd Sheila, Scott, and I went to Barcelona, Spain for the weekend. We stayed at a beautiful garden hostel just outside the city. We were able to take public transportation into the city and see all of the sites. We also took a bus tour of the city so we could hop on and off the bus all day. The bus tour was 4 hours long and we were able to see pretty much the entire city of Barcelona!

During our time in Barcelona, it was pretty cold. We visited many Starbucks throughout our journey in the city. We saw so much in just 3 days! It was such a beautiful city! The buildings were so unique and just amazing.

Thanksgiving Weekend

On Thanksgiving, I took an early flight to Amsterdam to visit some friends from the US and to see MIA perform in concert!!! After looking for turkey for a few blocks, we decided to settle on some thanksgiving pizza! I had veggie pizza for thanksgiving and it was absolutely delicious.

Our hostel was located on the outskirts of the Red Light District which was definitely an interesting experience. I had walked through the district before, but I had never walked through at night trying to get to a hostel.

I went to the MIA concert very excited for the event I had been waiting for this entire study abroad trip. I was EXTREMELY disappointed in the performance. MIA barely sang the first 30 minutes because her mic was going in and out. She just danced around, and the DJ did not play the full song, but instead kept mixing her songs together. After only 57 minutes, MIA left the stage and did not return for an encore. It was so disappointing. She did not even play "XXXO," her big hit off her latest album. It was just a very frustrating night! The whole show was over before 10:20pm. :(

On Friday, I went to the Amsterdam zoo! It was so fun! We saw elephants, giraffes, camels, flamingos, gorillas, baboons, monkeys, a planetarium, insectarium, and an entire aquarium full of fish! It was a huge zoo! We were there walking around, seeing everything for almost 5 hours.

On Saturday I flew to Dublin to meet up with some friends from Athens. It was really cool because Dublin had snow! It was FREEZING and it was snowing so hard. It was the most snow Dublin had seen in 15 years. I had bangers and mash, Guinness Irish stew, and a full Irish breakfast. This was also the first time I had ever tried Guinness beer. It was soooo much fun!

Egypt! November 13th-18th


Egypt was absolutely amazing! We spent time in Cairo and Luxor, Egypt. I rode camels, went inside a pyramid, belly danced, took a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings, went swimming in the Nile River and saw mummies up close. The trip was just so awesome!

On the first day we took a trip to Old Cairo. We visited the pyramids of Giza, toured the Sphinx, visited a perfumery, papyrus shop, visited the Steppe Pyramid, toured Memphis, and went on a Nile River Dinner Cruise.

After 3 days in Cairo, we took an overnight train to Luxor. That overnight train made me a stronger person ;) It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

In Luxor we toured the Valley of the Kings, Colosso of Memnon, and the Tomb of Queen Hatshepsut.

The entire experience was unreal. Visiting Egypt was something I had wanted to do since I was in elementary school. It was so cool to experience another culture, and visit another continent.

Forever Young


On November 5th, I went club hopping with all of my roommates. At midnight we took a shot in celebration of my 21st bday!!! It was so fun! We were able to dance the night away :) We ended up getting back to the apartment around 4am

On November 6th I went shopping for the day with Sheila! We went out for lunch and then got ready to go out at night. That night we were able to get into a club and actually got a table because it was my birthday! We got free drinks too. It was such a good weekend :)

Halloween in Athens


DAY BEFORE HALLOWEEN-

Halloween is not celebrated in Greece, so the American students at HAU were more than happy to introduce the holiday to our peers. Sheila and I planned a party at Abridor- a cafe near our university. We had carmel popcorn, candy corn, and other sugar candy brought over to Greece from the US. Greek people eat chocolate and other treats, but rarely eat what they call "sugar candy." This is skittles, starburst, taffy-those kinds of candy.

We played a compilation of Greek music, old rock, and popular music. We also had scary, halloween movies playing in the background on a projector overhead.

Our Greek friends did not really understand the concept of halloween so it was fun to try to explain it to them. They could not believe that kids walk around asking for free candy and that everyone actually gives out the candy for free. It was definitely interesting to try to explain the holiday.

I dressed up as a tourist for the party. I had on sandals with white socks, an i love athens t-shirt, shorts, a hat, and a fanny pack. In my hand I had a map and a huge camera. It was funny to see the reactions of the Greek students.


ON HALLOWEEN-

All of the FPU students got together and had a real halloween party. We all dressed up this time and partied like it was 1999. It was so fun to celebrate an American holiday in another country. I dressed up as a housewife. We all had a really great night :)

Back to Reality- last week of October

October 22nd, 2010

My roommate Sheila and I are getting involved in the student life at Hellenic American University. We are meeting Greek students and beginning to get more involved in the activities taking place on campus. We were both appointed as members of the Student Council at HAU. As new members we were assigned to work on the Halloween Party! Sheila and I took the initiative and planned the night! We went to meet with the owner of the cafe we were having the party at. He only spoke Greek, so we brought our Greek friend with us to translate :)

Today we also had the opportunity to apply for a press pass for the MTV European music awards. We submitted our resumes and crossed our fingers. Our advisor for Student Council told us not to get our hopes up because MTV is a huge network in Athens and throughout Greece. We are really hoping we will be able to get press passes.

On Friday, Oct. 23rd Sheila and I had the opportunity to go to our first Greek house party! We took a taxi to the apartment about 20 minutes away. Our friend played Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Aerosmith. It was really weird to hear such old music at a party. They had oregano flavored chips and doritos. It was so cool to drink with the Greeks. In the clubs usually people only have one drink, and before tonight, I had never seen a Greek person drunk. At this party everyone was soooo intoxicated! It was cool to meet a lot of new people and try to speak my basic Greek phrases with them :)

On Tuesday, October 26th, I had to go back to reality- well sort of. Classes resumed after fall break at Hellenic American University. It was weird going back to school after having a week off. We definitely got the homework to make up for a week of no classes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Paris, France October 14th- October 18th


To all those who are following this blog and thinking- "does this girl ever go to school or study!" I do really go to classes here! I actually have to study A LOT, and have had homework none stop since I have arrived in Athens. The good thing is that I know how to balance my life and prioritize. AND LET'S BE SERIOUS, WHO WANTS TO SEE PICTURES OF ME AT MY DESK STUDYING ANYWAYS! :)

On Wednesday night I was contemplating whether to travel over our week break from classes, or just explore Athens and catch up on homework. It took me about 2 seconds to begin my search of flights from Athens to every major city throughout Europe. I decided to go to Paris, France and decided that I should just leave the next day. So, I booked my flight for Paris for Thursday at 3pm.

THURSDAY, October 14th
On Thursday I packed in the morning, and then found out that the metro was on strike AGAIN! Every time I need to go to the airport, a concert, class, ANYWHERE the metro is on strike. Athens does not believe in suffering in silence like many Americans who go to a job they hate everyday. Instead, the people of Athens just do not show up to work. So, Sheila, Logan, and I ended up splitting a cab to get to the airport. The taxi driver was actually really nice, and took us right to the airport without trying to take us in a circle down back streets like many others have tried in the past.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to go through security and get to our gate. The whole time I was at the airport I could not believe I was going to Paris, I still cannot believe that I am in Athens sometimes!

We boarded the bus to be taken to our plane, a mile away. We boarded the plane, and we were off to Paris!!!!

When we arrived, we discovered that the trains were on strike in Paris as well. We had to take many different lines, and transfer many times to get into the city. At one stop, I did not know we had to transfer and almost got left on the train. The trains were so packed that we had to squeeze into the little room that was available at the edges of the doors. So, Sheila and Logan went in one door, and I went in another one. At one point, a lot of people got off the train and a seat opened up. I walked over to take the seat, looked up and Sheila and Logan were standing on the platform. From the seated position, I leaped towards the door with my suitcase swinging behind me. The doors closed and I threw my body in the middle of them. I somehow managed to get out of the doors, and my suitcase was still attached to me, but through the handle sticking out of the door. Everyone on the platform and inside the train was helping me open the doors to get my suitcase out. I made it, with my broken suitcase! The handle broke and I was unable to roll it around the city :( but we made it :)

Now, this next part was a first for me. We did not have hotel reservations before getting into the city. We had no plans for the weekend, and no expectations.

After we got off the metro in the city, we began to look for someplace to stay. We found a small American hotel where the staff was very friendly and could speak english. We put our stuff in our room, and decided to go out for the night to explore. We found a little cafe by our hotel and decided to go in to take a look at the menu. The doors were really weird and after we decided we did not like what we saw, we could not leave. I tried to open the door for about a minute. The 6 employees standing by the door did not offer to help, but instead stood by, watched, and laughed at us! It was REALLY embarrassing that I had to eventually ask one of them to open the door for me.

The next restaurant had the doors propped open, so we walked in and sat down. I ate duck and potatoes for dinner! I am really excited that on this trip I have been able to eat new things every place I go, and actually enjoy it!!

FRIDAY, October 15th
On Friday, we went to Notre Dame! It was so beautiful! We walked around inside, and then proceeded outside to wait in line to get to the top. We were in line for about 45 minutes, when the man who was in charge came up to us and told us the top was closing. He explained that it had something to do with the strikes that were going on, and no one else would be let up to the top the rest of the day. Reluctantly, we left our place in line and set out to explore the rest of the city! For lunch we found a greek gyro stand, and of course had to try one. I had a small greek conversation with the owner, and he was so shocked/impressed when I greeted him in Greek. The gyros were HUGE!!! I had to hold mine with 2 hands to eat it, and honestly could not believe that I finished it! The stand used extra large pita bread and then filled it with tons of meat, french fries, tomatoes, lettuce, and special sauce!

After lunch, we came across street performers, and were able to cross the many bridges in the center of the city. We navigated the bus system and arrived at the Eiffel Tower for sunset. At the bottom of the tower we got some crepes! They were so warm and so delicious! It was about 40 degrees out, so the crepe was the perfect thing to warm me up! We waited in line to buy our tickets. Then we waited in line to get to the 2nd platform, and in the line to get to the top. Eventually we made our way to the top of the Eiffel Tower!!! At the top we headed over to the mini-bar inside and got a glass of champagne! It was so exciting to drink champagne on the top of the Eiffel Tower. We took SO MANY pictures of ourselves, and even helped out some strangers by taking photos for them :)

The view was so amazing from the top. We were able to see the whole city all lit up! We were torn about going back down, but it was freezing and raining at the top, so we decided to go back down.

At the bottom, we took a different way to get home so we could see even more of the city. We found a baguette/crepe cafe for dinner. I ate more crepes over the 4 days in Paris, than I had my entire life. They were sooo yummy! I could not get enough. I had a strawberry jelly, banana, and sugar crepe for dinner. Some may think this is a crazy combination, but I absolutely loved it :)

SATURDAY, October 16th
On Saturday we wandered around the city again. We knew that our final destination would be the Louvre, but we did not have a designated path on how to get there. I liked this travel style. I had never been so free before Paris, and I loved it! We took side streets, different buses, and tons of bridges, just exploring the city. We found a real french painter, painting on the side of one of the bridges. We saw the flame from the Statue of Liberty. We somehow navigated down a street of designer shops, which Logan did not like very much, but Sheila and I loved it! We were even able to see the Louis Vuitton headquarters in Paris!!

We made it to the Louvre and took pictures in front! There was a long line to get into the main entrance, so we used a trick that one of our acquaintances from the plane ride told us about. You go up to the security guard at the back of the line and ask for the entrance to the shopping mall. Then, you are directed to set of stairs that goes through an underground mall, and dumps you at the beginning of the ticket line for the Louvre. It was so awesome! We skipped a huge line, and then were able to get in for free with our Greek student ID card. I walked around the GIANT museum for about 4 hours, running up stairs, and through hallways to get to all of the exhibits I could. I was able to see the majority of the museum, and the main exhibits! I walked through the Egyptian Exhibit, Napoleon's Apartment, the Greek section first. While in the museum I was able to see the Mona Lisa, Hammurabi's Code, Mary Magdalene, and so much more!! It was such an exciting visit :)

After the Louvre, we took a bus back close to the hotel. We found another crepe place on the way back to the hotel, and decided to stop in. We took our crepes to-go and settled into our warm hotel room for the night!

SUNDAY, October 16th
On Sunday we went to breakfast at the hotel. We were served baguettes with butter, jelly, and nutella. We also had hot chocolate and orange juice. It was the perfect breakfast to build up the strength we needed for the day because today we were going to DISNEYLAND PARIS!! We took the train and then transfered to another train to get to Disney. When we arrived, I am pretty sure we saw snowflakes. It was very cold outside, but we were in Disney!! Nothing else really mattered :) I rode Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Small World, and Star Wars. There was also a parade and stage show we were able to see. It made perfect sense once I got there, but I was initially shocked when Mickey spoke french. We could not understand what he was saying, but all the Disney songs were still in English and we sang along.

The roller coasters were really intense! Space Mountain went upside down 7 times! And all of the other roller coasters went upside down too. My roommate Sheila is terrified of roller coasters, but somehow I convinced her to go on Space Mountain because in Florida it is not that scary. I said something along the lines of "let's be serious, it's Disney. These rides are for kids." Well, when we stopped you might be able to picture the face she gave me. Sheila was a little mad :)

After a long day at the best place in the world, we hopped on a train and headed back to our hotel. We were both so tired that we fell asleep almost instantly upon entering our room.

~Paris was absolutely beautiful. The trip was such a once in a lifetime experience! I am so happy I was able to go, and I feel so lucky to be able to study abroad and see all of these amazing places.

Keeping it classy in Athens-
Erica :)

PICTURES OF EVERYTHING!

Amsterdam! October 7th- October 11th






Thursday, October 7th
After the long and stressful 2-day school week I had to get away ;)
After class on Thursday, Colin, Logan, and I boarded a plane and took the weekend to explore Amsterdam. There was a metro strike in Athens, so we had to take a cab to the airport. There also happened to be an airplane strike that day, so we freaked out that our flight might be cancelled. When we got to the counter to check-in, we found out our flight was not cancelled, but that it was pushed up for take-off because all planes would be grounded after 3pm. This meant we had about 15 minutes to get through security and to our gate for boarding. Logan and I had watched "Get Him to the Greek" the night before so we quickly repeated the stand out phrase- we have 35 minutes to catch an international flight.. no big deal, except we only had 15. We ran through the airport like in the movies, waited in the long security line with other panicked travelers, and finally made it to our gate! We had about 30 seconds to spare :)

The flight went really well. There was some minor turbulence, but nothing too bad. When we were flying over Amsterdam it was really funny to see all of the grow houses for their ever-so-popular coffeeshops.

We collected our luggage, and began to find some public transportation to our hotel. We navigated the local train schedule, hopped on the bullet train, and ended up at Central Station. From there we took a taxi to our hotel. Our taxi driver spoke a little Greek, so we had a broken Greek conversation with our driver until we got to the hotel.

After the long day of travel we got to our room, and plopped onto our beds. The beds were the most comfortable tempurpedic mattresses I have EVER slept on! I could not believe I was in Amersterdam!!!

Friday, October 8th


Today we woke up around 9am, and headed out to explore the city. We bought an Iamsterdam card. This card allows the holder free or discounted admission to just about every museum in the city. It also provides you with a free public transportation card that can work on every public transportation source in the city. We took out our maps, and our list of museums and hit just about every museum we could in the three days we had to explore the city.





We also went on a canal cruise of the city. We were able to see all of the Amsterdam from the waterways! All of the buildings were slanted and very old. The stairs in the buildings were very steep- so steep that furniture cannot be carried up the stairs. Instead there are large, removal windows in every building and a pulley system hanging from the every roof. When someone moves, or needs to bring something into the house, they open the windows and pulley the item into their house.




It was really cool to see the streets/bike lanes in Amsterdam. There was a bike lane, one car lane, and a lane for the tram. There were more bikes than cars in Amsterdam which was really cool to see. People used their bikes as the primary source of transportation, so they rode in the rain, sun, or after dark. There were baskets on the front for children to sit in, or to put bags in. Many people had a seat on the back of their bike for passengers. It was just so different than anything I had ever seen before and I really liked it :)

On Saturday we went to the Heineken Experience, which is a tour of the Heineken brewing company in Amsterdam. There was a museum in the beginning of the tour, and interactive booths throughout. We went on a ride, watched old commercials, and of course tasted the latest batch of beer.


After the tour, we walked to a bus stop, and took it over to the water. We found an hour long pancake cruise there, and waited for the next ferry to pull in. We sat on the top deck and were able to see all around us! During that hour, we ate sooo many pancakes. There were bacon pancakes, apple pancakes, sugar pancakes, jelly pancakes, and of course some plain ones. There was also a bar set up where you could choose from different kinds of fruit, jelly, sugar, sprinkles, chocolate, nuts, etc. to put on your pancakes. The only thing they didnt have was syrup. The boat and all of Amsterdam served powered sugar with their pancakes.


On Sunday we went to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. At the beginning of the museum was a section dedicated to the history of Amsterdam, with all of its historical figures. After we were able to see all of the Dutch celebrities in wax. Mr. Heineken was in the museum, along with Van Gogh. There were also many international celebrities in the museum. My favorite wax figure was Tiesto. He is from Holland, and I was able to see him a few weeks ago in Athens. Naturally I had to take a picture with him.



On Sunday we also went to the Anne Frank House. We waited in line to get in, and then were able to explore the whole house. We went through the bookcase door that kept her housing secluded, and were able to go through the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and to the attic where Anne used to hang out. There were diary entries written all over the walls talking about different places in the house where she used to write in her diary. It was so surreal to see the pictures and magazines cut-outs that Anne Frank herself had actually put on the wall only decades ago. It was a very educational experience, and I am very happy that I went.


The trip to Amsterdam was absolutely amazing, and so much fun! We were also able to go to some educational places during the trip as well. By the time we left Amsterdam we had been to the Tulip Museum, the Diamond Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, the Dutch Museum, Van Gogh Museum, the Purse Museum, Riijksmuseum, and Amsterdam's Historisch Museum. I loved Amsterdam so much and would love to go back there again someday. I might even want to live there- it left a great impression on me :)


As always hanging out, keepin it classy in Athens and beyond :)

Pictures


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Class, Class, Class






After the Turkey trip, we had A LOT of class time to make up! We ended up having class for about 5 hours on Tuesday. This was very hard for me to sit through, but I did it- with a half smile on my face. After class, I went to a local stationary store with my roommate and looked around for some American magazines. I found a copy of the September Issue of Vogue and quickly took it down from the shelf. Ever since I have seen "The September Issue," I have been mildly obsessed with Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, the inner workings of the publication. I was so excited to see the American copy sitting in front of me. After a long day of classes and work, I thought this would be a nice treat for the evening.

That night we had our weekly Tuesday night mezze dinner. I was pretty lazy this week, and ended up bringing Turkey sandwiches. I of course, went all out and toasted the bread, thinly sliced tomatoes, onions, pickles, and lettuce, but they were still just sandwiches. We watched MTV and the U.K.'s hit list countdown. I wish I could watch MTV and television in general here, but we only get one channel, very static-y and in Greek.

After dinner, I finished my homework for classes the next day and began to read Vogue. I was so happy to see all of my favorite designers and read the articles in English! It was just what I needed after a long day :)

October 6th

On Wednesday our group took a trip to the Acropolis and the new Acropolis Museum. Both were such amazing experiences. I have been in Athens for about a month and a half now, have seen the Acropolis sitting on the top of the hill almost everyday, but had not made it up to see it for myself yet.

We started at the Acropolis Museum. Like most museums in Athens, pictures were not allowed. The new museum was actually built on top of some of the remaining ruins from the Acropolis. So, the floors are made of glass so you can see down to the ruins below the building. Even on the 4th floor, there is glass to the bottom, which got a little trippy at times. There were remains from the Parthenon and the Acropolis all over the museum. The actual pieces that survived so many battles, fires, and cannon balls in ancient times were sitting right in front of me. It was so cool to see those remaining pieces of history close enough to touch. There was even a short film that explained the history behind the museum, the Parthenon, and the Acropolis.




After the museum we walked up to the Acropolis. We were able to see the Roman theater that was built during Roman occupation. We were also able to see the Parthenon where the ancient battle took place for the name of the city between Athena and Poseidon. Athena won (athens) and we also saw the Olive Tree that she planted there when she won the battle for the city. We could also see the whole city of Athens. I was even able to take a picture of Lykavitos Hill- the highest point in Athens that I occasionally walk/jog/run up when I am extremely motivated :)

Picture from my adventures can be found at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericatomaszewski

Keepin' It Classy in Athens, Greece!!
~Erica out

Life after Turkey






After we got back to the apartment in Athens, it was time for rest and relaxation, well for at least a day. On Thursday we all hung around, caught up on homework and sleep. On friday, we jumped right back into our opportunities in Athens. That night we went out to Gazi- the nightlife district in Athens. We jumped from club to club, meeting local Greeks and dancing to the American music. I was very surprised to find out that Greek people do not dance in the clubs like Americans do. Greek people sit at tables, or stand at the bar and look around. No one talks and NO ONE dances, well except for the American visitors in the club! That was us, and we were dancing all night long! Greek people also do not go out until around 1am. This is not very good for me because I have a strict 10pm bedtime, but I made an exception for the evening. :)
We ended up walking back to the apartment at 4:30am. We actually saw the local produce market down the street being set-up as we walked by to go to sleep!

The fun did not stop on Saturday. Saturday night (October 2nd) Sheila and I went to see DJ TIESTO at the Failro Olympic Stadium in Athens. Transportation is not always reliable in Athens, and tonight was no exception. We ended up waiting at the metro stop for 45 minutes for our train to come. While waiting for the train, we asked just about every taxi driver that passed to take us to the concert. Unfortunately, none of them spoke English and we had to rely on the metro. When we finally got on the train, we realized we had 19 stops to go before we arrived at the stadium. We tried not to panic, but we were very upset! It was finally time to get off the train and we got up and moved to the door.
Then, all of the sudden, the train sped up and went right past our stop. Sheila and I looked at each other in panic! Apparently after a certain stop on the green line you have a push a button indicating you want to get off because there is not a lot of traffic in that area. Well, we did not know this and missed our stop :( We ended up getting off at the next stop, and instead of waiting another 45 minutes for a train, we ran to the stadium! We ran under a bridge, on the tram tracks, over a bridge, and through bushes to get to the stadium. When we finally got there, we could hear Tiesto already on stage, and we could feel the bass hard against our chests from OUTSIDE the stadium. We ran to a security guard who was guarding the gate to get in, and begged him to let us in, even though we were late. He finally let us in, and gave us directions on how to get to the main entrance of the stadium. We saw another security guard in the distance, and started running faster towards him. He started screaming "Problem! This is a problem!" We didn't understand why he was so upset. Then he told us that somehow we had made our way backstage and we could NOT stay here. It was really cool that we were backstage, but all we wanted to do was see the show. We finally found our way to the front of the stage, and enjoyed the show until about 4:30am. After the show we found vedors on the street selling t-shirts for 10 EURO, and we happily bought one! Then we made our way back to the right metro stop. We were informed in Greek that the tram was not running to where we wanted to go, so we would have to take the next train and then transfer later down the road. After switching trains, traveling back to the main square, and finding a taxi to take us home, we were sooo tired, and it was 5:45am!


The weekend did not stop on Saturday, but continued into Sunday with a trip to the V.I.P. opening of Candy Bar in Gazi. We had no problem getting into the club, and danced the night away! The opening DJ was not that good, but eventually the house DJ came on and played some good hip-hop for the rest of the night. There was even a live performance by an Akon look- alike. After dancing for hours, we took a taxi home and settled into our beds around 6:00am!- the record for the weekend, and way past my 10pm bedtime :)

On Monday it was time for some serious homework and sleep. It was totally worth it though because it was the best weekend for nightlife in Athens so far! :)

Take a look at pictures of my adventures in Athens and beyond at:

Keepin' It Classy in Athens :)

Turkey September 22-28th, 2010









WEDNESDAY, September 22nd, 2010
In September, our group traveled to Turkey, and what a trip it was! We started our journey on Wednesday by flying from Athens, Greece to Samos Island in Greece. We spent the day in Samos, taking pictures of the beautiful beaches, and sipping sweet drinks under the umbrella lined street. After spending about 5 hours in Samos, we boarded a ferry and set sail for Kusadasi, Turkey. There were very rough seas and the wind was very strong. Let's just say I am soooo happy I did not wear a skirt. I felt so bad for the group of Australians who had on dresses, but I liked their choice of polka-dotted underwear :) When we arrived in Kusadasi, it took our ferry about 20 minutes to dock. The waves were so bad that the bridge connecting our ferry and the shore could not be secured even with 5 Turkish men trying to anchor it down. Eventually they managed to get some kind of a hold on it, and let the passengers de-board the ferry one person at a time. Once we all got off the ferry, we made our way through boarder control, and then walked to our hostel. The hostel was located at the top of what seemed like the steepest mountain I had ever climbed with my luggage trailing behind me. The incline was very steep, very long, and cobble stone. It was definitely a great work-out after sitting on the ferry for a few hours :)

The hostel was NOT a four-star hotel. Our room was a little sketchy and had a 6-in circumference hole in the bathroom wall leading out to the main street, and we were on the first floor. My roommate Sheila and I joked that the hole was used for the gypsy boys to spy on us while we were taking a shower. The shower and toilet situation made me a stronger person. The toilet was about 3 inches from the shower head that only spewed out cold water.

Luckily, Kusadasi was very tourist-y. We were able to quickly find a restaurant where the waiter spoke English. It was so exciting to speak English!! (There are very few people that speak English in Athens). There were also many shops and vendors on the street that were willing to sell us everything from UGG boots, to Louis Vuitton sheets, to Prada purses- all knock-offs of course. I found an ice-cream stand and was very happy to see the price was only 1 Euro a scoop. I quickly realized it is very hard to get your ice-cream handed to you in Turkey. The stands all have performer-like employees who will hit you with your ice-cream in the face and then pretend to drop it on the ground as you attempt to wipe it off your face. It was a very interesting experience to get ice-cream! The ice cream itself had a gum-like texture. You had to chew it, but it was still VERY tasty. I got pistachio and strawberry, and there were other flavors like rocky road, banana, lemon, cookies, and mixed-berry.

THURSDAY, September 23rd, 2010

Today we woke up early and went to breakfast at our hostel. Turkish breakfast consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, cold meats, bread, hard-boiled eggs, watermelon, and olives. I had some bread with tomatoes and cheese, and also some bread with sour grape jelly and hazelnut spread. The men working the breakfast said it was a very traditional Turkish breakfast. There was also Turkish apple tea served, which I reluctantly tried, and actually enjoyed! It was very similar to a hot apple juice.

After breakfast we walked to a bus stop, and met our tour guide for the day. His name was Jorge and he has been giving tours of the area for over a decade. We drove through Kusadasi, and on the way to our first destination we saw the largest water park in Turkey. On the other side, a few miles up the road, we saw its competition- the second largest water park in Turkey. We also saw many local shops and lots and lots of desert-like land that Jorge called farm land. Our first stop was the Ephesus Museum. This museum contained statues, sculptures, and other artifacts found in the ancient city of Ephesus.


After touring the musuem, we went to the actual city of Ephesus. Throughout my years in Catholic school, I had always heard the letters to the Ephesians, but never thought much about it. Well, I was visiting where all of those letters were sent! It was very, very, very cool to see this ancient, once thriving civilization. Our tour guide informed us that only about 15% of the city had been excavated. He said that if the Austrian workers dug at this site everyday for 24-hours a day, it would take about 900 years for all of the city to be uncovered. I thought that statistic was absolutely amazing! There was so much of the city in front of me, but there was so much more of it below my feet. While in Ephesus we were able to see their libraries, theaters, temples, bathhouses, and even their brothel. Jorge told us that when the Austrian excavators found the library, they discovered a tunnel that lead them across the street to where the brothel was located. I thought it was funny because this was so clever!! During our journey through Ephesus, I somehow managed to rip my linen pants right down the butt. I had to wear a scarf around my waist the entire day (and we had many more places to go after this!).


After learning a lot about the city of Ephesus, walking up to stairs to the top of the theatre, and grabbing some lunch at one of the cafes outside the city, our group piled onto the bus, and we were off to the House of the Virgin Mary. The road was extremely narrow and winding leading up to the top of the mountain. I often held my breath as we passed by the tiny cars that we could easily knock of the side of the mountain with our huge bus. When we finally made it to the top of the mountain, we de-boarded the bus and were able to walk up to where the house was located. I walked through and after lit a candle right outside the house. Also, I wrote a message to put onto the wishing wall. Jorge told us that the rule is that if your wish comes true, you must come back to the house and say a special prayer to Mary for granting your request. Jorge said that he would come back in our place if any of our wishes came true.

After getting back from the House of the Virgin Mary, we all took a break in our rooms while waiting for our hostel to prepare dinner. When dinner was ready, we sat on the patio in the back of the hostel and ate. The choices were fish or kebabs. I chose the kebab and it was so delicious. The kebabs were a combination of meat and peppers, tomatoes, and onions. There was also moist rice and an eggplant/tomato soupy mixture. I ate it all! After dinner a bunch of us went out exploring the port-city. We found a hookah bar on a side street and sat down for an Efes beer and some hookah.
The shop called them nargile-water pipes, and the hoses were very long and made of wood and carpet material. I had never seen anything like it before. We got a tobacco hookah, which was actual tobacco leaves wrapped around the coals, and a strawberry-coconut hookah. The tobacco hookah was EXTREMELY strong and nearly impossible for me to even try; however, I told myself that I would try everything once and I did try it once, and only once. At the hookah bar, there was a man who proposed to me and asked me to stay and live in Turkey with him. Although it was a kind offer, I returned with my group to the hostel :)

FRIDAY, September 24th, 2010
On friday we woke up before sunrise and walked over to the port in order to catch a bus to the train station. After about an hour-long bus ride, we arrived at the train station, and boarded a 6-hour bus ride to Bandirma, Turkey. The bus only had a snack cart of soda, chips, and cookies and this was not quite enough for us hungry students! The train also only had a hole in the ground for the bathroom. This experience was very interesting and LIFE CHANGING! Every time I went to the bathroom in Turkey I thought to myself, 'somehow this situation is worse than the last time I went to the bathroom.' Of course over the duration of 6 hours I did have to squat over the hole and go pee. While I was in the bathroom the train made a turn, and I had both my arms against the walls bracing myself. It was a very interesting experience.


When we arrived in Bandirma, Turkey we were informed our ferry to Istanbul, Turkey would be departing in about 20 minutes. We ran to the ferry port from the train station with luggage and all. Our group rushed through security, got to the gate, and showed the man our tickets. He told us the ferry was full, but another one would be departing at 9:30pm. The worst part was, it was only 3:30pm. For those who do not know the environment of Bandirma, you are very lucky. This is the only place throughout the trip that I was actually nervous to be in. There were military on the corner of every street, and police everywhere. Apparently, this city is a common home to terrorists attacks. I was just about to cry from exhaustion and disappointment from missing the ferry when I walked by a local shop and it was playing "Take My Breath Away." For those who do not know my obsession with this song from the movie Top Gun, you are missing out. I was so excited to hear this familiar tune that I quickly wiped the pout off my face, and looked for the good in the situation. Well, the good thing was that I found a bakery that had DELICIOUS cookies for only about 10 cents/ cookie. I was so hungry after the train ride that I bought 6 cookies on the spot and began to devour them! The cookies were short bread, different colors, and flavors. I could not pin point any particular flavor, but all I knew was that they were INCREDIBLY TASTY!

We eventually boarded the ferry, left Bandirma, and arrived in Istanbul. By the time we landed in Istanbul it was around 1am, and we were all SUPER tired from our long day of traveling. Our hostel was located on a street of hostels, cafes, and hookah bars. It was very convenient for our late night snacking habits!

SATURDAY, September 25th, 2010

Today we woke up after sunrise for the first day in a while. We ate a traditional Turkish breakfast at our hostel, and then we were off to all the tourist hot spots. We walked to the mausoleums on the way to the Hagia Sophia. The mausoleums were gorgeous. They were designed by the top architects of the time with special attention given to the construction of the ceilings. There were detailed tiles placed all along the walls. It was a really special experience. After the mausoleums we made our way down the street to the Hagia Sophia. Word cannot describe the beauty of this architectural masterpiece. It was once a palace that was turned into a mosque, into a church, back into a palace, back into a mosque, and so on based on who was in power at the time. There was so much history behind this now museum; it was amazing. The building was incredible.

After the Hagia Sophia we grabbed some lunch and then headed over to the Blue Mosque.
We had to wait in line to get in. While we were waiting, we saw security guards chase after a woman who refused to wear the headscarf, and kept trying to get into the mosque. We made our way through the line, and were able to take pictures inside. The mosque was so beautiful and peaceful. There were people in prayer everywhere, as well as many tourists taking pictures.

At night we stayed on our street and made our way to one of the local restaurants. We ate our meals, and then for "dessert" the owner gave us a free hookah. It was weird that it was considered a dessert in Turkey, but we enjoyed it just the same.

SUNDAY, September 26th, 2010
It rained today, but we still had many things to do and see. We made our way to the Topkapi Palace first. This was absolutely amazing. The palace was enormous with elaborate rooms, furnishings, and decorations in every room. Even the servants' quarters were beautiful. In one portion of the palace, we were able to see what the Turkish people claimed to be the staff of Moses, the headscarf of Joseph, and the beard of Muhammad. I was a little skepictal when seeing these items, but the Turkish people took their artifacts VERY seriously with security guards everywhere.

After the palace, we took a trip to the Archaeology Museum. The museum spanned 3 buildings and contained sculptures, jewelry, plates, statues, and paintings from Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and other parts of the world. It was really exciting to see all of the different styles and areas brought together in one museum.

MONDAY, September 27th, 2010

Today we visited the Zaman Media Group in Istanbul. The group was the home to many publications including a daily, english newspaper. Zaman Today had a large readership, unlike newspapers in the United States. In Turkey, newspaper readership is on the rise, with more and more subscriptions and issues being sold everyday. We were fortunate enough to meet with one of the editors of the newspaper, as well as the editor-in-chief of their future english magazine publication. He told us about how Turkey's media system works and that right now it was growing exponentially. We were given a tour of the media group building, as well as tea, coffee, and cookies in a conference room. The company was very welcoming to our group.


After the tour, we took the metro to the Basilica Cistern. It was an underground waterway in the past, that was recently restored for visitors to view and tour. We were able to walk through and take pictures of the beautiful columns and lighting.

TUESDAY, September 28th, 2010
In the morning, a group of us went to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. It was so big with stall after stall of knock-off clothing, hats, shoes, boots, purses, and watches. There were also amazing lamps on sale, and I of course had to get one! They were made of glass with beads attached and I haggled my way down to 27 Turkish Lira for one of the beautiful purple lamps!

We walked back to our hostel after the bazaar and began to pack our stuff because it was time to go back to Athens. Since there was a transportation strike in Greece, it was impossible to take the train back to Athens. A group of students and myself had planned to climb Mt. Olympus, but could not because of the transportation strikes. Our entire group was left with only one affordable option of getting back to Athens- an 18 hour bus ride.

The bus was not that bad, except it did not have a bathroom on it. Every rest stop we stopped at charged money to squat above the hole they called a bathroom to take a pee. This trip was full of experiences that made me a stronger person. I can honestly say I did not think I would survive the bus ride back to Athens, but I am happy to say that I did.

The boarder crossing between Turkey and Greece was very educational to say the least. There were military lining the whole boarder on both sides. We gave our passports to the Turkish military, and they happily stamped them to have us get the heck out of their country and enter Greece. (Turkey and Greece do not have a friendly working relationship.) We had to de-board the bus when we arrived at the Greece side and talk to a military man at the bottom of the stairs of the bus. We were instructed to hand him our passport and look him in the eyes. The guy looked at my passport, looked up at me, looked back at my passport, and back at me. He seemed very confused between my passport picture, and my appearance in real life. I was just thinking to myself that he would not look so good after being on a bus for about 10 hours. :)
After we made it through the boarder, it was smooth sailing, well sort of. There was a lot of traffic due to the strike. There were trucks blocking many roads and people protesting in the streets. We eventually made it to the bus stop, and walked home. Once I got inside the apartment, I drank a big glass of water, took a shower, and went to sleep in my bed.

Overall, the trip to Turkey was very exciting. I saw a lot of things I had never seen before, and was able to experience another culture first hand. Would I ever live there? Maybe, if I had a water purifier and air-conditioner installed in my apartment :)

As always-
Take a look at all my pictures at:

For now I am back in Athens, and KEEPIN' IT CLASSY :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh My Gosh, Oh My Gosh You Guys!


While falling asleep last night I realized that I was living in Athens. This whole trip has been so surreal, I cannot believe that I am here. Yesterday, I went for a walk up the hill and watched the sunset. Watching the sun set over the city was one of the best experiences of my life. The city of course is so busy and constantly moving, but high above it on the hill it looked so peaceful and calm.

Tomorrow our group leaves for Turkey. It is so weird saying that I am living in Athens and leaving for Turkey. I am still in shock that I am in a foreign country and soaking up another culture. I am so excited to go to Turkey! We are taking a plane there, seeing about everything there is to see, and four days later taking a train back into Northern Greece. From there, a few of us are going to climb Mount Olympus. I, of course, will be taking a TON of pictures to document my travels!

For right now, I am slowly realizing I am living in a city, in a foreign country.
Keepin' It Classy In Athens!

Erica out :)

VIDEOS :)


PHOTOS :)


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Observations from Athens, Greece

Over the past 20 days I have observed a lot about the culture and atmosphere that surrounds Athens, Greece. Here are some things that I have found interesting while studying and living here.

1.) Death Sidewalks- BE CAREFUL!
Most of Athens is on an incline. Walking uphill and downhill can both be equally dangerous. Why would the sidewalks be dangerous? Sidewalks in Athens are made of individual tiles that are placed side by side to make a surface to walk on. These tiles can get VERY slippery, especially while walking uphill or downhill. Also, just because it is a sidewalk does not mean that only pedestrians will be on it. Often mopeds, bicycles, and stray dogs take up large parts of the sidewalk. Just because it is a sidewalk, does not mean a moped will not run you over. You always have to be cautious while walking on the sidewalks.

2.) Stray Dogs
Before coming to to Greece, I read that there are stray dogs everywhere in the city. I expected to find some dogs, but not the amount that I found when I got here. There are huge dogs everywhere around the city. There are huskies, labs, and boxers throughout the city, whether it be at the Agora, the flee market, or the metro station. There is a group that goes around the city putting collars on the dogs, feeding them, and tracking them. If a dog is found without a collar it is simply put down because there are just so many stray dogs in Athens.

3.) Small cars
The roads in Athens are mostly one-ways with cars parked on both sides with a narrow line in between for driving. Whenever I take a taxi I have to hold my breath the whole time we are sliding past the cars on both sides. It is so scary to someone who is not from here. The people just drive like it is no big deal. The cars have to be compact in order to squeeze through the streets and take the corners. So far the longest/biggest car I have seen was a jeep liberty. What I consider to be a short car in the United States, stands out as a big car in Athens.

4.) Everyone here smokes
There are warnings that take up the entire pack of cigarettes, yet everyone here still smokes. The second day we were in Athens, the government actually passed a law banning smoking in bars, restaurants, etc. Much like when the law was initially passed in the U.S., people are not following it. People smoke in restaurants, cafes, bars, the beach, the metro stations, concert halls, nightclubs, EVERYWHERE! It is so weird to go from a country were smoking is not widely accepted to a country where you are not accepted if you do not smoke.

More Observations on the way!

Second Week in Athens


The second week in Athens has been jammed with classes, homework, and field trips. I have been taking classes with other Franklin Pierce students at Hellenic American University in the heart of Athens. It has been very exciting to go to an actual university with international students. There are issues students cover here, just like they do at universities across the United States. On the days we have class, we have had to walk through peace demonstrations against the current government and policies of Greece's government. One of the more popular groups has been the youth communist group. Instead of asking students to join their cause when you walk by, the group members simply ask that you attend one of their "festivals." When I first heard it was a festival, I was a little skeptical, but one of our professors at the university said it is exactly what it sounds like. There is music, entertainment, food, and of course discussions about communism for Greece. We will see if I ever make it to one of them. They are about a 30 minute tram ride, but maybe I will go to see one!

On Wednesday, day 9 in Athens, I encountered my first protest. The protests here are not like the news outlets portray them to be in the United States. Our professors, guides, and locals here insist that the protests are hardly ever violent, or even heated. One of our professors has lived in Athens for 10 years, but has visited here most of her life. During this time, she has only seen one protest that turned into a riot. Other guides and locals say they have never seen a protest turn violent. They all assure us that Athens is the safest place to be, and it has the lowest crime rate in the world. After discussing the protests with the locals, I feel reassured that they are more about the issues than trying to incite danger.


On Thursday our group took a trip to Poseidon's Temple. The ruins were beautiful, but the trip there was a little less exciting. We walked about 30 minutes to the bus stop. When we arrived there around 1pm in the scorching heat of a summer afternoon in the city, we climbed aboard an un-air-conditioned bus with no windows. After waiting for about 25 minutes on the bus, the bus driver boarded, turned on the air conditioning, and we were off. We drove about 10 minutes to another stop that happened to be a short walk from our apartment. If this was not disappointing enough for our sweaty and exhausted bodies, this stop picked up more people than there were seats. I was squeezed between the window, and a very loud woman who apparently just went on a shopping spree. Her bags were on my lap, her lap, in the aisle, and her friend's lap. Although this seems like a terrible experience, it was all worth it about 2 and 1/2 hours later when we arrived at Poseidon's Temple. We walked up to the temple and then explored the rest of the island. I went with a few friends down to the beach and we found an onion growing in the brush on the way down. We have not eaten it yet, but we are going to include it in our next pasta dish. While waiting about 40 minutes for a return bus to pick up our group, a few of us discovered a unique water vending machine. The vending machine sold over-sized water bottles that often got stuck. If your water bottle got stuck, you were able to make another selection, in hopes of the machine dispensing the water. After perfecting the art of the machine, we were able to predict which row would drop 2 water bottles. After about 30 minutes of predicting which row would drop 2 water bottles, we got some change and loaded up on 50cent EURO waters for the 2 and 1/2 hour bus ride back to the bus stop by our apartment.

On Friday we did not have class, so we headed back to the beach. A group of us found a beach that had sand and a DJ on the beach. The sun was strong and the water was clear! It was such a great day at the beach.

On Saturday I took a trip up the hill. After many flights of stairs to get to the base, and I then tried to walk briskly up the zig-zag inclines to get to the top. It was totally worth it when I got to the top. At the top of the hill, you can see from the villages in the mountains, to the boats on the coast. It is such an amazing view! After the trip up the hill, I went to the local market to pick up some fresh produce. I was able to snag some grapes, peaches, tomatoes, lettuce, and a cucumber. Everything was very cheap and VERY fresh.

The fun did not stop on Sunday. I was able to get into a club in downtown Athens to see David Guetta perform. I made my way to the front early in the night, and was in the front row for when David Guetta performed. The club was sooo full and the show was so amazing!!!

Monday was a day for homework and recovery from the weekend.

On Tuesday we had classes at Hellenic American University. At night all of us students got together for a family dinner at the Z apartment. I hosted and made broccoli, chicken alfredo with thick noodles. Every student brought an appetizer. We had dinner on the balcony while watching the sunset against the coast line. It was such a great night.

On Wednesday we met our new professor and took a field trip to the Benaki Museum in Athens. Our professor talked about almost every piece in the museum and was very articulate in Greek history. It was so exciting to learn so much about such a large span of history in about a 2 hour tour. It was great!


Thursday, our 17th day in Athens we had our first test. It definitely brought me back to the school setting, but not for long. After our test, we went on a trip to a local rug store. At the shop we were able to learn about how authentic Greek rugs are made and how long it takes to craft each one. I was contemplating sending one back home until I learned the average rug costs about 1,900 EURO.

Athens has been so exciting and we have another busy week ahead of us. We tentatively have a trip planned for Turkey next wednesday. After we get back, a few of us are going to climb Mount Olympus and film the climb for a documentary. I will not be able to shower for 3 days, but I think it will be worth it!

Keepin' it classy in Athens

Erica :)
More PHOTOS!!
Videos from my adventures!!!
http://www.youtube.com/ericatoma

Monday, September 6, 2010

First week in Athens!

So much has happened these past few days! On Thursday night, our group took a trip to see traditional Greek dance. The theatre was on Filopappos Hill, about an hour walk away from our apartment. We decided to take a taxi because it was so far away, and our driver ended up getting lost! This was one of the many times in the last few days that I wish I spoke Greek! We eventually made it to the theatre and found the rest of our group. There was a live band, singers, and so many dancers. It was cool to see the different traditional costumes and dances, as well as the more modern dances. The people sitting behind us were singing the words to every song. Most dances consisted of the performers holding hands different ways and waking in circles. It was interesting to see the different combinations of steps and the different styles of music. The crowd and our group really enjoyed the show!

After the show we headed back to the apartment and some of my roommates ordered Dominos. It took about 2 hours for the pizza to get delivered. Athens is very laid back and it was such a change from the "you've got 30 minutes" American slogan. Also, the delivery was made on a moped with a basket just big enough for a pizza box on the back. It was so funny.

On day 4 in Athens, teams of 3 students competed in a scavenger hunt around Athens. We were given a list of Greek terms and sites, had to translate them, and then had to go take pictures of them in a 3 hour window. My team came in second with 11 out of 13 items found. During our travels around Athens, we were able to see the changing of the guards outside the Parliment Building, find a local outdoor cinema, and even visit the U.S. Embassy. We were able to see so much of the city in one day! After we finished
running around the city, we met our guides from
Hellenic American University. Claudia and
Barbara (our Greek guides) explained the basics of Athens living, as well as some of the more prominent Greek traditions and mannerisms. Many of us had questions about the Greek culture and our guides were willing to answer questions about Athens and the culture.




Day 5 in Athens has been the most exciting so far! Our group took a trip to many local markets including the produce, meat, fish, spice, and flee market. We are started our day by heading a few blocks down the street to a local produce market.




The entire street seemed to shut down to house the massive amounts of fruit, vegetables, and nuts that were for sale. I bought a melon and some peaches, and was able to use my very basic Greek. We then made our way to the meat and fish market. These two markets were like nothing I had ever seen before.

There were cases and cases of meat and so many butchers trying to get you to buy their stuff. Many had a wooden table in front of their section where they cut the huge chunks of meat with giant knives. It was truly a unique experience. After the meat market, we walked through a hallway that led to the fish market. There were all kinds of seafood, dead and alive. There was about an inch or two of water and guts on the ground. Next time I will leave the sandals at home and wear rain boots like the Greeks. Not a fan of seafood, I moved on to the spice area. There were so many stalls and shops with spices stacked from the ceiling to the floor.

Many of the spice vendors spoke English, and I was able to buy a few things for the apartment. After we left the spice district, we made our way to the flee market, which wasn't a flee market at all. Instead it was a street filled with organized shops and vendors selling clothing, sandals, jewelry, and souvenirs. It reminded me of the mall because all the stores had their music up really loud to attract people into their store, and every store seemed to have a greeter at the door folding clothing. I quickly realized that this is a tourist spot, more than a local one.
We spent about an hour walking through the flee market, and then we moved on to the Agora.
The idea was to start our journey in a local market and meeting place of the city, and then move to an ancient market/meeting place. We were able to walk through the museum and see artifacts, walk through the Palace of Giants, and even see one of the god's temples. It was a very exciting day, but it did not end there.
Later that night a group of us went to the 3rd
annual Athens Hip Hop Festival. At the festival we saw MC battles, breakdancing, local DJs, as well as popular Greek performers. It was such an amazing experience!!!

Day 6 happened to be Sunday, so we did as the Greeks do and headed to the coast for the day. We took the tram to the beach and spent the day swimming in the ocean and talking with the locals. I discovered that you have to pay an admission fee to get into many of the beaches. At the free beaches there are men that walk around selling beach towels, sunglasses, inner tubes, watches, beach umbrellas, goggles, and just about anything else you could imagine. They crowded around our towels and would not leave until people from our group bought things. Next time we will pay the pricier admission fee and go to the private beach ;)

Day 7 was Sheila's birthday so we had a family dinner. Colin made spaghetti sauce from scratch, homemade meatballs, and chicken parmesan. Logan made crab legs, and Ahmos made a Mediterran salad. After dinner I did the dishes :)

Today was our first day of classes! Only 102 more days to go, and there is so much to do :)

So far I have had such an amazing time! To see more photos from my travels visit
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericatomaszewski

Keepin' it classy in Athens
Erica out :)