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

Keepin' it classy in Athens
Erica out :)

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