Saturday, December 18, 2010

Things NOT to do in a foreign country...

Hello faithful readers,

Here are some tips to help you when traveling in a foreign country. You are very welcome for these tips I am about to share because I care enough about you and would not want you to experience the same:

1) When intoxicated, DO NOT under any circumstances, ask someone why they are so short. One of my lovely roommates decided it would be ok to ask a short girl in our program just why she is so short. After asking how short she was, she told the girl that the poor girl was in fact lying and was shorter than she claimed. Apparently this is not an acceptable way to make friends... (Side note: She apologized to the girl in a British accent, which makes everything A-OK!)

2) When giddy with delight (or ouzo) do not confuse someone you have met several times with a bar manager. Case in point: My roommates and I were at Mercury, our favorite bar that we frequent nightly, when I told Yiannis, a man I had met a good five times before, he had a very nice bar. Ok, I yelled in slow english YOU HAVE A NICE BAR. I LIKE IT A LOT. My roommate Kelly was very confused by my actions and finally settled me down long enough to explain that Yiannis (John in english) was not the manager of Mercury... Oops!

3) Dogs do not belong in elevators. When I say elevator, I mean 3x3 pieces of shit. The dog may want to follow you home because you have named it and bribed it, but your neighbors will NOT be happy with you if they see a stray dog in the elevator... Sorry Eratosthenos...

4) Do not walk in between two motorcycles/vespas that have just been turned off. The exhaust pipes, which are not covered, will still be very very hot and burn an awkward portion of your leg. Then you will have to go to the pharmacy and get a cream that is blood red and smells awkward. No one wants to hang out with someone who has awkward smelling blood red cream on the back of their calves...

5) When crashing a pub crawl, do not make it obvious. AKA Do not wear BRIGHT orange sunglasses with your roommate who is clad in a bright yellow dress and tango on stage at a salsa club. People will take pictures of you and use it as proof of why they do not want to hang out with you.

6) When meeting nice, foreigners (Canadians), and asking about their jobs, it is NOT ok for you and your roommate to turn the conversation about how you are going be famous superstars after the VERY NICE Canadian woman tells you she works in productions. Not cool. Ten minutes later you'll realize she's no longer sitting next to you.

7) When at a janky hotel in Paris, a man might try and tell you that you have not, in fact, been sleeping in room 8 for the past two nights. Don't start yelling, this will prompt more confusion. Just assume that it's completely normal he moved all of your stuff into room 6 as if it's no big deal!

8) When on a school sponsored field trip, DO NOT, under any circumstances, sing a song some Greeks showed you called "Last night I stuck it in the wrong hole..." ESPECIALLY when it's only like day 7 of the program. Everyone will walk away and you will be left wondering why you have no friends, except for the people who live with you. (Thanks, Grace...)

9) Running around Athens is never a good idea. If you run in heels you look like Reptar from Rugrats, and if you run in slippery boots, you might possibly (hypothetically) run into a giant mailbox and knock yourself flat on your ass. That's never fun, and your shoulder will be bruised for approximately a week. (All hypothetical, of course).

10. When you have a flight to a different country, it's a good idea to have more than one person check the times. Military time might confuse some people making them think their flight leaves later than it actually does. In this case, the people will watch the shows they need to catch up with and make it to the airport with only ten minutes to spare, instead of two hours. Oops. (This is especially important in countries where strikes are prevalent and your mode of transportation to the airport isn't actually running!).

11. Frogger is only fun in video games. Not across six lanes of traffic, basically a highway, in Istanbul. The fresh off the boat fish sandwiches may not be worth losing your life, or your friends. However, if you successfully make it across the six lanes, everyone on the other side might start clapping for you, so there's always that to look forward to.

12. Punching a cab driver makes you really cool, even if it makes you upset.

13. Control your temper on buses, unless of course someone tells you that you're in their seat. In that case, you might lose it and just start yelling random curse words mixed with Greek. As Kelly knows, it usually works out alright.

WARNING: If you partake in most of the above activities, you probably will not have very many friends in your new foreign country. Luckily, I am not the only moron to do most of these things and the Arcadia program was smart enough to house me with people of the same intelligence level.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I have the very best roommates ever...

Let me tell you a little story about why my roommates might be the best in the whole world.

It was a quiet Monday night in Eratosthenous 18, which is unusual. Kelly and I were exhausted from our (INCREDIBLE) Thanksgiving adventure in Paris, and Grace and Becky were equally tired. Grace was reading me a book that came out before Harry Potter 7 by a random author who wrote his own version. All of a sudden, we realized it was 10 minutes after midnight. IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY. This birthday means I am a) no longer a teenager, and b) I beat teen pregnancy. Very exciting day.

Grace signaled the troops (Kelly & Becky) and we ran into Becky's room. Becky presented me with a happy bday poster in greek, with tickets to all of our favorite places in Pagrati. This includes Jimmy's coffee shop, the gyro place, McDonalds, and Mercury! Kelly wrote me a song in a card to the tune of the recently played (in Glee) Just the Way You Are! Grace told me not to worry as my present would come later.

We talked and laughed in Becky's room for another hour, discussing the exact day I was born, why I was named my name, and details of the day I was born, before going to bed. Grace and I currently have a love nest set up because we're too lazy to move mattresses. I wake up to the smell of eggs, bacon, and the sound of Grace singing and talking to herself. The next thing I know, a  breakfast burrito is placed in my face, aka my favorite breakfast food!!! I was beside myself. Grace also got me oreos and peanut butter!

I went to class, and there was a chocolate croissant and a Frappe metrio me gala waiting for me. I might be in love with Alex!! I had the perfect morning!

Grace and I hit up Jumbo (Greece's version of Target) and then came back home and basically did nothing, it was amazing! Jessica came over and when Kelly came home she brought us stuff from the bakery with two candles, a "2" and a "0".

We then headed to the celebrity themed bday party. Not only was it Jess and my bdays, but Kamilah's too! Jess and I went as Mary-Kate and Ashley, Kelly was Michael Jackson, Grace was Amy Winehouse, Alex was Jackie O, and Becky was T-Swift.

We had such a great birthday, singing karaoke and a lot of people from our program came. It honestly was such a perfect night and I had way too much fun! I am so thankful for my roommates for making my birthday so special!

On another note, we watched Tangled last night which was so epic! LOVED it!

This weekend we get to do touristy things since Zak is coming, then next weekend Jess comes, and then we go home :( It'll be so bittersweet to be home. I'm going to miss everything about Athens!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Under the Tuscan Sun... In Corinth!

This weekend Greece was hit with an unstoppable force: Taylor Pratt! We were so lucky because the weather was just incredibly warm, which is a big difference from cold Vienna where Tay is studying!

We got to have lunch with Sam and Derek before they left for a beach town south of Athens. It was so great to see them and I can't wait until Paris!!!!

Later that night, we were sitting around my apartment getting ready to go out and Jessica, Alex, and Mary were over. All of a sudden, creepy Jacob from downstairs knocks on the door asking our opinions on two random paintings he bought? Well one was a GIANT painting of who knows what, and the other was a very small sketch of an old man's face. We were all very confused by this creepy man and sent him back downstairs before locking the door and dying laughing!

Saturday, we got up to go OLIVE HARVESTING in Corinth, very Under the Tuscan Sun/Diane Lane-like. Miraculously we made it to Corinth without any trouble! We called Jen, Alex and my Alexander teacher, and she came and met us in Ancient Corinth at the museum. We walked up to her house and it was so fantastic. I am so in love with Corinth, and honestly might move there real soon. The mountains mixed with the sea were just so beautiful! Anyway, we walked with Jen and her adorable 15 month old baby to where her husband and inlaws were harvesting the olives. We were given mini-rakes and taught how to scrape the branches so the olives fell into the tarp. Jen's husband taught us about the different types of olives they have and the process of making table olives and olive oil. They also had a TON of orange trees and very generously offered us many many oranges! We wandered the museum in Ancient Corinth after and ate at Jen's neighbor's restaurant! We had such a good day! I can't wait to go back to Corinth!

Sunday, we planned on taking Taylor to the Acropolis and shopping in Plaka. Turns out, the Acropolis was closed due to election day. Surprise? Hardly. We hiked up a hill next to it and took pictures from there, which was fine. We shopped in Plaka for a bit, then sent Taylor back on her way to Vienna! I'm so glad she came and got to see where we're living and going to school and everything! I had such a good weekend with her and am just so excited for Thanksgiving in Paris!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let's NEVER Do the Time Warp Again....

No, seriously. Time Warping leads to danger and strange activity.

Tuesday was the day of the bbq we planned to raise money for a refugee charity. Everything went so smoothly, our costumes were a hit, the bbq was so much fun, and most people showed up. Grace won the costume contest as Danny from Grease, solid night. We OWNED karaoke with our rendition of Summer Nights, and then You're the One that I Want. Very fun night!

We had Thursday off and decided to go out, even though we were planning on going to Meteora the next morning. Key word: planning. Here's where the time warp went very very wrong. We started at Mercury and moved on to Coya because our friend Petros was working. We decided it would be the night we all take flaming drinks called Lamborghinis. These are drinks for two people and they are ON FIRE. Here is Kelly and I preparing to drink ours. The picture does not fully capture the fire. Note: Fire is never a good idea... look at poor Kelly's face!

Anyway, we were going to Syntagma to go to a club called Lollipop that our other friend Grace wanted to go to. We had seen it while riding the bus and it looked interesting. We headed to Syntagma square and the whole walk to Lollipop, Kelly, Grace, and I decided to Time Warp. We time warped ourselves right up to some spanish men wearing some pretty bizarre outfits. We asked them what they were doing and they claimed they were dressing up for Halloween. Apparently, to these Spaniards, Halloween consists of dressing weirdly, but not actually as anything specific. We continued on into Lollipop, where Kelly and I are probably not allowed back...

After Lollipop, we headed back home because after all, we had Meteora in the morning. As we were unlocking our door at 3 am, a man walked by trying to sell us weed. Here's the thing about pot in this country: it's way more sketch than the US and honestly barely anyone smokes here. We were so confused, and obviously did NOT buy any! We had not seen that one here, and that just added to the strangeness.

We got upstairs when we get a text from Petros saying, "Why you left?" We realized he had gone to Lollipop to hang out with us, so we invited him over. We said Becky wasn't home so he didn't wake her up after he tackled the three of us, who were all lying in my bed. Needless to say, Mary was confused when she came over at 6 the next day (aka 3 hours later...) and we were not ready. We decided we'd just sleep another hour and take the later bus. yeah right... We woke up again at 9:10 which was too late to make the 9:30 bus. After going BACK to sleep, we went to McDonalds like the a-holes we are. We decided to go to a museum, which was AMAZING, and then shopping in Syntagma. Turns out, there was a celebrity there! He is a musician and there were a bajillion young girls swarming him. He was done signing autographs, but we marched ourselves up and asked if we could take a picture with him. He was really excited because he thought we knew who he was. Obviously, as you can tell from this picture, we were overjoyed!

In the museum, I saw a statue of Orpheus, which reminded me of the She&Him song Don't Look Back. If you are unfamiliar with the genius that is Zooey Deschanel, the song starts out with "Orpheus melted the heart of Persephone but I never had yours." I explained my love for Zooey and this song to Kelly, and we thought nothing more of it.

Later, when inside H&M, a song by the very same band, She&Him comes on! This was a magical moment. I yelled from the 2nd floor the the 1st floor over the balcony at Kelly with excitement! She&Him is not a typical band you hear following the latest single from Miley Cyrus. Kelly and I were starting to freak out.

While we were waiting outside H&M for Becky to finish buying her new amazing sweater, we saw (out of the literally hundreds of people there) Salsa, our other friend Grace's friend from Iceland! Talk about time warp strangeness!

We contemplated what we would eat for dinner and realized since we had no food in our house our options were limited. As in, buttered noodles. This is what poverty tastes like, ladies and gentlemen. However, we were very fortunate when our dear friends, Wanna and Jessica, called and said they had made dinner and would love for us to come over. We literally jumped for joy! (We probably danced too, because we are now OBSESSED with Rocky Horror Picture Show, we need a Glee-intervention!!)

We ate their amazing meal and decided it would be the night we make it to Nipiagogio, an elementary school turned into a club. Solid. We ended up at a different club, but while walking there, I happened to look at some street signs. Orpheus and Persephone. I kid you not. Kelly and I were actually freaking out at this point and cursing the time warp that did this to us.

We had a fun weekend, and actually made it to Meteora on Sunday. It was SO SO SO beautiful! I have a ton of pictures I'll upload on facebook, but pictures don't actually do it justice!

The point is, don't time warp, weird things happen. We came out of this weekend with a sparkly black fedora and a new need to make a time warp video. I highly encourage you to stay away from the mystical powers of the time warp. It's too enticing and once you're sucked in there's no looking back!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Ancient Japanese Art of Kar-ee-oh-kayy, and other tales...

Wednesday nights are perfect karaoke nights! WRONG. Not when you have to get up at 7:45 the next morning in order to get your residence permit! Let me rewind:

Wednesday night we found Mike's Irish Pub. My new favorite place. In fact, I'm considering having my birthday party there! Anyway, Mike's is the greatest! We sang about 10 songs, and were able to bond with other girls in our program, which was nice. We also made some nice Greek friends that let us dance on stage with them during Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen! Kelly and I were the jerks still singing while the bar was closing... Best part: when I twisted my ankle outside and skinned my knee. Solid, just keeping my klutz record up... I'm three falls in three weeks, perfect game. 

Next day I successfully woke up in time to meet at the center at 7:45. Luckily, about 6 other girls who had gone last night were with me, so I was not alone in wanting to die on the trolley. We successfully got our residence permits and continued with a full day of classes. 

Thursday night we kept it low key and checked out Domahar, the angry biker bar. The inside looks like a pirate ship, and they played American music, so there was no complaining on our end! 

Friday night we met up with students we had met through our school that are from Crete, but go to school in Athens. We had met them Monday night when they hosted us at their residence hall for dinner. They were taking us to a traditional Greek club, called Posidonio that had the traditional greek music and dancing called bizooki (sp?). It was INCREDIBLE! I loved it because we went with Greeks, and that just made the whole experience way more authentic! There was live music and they sang greek songs and then some Lady Gaga :) Everyone jumped on stage at one point and they did the traditional greek dancing, with one person in the middle and everyone else kneeling around. We had a blast at the bizooki, and didn't get home until 5 am! This was not the best idea, since we were going to Delphi the next day, but it was SO worth it!!!! 

Saturday, Alex showed up bright and early with breakfast so we had no choice to get up! We made it to the bus station and took the 10:30 bus to Delphi. It took about 3 hours so we had lunch when we got off, and the view was amazing. There was water, houses, pine trees, mountains and it was all green and so beautiful. We hiked up the ruins and saw where the oracle would officiate! We sat up there for a while, the weather was perfect and it was just so nice to be there. We also saw the ancient sanctuary of Athena, which is what is on most of the post cards from Delphi. I decided I am completely in love with it and would go back in a heartbeat! Pictures to come soon!!! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Santorini Shenanigans

Wednesday afternoon, my roommates and I were pretty bored, so we looked up ferry prices to Santorini. The tickets were pretty cheap, and the next thing we knew it was Friday morning at 530 am and we were on our way to Santorini!

We checked into our hostel, which is my future place of employment, and headed straight for the beach. We met a beautiful Albanian man who also lives in Athens, but works the summer months in Santorini. We all thought this was brilliant and have now signed up for jobs around Santorini in the summer. Can't wait!

Our hostel was having a barbeque that night and we met 20 more kids studying in Athens from America. Well two hours and unlimited wine later, we were best friends. We met some really cool people traveling the world by themselves, which sounded amazing!

The next day, we woke up to Mary banging on our door because it was time to sign up for the boat tour. We got to the dock and got in line for this pirate ship when a man told us it was the wrong one and we had to wait. We finally got on the boat and sailed to the volcano. We paid our 2 euros and climbed the rocky volcano in our sandals-clearly satisfied with our choice of shoes... It was really neat because we were able to see the whole island group of Santorini from the highest peak.

We got back on the boat and continued to the hot springs. The hot springs looked straight out of Shrek, complete with an outhouse. Also, there were goats staring at us. It was only awkward because they didn't speak english.

After the hot springs, we spent a couple hours at the island of Therasia. There were no roads so the people there either take donkeys or walk up the mountain. We decided to check out the donkey rides with these two spanish ladies. My donkey was the biggest donkey I've ever seen... it was actually bigger than a horse I think. I was laughing hysterically clinging onto my steroid donkey because Kelly's donkey would sprint up then slow down then sprint again. These donkeys were out of control and it was definitely an experience!! We felt like we were in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or Pants for four!

After we left that island, we went back to the main island, but to the city of Oia. This is the city where the sunset is most magical. When we got there, we were told we would either have to walk up the mountain or ride donkeys. Since we had JUST ridden donkeys, we were not going to pay to ride another one. We struggled up the cliff, but it was so worth it. We got really lucky because we got the last table overlooking the sunset at a nice restaurant. It was unbelievable! There is no way this is real life!

The sunset ended at 7, and we had to be back at the bus to take us to the hostel at 7:30. We made it there at 7:10 and waited...and waited... Finally, at literally 7:33 we realized we were at the wrong place. We were on the upper level and the bus was on the lower level. We figured it would have waited 3 minutes since we were 5 out of 6 of the people on the bus... That was a bust. The bus had left without us. We had to wait another hour for a bus to the main city, Fira, and then from Fira get on a bus to Perissa where our hostel was. We made both buses successfully which was obviously a new thing for us, but we did miss our stop in Perissa. I wanted to cry but then the bus driver looped back around and dropped us off out front of our hostel thankfully!

The next day we woke up and went to explore Fira. It was such a cute seaside village! The shops were so cute, and the people were very friendly. We missed the bus to go back to Perissa by 10 minutes (typical...) and had to wait 50 minutes. We finally get on the bus and it drops us off way at the other side of the black beach. We walked for a half hour back to our hostel and JUST made it to the shuttle to take us to the port. We ended up catching our ferry on time (thank god!) and we were so so sad to leave Santorini. That's most definitely where I will be living when I'm a billionaire!

The mini fiascos we had made our adventure more interesting and we had so much fun in such a beautiful place. I really really hope I make it back there before I'm 85!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Golden Girls! Welcome to Miami!!

The above title was only one out of four hundred pick up lines we heard in Istanbul last week! After barely making it on time, Grace and I finally met up with Anna, Jordan, and Mary at the airport to head to Istanbul. We met up with Alex when we got there, since Alex, Grace and I were in one hostel, and the other three in another. We had heard about this thing called the fishbowl challenge from another one of our roommates who had been there last weekend, and hearing the word challenge, we headed straight over to a hookah lounge called Backpackers. The fishbowl was a bucket of deliciousness that came with sparklers! It was perfect! We met the cutest dog there, and I named him Chunk. We were having so much fun on the ground pillows and comfy couches, when we realized Alex was missing. Grace and I went to look for her and found her coming back from the hostel down the street. We decided to take a break from the fishbowl and go into a shop under a hostel where we were each given free bracelets when Grace bought a scarf. It was perfect!

The next day, we met up with a boy who had gone to Alex's high school for a year as a foreign exchange student and is from Istanbul, Caddis. He was so nice for being our tour guide! He took us to Prince's island, which straddles the Europe side and Asian side, and the best part was: there were no cars on this island! We rented bikes and biked around. It was sooo beautiful! We stopped to go up to a monastery, and ended up climbing the biggest hill I've ever seen. Turns out, Anna's bike's gears were not actually working and then her tire popped! Despite the bike difficulties, we had a lot of fun.

Being in the Grand Bazaar reminded me of Sex and the City 2. We kept singing the little theme song tune because it was so similar to when Carrie's in the Bazaar in Abu Dhabi. It was fun to bargain, and we got lots of cute pashminas and jewelry for really cheap! The spice bazaar, or the Egyptian bazaar, was also very neat. There was a sign on one of the shops saying it was endorsed by Obama! This is where we heard a majority of our pickup lines. I was called Angelina (Jolie) and Jennifer (Aniston) within an hour. I am very aware I do not look like either of them, and this man could have very easily confused Brad!

Then came the Turkish baths... This is where a bunch of ginormous women all sit topless on a marble stone together. We were not about to join, so we stayed in the jacuzzi. You could pay to have someone wash you (which we definitely did NOT), and that consisted of laying there like a baby elephant while the ladies lifted your boobs and scrubbed under. We were baffled by the concept! It was nice to shower in a real shower there though, AND use a hair dryer!

Overall, we did a ton of really neat things, including the Turkish baths, the bazaars, Prince's Island, Toxim, Fishbowl Challenge, eating fish that was fried on the boat it was caught on, playing frogger through the busy streets, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, seeing a belly dancer, and the basilica cistern. We had a great time and I would love to visit Istanbul again!