Monthly Archives: March 2010

Greece is the word: Paros

On Tuesday we embarked to Paros on a four hour ferry. I love boats! (For Beth: BOATS! I hadn’t thought of that in so long!) So fun. We slept through most of it though, as we had to leave from the port at 7:25 AM, meaning we had to wake up at 4:30. Four. Thirty.

But then we were here:

…and it was all good.

We spent a day exploring the port village of Parikia:

…before lounging around in our apartment. We had expected to stay in a room with a shared bathroom, but since it’s low season the owner of the hotel gave us an apartment with a terrace for the same price! Lisa went for a walk while Hayley and I caught up on the balcony, watching the ocean over the maybe ten or so buildings that separated us from the sea. Beautiful.

The next day we took the bus to the fishing village of Naoussa, that we had heard we couldn’t miss. When we got there though, we realized all we knew is that there were things to see in Naoussa, but we didn’t know what any of them were. No guide book, no map, nothing. And the bus had just left. We walked toward the ocean, pondering, and it started to rain. Awesome. We ducked into a little cafe that had a few people in it and happened to meet a German woman who was just on her way out. She invited us back to have lunch with her the next day and disappeared! After she left, the four Coast Guard men sitting behind us started asking us where we’re from and why we were on Paros. Valid question, as we literally saw under ten other tourists the entire three days that we were there. When they say low season, they mean low. Most of the restaurants, cafes, and bars aren’t even open right now!

We ended up sitting and talking with them for almost three hours, and during that time they had us try both a stingray fish salad (kind of tasted like tuna, but so fresh and wonderful) and souma, Paros’ own special brand of…liquor. Which they drink straight. Beautiful. It actually wasn’t that bad, since it’s made from grapes. But I definitely watered mine down on the sly (thankfully it’s clear. Like…vodka. Mmmmm. Not planning on going to Russia anytime soon if it’s a custom to buy random people random drinks). And have I mentioned that European’s don’t seem to do shots? Or at least, not in daylight. Not that Americans do either but seriously, no one but Dads and other older male people drink straight liquor. And older male people tend to drink scotch. And we had to sip it. Blerghleknghsd.

They drove us back to Parikia and we explored the coast a little bit!

Later that night we met up with some of the people we had met that day at one of (count them) two bars that are open on the island during low season. We had totally forgotten that it was St. Patrick’s day, and apparently Greeks don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day at all, so naturally the bar got really into it and all the Greeks were being ironically St. Patricky because they couldn’t really believe people honestly actually get into a holiday that basically revolves around pinching people and getting outrageously drunk. I know it seems like our experience in Paros so far has been all about the liquor, but it’s more interesting to comment on then the parts where we slept in until noon and sat in the sun sprouting freckles.

Honestly, there is so much to see on Paros including but not limited to: The Church of a 100 Doors (99 of which have only ever been found, when the 100th door is found, Constantinople will be returned to the Greeks), the abandoned Monastary, the valley of the butterflies, the castle guarding against the pirates at Naoussa, and the Archeology Museum. None of which I saw. I was too busy meeting people, eating good food, and enjoying the sun!

Our next day we went back to Naoussa and had a long, lovely lunch with the german lady, who has been living in Greece for a year now. She had many friends with her at lunch, most of whom did not speak English but a lot of whom also spoke German, so there was a strange fusion of languages going on as people told stories and the people who understood them would explain it in the other language they knew until everyone had heard it, resulting in the wonderful effect that the funny stories got three rounds of genuine laughter.

After debating whether to walk around Naoussa or lie in the sun while waiting the hour for the bus (guess which one we chose), we stopped and had milkshakes by the shore and watched a beautiful sunset.

We ended the day by meeting up with some people we had met the night before who offered to show us the best restaurant on the island. They took us to an amazing fish restaurant where I had so much seafood that I think I’ll be ok without any sort of sea creature near my mouth for about a month. Wonderful. Next they took us to two different bars that only the local Greeks go to before driving us back to our hotel. I love Greek people! Every SINGLE person we met was nice, open, funny, and curious. Not one took advantage of us or even hinted at doing so. Better than you can get in the US in most places, that’s for sure!

We thought we were going to spend one more day in Paros (during which we were planning to take a ten minute ferry to the opposite island, cleverly named Antiparos), but ¬†we decided we couldn’t ignore every single one of the amazing Greeks telling us to go to Santorini, and we decided to change our plans last minute! We got up for the noon ferry the next day, and were in Santorini around three.

The beautiful thing about low-season (again) is that we were able to buy our ferry tickets about an hour before we boarded, and we went to the island with a) no idea what to do once we got there, b) what the island really was at all, and c) where we would be sleeping that night.

But all the details of that are a story for another time.

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Greece is the word: Athens

At about 2 PM on Saturday, Lisa and I arrived in Athens. We got to the city center after a somewhat long subway ride, during which I was almost pickpocketed but my insane pickpocket perception prowess aided me in grabbing the guy’s hand as it was in my purse and throwing him across the train into a pile of rubble. No, all I did was remove his hand, glare meanly at him, and move my purse to the other side, zipping it again. If I were in New York I would have pulled out the yelling, swear words, physical violence, and made a scene, but all I can say in Greek is thank you (ah-reef-kah-stoh phonetically) and I didn’t think thank you was an appropriate word choice at that moment so I remained calm. Actually, I’ve never had anyone attempt to pickpocket me in New York or even make me feel like they might want to pickpocket me.

ANYWAYS we found our hotel off a dreamy little side street next to a church and explored the Plaka area (old town) until Hayley arrived. That night we went to a restaurant recommended to us by a person who worked for a different restaurant (Greeks are honest, I guess) and had the best. feta. cheese. ever.

I’m not a particular fan of feta. Unless we keep our contact time brief, we usually don’t get along, but in Greece I found myself eating it by the spoonful every single day. My mouth is watering. Then we tried Moussaka, which is a traditional dish of the greeks that kind of reminded me of lasagna without pasta, and to the Cloyd girl fam, reminded me of Shepherd’s Pie but with meat. Not really my thing, as it turns out.

Then the next day, we walked about 10 minutes and saw:

Gah! Can you believe it!? And since it was low season, it was free!

Usually this is the part when I would divulge some sort of academic information to prove to my parents that I’m not just running around Europe sampling different wine, beer, cheese, and pastries (which actually, sometimes feels a little like what I AM doing. Btw, had the best baklava in Greece. BEST. Am considering special ordering for my nonexistant far-off wedding and replacing wedding cake with baklava), but there is just too much about the Acropolis to even try. In ten words or less: Ancient evolving meeting place destroyed and rebuilt, for the gods. Even that tells you nothing! But read about it here and be amazed.

That afternoon we went to the New Acropolis Museum (no photos, please) which just opened last summer! It’s organized chronologically so you walk through and learn how and when the different buildings of the Acropolis were built and why, alongside some pretty awesome archeological finds, of course. It was sad to see all the plaster molds everywhere of all the important artifacts that the British Museum has, and while I was there I was definitely like “Hey! Give it back to Greece!” But what about all the people who would never have seen any of it if it wasn’t in Britain? On the same note, I’m glad the French gave back most of the art they stole from the Italians (well, the Italians went and physically got it, but this was back when that was actually plausible if you had a big enough scary guy on your side). In the end, I think the Britains will most likely never give back the artifacts they have from Greece, as it would seriously diminish the British Museum’s claim to fame, but I would be glad if they did. Anways, amazing museum. Definitely a favorite moment of the trip. Plus, since Lisa and I are EU students right now, it was free! (Are you sensing a trend?)

The NEXT day, after another great dinner and free dessert cause we’re awesome, we meant to go see the rest of the Acropolis buildings and the Ancient Agora but got sidetracked.

We climbed up a random hill and found yet another view of the Acropolis!

We found an Alice in Wonderland/Narnia gate and Lisa checked it out

We creeped on Greek houses that we found randomly on the random hill.

We also only have half a day because we had spent the morning figuring out our travel situation for our next day adventure to Paros (coming soon).

AFTER our return from said island, though, on the very last morning of our trip. Hayley and I go up super early to go see some last minute monuments before taking off.

The Ancient Agora

Theater of Dionysus

The Temple of the Olympian Zeus

After that we hurried over into Plaka so I could by myself some Greek silver! I read before I went that Athens is the place to buy jewelry and it really is. Pretty little spiral posts (meaning life is never ending in Greek symbology), silver for 5 euro? Intricate hoops in a geometric patter meaning the same thing for 15? And a beautiful hammered necklace pendant as well. So awesome. Then off to the airport to fly back to Italy!

Coming soon: Paros and Santorini interlude!

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Greece is the word: Sneak Peek

So I’m supposed to be doing other things for school right now but can’t help but post pictures. A compromise: a hint at what I did for the last week in the land where everything all began, and I’ll expand upon it as the week goes on!

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Florence, I love you but you’re wearing me out

So I guess I’ll take a break from Italy and, I don’t know, spend the next week in Greece!

See you cats on the flip side.

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Venezia: Te Amo, even in the rain

So three weeks ago I went to Venice again for a day with my Renaissance Art class, but instead of the sun Lisa and I had while there during Carnivale, it was raining. And I’m not talking about any old rain. You know how Venice is supposedly sinking?

…yeah.

This is outside Basilica di San Marco, which if you recall, isn’t normally underwater. We had to walk on those platform as the water kept rising…and rising…and we even had to cut our visit to the church short because the platforms were about to up and float away. Not that inside was immune either.

Yes, the broom is floating. Inside.

All the rivers throughout the city were WAY high.

FYI, usually the stairs leading into the water aren’t underwater. Remember how it looked on a normal day?

We ended up having to cut one of the museums from our day because we couldn’t get to it! There aren’t platforms in any of the back streets, and every street we could use to get to the museum was flooded under several feet of water. A lot of the Venetians have thigh-high rain boots so they can wade through the city, as flooding happens over 80 times a year! Apparently all this funky stuff happens when it rains in specific regions around Venice, like in the mountains. Basically anywhere that runs off unto the Adriatic Sea, actually. Because Venice is protected in a lagoon, it’s also affected by the tides astronomically, so a couple on inches of rain can mean a few FEET of flooding in Venice. Our group leader on the trip told us if nothing is done to protect the city, Venice could be unlivable by 2050! So plan your trips now, guys.

There are several different options that the government is considering to save Venice, but they are all astronomically expensive, or might not work, or will kill the entire ecological system in the lagoon. In fact, a lot of Venetians actively protest the conservation efforts because they are all so controversial, even as their homes are underwater!

It definitely wasn’t the day trip I was expecting. It was a total adventure! But I still loved Venice, even through all the flooding and my squishy socks. I would love to go back before I go back home because, who knows, it might sink before I get another chance!

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