Posted by: Megan | March 31, 2009

SANTORINI

goodness, it’s hard to keep up with blogging …things have been so busy here in Europe 🙂 i went on a two-week escapade with katie, a friend who’s studying in florence, and met up with justin, a friend currently in london. went to london, barcelona, madrid, dublin, vienna and prague!! more on that later…

it’s been almost a month since i got to explore the beautiful island of santorini. probably the most famous island of Greece, the island consists of a caldera blown out by a volcano, which creates stunning scenery almost everywhere you turn. danielle, dewey and i traveled together for a four-day weekend and had a spectacular time.

we rented a car the day after we arrived, to make the most out of our experience. and we saw every aspect of the island we could imagine… traveled down dusty, bumpy back roads to go to deserted beaches, or see the view from a jagged cliff.

we also got to do some shopping – bought some jewelry and other gifts for people back home. it’s just going to be fun to say “oh yeah, i got that for you in santorini” 🙂 well, i think so anyway.

also ate some wonderful food while we were there. dionysos definitely had the best souvlaki i’ve had over here so far. and the service was spectacular!! even when we returned the next afternoon to drink coffee and “study,” they handled one drunk American navy soldier’s ramblings very well. we also ate at another restaurant and the man who owned it offered danielle and i waitressing positions for the summer! how wonderful would that be?

but all in all, it was so great to experience santorini – even in the off season. we got to dance to some britney tunes at a bar, see the stunning sunset of oia, drive a CAR in greece and sit on a black sand beach! i think the pictures will be able to say more than i can…

until next time 🙂 φιλάκια!

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Posted by: Megan | March 5, 2009

DOGS

i finally did it!!

i went out dancing to a club called “Dogs” – just the it place in Thessaloniki 🙂 one of my friends asked a girl who had previously studied in Greece what we should see, places to go, things to do, etc. and the girl responded, “i have one word for you – DOGS.”
thanks?

anyway, i’m not sure it lived up to every expectation i had, thanks to party girl, but it was definitely a good time. it didn’t start out that way, though… at first, i was so thankful that i hadn’t wasted euros on clubbing because it was just dreadful. way too crowded and random Greek guys all up on you. literally, i moved next to a table, thinking “i’ll be safe here” and a guy got up on the table and started dancing! horrible.

the club has two floors (the upstairs was closed, seeing as it was a Wednesday night) with two rooms on the bottom, basically, with huge bars in the center of each. so you have to wriggle your way around – usually with 2 or three girls in tow – only to end up in a more claustrophobic position. finally, though, people drifted out and there was more room to groove. which was a relief, considering a good chunk of the ACT students were there 🙂

so we closed the place down [obvs] and took our taxi back home. i was not tired at all, so imagine my delight when i got to chat with 3 of my bffs until the break of dawn. aw, what a night.

αντίο!

Posted by: Megan | March 4, 2009

happy discoveries

Me, Ashley and Megan at Noodle Bar

Me, Ashley and Megan at Noodle Bar

this past week was filled with more discovered treasures and learning experiences. let’s see… last tuesday, ashley and i wandered around downtown – did a little shopping (window only for me) and found a cute Jewish village. i love walking around here… every day we find another “hidden” section of town, and i feel like there isn’t enough time to see everything!

that night, megan, ashley and i ate at noodle bar, which serves Americanized Chinese food… in Greece… haha. it was good – and you should see people’s heads turn when we say we ate Chinese! it’s been a while since most study abroad students have seen anything resembling Chinese/Thai cuisine, so that was fun.

Jen, Miki and Danielle at Pollock

Jen, Miki and Danielle at Pollock

Sushi!!our Asian food kick continued through wednesday, when we ate at Pollock for Miki’s birthday. after a looong walk by the water, we arrived to the stunning restaurant, with decorations inspired by the artist. we were planning on dancing afterward, but again, it didn’t happen. i just don’t think it’s in the stars for me 😦 it was great, though, just to sit at the restaurant and talk. i think i’m really starting to adjust to the Greek way of enjoying meals – just sitting at the table for hours! the group next to us even brought their tiny puppies for the outing,  and let us hold them, too!

of course, this weekend i got to travel to santorini – which i’ll write about later – and returned yesterday. it was a long ride back, but totally worth it. even though i was sleepy last night (and my first quiz to worry about – eek), i went with ashley, megan and shannon to a Bible study group with Greek students from Aristotle University. it was so cool to be reminded that God is everywhere, and to hear their opinions on the topic – politics and Christianity. we had a translator from Ethiopia, so we were able to follow along alright, but our participation was limited. still awesome to actually hang out with locals and play their version of BS – “μπλόφα” (sounds like blowfa) 🙂 young Christians are somewhat rare here, but there were about 15 at Agape.

and, by popular demand, a little about school… i have 4 classes: Greek language, Greek music, marketing 101 and Greek anthropology. i’m trying to absorb as much of their culture as possible! my favorite class is probably Greek language – i am really enjoying learning bits of their language. it’s coming slowly, but it helps to be surrounded by it daily. i felt so accomplished just learning their alphabet! it’s a constant process, but it’s also the most entertaining class, with everyone putting their speaking/reading skills to the test.

it’s also interesting to learn a lot about the history of Greeks – they’re still pretty bitter about Turkish rule and the Ottoman empire, but they have a lot of pride in their ancient roots. after all, they take credit for developing democracy, drama, science and philosophy, among other things.

well, that’s all for now. look back for a post about santorini!!

Με αγάπη (with love),
megan

Pollock Tiny puppies!

Posted by: Megan | February 25, 2009

Δελφοί (Delphi!)

Delphiviewtraveling to Delphi was a little like traveling back in time… the city in southern Greece was once revered as the “center of the world” and was the home of the ancient Greeks’ most important oracle. now, it’s a quaint little city made up of about 3 streets lined with cafes, tavernas, hotels and souvenir shops. there are apartments and houses, of course, too – many overlooking the scenic valleys below the city. residences are just adorable – houses made of stucco and terra cotta – it was like walking through a village in Disney World or something, but that doesn’t do it justice. i was told that the bus trip was something of a thrill ride, too, but i was unconscious for it, due to the lack of sleep the train ride offered.

into the valley...

into the valley...

after all of our travels – train to athens, ripoff taxi to bus station, bus to delphi – about 12 hours total, we arrived and got to our hotel. the lady who opened the door for us (at 1030 am, the door wasn’t open!) was a sweet little old lady, and there was terrific hospitality.

luckily it was a beautiful day – probably about 14* C, and we went to see what the town had to offer. after eating at Agora, a wonderful cafe that offered coffee, crepes and spanicopita, we left to check out the ruins.

statue first we traveled to delphi’s archaeological museum, which is famous in Greece. they were very strict about pictures, and wouldn’t allow people to be photographed with the statues! we were told to have “more respect” for the ancient artifacts.

the real treat was outside, though, where we enjoyed the theater, track, and columns from Greek relics. there was a bit of a hike to get to the top, but it was a gorgeous day, and we actually worked up a sweat!

temple of apollo ruins

temple of apollo ruins

after seeing all there was at the museum, we went down the road about to Tholos. “thelo Tholos!” was our catchphrase as we journeyed to the Temple of Athena. i couldn’t stop taking pictures of the wonderful architecture against the azure sky, which has been rare enough lately that i could really appreciate it.

when we finished walking through the ruins, taking note of the gym (where ancient athletes would train naked) and the lovely greenery which surrounded it. it only took a few minutes to get back to the center of town, where we purchased souvenirs and postcards, and asked where we could possibly find the “oracle.” unfortunately, we were brutally rebuffed – asked kindly if we were aware

temple of athena

temple of athena

that the oracle does not still exist. yes, thank you, we’re aware.
“well, have you been to the ruins?”
“yeah, we did that earlier”
“then you have seen the oracle”
oh….

therefore, the bulk of our sightseeing in delphi was contained in a single afternoon. we were satisfied, however, because it was a relief to just relax in this charming town. that afternoon, most of us took a nap, then three of us searched for a cafe to drink frappes, read and skype (for the other two).

where we ate dinner

where we ate dinner

we had dinner that night at a taverna with all glass walls – perfect, again, for viewing the scenery… but when we got there it was too dark to really see anything outside. i really canNOT wait until we can eat outside at the different restaurants through Greece! most places have outside seating, which will be wonderful!

that night we finished by stopping at the famous “downtown club,” aka the only club in delphi – where we were joined by about 5 other people – also tourists. needless to say, since

downtown club!

downtown club!

we were half the population of the club, we didn’t stay long. we decided to have some caramel ice cream and call it a night.

the next day was reserved just to chill out. we went back to Agora to play Skip Bo and eat lunch before we left on the 6-hour bus ride to Thessaloniki. thankfully we were able to cut out the entire train experience. so much easier and more direct!

Agora

Agora

it was nice to get out of Thessaloniki for a weekend and see some Greek history. until next time… φιλάκια!

at an overlook

at an overlook

 

 

housing in Delphi

housing in Delphi

Posted by: Megan | February 20, 2009

home cooking, hookah, carnival, and on..

at least they have large portions...

at least they have large portions...

my week started off with a very American day: yeah, three weeks in, I caved and went to Starbucks in hopes of finding a familiar coffee drink and internet access. well, one for two isn’t bad – turns out, they don’t allow people internet on sundays. but Starbucks itself was enjoyable – many families chatting, two floors with a beautiful view of the sea and a soy latte. i’m learning to like coffee! after i got back, i practiced my Greek – on my way to being fluent – and went to Ruby Tuesdays! for shame. i probably won’t have american food for a while, it was so overpriced! plus, greek food is better 🙂

after that, though, we decided to play some cards. while brainstorming, i asked if anyone knew trump games, and was met by 8 blank stares. what?! after a little bit of instruction, i was able to teach everyone how to play up and down the river – and i think almost everyone liked it! luckily, i was able to find people who know euchre later on… gonna have to get some of that started..

monday night, my roomie and i were planning on making a very sophisticated dinner of chicken cordon bleu and mac and cheese, but were invited by stephanie last minute to have spaghetti with meat sauce that their friends cooked up… so good! we had garlic bread and olive oil, too. mmm…

later that night we all went to do hookah downtown. i hookahhaven’t done it in about a year, so i was so pumped to try guava, peach and coconut (definitely the best, by the way). i think i might’ve gotten a little over my head, though – i was definitely starting to feel it, and leaned back on the plush couches (outside! so much seating outside – with heaters, don’t worry) only to encounter a severe wave of nausea. apparently my body can only handle so much tobacco intake, though you think i’d be stronger after being surrounded by so much secondhand smoke! rohit and i left shortly after.

i’m starting to get the hang of classes here, too. professors like to go on tangents that have vague ties to our actual topics. sometimes these help the classes go by quickly, and i must admit i find examples helpful. i’m not sure how difficult tests or assignments will be, which makes me sort of uneasy, but i’m not too worried about it at this point.

a sunny day by the sea

a sunny day by the sea

luckily, i only have classes on MWF, so Danielle and i are planning tiny adventures for our days off. we’re hoping to travel to kavala at some point, as well as edessa. other study abroad students have already traveled to edessa, which is known for gorgeous waterfalls and hot springs! this tuesday we took it easy and went shopping downtown, which was fantastic. unfortunately, i don’t think i’ll be able to make that a common occurrence… too many temptations. we also finally found a store that many Greeks have recommended, called “pull and bear” and it didn’t disappoint! i bought the cutest coat.

this entire week has been filled with stressful travel plans – i think it must be the most difficult aspect of living here. one frustrating thing i’ve noted is that, if i were only one country away, ryanair and easy jet could transport me around europe for less than 20 E! as it is, it’s pretty hard/expensive/laborious to get out of greece. i’m trying to find the most direct routes for the cheapest prices, whether by plane, train or automobile; however, i seem to be technologically challenged in searching for this stuff, which makes planning trips pretty hard… but i can’t complain 🙂

"say 'filo'!"

"say 'filo'!"

wednesday night, kate helped a bunch of us make cheese pies! it’s a common food here, consisting of a filo dough “crust” and feta cheese and egg filling. it was pretty tasty, but i think i prefer feta in smaller amounts. it was actually good with ketchup, too!! haha. hopefully i can put the recipe up soon.

last night, most of us attended ‘barbeque night’ of CARNIVAL! carnival is like mardi gras here, and lasts for three weeks before lent begins. Greek Orthodox religion is huge, but apparently carnival is an opportunity to go crazy and cut loose before Greeks start to think about Easter, Jesus, etc.

anyway, thursday meant meat and the whole town was bustling – restaurants served souvlaki, which is a kebob, basically, and people dressed up all crazy! the buses were full, so it was an adventure trying to make our way around – especially with the windy weather – but we finally arrived to milos, where our festivities were being held.

i think there were some of us who were expecting to be more like the flyer – a sort of cultural celebration – and less like an amped up halloween party in the middle of february. nevertheless, there were dancers, local musicians, Brazilian performers (hmm?), a drum line and an expansive dance floor, which served as a showcase for everyone’s ludicrous outfits. so loud, so crazy and so fun!

carnival!

Brazilian band
Brazilian band

tonight we’re heading to delphi by way of overnight train. it’s the home of the oracle, which is supposedly a well known thing (that i’d never heard of)… so more on that later! Αντίο!

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2009

ya sas!

kalispera ξένος!  (good afternoon, strangers)

i felt like i should write an outline for my first blog post – so much has happened in only 3 weeks!!

first of all, jacci and i arrived on january 28 and were the first in the alexandrias building. we were the lonely pioneers… the sole study abroad students in our huge apartment building. we spent some time exploring our area (that i’m still not quite familiar with) and it was gorgeous when we first arrived. however, anything would’ve felt better than iowa at that point.

i love living close to the sea – it’s so picturesque and soothing! it’s not too far to take a walk by the water, and there are adorable cafes lining the streets and many crepe/toast restaurants as well as places you can buy gyros (pronounced like “euros”). seriously the tastiest thing i’ve found so far – covered in tzatziki (cucumber yogurty sauce) and topped with fries! mmm… anyway, a ways down is the white tower, which is near the center (aka ‘downtown’). the center is where it all goes down – tons of shopping, which could be dangerous for someone like me, clubs & bars as well as ruins and other unique buildings.

also in the center is Athenos, which is a little area of tavernas where the employees of assorted restaurants come out and persuade you to come into their places with promises of free wine and whatnot. we’ve frequented a place often enough now that they offered us girls a free table!

there are a ton of markets around the city, too. they sell everything from home decor to squid. seriously – you can buy your groceries and get some new clothes (like a dress for 3 euro!). sometimes overwhelming, but always a fun experience. “a treat for the eyes and the ears!”

we’ve also visited Vergina, which is home to a tomb of Alexander the Great (he’s kind of a big deal around here) and other cool stuff that archeologists dug up. did you know that alexander and cleopatra were brother and sister and lovers? i didn’t before that trip, but maybe it’s common knowledge…

other notable happenings in the past few weeks: i’ve been to a few live music bars but have yet to visit an actual club. every week night i considered it, i was too exhausted by 1 am to really think about staying out for another 2-4 hours. but, my schedule conveniently doesn’t include tuesday or thursday classes, so another girl and I are planning day trips and figuring out when our vacations can be extended a little longer.

also, one thing i was not expecting was that our toilet paper doesn’t go in the toilet. nope, it’s all third world style, we throw it in a trash can. i thought i was done with that after going to Dominican!

anyway, i’ve rambled enough in this catch-up. next time i promise to be a bit more specific… bye for now!
ya sas xoxo

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