Greece meets Faira
Ya sas, matera que patera!
I'm writing to you now from an internet cafe in modern-day downtown
Delphi. The downtown area used to be a few miles in another direction
but then archeologists found the anceint city buried under it, so they
moved the entire town to whre I'm sitting now! That is dedication!
We haven't consulted the oracle because we've only gotten here a few
hours ago.. I'm not really sure what we are doing tomorrow morning,
though. This morning we went to the ancient site of the Olympics in
Olympia where we spent the night last night. The site is mostly in
ruins, but it was incredible. The site is many many buildings, all
related to the ancient games somehow--guestrooms, sport arenas,
athletic preparation rooms--and temples to Zeus and his father, the sun
God Cronos. Some people from our class even sprinted on the running
track in the blazing heat where the very first Olympic champions
trained and won. It was quite an experience!
Speaking of blazing heat, I got my fill of it yeaterday, which is one
of the main reasons I wouldn't have even though about racing today
under the sun; we visited the Palace in Nafplion yesterday afternoon.
On the way there Viau gave the busses an announcement that although the
original plan was to visit the castle on the mountain the temperature
was already 100 degrees farenheit and still rising, so they were making
the trip optional. If people felt healthy - and most importantly
hydrated - enough, they could choose to visit the palace and walk down
the 1,000 stairs to the city, but if not people were urged to stay at
the bottom and go shopping in modern-day Nafplion (which is highly
recommended by Jeremy's girlfriend). I chose the palace, even though
the rest of my entourage chose the shade and ice-cream of tourist shops.
The bus drove us to the top of the mountain and let us out and we were
let loose. This palace was built from 1400-1700, so its one of teh
more modern sites we'll visit this trip, but its also the most intact
because of that. Walls, tunnels, floors, doorways, etc were all still
very much intact. We were allowed to clamber around this ruin from as
long as we wanted to, so I spent quite some time crawling up steirs and
down walls and through a tunnel and standing on very steep precipices
(don't worry, I'm still alive) and I took some AMAZING pictures. I
finally got pretty tired though, and realized that I was the last
student still on top with one professor, so we decided to head down.
It took us 25 MINUTES to walk to the bottom of those 1,000 ancient
stairs. It was insanely hot and there was almost no shade the whole
way down. My legs were shaking after only 1/2 of the trek, but we
finally made it and my face was the color of a tomato. I drank 1.5
liters of water and doused my face and hair in the sink before heading
toward the bus. Needless to say when we got to the hotel that night I
passed out VERY quickly (with a pillow on my head to shut out the
sounds of the drunken imbeciles in the hall).
It was an AWESOME day. I can't wait to get home and show you all the
pictures I've been taking, especially from that trip... but really I
don't think I could take any pictures that TRULY depict the majesty of
that place, standing on top of a hill impossible to reach looking out
over the seas to the mountains on the other side... its amazing.
There are so many other places to write about, but I just don't have
enough time and it seems impossible to get to computeres. Hopefully it
will become easier as we get closer to our final destination. I tried
to call you yesterday afternoon, I believe, but you were out. From
here until Thessaloniki we'll be in one hotel a night, and by "night" I
mean we arrive in time for LATE dinner (usually ending around 10:30),
sleep, and check out by 8:30am the following morning.
I'll contact you again as soon as possible... maybe even when we get
back to the hotel if I'm awake enough. If I don't though, don't
worry.. I've made plenty of friends who wont let anything happen to me!
I love you VERY MUCH and hope your having 1/5 as much fun as me in
Mom & Dad,
I just found a little "internet room" in our hotel where internet is
FREE! Unfortunately for the majority of the group the room only
consists of empty plugs and internet cables, but no actual computers...
we have to bring our laptops down here and plug up to the internet.
I'm glad we decided in the end to pack mine! Also, when I first got
into this room I heard a number of students fussing about mailing
things to this hotel... turns out the itenerary and whatnot they gave
us at orientation is wrong - the phone number to this hotel (Olympia
Hotel, 011-30-2310235421) is correct, but the address is wrong, so in
case you need it:
65, Olympou Str., 546 31 Thessaloniki - Greece
And lastly, I'm in room 510 (which a pretty cool view of the busy
street, apartments, the old theater under rennovation we're hoping to
perform Oedipus in, and a University housing complex that's completely
COVERED in anarchy symbols and flags and phrases like, "Border
Control." I don't really understand. Supposedly the anarchy flags
have something to do with student protests going on around Greece right
now about improper funding... I can't find the whole story anywhere, do
you know anything about it?
In other news - today was the first day of actual classes in the actual
university building with our permenant schedule. I had to wake up at
6:55am, get ready, eat breakfast, grab my books, leave the hotel with
the group at 7:30am, walk 20-25 minutes to University Aristotle for my
theater class at 8am-9:30am, walk 20 mins back here for 2nd breakfast
(I'm turning into a Hobbit), shower, walk back to the University for 20
mins for my 11:20-12:50 travel writing class, and now I'm back in the
hotel waiting for 2-3pm lunch... which should be about now.
It was a little rough, but I think I'll get used to it quickly enough,
because I have afternoons free for possible naps or wandering around.
The royal pentagon (Christina, Cassie, Daniel, Michael, and I) are
planning on going shopping after lunch for notebooks, alarm clocks, etc
that they forgot. I have everything I need, but I'm going with them
Alright, I guess its time for lunch now, but hopefully I'll ba able to
write more later because this e-mail wasn't quite as fun as the others,
haha - sorry!
You should listen to Shelley, I'm definitely perfectly alright here.
My legs are a little tired, but I'm taking very good care of myself
(hiking down 1,000 stairs not included). We've been going to bed
earlier than the rest of our group, and I've been going to bed earlier
than Christina every night.
I love you, and will try to write more ASAP.
|Hades and Aristotle|
I am really tired, so I don't know how coherant this e-mail will be,
but I thought I would try to stay awake until dinner, which is in 40
minutes, by writing to you.
Every Wednesday from today until the end our entire group will be going
on group trips instead of our classes. Today we went to a number of
places, some of which I'm still not sure what they wereâ€¦ our group
seems to be very bad at communicating important information to more
than 10% of the group the past couple of days. We woke up this morning
and got on the bus for an unknown time/destination, which turned out to
be about an hour drive to the underground tombs I told you a bit about
yesterday. That site was really incredible!
The site, Vergina, is actually a collection of tombs all buried
underground around 300BC. The tombs were originally buried under a
smaller amount of earth, but they still got robbed by grave looters
twice, so a later king had a higher hill built up over them, which
amounted to 36 feet of earth above the tombs. One of them is
speculated to be Philip the 2nd, and another is one of Alexander the
Great's sons. One of the smaller unknown tombs had a very well-intact
fresco on it portraying Persephone being kidnapped by Pluto and carried
to the underworld.. it was a pretty awesome fresco. The gold crowns
were the most amazing though - the bones of the dead were washed in wine
and placed in gold boxes with extremely intricate golden crowns placed
in the box on top of the bones. These crowns, we saw 3 of them, were
solid gold and as intricate as lace in places. One of Philip the 2nd's
wives' crowns in particular was so fine that parts of it were supposed
to move in the air to make it seem more magestic. It really was
incredible. It was flowers and leaves and vines curving into tiny
spirals, and some of the flowers even had minute little flies and bugs
made of gold perching on them. I had no idea people could make such
intricate and delicate things out of nothing but gold. Oh, and the
entire site was lit very dramatically to resemble and envoke the
feeling of walking down into Hades, which was very impressive. Somehow
the entire place was black and very well insulated from sound, and kind
of cool and damp, so we really felt as though we were inside a hill
deep underground, and only the artifacts were lit at all. It really
was an art piece in lights. The tombs themselves have not been moves
at all, and are still partially buried, so guests look down on the
tombs where they were originally built deep in the ground, and the dirt
is still around them. You definitely would have appreciated the
overall presentation very much. (Especially if you were with our tour
guide who's first statement under there was,
"Welcome to Hades! ... Ok, moving on")
After that site we hopped back on the bud for another 30 minute drive
further away from Thessaloniki to visit (drumroll) The original
school of Aristotle! This wasn't a museum or monument or even ruins of
any sort, it was just caves, trees, a river, wilderness in general, BUT
it was the wilderness in which Aristotle actually held his lessons with
Alexander the Great, etc. It was close to emotionally overwhelming.
Unfortunately we were rushed off to leave while I was still exploring
one of the caves - we almost got left behind by the buses. (That was
another communication problem - no one ever said what time to meet back
or that we were heading back to the buses or anything.) It made me
really sad (and a bit angry) to be rushed away so quickly from a site
that was having such an impact on so many of us in a deeper way than
just standing around looking at ruins while someone yaps away about
what it means. The positive aspects of that visit greatly outweighed
the negative though - its definitely a 30-45 minute time span that will
stick with me forever.
Ok, we have 10 minutes to dinner now, so I'm going to head up to the
room and do some people-watching before heading down again. I hope you
had a wonderful 4th of July yesterday, and I hope to hear from you soon!
I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!
Mom + Dad,
Those pictures from the theater are really wonderful! I especially
like the costume shop composite, it makes me miss the theater alot.
Tell everyone hello for me yet again, and give Jenny a hug!
Last night Cassie, Christina and I made new local friends!! Kostas
just left to go holiday-ing around Greece yesterday, so last night
after I got off the phone with you we were planning on just going to
bed early... but we went across the street for late pizza and ended up
talking to the take-out guy with dreadlocks (one of the first
Thessaloniki characters we started watching upon arrival at the hotel).
He was a suprisingly fun and entertaining guy to talk to after
watching him sit silently by himself and drive off looking too cool for
us delivering pizzas every night.
When the pizza place closed at 1:30am he invited us to join him and his friends a few blocks away to
have a few drinks and talk, so of course we decided to go... "for a few minutes."
Well once we got to the bar and started talking to his friends we were
hooked. Some of the main people were as follows:
Kristos - the dreadlocked pizza deliver guy who is actually another
anarchist-squatter, but he doesn't relate himself to the "extremists"
across the street, the building he squats in is closer to the
university and is an abandoned factory - the poster I took off a wall
the other day is about his group, not the one across the way. He loves
reggae music from all countries, gave me a high 5 when I told him I
listened to Pin Floyd's "Echoes" while flying over the Atlantic, and is
one of the 2 Greek guys I've met in this country who hates smoking cigs.
Mario - one of Kristos' best friends. His mother is Swedish and his
father is Greek so he's grown up speaking those 2 languages in his home
equally but is also fluent in English and knows alot of French and
Spanish. He just got back to Greece this week after studying
multi-media education techniques in Sweden for 3 years. He is obsessed
with Tom Waits and can do a perfect imitation of Ewan McGregor's
character in Trainspotting - one of my favorite quotes, in fact.
Markela - a Greek girl who went to Circus school in Germany where she
met her boyfriend (I can't remember his name). They are both
professional jugglers and very jovial characters. She hardly speaks
German and he hardly speaks Greek so in their relationship they mostly
speak to each other in a strange combination of English and Spanish.
She has long blonde dreadlocks also and was wearing a patchwork skirt,
laughing with merriment all night long. She played with one of the
stray dogs for a while, running around and laughing with it, and even
sat on the grund with it for a while, feeding it sausage - this is the
first Greek I've ever seen be anything more than apathetic to a stray
dog. Markela and her boyfriend played all kinds of music from their
mp3 player for us, and I fell in love with a Russian gypsy brass band
www.fanfare-ciocarlia.com then they told me this band is playing 2
hours away tomorrow night!!
A picture of the band Fanfare Ciocarlia playing. Most of my
pictures of their show sadly didn't turn out as wonderful as I'd hoped,
but this one is pretty good. The number of people you see in the
picture is only about 1/2 of the entire band, but you can get the
general feeling from this one pretty well I think. I took some video
that I'll force you to listen to when we get back, and I might actually
try to send one after this message.
concert, Markela and her boyfriend especially, so Markela gave me her
phone number to call so she can help us get there if we want to go.
I talked to Dr. Bourdouvalis about it this afternoon over lunch and he
thinks its a wonderful idea, so then I decided to research the concert
a bit more and this is what I found:
ITS AN ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS FESTIVAL!! Go to the website, I simply
cannot type enough to describe the awesomeness of this festival, you
have to read it for yourselves. Just now when I found the site my
theater professor was in the computer room and he looked at the site
and said it sounded amazing and was absolutely entranced by the idea.
I told him I needed to e-mail the site "to my parents" and he said,
"are they interested in environmentalism?" And I laughed and said,
"most definitely!" I believe he is in love with you now, hahaha!
Ok, its nap time now, but I'm really excited about the idea of this
concert so I wanted to share all that news with you regardless as to
whether or not I actually get to go... but believe me, I'm about to
call Markela and I'm giong to try very hard to go!!
I think I need to move to Greece. I'm already trying to figure out
ways to get back here in the future, as well as visiting other
countries and cultures as well, because it is so amazing to be
somewhere new and different, for one, but secondly Greece is the type
of place I would love to spend a large portion of my life! Be prepared
to travel in the future to visit me in a home somewhere in a differentcountry! :D
I love you so much, you have no idea (or just very little idea) how
much this trip is affecting me... I wish you could be enjoying and
experiencing it as well!!
Markela and Andreus
A picture of Markela ad her German boyfriend Andreus juggling
together in a park in Ptolemaitha (I think that's how you spell it).
These were the 2 who met at juggling school in Berlin, so watching them
do these awesome juggling tricks while never losing eye-contact was
actually pretty romantic and sweet. We sat in this park for about an
hour waiting for another bus from Thessaloniki to arrive so we could
all get to the small town of Vlasti together. Andreu tried to teach us
to juggle, but I gave up pretty quickly.
Early Morning in Vlasti
The morning after the concert, running on a little sleep, I took a
picture of Pantelis and Katrina peeking through the flap of the tiny
3-person tent they shared with us. We said thank you a billion times
in both languages, but I doubt they really know how grateful we are
that we didn't have to sleep out in the cold with our towels!
The last picture was taken this morning as we were walking/hiking
back down the mountain for the last time. It shows how beautiful and
remote the area is. In the distance on the left side you can see a bit
of a church cemetary, tiny little white headstones through the trees.
That was the 2/3 mark down the mountain, and I took this picture after
walking for about 10 minutes, so it gives you an idea of how far we had
I hope you enjoy these few pictures until I get home, because its
really hard to send only a couple from such a strange and awesome trip.
It's all about the context, I think. I'll write more later, but for
now I need to eat, read for class, and get to sleep.
I love you,