You know when someone asks you if you want to go out at night to play Backgammon and you say “Eh, I might just chill out tonight.” No? Well, Greek people love Backgammon, so prepare for the invite. Or, when your friend from class says, “I’m going dancing until dawn in Psirri. Want to join me?” And you say, “I actually have to work on a paper, I’m sorry.”
Don’t do that. Unless someone is offering you drugs or telling you to steal something, say yes. When is the last time you said yes to every invitation you were offered? For me, the answer was never. The idea of going home and chilling out is so appealing to me that I feel comfortable turning down invitations. I made it my goal not to do that while I am abroad.
When you say “no,” you know where you’re going. When you say “yes,” you never know where you will end up! So far, saying “yes” has lead me to: a night of Greek dancing, watching the sunset as I come home from a night on the town, the best gyros I ever could have discovered, new Greek friends, and unexpected neighborhoods.
I did one month of Rosetta Stone before I got here. It worked really well! Now I am in a Greek class during my semester. It is ok if you don’t know any, but basics like “thank you” and “yes” will help a lot!
I am studying Communications here. The classes are very interesting! I am also taking “Economics of the Greek Crisis”- what an eye-opener!
(Stolen from Justine Merrill’s article on shopping in Istanbul, I loved this!)
- Stay calm, don’t panic, there is plenty of stuff to buy.
- Pick out half of the amount you wish to buy, lay it on the counter.
- Discuss the price, smile nicely and shake your head sadly at the offered vendor price. And wait. Silently.
- Leave objects on counter, go chat with your friends or family, stay calm.
- Nod and agree to the third or fourth price offered.
- Put more of the desired object on the table; ask for a greater discount, nicely. Have your mother shake her head and talk about “No more baggage space”.
- Consider the final price, and the object carefully, there is no rush, drink tea and think.
- THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE IS, THE MINUTE YOU AGREE TO A PRICE, YOU MUST PAY IT.
- Pay, and start worrying about the room in your baggage.
- After you get home, wish you had bought more.
Oh my goodness thank you! That is wonderful to hear! I hope I am showing a nice side of Greece that maybe people don’t see and dispelling some myths (riots? what riots?). I think going to Greece is a wonderful dream! You should go for it! I am so amazingly happy here. Happier than I ever imagined I would be!
Are these goals on your list?
Hi new (and old) followers!
Happy Greek Independence Day :)
I have a lot of fun pictures and stories for you this week!
Aw shucks! I am sorry Greece was not your cup of ouzo. I think Greece has really changed my thinking about a lot of things. It has taught me to relax, cherish relationships more than efficiency, and enjoy every moment of life. I am sorry if you did not get that out of your trip. I am sure you will find a place you really love at some point!
-Jason Manolopoulos,Greece’s Odious Debt
A great book to read if you want to know about the Greek crisis.
10:00 pm: Take the metro to a Bouzoukia, or a bar that plays traditional Greek music.
10:00-12:00 pm: Enjoy delicious meat platters, warm pita bread, and Greek salads. Order one pitcher of wine. End up with 8. Then 12. They don’t stop coming.
12:00 Midnight: Live music starts.
12:30 am: Greek people finally get up to dance. They start out dancing in a club-like manner, but around 12:45 it turns into traditional Greek circle dancing.
1:00 am: Get dragged into the circle. Learn very quickly when to kick feet, how to hold arms up in a Greek way, and which way to spin.
1:30 am: Greek people begin dancing on tables.
2:00 am: Drive home due to sore feet.
10:00 am: Why am I awake? Get up to prepare for a “casual hike” put on by the college.
11:00 am: Start casual hike. Make several wonderful friends while walking up the mountain.
12:00 Noon: Realize that we are only half way up the mountain. Begin to doubt the meaning of the word “casual.”
1:00 pm: Finally make it up mountain. Informed by guide that I have just walked 4 miles. Begin walking the 4 miles back down the mountain. Wonder if jumping and rolling down would be easier.
3:00 pm: Make it back to the apartment. Remember that it is St. Patrick’s day. Coordinate evening plans while eating half a box of Honey Cheerios (No, there are no “nuts” in Greek Cheerios).
9:00 pm: Wonder how I have been sitting in the same chair for 6 hours. Mountain 1- Rebecca 0. Get ready to go out.
10:00 pm: Take the metro to Mike’s Irish Pub to meet friends from class.
10:30 pm: It is packed. Enjoy Greek impersonations of Irish accents. Note that this is the first time I’ve really seen Greek people dance in a bar. Live “Irish” band comes on stage. Dance to traditional Irish music.
11:45 pm: Ask the Irish band if they are really Irish. “No,” they say in fake Irish accents, “we’re from Berlin!”
2:00 am: Irish band stops playing. Realize that the metro is already shut down and will remain closed until 5:00 am. Decide to tough it out rather than take a € 30 taxi ride.
2:00 am- 5:00 am: Sit in a posh bar. Eat bar nuts and dinner rolls. Watch clock continuously. Occasionally walk outside and sit on the sidewalk to get some air.
5:00 am: Walk to the metro. Informed that it will be closed until 5:30 am. Curse “Greek time.” Sit on the steps of the metro staring at the gate until it opens.
6:00 am: Finally make it home. Walk down the street to apartment just as the sky turns gray and the birds start chirping. Sleep!
And my Greek is getting no better.
Eek! That is exciting! I am sure you will love it, love it, love it! I guess I do have some interesting cultural “quirks” I could warn you about…let’s make a list…
-Greek people with either love you or hate you. Don’t let it hurt your feelings. Make friends with the ones that love you and avoid the ones that hate you.
-Regardless of whether or not they love or hate you, Greek people will try to rip you off. It’s just the culture. Stand up for yourself when the taxi fare is too high or they charge you €15 for cheese in a restaurant.
-Gyros are the cheapest, best food ever! They generally run from €1-3. Definitely a budget traveler’s best friend.
-You can’t throw toilet paper in the toilets. It goes in a trash can. If you throw it in the toilet prepare for extreme humiliation!
-If you only learn one word of Greek: Ευχαριστω “ef-har-ree-STO,” means thank you. True Greeks will giggle at your pronunciation when you say it, but secretly, they will be pleased.
I am sorry if any of this scares you! Greece is wonderful so far, and I am sure you will enjoy your time here! Bring a camera, take it all in, and try every bit of food you can!
Ok my Greek is pretty bad so bear with me here. It’s like “Yee-ro” but kind of subtly with a “g” at the beginning, as opposed to “ev-ro” which is how the Greeks say “Euro,” like the money!
Expect pictures. Whenever I’m done catching up on sleep.
-Sleep two hours a night
-Share food and drinks with everyone
-Don’t drink water
-Forget all your vitamins at home
-If you have a diet or exercise regime, abandon it
…I would still do it all again :)
I will be away this weekend in Thessaloniki (Greece’s 2nd largest city!) and I will miss all of your wonderful posts. However, I will return Monday with way too many pictures and (hopefully) good stories!
Have a great weekend!
I made a Greek friend! I made a Greek friend!
That is all :)
“A traveler does not know where he is going, a tourist does not know where he has been…”
I have made many study abroad friends here. There are 24 of us in the program, and, I have to say, I am surprised. I like ALL of them. I did not know that was possible, but they are all great, adventurous, friendly people that are up for anything. If you are worried about making friends when you go abroad, don’t worry, people go abroad to make friends. So they will make friends with you.
However, lately, we have been planning some trips. Destinations have been suggested- Holland, Turkey, etc. I suggested Budapest, Hungary. “Why?” they asked.
“What do you mean, why?” I said. “It’s Budapest, it’s cool!”
“What is there to see there?”
“I don’t know,” I said, being honest. Because I don’t. I have no idea what is in Hungary. But they always ask this question when I suggest a destination. Thessaloniki. The Ionian Islands. What is there to see there? If I knew the answer, I wouldn’t have to travel. When I travel, I want to find out what can be seen by seeing it!
Does anyone else think like this? Or do you like to go in with a plan?
Oooh! How exciting! I think it is MORE fun than the pictures look, because the pictures can’t show you how crazy it is to ride the metro, or how nice the accordion players sound when you walk through Plaka, or how amazingly good the food tastes.
So, I hope I am capturing a tiny little bit of that, but you are going to have the best time ever!