Two Days Later

We’ve already done a fair amount of exploring…the Pangrati area (a nice big square, Farmers’ Market on Fridays—lots of stores, taverna all around), Varnava Square—which is the close one, great bakery & all sorts of cafes and more taverna (seriously, Greece is overrun with taverna and cats, not that I mind either, considering a. how cheap the delicious, delicious fresh food is—real feta cheese is not hard and crumbly! and b. kiiiiiitty! although they usually run away before you can pet them). Plus a nighttime visit to the Acropolis involving a little bit of adventuring; the Plaka (which is the only place you can bargain, I do want to try that out…they supposedly also all know English there); the Monasteriki (near the Plaka—the name means ‘little monastery’); and my first-ever cathedral (or Western religiously affiliated building for that matter), the Mitropoli—love those Greek Orthodox icons. Also the remains of the temple of Olympian Zeus, an interesting discussion about how the experience changes depending on how intact things are. Oh, and there are these awesome limestone houses if you go past Hadrian’s library and the Roman agora and follow the pathway on the left up towards the Acropolis; they definitely get a lot of tourists there. These cool Greek ladies showed us a rather amazing café (for the record: tzatziki? Needs to be made with Greek yogurt, which is way richer than the usual stuff).

Note: at some point, I should add pictures to this. Maybe when I get back.

You can see the Parthenon from a lot of places in the center of Athens; it’s a bit like the Washington Monument that way. I have taken a hilariously large number of pictures from different angles…sort of because that’s what people expect, though. An unexpected source of amusement is the graffiti around here: there’s a Communist bear and some crazy chicks near us, and I also saw a toking bird and a pretty sweet gecko. Evidently there’s a lot of hoodlums and shit around here, but the graffiti in general appears to be acceptable in the non-ritzy areas (definitely saw places where it had been cleaned off, so it’s not not okay/tolerable everywhere).

I’m starting to get used to stuff—definitely things in the apartment, even the fact that it’s a studio, that I have to adjust to; not to mention the completely different style of housing (which, of course, tourists love to be awed by; I think of these as the indeliberate attractions—I mean, do you really expect people to gawk over suburbia?)—but I’m not entirely sure that I want to get used to things here. I mean, yes, I’m living here for 10 whole weeks, but it’d be a lot more memorable if every day were an experience (which, mostly, they will be…soooo many trips and excursions!), although of course there is the idea of understanding the lifestyle. But maybe you can do that without losing a sense of wonder. And, of course, there are benefits to not jizzing one’s pants every time one catches a glimpse of the Parthenon.

There are a confusing number of similarities between here and, actually, India; something about the little stores and kiosks, and of course everything is marble and concrete and, in some cases, brightly-colored; the open markets especially are something hugely lacking in America. It’s really funny how obsessive they are with labeling things as “green” or “organic” or “local” or whatever there; here, it’s like, well no shit these oranges came from nearby—and, for the record, are both incredibly juicy and awesomely cheap. So yeah…there’s that, and then the red rooftops and the mountains and hills everywhere (thank god…) rather remind me of San Diego. I guess that does something about the culture shock? But really, it’s not much of a problem. The one issue is when they have no idea what you’re saying and vice versa….

(Granted, a lot of the things I’ve noticed are probably simply city or mountain things, but I haven’t been around the world that much, so I don’t think it safe to generalize that far.)

So far I have learned numbers, ‘thank you,’ ‘sorry,’ and picked up a little speed in reading Greek words just from every day stuff.

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