Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Best Pasta Ever

Lily McGartland
February 24, 2013
The Best Pasta Ever
            Today was quite a relaxing day because it was one of our first official days off; meaning we didn’t have any classes or assignments due, at least for a little while. It was extremely refreshing to just go about a normal day here in Athens, or as normal as it can be living abroad in a foreign country. The only unusual thing about today is that it’s Carolyn’s 21st birthday! The students celebrated with a little party, but I can vouch for all of us in saying that this past weekend’s excursions tired us out a lot.
            In order to regain my senses after the long weekend, and to take advantage of the warm weather (it was in the sixties), my dad (Professor Roth) and I went on a quick walk around our neighborhood, which is very upscale, to do a little window-shopping. But we were also hoping to find an open market. Unfortunately, it’s Sunday, everything is always closed, including our favorite little deli a few blocks away. While we were browsing the shops, we passed a chic little restaurant. At the table by the window, a woman had just been served a bowl of pasta that had a rich red tomato sauce and fresh herbs on it. I decided right then and there that we would eat an early dinner at the restaurant, so perfectly named, La Pasteria, but only after we walked a bit more.
            The weather has finally taken a turn for the good, which is the main reason for our prolonged walk. For the past week it has been dreary and unseasonably cold, but today the sky was a dazzling blue with barely any clouds. The sun shone and warmed our backs. It was only a little windy; practically the ideal day.
            Just as I had planned, we walked back to the restaurant and sat down to order. Judging by the descriptions on the menu and what the woman appeared to be eating, I chose the pasta Napoletana, “fresh tomato sauce and basil”; it was just what I had craved earlier. The tagliatelle pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, exactly the way I like it. The homemade sauce was tangy and light, with some cherry tomatoes in it as well. It was by far my favorite pasta dish I have ever eaten; it even topped the pasta we ate in Italy, it was just that good!
            After stuffing ourselves with pasta and salads (my dad got pesto pasta – it was super delicious too), we began our walk home. On the way, we passed a nearby church; a bride and groom were walking down the stairs into the crowd of their families and friends. The whole street and cross street were filled with people from the wedding, and traffic was even backed up two blocks. Except, unlike normal traffic delays, these cars weren’t honking, they were just waiting patiently for the wedding procession. It was quite a sight, considering that Greek drivers are absolutely bonkers and don’t follow any traffic laws (motorcyclists even drive on the sidewalks). We sidestepped the cars and taxis, and finished our walk home.
            When we arrived back at the apartment, we relaxed and watched some TV. Afterwards, I began to research my topic for our Athens Across the Ages course final. I chose to do my presentation and paper on the Caryatids; Caryatids are ancient figures of women who stand in place of columns. I’m researching the Erechtheion Caryatids; they are famous since they are on the top of the Acropolis. After I got some research done, we went to bed, very tired from our walk earlier.

A Day in the Fog!

A Day in the Fog!
Lauren Miller

Today was an exceptionally early morning for us. We met for breakfast at 7:30. The breakfast at the hotel was perfectly filling for our adventurous day: eggs, sausage, cereal, bread, yogurt; some people had coffee, some hot chocolate. Ioanna met us downstairs at 8:15 and we headed off to the mountain! It was about a 30-minute drive up steep, winding roads. Some of the roads had no railings on the sides. Because I am so prone to carsickness, some can understand that I did get a little carsick. I had to keep my eyes closed for the majority of the trip up. The car was so small and everyone’s skis and snowboards had to be squeezed into the back of the van, so I was cramped and it did not help my carsickness. There were skis slid under the seats, on the sides of both seats in the back, and laid over one of the seats that had to be put down to make room.

When we arrived at Mount Parnassos, there were about 150 men, women and children unloading their gear and equipment. The temperature was perfect though; in the 50s. We waited in the ticket line for five minutes and only paid 28 Euros for an all day pass! We were each given a card with our picture on it, which proved that we had paid and also allowed us to get onto the lifts. We then had to climb up two sets of stairs in our ski boots to get to the gondola. Four of us rode in one gondola and four in another. The skis and snowboards were in pockets on the outside of the cart. As the gondola climbed, we entered fog. The fog was thick and snow/rain droplets were coming from it. The sky was very dark and there was no sight of the sun even trying to squeeze through the fog. When we reached the top, we stepped out of the cart and had to go down a flight of stairs sideways because of the boots. At the bottom, there was more people than there were unloading the cars. Among these people there was a group of instructors in bright orange jumpsuits standing next to a sign on which they were offering lessons.

Carolyn, Ashley, and I wanted to start on the bunny hill, but none of us knew where it was. So we decided to just head to the first lift that we saw. As Carolyn and I were on our way up, we started getting nervous because it seemed like we just kept climbing higher and higher. After about 15 minutes we finally made it to the stopping point and I slid down the ramp. I was freaking out because I knew that this was going to be a task trying to ski down when it had been almost a year since I had last been on skis.  

At the top it was even foggier than below. It was hard to see twenty feet in front of you.  Because we were all new to these paths and it was extremely foggy, we took it slow the first time down. I was very hesitant about the people skiing around me. There were many times that I came very close to running into another skier.  Each of us wiped out a few times in the extremely slushy snow that resulted from the massive amounts of rain the mountain had been getting! When someone had fallen, we had to keep an eye out until they got back up in case another skier was coming down and did not see them.

We skied until 2 pm and then met up with Rich, Lily, and Matt back at the entrance. This was perfect timing because it was becoming busier by the minute. Each person told a funny story about skiing and snowboarding and we all laughed about the falls and sites that we had seen. Then we squished all of our skis, snow boots, and snow pants back into the van and trunk of the car and headed back down the mountain. Again, I became carsick looking over the sides of the roads but the views of the snow capped mountains and houses in the valleys looked as if they belonged on a postcard. There were large homes packed tightly together with smoke coming out of the chimneys. In the distance, the neighboring mountains to Parnassos had the sunlight hitting them to make the snow shine bright.

When we arrived back in town, we returned our rentals to the ski shop and went to the hotel to grab our luggage and change out of wet clothes. Having skied all day without breaking for lunch, we were starved and agreed on pizza! We went to a small pizzeria, Pomodori, where we guzzled down water and munched on thick pita bread with a cream cheese spread. Ashley and I ordered a Forest Salad (apples, pomegranates, cabbage, and a creamy balsamic dressing) and a Francesca Pizza (cheese, tomatoes, mushroom, onion, and oregano) to split. We each ate three slices and there were two remaining; Ashley suggested that we each have one more piece because bringing home two pieces would be a waste, so of course we ate them! When we were finished at the pizzeria, we had a half hour of free time and Hayley, Carolyn, Katie, Ashley, Ioanna, and I went to Café Bonjour to have a cup of hot chocolate before we got back on the road to Athens.

The 2 ½ hour drive back to Athens went by quickly; everyone was extremely tired from the early morning and the trips up and down the mountain! We all slept the majority if the ride. Back home, we met up with some of our American friends that from the school’s pita cutting the week before!

Each day I continue to grow closer with my peers. Long days like today help our relationships in the building process. When I finally returned back to the apartment and my head hit the pillow, my eyes shut instantly and I felt as if I could sleep for days. 

Delphi Blog

Zach Wasielewski
Delphi Blog
            Waking up at the monastery was difficult because we did not have any technology so there was no way for me to set an alarm to wake myself up.  However, after we had our breakfast and took a couple of last minute pictures we set off for Arahova.  Arahova is the ski town that we were staying in for the night and it is also near Delphi.  The drive wasn’t that long and the views were amazing.  There were mountains all around and it was the first time I saw snow since arriving in Greece. We arrived at Arahova and checked into the hotel.   Professor Roth decided that since it was already 12,  and the mountain closed at 4,  we should just go skiing the next day.  I was relieved when I heard this because I was excited to ski but I wanted to get a full day of skiing not just half a day.  We took care of the rentals for the next day and went over to Delphi.  Delphi is an archeological site and a town, with the Delphic oracle.  It also has the temple of Apollo which has a pathway leading up to three massive columns.   Behind the columns is the tomb. The temple has methane gases that rose from beneath the temple.   These fumes made the oracles high and the ability to tell the future.  Archeologist noticed these gases when there was an earthquake that hit the temple of Apollo and broke the back of the temple.  There was also an amphitheater were they would do poetry readings, contests and singing.  As we continued to walk upwards, we arrived at a stadium where races were held for the Pythian Games.  These games were held every 4 years, like the modern day Olympics, and athletes from all over would come to compete in these games.  When I saw this stadium, I thought to myself how all the spectators would need to climb up to the top to watch the athlete’s race.  I also wondered how many people would come to watch the races and if there were a lot of spectators, how they would fit everyone in the stadium.  As we were walking down from the stadium you could look out and see the ancient ruins.  There was nothing around but mountains off in the distance.  Since we were on a mountain you felt like you were looking down into a valley that kept going on forever.  I will remember that view for the rest of my life because I felt like I was on top of the world.  As we were leaving there was a circular temple called the temple of Athena. After we left Delphi we headed back to Arahova and we had a little time to ourselves. Pat, Chryssie, Hayley, Katie and I decided to go walk around the town for a while and see what we could find.  Ioanna told us of a great place to get hot chocolate so we decided to go get a cup after we finished walking around looking in the stores.  The hot chocolate was amazing.   I believe I drank mine in about a minute.  We then went back to get ready for dinner that was at the top of 300 stairs.  As we were climbing up to dinner the only thing I could think about was how hungry I was so I decided to run up the stairs.  Running up 300 stairs is a lot harder than you think, especially when you are starving.  Once we all arrived at the top we went in for what I think was the best dinner I have had in Greece.  We had lamb, chicken, pork, pasta, salad, beans, feta cheese, fried zucchini, and bread with garlic butter.  I ate as much as possible because the food was amazing and I was very hungry.  After dinner we went to a café to get dessert.  Hayley and I decided to share so she had the chocolate soufflé and I had the apple pie.  The chocolate soufflé was the most amazing dessert I have ever tasted.  Hayley and I finished the entire thing.  After that we all decided to go back to the hotel.  We had an early morning, waking up at 730 to go skiing.  

Living as a Monk

Ashley Bruce
Thursday February 21st
Living as a Monk

            This afternoon after picking up the rental cars we headed off to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas which was about 3 hours north in Beotia, Greece. As soon as we left I dozed off into a deep sleep. After what felt about 5 minutes I was woken up by the car jerking me back and forth. We were on the curvy roads of the mountains. There were olive orchards, and trees that were blooming with lovely flower buds surrounding us. Finally we arrived at the monastery. Everyone had to be appropriately dressed respect to the Monks. To be appropriate you were to be fully clothed from head to toe with no legs, arms, or cleavage showing. The location of the monastery was purely beautiful. The monastery had bright reddish orange bricks which made it stick out from the unfathomable blue skies and the greens of the plants, trees, vegetation life, and the high peaks of the mountains.
            After we were greeted by the Abbot, we were then taken to the Church of the Theotokos to sit in and attend the church service. The church was very dark and dreary only being lit up by candle light. We sat there while they read their bible out loud. They were speaking Greek, and at this point in the trip I can usually pick out a few words in a conversation but they were reading so fast it sounded like one immense word. When the service was over, Ionanna took us around the church to look at the stunning decoration of the church. Even though it was fairly dark in the church we could still pick out what was what and who people were on the paintings. The gold mosaics were phenomenal. This church is known for their gold mosaics, and they were on every ceiling of each dome. Not only was the relic of St. Loukas, but we also even got to see his remains. To me, having seen his remains and knowing he was once an actually human being actually very creepy to me and made the chills run up my spine.
            Unlike anyone else, we were lucky enough to spend the night at the monastery. Ioanna just so happened to be friends with the Abbot.  The word Abbot is another word for Father. It is a title given to the head of a monastery. After being shown around the monks took us to sit around an enjoyable warm fire. As the heat was blazing and keeping us warm I drank some hot tea along with a few others. As dinner was being prepped and prepared for us, the smells of the food lingered into the room and made my tummy rumble. To pass the time quicker until dinner, we sat around and asked the monks everything we need to know about being a monk. The most interesting thing I acquired from asking them questions about themselves and the monastery was that once a monk has passed away they will bury him in the graveyard for 5 years, and after those five years pass they will then dig up his remains and put them in a room full of other monk remains. As for St. Loukas, his remains are kept in a glass coffin in the church of the monastery. Knowing all of this information really scared me, because it got to me thinking that the monastery could potentially be haunted!
            As 8 pm rolled around dinner was served.  We walked into the room and all of the food was sitting there on the table waiting for us to indulge into it. There were many types of cheeses, cheese pastries, cheese pies (they do love there cheese!), bread, potatoes, meats, and so many more options. My favorite part of the meal was the pork. The pork was fresh and we had to eat it right off the bone. Talking about it right now is just making my mouth water. We were then served two different types of dessert. The first dessert served was a reddish orange color fruit covered in sticky sweet honey. The texture of the fruit tasted almost like a pear. The second dessert served to us was a brownish jelly type form dessert with almonds in it. The texture of this kind of freaked me out, and it wasn’t my favorite thing and I will probably never eat it again.
            After we were excused from dinner we went to our rooms. The boys and the girls were separated by buildings due to the rules of the monastery. I ended up sleeping on a cot, and it was actually pretty comfortable! I slept like a baby. Overall, this was a great experience and not many people can say that they have lived as a monk and slept at a monastery for a night but I can honestly say I could never live like a monk! 


Christina Folkes
Wednesday February 2, 2012

            Where to even begin? One of the main concerns that my parents, friends, and loved ones had for me prior to this trip was whether or not it was safe for me to come to Greece for three months. For a while now, there have been riots and protests flooding the news stations in America and in turn, tricking the world into thinking that something absolutely horrible is happening here constantly. Now that I am here and have experienced my first official protest, I think it is safe to say that you can’t always believe everything you see or read in the news.
Unlike many of my classmates, I wanted to experience this day full-throttle. Right after our Greek language course, a few of us ventured into the streets of Athens where we were soon surrounded by thousands upon thousands of people. Not knowing what to expect, a part of me was worried. A riot could break out right in front of us at any moment. Another part of me was willing to take that risk. Call me crazy, but in the end it was all worth it.
For a while we followed the crowd marching down the street chanting things we couldn’t understand and holding signs we couldn’t read. We were afraid to take pictures because we didn’t want to be stereotypical Americans…but we took them anyway. Hayley, Lauren, Carolyn, and I walked alongside the crowd quietly and as subtly as possible. People were speaking through megaphones and there were hundreds of banners in sight. Later, I sent my mom some photos of the banners, which we were able to translate to something along the lines of “No to capitalism and no to being taxed on inheritance.”
We walked swiftly past the crowds that filled the main streets and side streets, and even on top of fences, poles, and anything that they could possibly stand on. We soon got the hang of things and realized that the chances of getting hurt or something happening were slim to nothing. What it comes down to is that a whole lot of people like you and me are just upset that the government is cheating them.
We finally were able to escape the crowds to grab a bite to eat: gyros of course (they have been our go-to meal). In the midst of all the craziness, we found the perfect gyro with moist, tender pork, tsatsiki that was freshly made with cucumbers and spices, and to top it off there were thin, crisp french fries inside that added just the right amount of salty flavor. I think we have found our new favorite gyro shop in the area.
By this point, police were lining every street corner and blockading nearby streets. Everywhere we turned we saw police or army men; guns in hand and shields in front of their bodies. From what we had witnessed so far, we thought it was incredibly unnecessary for them to be so prepared for battle. We wondered what was going on around us and what could have possibly changed so drastically in only a matter of twenty minutes.
Sitting on the concrete walls above the entrance to the Syntagma Square Metro station, we tried to get a sense of what was going on and why the police were so prepared for something to happen. After watching for forty-five minutes, one of the policemen told us to get out of the area. Suddenly, there was a bang. We thought it might be a bomb exploding. Down the street, people started running. I realized maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.
Bang, bang…two more bomb-like sounds. We couldn’t see anything on fire. We wondered if people were being shot at? There was no way to find out from where we were. Being the daring girls that we are, we followed the noise (not such a smart idea, but here I am telling the story now). We walked down the streets the crowds had just run from. We saw silver tin cans with writing on them, slightly bigger than soda cans. The metal was split all along the sides. Right beside each can was a five-foot diameter circle of white powder on the street. It was as if someone had dropped a large bag of flour from a window above. It turned out these were powder bombs that are used to scatter crowds.
I couldn’t help thinking if the police hadn’t thrown the bombs, or if they hadn’t lined the streets so prepared for action, the protests would have continued as peacefully as they had been for the previous two hours.
We continued to follow the ruckus and wound up right near our apartment on Zoodochou Pigis Street, where we found trash dumpsters knocked over and on fire and people with white powder caked on their faces. Their eyes were blood shot. From this point on, our main concern was walking into tear gas. Curious about tear gas, we decided to walk toward the crowd of people walking by with tears flowing down their faces. We were walking toward Exarchia Square when we began to sneeze. Our throats started to tingle. We were experiencing what we were itching for all along…the down and dirty reality of what happens during the protests.
Around the corner from our apartment, we discovered a restaurant that had been torched. The owners of it yelled at anyone who tried to get a better look or take pictures. (The next day I tried to get the name of the restaurant but the letters had been scorched so much that it was illegible.)
Palm sized flaming rocks were scattered in the street. We wondered if they were covered in gas. In Greece, there are dumpsters on every street for pedestrians and homeowners to put their trash. Almost every street the dumpsters were pushed over and the contents were burning. Police swarmed the street we were on, wearing gas masks, carrying batons and tear gas guns. They raised the tear gas guns and sprayed. People began to run in our direction, since we had been standing at a safe distance. Someone pulled us into a hotel lobby. We watched through the windows as some people ran by, while others just sat on the benches along the road.
Throughout our time in Greece, whenever we are iffy about a situation, we tell ourselves “you’re only in Greece once.” That had been my attitude until I was standing in that lobby. I wanted to be in the safety of our apartment. We left the hotel lobby and searched for the quickest, safest route back. Three hours of risking our safety was enough for us girls.
Later we were sitting in our beds telling the rest of our roommates about the day, while our faces tingled from the remnants of tear gas. Before coming to Greece, many people warned me that these things would happen. The way I looked at it was that it would be an experience of a lifetime. I’m glad that I got a chance to experience my mother’s homeland. I can now say that I was there to witness what actually happens as opposed to what we see on TV back home. We will probably experience another protest before we go back to the states. And I am ready for it.