Tuesday, October 6, 2009

a religious experience in a language I don't understand

So much to tell and so much has happened. Let's see:

Last Sunday (now two mondays ago), Emily, Laura and I woke up early in search for a beautiful mosque on the top of a hill near Monastraki. After looking at the map a couple times, we finally found the one we were looking for. My Athens travel book had said it was one of the top destinations for weddings in Athens because of its hauntin
g beauty, and it was right. Greek orthodox services are until any religious event I have ever been too. The service itself is quite long, normally from 7:30 till 10:30, however, people can (and do) come and go as they please. We then decided to arrive around 9:30. The mosque itself is not v
ery big at all, it is actually quite small. The service consists of two priests across the room from each other and they sing/chant back and forth. The entire service is chanting and singing. Also, during the service would stand and sit at random intervals, since the whole service was in Greek, I obviously couldn't catch on to easily on whether I should be standing or sitting. I think that going to a Greek orthodox church is a must for anyone who wants to see the true side of Athens, it was pretty incredible/interesting. The mosque looked like something straight out of Dan Brown novel, it was crazy. In addition, we seemed like the only non-locals, therefore I feel like I got a true orthodox experience. After the service a woman came up to us and welcomed us to the church, I thoug
ht that was really wonderf
After the service we walked down the hill to the main square of Monastraki for the weekly flea market. The flea market is also another must see while visiting Athens. The people are lined up in the square selling the most random assortment of antiques. I'm pretty sure I saw every telephone that has ever been invented. Although I went back empty handed, I really enjoyed the market and will probably go back many times this semester.

Last Monday was my first cooking class! It was so much fun. My class consists of about 12 people and we cook in the school's kitchen. The teacher is a local chef who has taught cooking classes at the school for a couple years now. He kind of looks like Anthony Bourdain if he were Greek haha. The class starts at 7 and we cook until about 8:30/9 and eat around 9:45. For our first class, we learned how to cook tzaziki, greek lentil soup, and "narrowly shaped Greek meatballs," which were incredible. I was put in charge of getting tzaziki recipes ready and forming the meatballs. We also learned how to pair wines with the food. I w
ill be posting the recipe as soon as my cooking instructor emails them to us. The best part is after the food is ready, we went a large table and eat for about an hour. Was amazingly delicious.

Last Wednesday was the first lecture of my program's lecture series. We had the former editor of Athens News come in and talk about the Greek elections. He focused on just how incredibly bad the Greek economy currently is, and how it is the main focus of the next government. Apparently Greece has one of the the largest amounts of debt of all the countries in the European Union. My political science t
eacher also gave me copies of so
me of the ballots for the Greek election, will defiantly be brining those back home as souvenirs. However, after the lecture I had to quickly run to the girl's house I tutor. That night we worked on the structure of an essay and how to measure the radius and diameter of a circle. I really enjoy working with her, so excited I got the opportunity. Also, not a bad deal that its paid, although I would have totally done it for free. Does pay for extra food though :)
The best part of the day however came when we met our Greek friends in the evening for traditional Greek dancing! Our friends are wonderful because they take us to the "true" places of Athens, not the touristy ones. For example the entire menu was only in Greek! This was the first time we hadn't had English on our me
nus, very exciting. It was so much fun. We got there around 10 and ate dinn
er/had drinks. At about midnight the place started to get exciting, the Greek music got louder and everyone started to dance. It is true, the Greeks really do dance in circles and snap their fingers. I can't even begin to tell you how much fun it was. I decided to put up my dancing shoes around 2:30 am however because I had an 8:30 the next morning. The Greeks do know how to dance and party (even on Wednesday night).

Thursday evening I got to see another exciting side of Greece- a political rally! As I have mentioned a couple times before, Greece had a prime minister election this past Sunday, so last Thursday I went to the rally for the oppositional party called PASOK. PASOK is the socialist party of G
reece and was very much favored to win (and they did win with a strong majority). Laura and I decided to catch the action, the moment we got off the metro we realized we were in the right spot. The streets were completely shut down and speakers all along the main street was blaring the speech by the candidate (and now the future prime minister). Everyone was screaming and dancing, covered in green (the party's color) and waving flags. It was an incredible sight, I have never seen anything like it before. After his speech the sky lit up with fireworks and the entire crowd started singing the party's song. It was mind blowing. O
ur political rallies are completely different in the States. After the intense commotion died down, Laura and I went back to the apartment to pack for ISTANBUL!

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