Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 30

Thursday morning I went and picked up my security deposit from the school, and then headed downtown with Siggy for our "Tourist Day." We decided to devote the day to being tourists, starting by riding the sightseeing bus around Thessaloniki and ending with souvenir shopping down by the White Tower. Later, I went shopping for a birthday outfit to wear out that night to the W with Rachel and Anastasia. We spent 5 hours downtown, and I left with two dresses, a belt, and a headband. When we got back I started getting ready for the night, and helped curl a couple other girl's hair. We went to the W and had a great time. We didn't leave until 5:30 am, which seemed strange because it did not feel like 5 1/2 hours passed by.

When we got back, Casey and I decided to go get food at the 24 hour food store that is about 20 minutes away. We made it about halfway there when Casey (the one who actually wanted to go get food) decided she didn't want to walk anymore, so we gave up the hunt for food and just went home. 

Day 27-29

This week was exam week, so we really didn't do anything exciting. Monday was review for both classes. Tuesday I went to the Archaeological Museum for my art history class, which was really exciting. I saw many pieces we discussed in class, and having prior knowledge of the creation and importance made this opportunity all the more exciting. Wednesday we had our exams and after those I was both exhausted from cramming and excited to be done. We went out to celebrate that night at Pulp, the coolest little bar we went to during the semester. 

Day 26: Canyoning

This was the worst experience of my life followed by the best day I could ever imagine. I went canyoning on Mt. Olympus with a group of 14 other students from the program and the two guides. Entering the canyon and repelling, jumping and sliding our way down sounds amazing right? The decision to go was a no brainer.. and then I get there and realize that I have to climb part way up the mountain in order to do the fun parts of the trip. Why I ever thought I could handle climbing a mountain I will never know. Somehow, I made it to the mouth of the, I will never quite know. Then I struggled into a wet suit and roughly 20 minutes later I was all set to go. 

We followed the river all the way down, sliding and swimming when necessary. The first segment of the trip was walking over slippery rocks, trying to keep ourselves from falling over and over again. We quickly established a no judgement zone encompassing the entire mountain because it was obvious from the start that this would be an embarrassing day. 

The first obstacle we came to was a 20 repel. They told us this would be the most challenging repel that we would face because it was very uneven and there really wasn't much of a path. I was freaking out while waiting for the people in front of me to go. I cannot fall backwards onto my bed, let alone suspend myself in the falling position as I climb down a cliff. When it was finally my turn I realized my fear had subsided and I was more excited than anything. As I started repelling, I realized I actually enjoyed it rather than fearing it. I guess it was because my hand was behind my back holding me suspended where I was, so I was in control. 

The second obstacle was a 15 foot jump. The area we were jumping into was kind of narrow, so they gave us strict instructions on how to jump and what not to do. Really it was common sense: jump into the center and keep your arms close to your body so you didn't smack the walls. This jump, being the first, took everyone a little more time. Everyone stood and prepared themselves before jumping. Everyone, that is, until my turn. I climbed up on the rock, listened to the instructions, and then went for it. When I came up everyone was staring at me and cheering about how I was a champ for not even hesitating. Everyone's stories about that day included my fearlessness. 

The next obstacle you could either jump off a 30 foot waterfall, or slide off the natural water slide. I knew there were only two water slides, so I opted to slide since I knew I would have another chance to jump. When our guide asked who was first my hand shot up just as everyone else pointed at me. I was so excited, I couldn't even wait. I went as soon as he said I could and it was an amazing thrill. The slide was short and steep, and then you just dropped off and fell about 25 feet. It was a bit of a shock because I was expecting more of a slide but was so much fun anyways! 

Later on we had a choice between an easier repel down a rock cliff-side or to repel straight down the waterfall. The guide said the waterfall path would be more difficult because the waterfall was slippery and would beat us up a bit. Hearing this I made the only rational decision there was... I went down the waterfall. At first I was doing good, and was doubting what the guides had warned. About halfway down I experienced exactly what they meant. I hit a slippery spot and lost my footing. My natural reaction was to grab onto the rocks, but then I realized I wasn't holding on to the rope that was keeping me from falling another 30-40 feet, and quickly grabbed back before I fell completely. I couldn't get my footing, so I slid down until I was able to stand back up and repel correctly the rest of the way down. 

After this I jumped and repelled multiple times, and climbed my way back to the bottom of the canyon. It was such an amazing day, I still have a hard time believing it actually happened. 

Day 24-25

So Friday and Saturday really weren't that special. I spent these days writing a paper for my art history class.  I decided to do it on facial reconstruction using ancient art as a reference for superficial characteristics. Unfortunately I missed the Sani Jazz Festival, which I was told was absolutely amazing. I wish I would have been there, but all I could do was blame myself for procrastinating. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Days 23-27

So here is another week post. I swear I am not getting lazy, I just haven't had a lot going on outside of class because of the quizzes, tests, and papers. Monday I had an exam and Thursday I had a quiz, so I spent the week studying and doing homework.

Wednesday night I went out to celebrate the last night for one of the girls in the program. Chloe messed up her foot and had to go home early, so we went out to dinner. We took the bus downtown with Tanya (my RA), got off and practically had a city tour in order to get to this place. And not the pretty, center of town... No we took a tour of what in the US would be considered the sketchy streets you wouldn't go do in the daytime, let alone at night in the dark. But, being in a city that hasn't had a mugging or murder in the past 10 years, it is completely normal for people to walk these janky backstreets. It was so hot out (97 degrees) that by the time we finally made it to our destination, no one really marveled at the hidden treasure we had entered. We walked down side streets and back alleys for what seemed like at minimum 20 minutes and emerged in a large circular opening lined with different taverns and the entire center filled with tables for the customers from all of the taverns to mingle. It was an amazing sight, but as I stated before, it was so hot, none of us really admired it for how unique and intriguing it was.

Thursday reached a temperature of 102, and with the humidity and other factors, the heat index was almost 120. Right after school I went to the mall to enjoy some air conditioning, food, bowling, and we finished the night off with seeing Spiderman. Siggy found it amusing and ironic that Spiderman is one of my favorite superheros even though I am terrified of spiders. The theater was packed, and everyone talked through the entire movie. I was so irritated by this rude behavior in a theater until I realized the five of us were the only ones who had to actually listen to the movie. It was in English with Greek subtitles, so the rest of the theater already had to read the screen, so why should they be quiet? Once I realized that it was entertaining to listen to them. They would yell out random English phrases, and cheered during scenes that would bring a tear to the eye of most Americans. It was such a culture shock, but made the whole experience memorable.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 21 & 22 Chalkidiki

So Thursday night we went for Italian food which was amazing!! After that we just hung out at Alex's beach house playing this game that gets super confusing really quick, but was a lot of fun.

Friday we got up around noon and went to the beach for the day. Instead of packing up and just going to an open beach like I am used to, in Greece you go to a beach bar where they have umbrellas and chairs all set up and you buy a drink to get a chair. You can buy the cheapest drink they have and the chair is yours for the whole day. And with your drink (I got a Frape which is like a cold coffee but much more scrumptious) they bring you a water, and snacks. They gave us fruits, including kiwi which is my favorite. The water was great but you had to get past the rocky shallow water area to get to the soft sand. I spent the whole day laying out reading and swimming when I started to get to hot. I ate a gyro, or half a gyro to be more accurate.

Around midnight we went out to a bar for about an hour or so, then headed to Club Pearl. Pearl was by far the coolest club I have ever been to. The ceiling opened in the center so it was an open air club, but would close every once in a while for a laser light show that accompanied the music. It was amazing to watch, although slightly dizzying with all the flashing and darting of the lights and lasers.

Saturday we got up around one, which seems late except we didn't get home until 5 and didn't go to bed until after 6. Alex and Gogos (Guys from the program that take us out to experience the city and nightlife) took Heather and I to a seafood restaurant to try some new foods. I ate (and actually enjoyed) calamari, mussels, and octopus. It was the strangest meal I have ever had full of the most unusual textures I have ever tasted, but it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I cannot wait for my next food adventure.

Days 17-20

Okay so I wasn't being lazy, I just didn't have anything to talk about. I had an exam on Monday in Art History and an exam on Wednesday in Greek so I spent Sunday through Tuesday studying like crazy. Wednesday (4th of July) we celebrated by going to a Mexican restaurant, El Burrito, then onto a Reggae boat ride where we played with sparklers, which we were all excited for until we realized they lost their appeal back when we were 10.

Thursday we left for Chalkidiki for the weekend. We crammed four of us into Alex's car and drove for an hour to his beach house. Not fun.. but the beach was worth it. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Days 14-16: Trip to Corfu!!!

Day 14: Travelling to Corfu

So most of Friday was spent in the bus on the way to Corfu. After 3.5 hours on the bus, we boarded a ferry that would take us to the island. And by boarding the ferry, I don't mean getting out of the bus and walking on like normal. Oh no, our bus driver drove us straight onto the boat. Even for the cargo ferries, this is not usual. It was both terrifying and exciting at the same moment. The food on the ferry was really expensive, and the sub I got was stale and gross...won't make that mistake again.

So we get to the hotel, which looked pretty sketchy from the outside. The Corfu Holiday Palace is the definition of "don't judge a book by its cover." It was a really nice establishment. We were assigned a bungalow, which scared me to death. A bungalow? I was picturing a tiny wooden shack with a thatched roof that leaked even when there was no rain. Boy was I wrong. Way wrong. It was gorgeous. There was an upstairs and a downstairs, both floors had a full walk in closet and bathroom with a large tub that my mom would kill for. I stayed on the top floor and had a king size bed to myself, and an air conditioner that made my room so cold I could barely get out of bed I was so cold. It was amazing.

After settling in I went swimming in the Ionian Sea. Our hotel had an elevator type thing that would take you down the drop off to the beach. There was a jetty a ways out and a platform that jutted out into the water that we jumped off of to get in. We decided to jump off the rocks in the jetty for fun. We kept egging the others to jump and drew attention from the    Europeans who were enjoying the beach at a much lower decibel than we were.

At 9 pm we went downtown to explore and shop. Casey decided we (yes, we not just her) were going to get a fish spa treatment done. For those of you wondering what that is, we willingly stick our feet into a take of minnows and willingly let them eat us alive. Okay, a bit on the dramatic side, but seriously, they "nibble" at your feet and eat the dead skin. It is also supposedly good for circulation and other health related things. Anywhoo.. I allowed fish to eat me. It was horrible. If you know me you know I don't like fish, and I don't like anything touching my feet. Guess what I did... put the two concepts I don't like together! Why did I think that was a good idea? Oh yeah, I didn't. I just allowed myself to be roped in. Never again.

Day 15

Saturday we went to the Achilles Castle, home of Elisabeth, Empress of Hungary. The castle was beautiful, and I am sure I would enjoy it if it wasn't so unbearably hot. Elisabeth was very interested in Greek mythology, so her house was decorated with many traditional and mythological pieces from the Greek culture she was immersed in.

The streets coming down from the castle were terrifying. Most Americans couldn't tackle these tight U's in the road in small cars, let alone a tour bus like we were in. Our bus driver was a champ. He navigated the smallest of roads and the tightest turns I have ever seen without breaking a sweat.

We went shopping downtown again, and this time I managed to buy almost all of my gifts to take home, along with a dress for myself. It was a great day. I also haggled with a cab driver for the first time!! I was so proud of myself. Although, he didn't put up much of a fight, but I still did it.

Day 16

Full day of travel.. such a long day.  That is all.