April 4, 2009

Athens, Day 10: “What if you want to marry a Greek person? Pah! Now you can pronounce their name.”

[Quote comes from Ianna, preceded by our attempt to read some Greek names. “I don’t want you to think all Greeks are named Costa, Costa, Costa, Maria, Maria, Maria. Some names are difficult! And there are many!” Some of these are Vangelio, Achilleus, Babas, Labis, and Andromache. Not to mention Aphrodite the other day. And when you see “Hermes” here, it’s not always the brand.]

Friday morning I finally made it out to an excursion. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, which was bad as this excursion was to the Acropolis, Greece’s biggest and most photogenic tourist attraction. Anna and I also underestimated the weather and dressed for much warmer than it actually was, which was sunny but very windy (we were, after all, on the highest point in the city). The wind also made it very difficult to hear Helma. I won’t go into any detail as I hope everyone who’s reading this knows about the Acropolis; suffice it to say that I think the most impressive bit is how they’re reconstructing it.

Afterwards we went to the weekly farmers’ market, but Anna and I were separated and, instead of accidentally coordinating as we did last week, we ended up buying the same vegetables and now have about 8 zucchinis, 6 tomatoes, and 9 onions to eat before Tuesday’s three-day trip.

In the evening I decided to go to the synagogue to see what it was like. I didn’t know what time it started (mincha at 7:45), so I got there ridiculously early (7). I also sat downstairs, thinking there was only one section, and was forcibly moved by the gabbai. I was the only one upstairs for a while until I was joined by two post-college girls vacationing in Greece. They left mid-service and were replaced by another two who looked to be in college but were considerably less friendly, and a middle-aged Greek woman with whom we communicated in Hebrew (ah, the international language of Jews – just like the Middle Ages!). The service was unfortunately very uninteresting, and they breezed through Kabbalat Shabbat with very little actual singing. The cantor looked quite bored with everything, and the rabbi was quite old and looked a little bit like a leprechaun. Both wore robes and hats similar to Greek Orthodox priests (who actually had some very nice singing going on at the church around the corner).

Disappointed, I tried to find my way back and got lost for a bit, winding along little alleyways with restaurants and bars just opening. I was worried that I might be going the completely wrong direction, but soon I found Monastiraki Square and celebrated by having a gelato. (I really feel like we have been committing a crime every time we leave the apartment and don’t have gelato. It’s just so good here.) The easiest way back from there was along the pedestrian Ermou Street, which you may remember has the Camper and the Zara. I stopped in at a few stores and found some nice ones; I ended up buying a belt, as I’ve lost weight from being sick and all my pants are falling down. I also discovered the secret to looking European is dressing nicely and looking like you don’t actually care about anything in the store. The walk back wasn’t bad (until I got stuck on the median because the light wouldn’t change), and on Markou I ran into Ellie, Felicity, and Jodi in a café and stopped to have dinner with them.

After returning to the apartment to find the remains of a dinner party, we hung out for a bit and then decided to go to a club. However, most clubs here cost 15 euros to get in, and the only free one we know is called Candyclub Lollipop. Which is a ridiculous name, and a ridiculous place (as you will soon see). Perhaps it makes more sense if you speak less English. A bunch of us – me, Anna, Alli, Ellie, Aida, Paige, and Sarah – got all dressed up in “club wear” and Alli did makeup for all. At the last minute we were joined by Nick, Jose, and Justin. Candyblub Lollipop is decorated in what I’d call a retro-mod style with a dose of color one might also find in a neon light. I think the walls were pink and the sofas white and green, but I’m not really sure; the overhead lights flashed different colors about every three seconds. The bathrooms were painted lime green (men) and flamingo pink (women). The taps looked like they should spurt sour goo candy instead of water. I didn’t order a drink, but it looked like the drinks came with candy platters. They played good dance music, although we were the only ones dancing for a while. Eventually, bouncers came and pushed us against a wall. We weren’t sure what was going on – maybe we needed to make room for others? No. This was very wrong. A stripper came out and proceeded to do a dance on one of the tables. We weren’t sure whether to be amused or uncomfortable, but I guess in retrospect it makes sense why there were so many single-looking men in groups not dancing. Anyway, after the brief and very strange interlude, we continued dancing; at about three the stripper came back and we decided it was time to leave.

Today looks like it’ll be nice and lazy. I sat out on the balcony in the sun this morning, doing some fun reading, and Aida and I might go back to shop on Ermou. On Monday Priya and I are planning on going to Aegina as long as the weather’s nice, and Tuesday we leave for the Argolid. Also, I’m tolerating feta in small quantities, and only warm.

Weather: 60s and sunny, slightly breezy

Currency: 1.34 dollars/euro

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