June 5, 2009

Athens, Day 71: “When you are just learning, it is cute to make mistakes. Now it is not cute.”

Since I last wrote, I have finished my paper (on costumes) and taken my Greek oral exam; all I have left now is the Greek written final. Today is our last day of actually doing things. We have the exam (before which I will have a gyros), then we’re watching “Zorba the Greek”, then an Athens Centre “graduation ceremony” and dinner.

On Tuesday we had a nice free morning during which I went to the Museum of Costumes, found out that the Franz Ferdinand concert was canceled, and finished the paper. After class we had an optional screening of “Iphigenia”, which was very long, very 1960s, and all in Greek. I sort of looked at the subtitles, but there weren’t very many of them; in that very 1960s style, there were about 30 minutes of talking in a two-hour movie, and the rest was sweeping landscapes. Then they took us out to dinner to a restaurant called Café Abyssinia, which was Middle Eastern and delicious (I wish they’d told us about it before). Wednesday we went to Aegina, and it turns out we weren’t taking the bus on the ferry, but walking on to the ferry and getting another bus there. Since we left at 7:10 instead of our usual 7:30 or 8, I had to wake up before 7 and was tired and unhappy. So I whipped out my sheet and took a nap on the cold, hard deck. Only when we were woken up ten minutes from shore did I try to find the bathroom and discover there was an indoor section with many available sofas. On Aegina (whose ancient coins featured a turtle, by the way), we saw the site of Kolonna (a Helladic fortified city built over by a Classical temple and then a Byzantine fortification) and the sanctuary of Aphaia, which was quite picturesque and had most of the columns still standing, as well as some preserved bits of color. In the little museum is an entire bottom of a pediment painted red, and some decorative blocks painted blue, red, and green. I mean, if you didn’t know it already, I’ll tell you here that Greek temples and statues were not always shiny white marble, but garishly painted. I don’t think they were as tacky as the Romans though. We also went to Palaeochora, which they told us was a medieval village built on the inland hillside to escape from the pirates and now it’s a ghost town, so I was really excited; in actuality it was a bunch of tiny medieval churches on a hillside. They were very cute, and the one had a little upstairs room that probably should have been locked that still had medieval roofing stuffed with straw. The rest was just running around a mountainside. Then they let us free to go to the beach, but since it was so ridiculously hot Mariana and I just sat at a café, where I fell asleep on a pleather sofa and then stuck to it. Wednesday night Anna and I finished the rice.

Yesterday we went to the Benaki Museum, part of which I’d already seen on Monday. I’m happy with the style of museum-ing Christina does – instead of giving a lecture in every room and suddenly realizing it’s 12:30 and we’re all very hungry, she tells us what to look for and then lets us free. I saw it all in about an hour, after which I came back here, refined my paper, and took a three-hour nap. I think it was one of those times where I kept trying to wake myself up, but it was just too hot and I was napping directly in a sunbeam. The oral exam was ok – we just had to talk about ourselves and describe a picture in groups of three.

Last night Anna and I finished the pasta. (Or, more accurately, are still working on finishing the pasta.) Afterwards we went out to James Joyce, an Irish bar, where at closing time the bartender took a liking to us and took us to another bar that played really good music. We danced until about 4, then came back here and ate leftover pasta.


Fun fact: we use zucchini and onions in every single dish we cook. Pasta with zucchini and onions. Rice with zucchini and onions. Chicken with zucchini and onions. If we haven’t run out (we usually have them for lunch), we put in tomatoes, and, if we remembered to buy one, some cauliflower.


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