Monday, August 31, 2015

Netflix and Drivers Ed

I did not go tango dancing on Saturday night. I watched old episodes of Malcolm in the Middle on Netflix, instead. We have to use a VPN to access Netflix in Greece. If we don't connect to that network before we go to the Netflix site, a depressing message pops up saying, "Netflix hasn't come to your country yet, so good luck trying to survive without old episodes of Malcolm in the Middle," or something like that.

I also organized my craft closet!
I'm the Expat Martha Stewart!


Since we last virtually gathered together on this blog, two more people have tried to ask me for directions in Greek. I'm passing! I'm really passing! I couldn't help them, but at least I look like I could.


This is something I found when I got lost.
It's a church for St. George.
You know that guy, he's the patron Saint of England.
Everybody loves him.
I love the "Beware of Dog" sign.
I want one for Bella.

This morning, I watched as some poor soul tried to learn to drive a stick. I think, based on not very much internet research, that you have to obtain formal instruction from a driving school if you want to get a license in Greece. You also have to be 18 or older. Almost every car here is manual, so it's an essential skill to learn. I got a real kick out the dude this morning. It's the first time I've seen someone in another country engaging in the universal struggle of learning manual. I remember trying to learn how to drive stick in high school in the middle of winter in Utah. I got stuck on a snowy, .01% incline, and couldn't get the car moving. I killed it more than a dozen times trying to get over the "hill." The harder I tried, the angrier I got. The angrier I got, the more the windows fogged up. After a while, I found an audience.  None of them helped, they just stood and enjoyed the scene. I can't remember how I finally got out of there, but I think the profanity helped.


This has no relevance to any of the topics we've covered,
but look at my freaking basil. Look at it!

This afternoon, I caught a guy peeing on a tree near the mall. He didn't seem that fazed by my sudden appearance, maybe because he was peeing in public in a parking lot. I don't know enough Greek profanity to tell him what a ****-hat he was being, especially since there were bathrooms about a hundred yards meters away, but this incident has strengthened my resolve to do so without delay.

Bella, waiting to hear that profanity.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Diminutives and Dogs

Here are a few pictures of my skilos (σκύλος) relaxing on a chair. 






When we pass little kids on the street, their adults usually point to Bella and say, "Something, something, something, skilake (which I don't know for sure how to spell in Greece, but maybe looks like σκύλακι?)!" Skilaki is the diminutive form of the word "dog," so they're calling her a "little dog." I think it's adorable. 

When I was researching how to spell "the diminutive form of dog in Greek," a lot of sites popped up referencing that part in the Bible where Jesus is approached by a woman who asks for her help, and he tells her that he's not going to throw food to a dog. It turns out that Jesus was using the diminutive form of the word, which provides a much, much less harsh interpretation of what went down there.

According to Wikipedia, which I take for granted as a credible source, "literally every noun" in Modern Greek has its own diminutive. Americans seem to be a lot less formal in our conversations. It's totally acceptable to say "Hi," or "Hey," or "See you," to a stranger, but Greeks expect strangers to be formal. So now I've got to learn the diminutive for "literally every noun," so I can make sure I never, never use it in the wrong context. 

Today's cool news, actually yesterday's cool news, is that the interim prime minister for Greece was announced, and it's a woman! She is the country's first female prime minister. Early elections are set for September 20th, so she may not be in power for long, but what a cool thing!

And finally, here's a picture of the almost-full moon. There are a lot of full moon parties tomorrow night, that I think are also end of summer celebrations. The Argentinian embassy is hosting moonlit tango lessons and performances. Dare I?



Friday, August 28, 2015

Noises


Personal Space



This is a picture of a stranger's back. You might think it's weird that I'm posting a picture of a stranger's back. You might think it's weird that I took a picture of a stranger's back. 

This photo is meant to be a PSA for people who like a large amount of personal space. You will not get it here. I wanted to show you just how close this person was standing to me. When I took this picture with my phone, my wrists were resting against my body. That's how intimate we were. 

I took this picture while I was standing in the shade at a bus stop. I had been standing there for several minutes, when this person walked over and stood directly in front of my body. Shade is a coveted thing, and people aren't shy about trying to force you out of it by standing intimidatingly close to you. Side note: I don't think they're actually trying to force you out of it, but because very few people make conversation with strangers, let alone eye contact, it's a bit harder to read non-verbal cues. 

For example, let's say you're walking down the street, and you see someone coming toward you on the opposite side of the road. As you get closer, they start crossing over directly toward you. They don't say anything to you, but you're clearly going to run into them unless you can figure out where they're trying to go. And because they don't say anything, and won't make eye contact, it's up to you alone to figure out if they're planning to mug you, hug you, try to sell you something, or ignore you entirely and go through the gate behind you. If you're paranoid, like my dog, you just assume they're out to get you, and yell at them as soon as they get close. I know it's awful, but I sort of enjoy it when people sneak up on my dog, and she barks and scares the shorts off of them. Announce yourself, darn it. 

Back to personal space, though. People in Greece aren't as particular about personal space as we are in America. They have no problem standing within inches centimeters of you, if it means they'll get a piece of shade, or a better bus boarding position, or get their fruit weighed at the grocery store before you. If you're sitting on a bench in a high traffic area, you can expect to share every last bit of space it affords. And unlike American, where men often like to give other men buffer zones, the men in Greece don't mind sitting so-close-their-thighs-are-touching next to other men. 

I am not at all used to the smaller personal space I get here, but I'm getting better at not assuming people are trying to act aggressively or intimidatingly toward me. Maybe by the time we're back in the States, I'll be the person at the bus stop, getting in all of your faces.

We can only hope. 



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Putting the House Together

Now that we have all our stuff, I've been spending my time trying to put it together. I have a good idea of where I want things to go, but in another more real sense, I have no idea where I want things to go. Oh, well. It will all end up somewhere.

At the bottom of today's post are a bunch of pictures I took yesterday. I didn't take photos today because my friend took me out to lunch, and we ended up hanging out for several hours. That's right, I have a friend. I can make friends. 

After lunch at a pita place, where I ordered the chicken gyros platter (of course), we decided to introduce our dogs to each other. Hers is a really sweet, really gorgeous American Bulldog. Mine, as you know, is a poodle-witch. It was not an instant friendship. A lot of the blame falls on me. My friend offered to stay outside with her dog, so I could bring Bella down to neutral territory. I said that I thought Bella would be more comfortable in our house. I was incorrect.

When we leave home, we shut Bella in the kitchen with her little house and a noise machine. She usually sleeps comfortably in her house until we get back. I went into the kitchen today to let her out, and she was just waking up, like usual. She crawled out of her house, turned the corner, and walked straight into the massive, massive face of the bulldog. That must be what dog nightmares are like; you wake up and there's a beast 20 times your size in the living room. Her screams violated quiet hours. We went on a walk together, some of us more reluctantly than others, then "played" in the living room. Bella finally started to relax...an hour after they left.

That was her cardio for the day.


Bella in a calmer moment, enjoying our patio set.
She's starting to use her grass mat more often.
Like, in this picture, she's using it as a plate. She carried her food to it from the kitchen.

Bella in the middle of another food run, and my re-potted plants.
I love these pots! They're so colorful and so cheap!

My shrine to my grandma.
She wood burned that proverb for me one day after I whined a lot.

Took a lunch break. Just needed to show off what I made.
I made that pizza sauce. I made it.
Someone pat me on the back, I'm a Millennial. 

We decided to keep this very fine specimen of a solid wood credenza...

...to store our board games.

This is the kids' bookcase.
It has lots of books and toys for when our friends' kids come over.
It's pretext for keeping Little House on the Prairie within sight.
You never know when you'll need to re-read Little Town on the Prairie.




Monday, August 24, 2015

A Few Weekend Photos

Here are a few more pictures from our weekend.

Guess what this street sign means.
First person to answer correctly gets to buy me something.

An old thing (no idea),
and a small crescent moon.
It's up there, I promise.

I love this yellow door, and these yellow shutters.

Trying to watch t.v. with a dog.

HI, Phil! Nice hammock. He tied it up himself with some fancy knots.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classical Music in Athens

Phil and I just returned from an evening in downtown Athens. Earlier in the day, we went to the store, and found this shirt.

This is one of those situations where I don't know if they don't know what the shirt says,
or if they know exactly what the shirt says.
It's 7 euros, if anyone wants me to pick one up for them.

Phil's itinerary for us tonight included dinner at a local restaurant that serves decent pastrami sandwiches, and a free performance of operatic and musical theater numbers by performers from the Curtis Institute of Music at The American School of Classical Studies in Athens. Whew.


New York Sandwiches, where the menus are in English!

This is Phil's grilled cheese pastrami.
It was not bad.
We're just thrilled to find pastrami here.

I didn't know anything about Curtis or The American School for Clas..etc. before tonight. ASCSA is an archaeological institute, and a super-selective center for Americans who want to study everything about Greece. The school is responsible for overseeing all American archaeological projects in Greece, including the Athenian Agora, and Ancient Corinth. It has a really pretty campus, with an abundance of mosquitoes.


Look at the nice building, though!

The Curtis Institute of Music has the lowest acceptance rate of any school in the country. Only 3.2% of applicants are accepted. The conservatory is in Philadelphia, and we probably drove by it at some point during our Philly excursion earlier this year. To be honest, if I had known what we were driving by, I probably still would have been more excited by Federal Donuts. Regardless, the performers were fantastic. They did a few, short arias and duets, then sang a couple show tunes. The pianist kept a running commentary in English between pieces, and was hilarious, though probably not fully appreciated by the non-native speakers in the audience (aka 99% of the people there).

I have two important observations about the performance, and then I'm either going to bed, or going to re-watch South Pacific. First, the audience at classical performances seems to be the same everywhere you go. It's mostly old, white, upper-middle class people. I guess that makes sense, but it makes everything feel a lot stuffier. Phil and I were in cargo shorts and jeans, respectively, just to mix it up a bit. Second, and I may take some heat for this, the single greatest abomination in musical theater is when a white dude deeply entrenched in opera sings "Ol' Man River." Like, come on, man. You wouldn't take Huckleberry Finn to Cate Blanchett and ask her to record an audio book of the novel because she's got a great voice. It just doesn't work.

It just doesn't work.

On that note, please watch this:


Quiet Hours

This week's edition of That Can't Possibly be Comfortable:



We've been taking a lot of naps this week. It's nice. The city of Athens, and possibly more cities than that, have quiet hours during the afternoon. The hours change depending on the season. In summer. the designated quiet hours are from 3-5pm. During that time, you're supposed to keep things...quiet. No loud music, no vacuuming, no hammering, no dogs that bark at everything all the time. It's not quite a siesta, all the stores are still open, and people are still at work, but you're just supposed to shut up, I guess. Supposedly, the hours are enforceable. So, in theory, if you're watching Jerry Springer too loudly at 4pm, the cops could come bust down your door and give you a stern, quiet lecture, and maybe a citation. I can't say for certain what happens if you violate quiet hours, because I'm always napping.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ode to a Timer

The titular timer. The brownies are just to show off.

I got this timer as part of a wedding gift from my Aunt Liz. At the time, she teased me for putting something so archaic on our wedding registry. Honestly, I don't know what I was planning to do with it, and I think I put it on there out of tradition or compulsion. My mom had two timers. She used the white one for time-outs, and the blue one as a backup. It must be genetic, because my grandma had at least five timers in her kitchen, all in various places for various uses. And my great aunt also has a few timers, one of which is a giant, awesome, recycled laboratory timer, that would probably sell for a thousand dollars in a hip hardware store. Clearly, a timer is an indispensable part of any household. 

So Aunt Liz gave me a timer. I was thrilled, but she was right that it's mostly archaic. For 3.5 years, that timer has sat in a drawer unused. Every oven we've ever used has had a built-in timer, and we usually have a timer on our microwave, as well. Even if we didn't, I guess we could use an online timer, or the timer on one of our phones. But my primal instinct is to use these clunky, ticking things, and I've been bummed to miss out on the opportunity. Today, at last, I can finally say that this timer has found its day in the sun. 

Our current oven, for some inexplicably horrible reason, has no built in timer. The microwave does, but it can't time and microwave simultaneously. I have been wanting and missing my timer terribly, even while using Google's online thing.  

We unpacked the timer yesterday, and I used it twice today. It is so great. I had to sing its praises. This post is both an ode to a timer, and an updated thank you to my Aunt Liz for this satisfyingly useful gift.

Resignation, and the Rest of Our Stuff

The Greek Prime Minister just resigned. Greece was already planning to hold early elections in September, but his resignation now is a bit surprising. I can see the appeal in announcing an election a month before it happens. Imagine if we did that. We wouldn't have to listen to all this preliminary crap, we'd just get the bottom-line crap.

The bigger news in our world is that we got the rest of our stuff! It arrived yesterday. We were knee-deep in boxes and wrapping paper, and I didn't have a chance to tell you how materialistically overjoyed I was. I'm ecstatic to have my things, and I'm thankful that I didn't have to deal with the logistics of it.



I didn't have a full scope of just how bad our DC movers were until I looked inside the boxes. They put the teacup I inherited from my grandma in a box labeled "books." It was sitting right at the top, wrapped in a sheet of plain wrapping paper. That got better treatment than the glass votive candle holders my grandma gave me for my wedding. They threw those, unwrapped, at the bottom of a box full of miscellaneous junk. One of them was absolutely pulverized. They shipped us a few things that were supposed to be stored. They used one full box for four board games. Back in June, they were concerned about fitting all the boxes onto one truck. Oy.

We got off easy, though. Our friends told us a story of their DC movers, who got lost while following the husband to the house, wouldn't answer their phones, completely disappeared for an hour, and finally showed up after clearly having been off somewhere ingesting something inebriating.

The Greek movers have been fabulous. The guys yesterday brought us a gift bag with a box opener, a pen, a pad of paper, and a measuring tape. Phil stood at the doorway, and told them where to put each box. They helped us open and unwrap all our stuff, and took away the boxes when they left. They even screwed the legs on our table, and set up our bookshelf.

I'd much rather be the movers on the receiving end of stuff. If the other movers were terrible, you look great by comparison. Unwrapping is a lot faster than wrapping, and there's less stuff to go through because a good chunk is back home in storage. And your clients are so grateful to have their Harry Potter boxed set after a two month separation, they'll go overboard on the tip.

This is the mess, half cleaned up. Who can spot the "horror movie scene waiting to happen" in this picture?
Also, check out the peanut butter in the back. We came prepared.




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mail Call

Phil's mom sent me a giant box full of wonderful, wonderful surprises.

Want to guess what's inside? It's a good chance for you to test your Jane knowledge.

I'll give you a bit of space between the photos so you have time to really think about your guesses.







Ready?






A whole ton of Halloween stuff! Decorations, craft supplies, baking treats!
I don't even need Oriental Trading!

American food!
I ripped open the Goldfish, and Phil said, "Take a deep breath, that's American air."
I'm so thrilled by the sour candies. Those are hard to find here.
I wonder if they exist...

Catalogs! I can catalog shop, and circle everything I want.

Bella can't wait.

Thank you so, so, so much! I can't believe it all fit in the box. This was an amazing pick-me-up, and I so appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Love,
jj

Attempted Bagels and Morning Gardener

This is my second lifetime attempt at bagels, and my first partial success. I want to try again with better flavoring, so I'm not going to type out a recipe until that happens. If you don't want to wait around for me, I used this bagel recipe over at allrecipes. By the way, if you don't use that website religiously, we might as well come take your internet away from you.

Before

During

After

Our gardener comes on Tuesday mornings. You read that right, we have a gardener. How sickeningly posh, right? He maintains the camouflage around our balconies. I wish he'd maintain our herbs, too. Maybe I should sneak them into the balcony planters. Anyway, he comes on Tuesday mornings, and I always forget until about a half hour before he arrives. I feel really weird about other people doing work that I feel like I should be doing, especially when I'm not doing anything myself. When he comes, I try to look really busy, too. I'll let him in the house with a harried look and a broom in my hand, and slowly, slowly sweep the kitchen floor while he's working. As soon as he leaves, I drop the act, and crawl back to the couch to sleep for a while longer.

Today, though, I didn't even bother with the charade. I answered the door in my pjs, hauled back to the couch, and ate a yogurt in front of the t.v. while he slaved away on the balcony. When he was done, he told me he could let himself out, and I didn't need to get up. I got up, to keep up the appearance of politeness, and to throw away my yogurt, and to pick up a nectarine, and then I went back to the couch.

One of the elite.
jj

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Drive to Marathon

I'm sorry I haven't been able to post every day this week. I've been under the weather, and haven't been able to do a third of all the things I wish I could do. Shout out to Phil for being a wonderful caregiver, and not asking for a refund from the wife store. I am really racking up the IOUs to him. 

Living under a rock pillow.


Phil's coworker lent us his car again this weekend, so we took a drive over the hills to the town of Marathon yesterday. Phil visited this place a few weeks ago and took some beautiful pictures. Bella and I tagged along with him this time and took some okay pictures.


Bella hasn't gone on a car ride for two months. She's missed it.

The town of Marathon was the site of the battle of Marathon between the Greeks and the Persians. The Greeks were outnumbered, but creamed the Persians. The Persians decided they'd take a boat to Athens and conquer that city, while the Greek army was stuck in Marathon. While the Persians were yachting, the Greek army marched "double time" to Athens, and were there to greet the Persians when they landed. 


The town of Marathon (with a really nice beach in the background).

There is a legend that a Greek runner raced from Marathon to Athens to announce the Persians' defeat, then fell down dead, which seems like an appropriate response to running any distance. This poor, dead guy originated the role of a marathon runner, as well as the race itself. Every November, Greece hosts the "original" marathon race from Marathon to Athens. Before we moved here, I was thinking about thinking about training and running it. Then Phil did some more research. Something he read yesterday suggested that the story of the runner had actually been confused with the double time march of the Greek soldiers. So now I'm thinking that the true way to "run" a marathon is to dress in armor, and take a brisk 26.2 mile march over the hills. I can do that. Phil and I made it even easier on ourselves. We drove.




We briefly stopped at the beach during our drive. It was really crowded because August is vacation month in Greece. We hadn't brought our swim stuff, and Bella is a complete killjoy at the beach. Water terrifies her.






On our way into town, we drove over Marathon Dam, which is the water source for Athens. It's a one-way street over the dam, so you have to wait at a light, while cars coming the opposite direction come straight at you, and only veer off to a two-lane road when they're about five feet in front of your car. It's very thrilling.

In town, we drove past the field where the battle took place, and the burial mound where the Greek army buried their dead soldiers. I tried to take a picture, but I didn't try very hard.

On our way out of town, we drove past a marble quarry. It was really beautiful. I've missed the mountains a lot.


This is not a quarry, but it is a mountain.
I've missed mountains.

Before we left Virginia, I was lamenting the fact that I wouldn't get a chance to hear the cicadas this summer, in what was clearly a case of sentimental nonsense. Cicadas are obnoxious. As it turns out, Greece has 5.6 billion more cicadas than Virginia ever did. This is what it sounds like every time you step outside.



So peaceful. Want to know what these suckers look like?


Once, I slammed my hand against a tree and almost smashed one.
Twice, a cicada has flown off a tree and directly into my face.

One more fun Marathon fact you may not know: In Ancient Greek, "marathon" meant "fennel," like the herb. So the town of Marathon was likely a place where a lot of fennel grew. On the subject of herbs, I tried some of my basil the other day and it is fantastic. 

We hope you had a great week, and we hope you have a great week. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cat Jerks

I had just finished that last post when our doorbell rang. Our expat upstairs neighbors are leaving the country for good in a few days. The movers came today to pack up all their stuff, but apparently their cat wasn't on board with what's happening. It jumped off their balcony tonight.

By the time they rang our doorbell, they were pretty frantic. The woman asked to check our balcony, while her husband ran downstairs to the yard below us. We were calling the cat's name, and checking in bushes, and listening for dying cat noises.

In a rare stroke of, "If I were a cat, and therefore a jerk, where would I hide if I wanted to really screw everyone over?" I decided to open our side window and check the ledge outside the dining room. There was the cat. It was freaked. Our neighbor crawled onto the ledge, and coaxed the cat inside. Once it got inside, it went nuts. It bolted around the house, refusing to be captured. That thing is really attached to Greece. Our neighbor was finally able to grab the cat, and her husband, who ran up the stairs, helped her wrestle it back to their apartment.

I'm so happy they found their cat. My animal is my surrogate child. I know how terrified I'd feel if she bolted in the night (Especially off a balcony. I don't think dogs can stick that landing). Cats are weird. When we move, Bella clings to my side like one of those fabric softener sheets that you unknowingly carry around on your pants all day because you pulled them straight out of the dryer and threw them on without looking very closely. But cats, for some reason, decide to vent their terror by throwing themselves out the window and forcing you to face down the possibility of losing them forever.

They're jerks. Plain and simple cat jerks.

Hygeia Hospital

I had an appointment today at Hygeia Hospital in Athens. Hygeia was the first big private hospital in Greece. It was founded in the 70's by a group of Greek doctors. The hospital is pretty highly rated, and, in addition to serving locals, caters to the medical tourism industry. 

Navigating the hospital is a bit difficult. They have signs in English, but it's still pretty confusing. Each section has its own cashier, and you either have to pay before you receive services (labwork, radiology, other crap), or after your appointment. The doctors' offices in some areas are really small. They have a couple chairs in a small hallway instead of waiting rooms. All of the staff speak Greek, some of the staff speak some English, and a few of the staff speak English fluently. It's the luck of the draw, really. Google translate saved the day today. 

There are a couple cool things about this hospital. One is that you get actual, physical copies of lab results before you leave, and doctors will tell you results as soon as they see them. For example, if you get an x-ray, the doctor will tell you what he saw before you leave the x-ray machine, then will send you away with a printed summary of the findings, printed copies of your insides, and a CD with the scans. Another cool thing is that they give you a patient ID card for the hospital, and offer discounts for future services, like a grocery store rewards program, but with MRIs instead of orange juice. One other thing I think is cool is that on the way out of the hospital, the very last thing you see before you walk out the main doors is a very high-end skin care product store with a name like "Sereneskin," or something. Cool.

It still looks like every other hospital, though.
Who designs these things?
It's like, "Let's make it as depressing as possible."

I went back and snapped a few more pictures of the monastery. It's become one of my favorite places, probably because I have a new heroine in Saint Philothei. I can't get over how rad she was.

Old wall, and trash.

Part of the church sticking up, and trash.

There it is.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Asteras Beach

Today was Beach Day at the kids' camp. We went to Asteras Beach. It cost something like 20 euros per adult. In exchange for that, you get a chair, an umbrella, and this view:



By 3:00, it was very crowded. I just looked at the beach website. It says it can accommodate 5,000 people. Ick. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Monastery of Άγια Φιλοθέη

We recently found the ruins of an old monastery, and this morning I went back to take a picture for you. We're not sure how old this old monastery is. It's dedicated to Saint Philothei of Athens.

Philothei was a really amazing woman. At age 14 she was married against her will to a nasty old rich man, who treated her badly. He died when she was 17, leaving her with wealth and power. Ignoring her parents' urging, she refused to remarry, and instead used her money to establish a monastery, and many other charitable establishments around the area. She was particularly known for sheltering slaves--especially women--from trafficking by the Ottoman Turks. In 1588, at age 66, she was severely beaten for harboring these women, and died the following February.

I wish we knew the origins of this monastery, or at least the age. I guess ultimately it doesn't really matter. It's a picturesque building in a pretty spot, dedicated to a seriously rad woman who used her influence to assist others.


If you look closely, you can see an icon of Philothei hanging on the door.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sunday Lesson

We went to church today. Our church's presence in Greece is really small. Phil's armchair estimate* is that there were about 25-30 people at our meetinghouse today. I'm going to talk more about church below, for those who care to read it. For those who don't, here's the Arch of Hadrian:


This arch dates to about 131-132 AD.
They don't really know why it was made. They have theories, though.
The only things you  need to know about it is that it's old,
and within walking distance of church.


This was our first week as churchgoers in Greece, apart from the incidental religion we've intercepted from the church across the street. Our meetinghouse is in the heart of the tourist district, between the Acropolis, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. I've heard there is a killer view from the roof of the building. Maybe I'll sneak up there sometime and find out for myself.

We are one of two American families that attend. Many of the others are African refugees. I'm trying to wrap my head around how different their lives are from mine. Here I am whining about how difficult this move has been, in housing I don't have to pay for, with the ability to go home and work whenever I want. Some of these people haven't seen their families for years.

Most of our fellow church-goers are fairly recent converts to this church. Phil and I were born into it. Because our church is participatory, we're going to be expected to lead the way in a lot of doctrinal discussion. In fact, next week I'm supposed to lead a lesson in our women's group. I'm having a hard time trying to reconcile the idea of me teaching about humility like some sort of expert, to people who have fled their homes.

One interesting aspect of our church is that we are attending an English-speaking branch, so most people there speak at least two languages. Today at church, I heard: English (thankfully), Greek, French, and Russian. It amazes me to see other people switching easily between languages. I wish I had that skill. The language barrier has been so frustrating. I just want to be able to communicate with people.

Talk about being humbled, though. There's nothing like moving across the world to learn how many privileges and opportunities you have.

Now there's a Sunday lesson for you.

*Phil was sitting across the living room in an armchair when I asked him how many people he thought were at church today.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Mountain, a Bakery, and a Stadium

Just got back from exploring. Here's where we went today:



The top of Mount Lycabettus.
Acropolis is above-left of Phil's right shoulder. Parliament is straight left of it.
Wikipedia says that Athena created this mountain in mythology.
She accidentally dropped it when she was working on the Acropolis.
Oops.

It was really windy on top, and it felt great.
We rode the funicular up, and walked down. A funicular is like a tram,
unless you're married to an engineer, who will tell you it's not like a tram at all.
North Athens is behind me.

The Greek Pancake House.
This is the second time we've tried to come here.
There's a chance they're closed for good.
We were distraught, but found a French bakery.
It was called "The Bread of Life."
It was our salvation.

Panatheniac Stadium.
This is the only stadium in the world built entirely from marble,
because marble is like gravel over here.
They crunch it up and put it in their roads.
For real, they really do that. 

This site was used for the ancient Olympics,
then renovated a few times, including for the revival of the Olympics in the late 1800s.
It was also used for the MTV Greece launch party.