Friday, July 29, 2016

Lately (July 2016 Version)

Have you been wondering where we've been? I'm sure you have. We're fine. We've been busy with family visitors, car repairs, colds, doctor appointments, touristy stuff, baking (and eating) ten thousand croissants, and work. I'm going to go back in time and upload some posts. I'll date them as if I posted them back then, instead of right now. Did you know I could do that? I am all powerful. Let's pretend I posted them on the dates I said I posted them; unless you're stumbling across the blog for the first time, in which case I definitely posted them back then, because I absolutely spread out my posts throughout the week, so you have something to read regularly.

Here's one of my baking projects from recently. I made these last year for the 4th, too. They were just about the only dessert I was able to make with the kitchen tools I had in the Welcome Kit. That's not true, the Welcome Kit was great, I just like my stuff so much better. I am a rotten, spoiled, materialistic woman, but darn it I make a good Rice Krispie treat.

Here's last year's attempt, and a link to the recipe: The Trouble with Time Zones

Okay, I'll get to work, so you can read away.

Hidey-Holes Part 2

Bella wins hide and seek forever.

We've had family here this week (Hooray!), but all of the suitcases were very unsettling for Bella. She couldn't figure out who was coming, who was going, and how she fit into the grand scheme of the universe. It was all too much, so she took to hiding for the majority of their visit.

Yet another hidey-hole.

I came home from work yesterday, and Bella didn't run out to greet me. Half an hour later, our guests returned, but there was still no sign of Bella. Half an hour after that, we really started to worry about where she might be. We looked in every hiding place she's been favoring, then in every hiding place she used to favor, then in every possible hiding place inside and outside the apartment. I thought I'd heard barking from the back bedroom, so, trying to put a damper on my panic, I began tearing the room apart. I was throwing back the duvet cover when I found a moving lump. I thought Bella had become tangled in the blanket. As I went to untangle her, I realized she wasn't outside the blanket, like I'd thought, but wedged inside the blanket, having crawled through a small hole in the duvet cover. After a few minutes of coaxing, shoving, and undoing duvet cover buttons, a thoroughly disgruntled dog emerged from the bed.

I'm still wondering how long she'd been in there, but I guess the bigger question is where the **** is she going to hide next time?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kerameikos and Hadrian's Library

As part of Kate's cultural tour of Greece, she and I toured around the archaeological sites in Athens. You can read her account here: Touristy Stuff.

As she noted, the tickets are crassly expensive in the summer, compared to the 12 euros I paid in March. Full price tickets are 30 euros. It's worth it, but it's so crass.

As part of our tour, we went to Hadrian's Library, which I hadn't seen from the inside, and Kerameikos, which I hadn't seen at all. Both were fairly forgettable. You can see similar stuff in other places. I'm sure historians/archaeologists/some Greeks will want to slap me in the face for saying that, but I said it, and I won't take it back. Since you're paying for the ticket, you might as well do a quick pop-through of these places, particularly Hadrian's site, since it's right in the heart of all the other stuff. If you have very limited time, stick to the two good ones--Acropolis and Ancient Agora.

One point about Kerameikos, you can take the blue line metro from Monastiraki (or Syntagma, or wherever the blue line runs) to the Kerameikos stop, but it's still a 5-10 minute walk to the site from the metro, and not very clearly marked. The best way I can describe it is to tell you to walk toward the campus, cross the big street, and turn left along the pedestrian-looking pathway that is actually a road, so don't walk in the middle of it. Or use Google Maps. Here are photos:

Ancient Athens city wall at Kerameikos.

Ancient old stone altar at Kerameikos.

Unlabeled old crap at Kerameikos. By the way, Kerameikos is the ancient city of Athens. The city was on the inside, surrounded by a wall, and the cemetery was around the outside. The ancients were surrounded by dead guys. 

There were ropes blocking off some areas, but not other areas, so we don't know if we were supposed to be in this area, or not. 

Walking down the ancient road toward the ancient cemetery.

Ancient cemetery.

More ancient cemetery.

Even more ancient etc.

Hadrian's library.

Hadrian's library in background, old Roman mosaics in foreground.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shark Sunday

Let me clarify, it is not Shark Week™, nor is it Shark Sunday™, but it is a Sunday, and The Kid owns some shark clothing. Because I'm saving photographs of him until we're really famous, and people offer thousands of dollars for an exclusive shot, here's the dog instead:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Touristy Stuff


Jane and I decided that this week would be a good time to go see some of the main attractions here in Athens. A lot of you are probably a little surprised that I've been here for over a month and only just went to see the Acropolis two days ago. To be honest, I did not really come here for the touristy stuff; I figured I'd go see the sites while I was here, but my main purpose in coming was to help Jane and take care of / play with The Kid as much as possible. So, based on that criteria, I have had a really successful trip! That being said, Jane and Phil are making sure I have a great time while I'm here, and a part of that is seeing all of the cool old stuff!

We purchased tickets that are good for 5 days, and include entry into a bunch of sites: Acropolis (and slopes), Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, The Library of Hadrian, Olympieion, Kerameikos, and the Lykeion of Aristotle. It basically covers all of the big, main sites that you'd want to see. If you were feeling ambitious you could probably hit all of these in one day. The 5 day pass is nice because you can spread the sites out over the week, so if you are not crunched for time you can see things at a more leisurely pace. 

The first thing you should know is that if you come here during the high tourism season, you will get totally and completely gouged on the prices. According to Jane, the price for the pass was 12 euros during the winter, when we were there the price had jumped to 30 euros! There is some good news, however, for any students out there: if you have your student ID you get 50% off, so my pass was only 15 euros (still more than the off-season price, but much easier to swallow than 30 ). 

The second thing you should know is that it is WAY better to buy your tickets outside Olympieion (The Temple of Zeus) than it is to buy them at the Acropolis. There was absolutely no line for us, but at the Acropolis the line was massive! Save yourself some time and heed our advice. 

Our first stop was Olympieion, or the Temple of Zeus. It was a nice way to begin our day; it was early enough that it was not very crowded and we were able to take a lot more time looking around and taking a ton of pictures for the blog! On the way to the Acropolis we passed the Arch of Hadrian, which is right outside the Olympieion enclosure. One thing that struck me as funny was to see these ancient structures (if you consider constantly-rennovated and rebuilt structures to be ancient) in the middle of a bustling city. It's hard to imagine what Athens would have looked like in the past when those structures were in their prime!

That's me in front of the Temple of Zeus! It was a gorgeous day!

Temple of Zeus in the foreground. In the background you can see the Acropolis up on the hill; the building that is visible is the Parthenon.

Another view of the temple. It was just so pretty! I couldn't stop taking pictures! Can anyone name the type of column in this photo? If you said, "Corinthian," you are correct!

The foundation and some debris from an old house.
Jane and The Kid chilling in front of old Roman baths.

Here I am standing beneath the Arch of Hadrian. Again, in the background you can see part of the Acropolis.

We finally moved on to the Acropolis.

I do not know what this is, but I had to take a photo because this face looks very similar to that of Davey Jones from whichever Pirates of the Caribbean movie he was in...I guess we know where the design team found their inspiration!

This is the Theatre of Dionysus on the slope of the Acropolis. I know what you're thinking; Why is there a creepy half-person in this picture? These are the risks you take when you do a panoramic photo in a space full of people. I actually didn't notice it until Jane pointed it out to me. I have no regrets.

A blurry shot of the Erechtheum

An even blurrier shot of the Erechtheum, but one with proof that we were actually there, and didn't just steal a picture off of Google Images. 

Me in front of the Parthenon

A panoramic view from the top of the Acropolis. Beautiful! Pictures don't do it justice.

A much better view of the Parthenon

I know, I know. What a dumb picture. It serves two purposes: 1. I took a picture because I loved the stonework, and am storing this in my "One Day When I Own My Own House" file, and 2. It gives you a teeny glimpse of what the lines are like to get tickets outside the Acropolis. Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, get your tickets at the Temple of Zeus. This segment of the line is about 1/10 of the full length. This will be my final warning.

Standing on Areopagus, AKA Mars Hill. Acropolis in the background.

...I can't remember what this was. Oops! It's pretty, so just enjoy it for now, and let's hope Jane will come in and shed some light on it for us. 

This was a cool (probably haunted) building that we passed on our way out. We couldn't figure out what it was, but we loved it!

Old stuff at the Roman Agora 
This is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens; it's the cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Athens and the rest of Greece. It was quite pretty!

The inside of the cathedral; It's beautiful and oppressive- what more could you ask for in a church?

We still have more sites to see, so there's much more to come here on the blog!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wind Tunnel

When Phil is out of town, I sometimes amuse myself by making a giant wind tunnel in our apartment. I start by putting heavy objects in front of all the doors so they don't slam shut. They slam shut anyway, but at least I'm trying. After the doors are "secure," I open every window, and balcony door. Consistency is important, so I don't later forget to shut and lock something. Finally, I stand in the hallway and enjoy the effect.

This is the best spot in the house for Wind Tunnel. Bella loves it.

I've been telling Kate about Wind Tunnel since last year. This week, she was finally able to experience it for herself. Wind Tunnel day was particularly exciting because it happened to coincide with an above-average windy day outside.

Shortly after this was taken, the door, which is being propped open by a heavy, metal transformer, slammed shut.

The Kid slept through Wind Tunnel in his rocker. 

We enjoyed the Tunnel right up until the point that it ripped our only full-length mirror off the wall, and smashed it on the floor.

RIP mirror.

So, seven years bad luck, but it's still probably not enough of a deterrent to stop me from wind tunneling again.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Animals in Funny Places

Because it was a long week, wasn't it?

Unprompted hidey-hole.

Can you see the animal in this one?

Zoomed in.

My breakfast.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Up and Down

Kate, The Kid, and I spent a lovely morning at Sounio, after dropping off one of our visitors at the airport. It was a beach ambush for Kate; I hadn't told her we were going, and secretly packed her swimsuit in a bag.

I don't know why this looks fake. It's real. It is.

On our way home, we started running low on gas, got sunburned through the car windows, panicked as the "check engine" light came on, panicked even more when the car started lurching, and slowly roasted with the windows down because the car's been overheating with the air conditioner recently. At a stoplight, the lens from my glasses popped out.

When we (mercifully) made it home, we realized that our cousin, who was planning to leave northern Greece for another European country tomorrow, left our house yesterday without her ID and money. 

Then, Phil came home from work with a big box of treats from his mom, addressed to Phil, Kate, and me.

Something else that sounds fake, but isn't: When we finally made it back home this afternoon, I was hoping against hope that there might be something in the mail today for us. I almost started crying when I saw the box. Thank you so much. You can't imagine how much this made our day. 

I'm hopeful that Phil's mom's monumentally wonderful box broke the roller coaster pattern of the day. Only good from now until midnight. Only good. Oh, please, only good.

Let's all have a weekend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trash Walk

Kate and I have a new joint mission when we take our daily walks with the dog. We've decided that every time we stroll around, we'll each fill one plastic bag with garbage, and throw it away before we go home. Yesterday, I filled my bag before I'd gone half a block.

There has been so much trash around our neighborhood recently. It bums me out to see this much litter, most of which is recyclable. It's an especially large bummer because there are public trash and recycling bins on every street in the city.

I feel uncomfortable with how much trash I generate as a normal, mildly-conscientious human being. It's a small comfort for me to know that my trash is contained in one place, and not (hopefully) blowing down the street. Picking up garbage feels like an easy way to give back to my host country.

And I benefit from it, too, by not having to wade through trash every time I step outside.

Be good to your Earth...or at least put your trash in a bin like a decent person.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More from Pelion (Aeolos Hotel)

Today's post is another photo dump, and endorsement for the place we stayed on the Pelion Peninsula. Pelion is a huge peninsula on the central/east cost of Greece. There is a lot to see. It's a favorite of locals, and visitors who don't mind going out of their way to access the area. It's a bit off the beaten trail. If you're carless, you'll have to hop a bus from Athens to Volos, then another bus from Volos into the mountains. You have the option of staying up high in the mountains, or down low next to the sea. A lot of people stick to the west side. The roads are better established. We headed to the east side, and stayed in a beach town called Chorefto.

The place where we stayed is called Aeolos Hotel. It's in the mid-range of hotels in the area. We rented a one room apartment. It had a kitchen, with mini fridge and hot plate (and all the dishes, etc.), a living area with a t.v., and a long row of bench beds that could easily fit two adults, and a separate bedroom with a queen bed. It was simply a Greek beach cottage. I wish I could describe it better, but at the same time, that's the best description of it. The hotel had a nice pool, and was smack across the street from the beach. Breakfast is not included, and it is expensive. We packed our own, but there are other options within easy walking distance.

Here's the hotel website:

Phil and Kate on our nice, little patio.

A shot of Aeolos Hotel

A very short walk from our hotel to the beach.

The beach in Chorefto is beautiful, and not too crowded.

Lunch at a taverna down the street from our hotel.

On the beach in Pelion.

Driving on the east side of Pelion is nuts. We were almost run off the road by a delivery truck. It's beautiful enough to make up for the tiny, scary roads.

Mountain Roads.

More mountain roads.

Dusk in the mountains, looking down at the sea.

It's possible that Pelion is my favorite place we've visited so far. There are not many sites to see, but it's a beautiful place to vacation. There are hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and few people, compared to other beautiful places in Greece. If I could, I would take a few weeks and run all over that peninsula.