Thursday, March 26, 2009

Soldier, Sailor and Air Command!

I very much enjoyed having a rare day off work yesterday, in order to celebrate Greece's Independence.

We went to Syntagma to watch the parade! Parade for me conjures up visions of floats, bands, clapping, shouting. In Greece, it is an opportunity to show how much military power they have, and I have to say, not accustomed to seeing army tanks and fighter jets, its pretty impressive. The parade went on for a good hour and half. We shown everything, the army, the airforce, the navy, the special services, the Red Cross, the ski fighters, war veterans, the police, the planes that take the water to the forest fires, everything. The amount of army vehicles that came steaming along was very interesting, and altogether, I have to say, was quite intimidating! We mostly enjoyed seeing the men, there is nothing like a man in uniform! Especially sailors!! It was a lovely sunny day, and everyone was out, waving their flags and whooping at the different sectors, with the soldiers in traditional dress getting the loudest applause! I have to say that my most favourite sight though, was the children. They looked so cute, like miniature dolls, dressed up in their traditional cloths to watch the parade. Ever so sweet.

After the parade, we were at a loss at what to do, so we went for a salad and ice cream, and gradually, I have to say, as I was walking to work this morning, that old feeling is creeping back.
More on this to follow.

I then went for drinks with T and L. It was L's name day, and so the three of us went for some drinks in Sygrou. We went to a tiny bar, that is a favourite with actors and actresses looking to get away from the posery, stylised haunts that are normally associated with theatrical types. As I consider myself a theatrical type, this little hide-away suited me just perfectly. It just struck me as quite Bohemian, this little dark bar. What else could be better than sitting in such a delightful place, with two good friends, indulging in traditional drinks and foods, whilst enjoying good conversation. I swear, I could have sat there for hours had it not been for today's meeting.

T and L, I believe, are the reason I have started to relax in Athens. They are considerate to the fact that I don't understand much Greek, and if they speak in Greek, they take the time to include me, to translate to me what they are saying, so that I can participate in the conversation. They have contemporary views, and understand, even share some of the same view points that I have on Greek culture. I have faith that we will be friends for years to come, we are already talking of future trips to England and Greece to visit each other. I do not care that I don't have a million friends here in Athens, but the friends I do have, are ever so special to me.

I believe the sun is also making a big contribution to the shift in my mood. The city feels alive, the smells, the way it looks, the feeling I get when I step out of the door is reminiscent to that of my first trips to Athens. I am excited for whiling days away sitting on the beach. There is most definitely a spring in my step, and now I feel relaxed, I don't feel I have to keep talking, but I m quiet, maybe I am starting to take in that I have been here in Greece for a long time now. Every so often it really hits me that I have only been back to England three times!

Maybe this change, this relaxed feeling is not just to do with the sunshine, but also I can see the end, I can see when I will be back in the UK. I am aware its approaching, and almost as if by magic, it'll be when I have to leave. I am think this is making me relax a bit more, to not worry so much that people stare at me in the street, or that I don't understand. I know my Greek has improved, but most of all my understanding of me has improved. I was asked yesterday if I thought I would be clinging on for dear life to the tarmac screaming don't make me go when i finally go back to the homeland. I said, no. I think maybe I have changed my mind. I don't think I'll be screaming, but I do think I will be sad to leave the adventure behind. But one thing I do know now for sure, is that it will not be the end of my Greek love affair.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lost in Limbo

Spring time has certainly arrived in Athens. It makes me feel alive, there is something about the Sun, many people will agree, no matter where you are, having the sun out, and feeling it's warmth on your skin, makes the word seem like a better place.

Saturday, two of my friends, T and L, took me on my first trip to the Cinema here in Athens. We met for lunch first, and ate in Greek style, where you share everything. I felt a bit off balance, I'm not used to doing this, unless I'm stealing chips from my boyfriend's plate. But I just got stuck in, and it was all good. We had loads of yummy entrees, salads, and a platter which had sausages and ribs on it. All very tasty.

After we had feasted, we made our way to the cinema. The cinema we went to was not a multiplex, but an old theatre that had been converted in to a cinema. We saw Slumdog Millionaire. It was brilliant, I had the best time. Me and T then saw L off, and went on for a drink, before going our separate ways.

I am beginning to feel confused. I love these days that I spend with my friends, doing normal things, just like I would in England. I still miss my family and friends, but I enjoy it. And yet, half the other time, I just feel a bit empty. I wake up and it's pot luck on which emotion is hanging around.

One thing is for sure, I am finding out loads about myself, I'm not sure I will ever do this type of thing again, I think I would rather travel around somewhere, but I'm getting to grips a little bit more.

Now if people would just stop staring at me like I'm an alien, I could do anything!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

T Saves The Day xx

On Saturday I got my gladrags on and ventured out to Gazi to celebrate T's name day. I love Gazi, its one of my favourite places. My first encounter was on a very random night in Athens.

I had planned to come to Athens back in June 2008, firstly to see my friend A , and secondly to find out more about doing the CELTA course. However, things with A took a very unexpected turn , and I found myself in Athens all my own, and unsure as to what I was doing here. I still went to my interview, and the lady told me that there was another English girl who had just arrived in Athens who was on her own too. She took my number and passed it on. Little did I know, that this girl, B, was to be my flatmate in a mere years time! As they say, everything happens for a reason! Anyway B and I arranged to meet up and go for a drink, a drink turned in to many drinks, and we somehow found ourselves in Gazi, where we also met friends that we still have! It was a slightly crazy night, but we loved it! Hence, Gazi always holds a special place.

So, I have little, well no experience of Name Days. I don't know how they are celebrated. The only thing i do know, is that this is when the children bring sweets to school to celebrate. My first faux pas was that I turned up empty handed. I felt very embarrassed, but my friend didn't seem to think anything of it. After all, I am English, I am unaware of things until people tell me.

The night was so so much fun. The wine was flowing, everyone was so friendly. We drank, we danced, and I particularly enjoyed the cheese platter that was making the rounds! It was practically being back in London, I knew of some of my friends who very much enjoy a cheese and wine evening!

I woke up on Sunday and felt excited, basking in the thought that 1 I was not hungover, and 2, that I may have finally started to make some friends.

I'm beginning to think that Athens is sometimes like a secret club, and the only thing you need is one person to let you in, and for this, I will always be eternally grateful to T xx

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Its that same question, over and over

Do you remember that feeling of excitement and anticipation when something amazing is about to happen and you just can't quite figure out what it is?

This is the emotional roller coaster I used to go through whenever I came to Greece.

When I first made my decision to come to Greece for a year, I was so excited I could have burst. I bored my family to death with stories of the history and the experiences I had had on weekends over there. In fact I am pretty sure my friends breathed a massive sigh of relief when I finally boarded the plane. At last! they cried, no more bloody tales of Kefalonia or Athens, and its amazing-ness. I was totally buzzing, even when the glazed expression took hold of their faces for the millionth time, on I went about nights watching the sun come up at the beach after nights of clubbing, of certain people making an eight hour trip to spend one night with me, talks about the difference in the light, the earthquakes (when i thought someone had got in the bunk below me on one occasion as my friend had left early!), and the constant raving about Greek salad and souvlaki!

So, why do I keep feeling like the magic has gone?

Sure there is always the fact that one is on holiday that accounts for a little of this enthusiasm, but I can assure you that this is not the main reason for my love of Greece. I blame Louis de Bernier, and then I blame the film company that made the film, and then I blame Kefalonia for being so beautiful, with its beautiful people, and then I blame myself for coming to Athens to meet up with friend, but then if said friend hadn't of lived here, I wouldn't probably have ventured to Athens, at least not on my own!

I keep coming back to the same question - why is it so hard to meet people and make friends here in Athens? I might have been under a somewhat naive impression, that as I had one or two friends in Athens, I thought, that in true Greek Hospitality style, they would be there welcoming us with open arms, and introducing us to all their friends while a big old goat was rotating on a spit in their front gardens. And that said friends, would be so warm, and we would all get on amazingly, and that I would at least have a few more friends to go out for coffee with. Surely this is what would happen, its what would happen in England!

As I was battling against the fact this had not happened, a friend of a friend introduced me to his friend, T. T is amazing, exactly what I thought it would be like. He introduces me to his friends, and we go out and have an amazing time, he is the one saving grace!! We also have C and G2, who have also gone out with and had amazing times. Then there is G1, ever so aloof, but fun when he appears. So we have a handful of friends,for which I am so so grateful.

Do you know what disappoints me the most? It's that I have found this experience lacking in so many areas, I don't understand it. It has taken away the magical - ness of a country that i was so in love with. Sure it still has it's history, the food, the beaches and the mountains, but something has disappeared, and I hope and pray that when I get back to Kefelonia that I will love it as much as I ever did.