Well, it’s official: I no longer live in Greece. I’ve been back for over three weeks already, but I just changed my ‘Current City’ on Facebook back to Vancouver. That’s how you know it’s official! Now that I’m back, I’m faced with the challenge of what to do with this blog…after all, it was called ‘An attempt at a travel blog from Greece’. Admittedly, I haven’t been the best blogger in recent months BUT I have a sort-of excuse for that – see, one of the archaeological sites I work at doesn’t have internet. Let me rephrase that. One of the sites I work at is located in such a remote (read: backwater) region that there were never any cables laid down for the internet. The internet does not exist in Mani.
But, let’s leave the awesome internet-less weirdness of Mani for another post, another day (spoiler alert: that post will involve bee poop and burning effigies). For now, we move on the the topic of today’s post: what it means to be gone for a year, and what it’s like coming home.
No, no, I’m not going to talk about how wonderful an experience I had (I DID!) or how awesome it is being home (IT IS!) Instead, I’m going to try to transition this blog from a travel blog to a more everyday, this-is-what-an-archaeology-PhD-student’s-life-is-like: I’m going to take this blog from one which features jealousy-inducing photos of far-off places and add to it the academic side of things, including awesome new projects (like From Stone to Screen, for one!) that my fellow students and colleagues are working on. I hope to still have a travel aspect, because what would a blog called ‘Wild Beneath the Skies’ be if it wasn’t talking about all the amazing places there are to visit in this world?
There will be lots more to come. For now, I commemorate my awesome, wonderful, outstanding, once-in-a-lifetime unforgettable year spent in Greece with a list of the Top 5 things I will most definitely NOT miss about that weird, beautiful country called Hellas. Let’s do this.
My ‘Be Better, Greece!’ List
1) Not flushing your toilet paper. Yes, you heard that right. In Greece, you are not supposed to flush your toilet paper. Take a second and really let that sink in. And, yes, it is actually as gross and annoying as you think. BUT the bonus is that you’ll learn at least learn a little bit of Greek after seeing this sign everywhere.
2) Showers. Greek showers are too small to accommodate any normal-sized human. Couple that with the fact that the nozzles are all hand-held and there is always a not-so-nice plastic shower curtain on this too-small shower stall. Add these components together and you have the recipe for a very intimate date with that shower curtain! Oh, and legs that look like they’ve been through the meat grinder if you’re ever daring enough to try and shave. The solution? Don’t shave! And most definitely just don’t shower. That’s what the Mediterranean is there for!
3) Athens’ Sidewalks. Marble = slippery as all hell. Add some serious cracks and some dog poop, and you’ve got yourself a challenge! If you master that level, try it in winter when it’s raining all the time. Or at nighttime after a few adult beverages. Guaranteed fun!
In summer 2011, I lived in Athens and worked at the Ancient Agora. My roommates and I fell down so much that we started drawing our experiences. You are welcome, world.
4) SPIDERS. EVERYWHERE. Yes, I know there are spiders in Canada. But my particular line of work means that I encounter spiders all the time. In my face. Because, when you do archaeological survey, you’re looking down at the ground, not in front of you – where the spider webs are strung, Chelsea-face-height between two trees, and the spiders know you’re coming. They are waiting. Laughing.
5) Food and Drink… that have flavour. Admittedly, there are some great restaurants in Athens that can provide a quick spice fix – Red Elephant in Ambelokipi and Indian Masala on Ermou are two fan favourites, while Noodle Bar is the hands-down winner for ordering in. Nothing, NOTHING beats Avocado, an amazing vegetarian restaurant with dishes inspired from international cuisines, and if you happen to be in Thessaloniki, go to El Burrito, pretty much the only place in Greece to get Mexican food – and everything is good, including the pitchers of margaritas!
And that’s about it. Sure, a sushi place or two has opened up in Kolonaki, but why order sushi in landlocked Athens when you live in Vancouver? Don’t get me wrong, I love Greek food (see possible future list on why I love Greece?) and I will never ever get tired of χωριάτικη (Greek salad) or χόρτα (steamed greens), but there is a serious lack of available food with spice OTHER THAN OREGANO even in the two biggest cities! So I relied on care packages stuffed with tabasco (and Halloween candy and Disney princess kleenex) – Thanks Mom!
Now the beer. Again, IF you happen to be in Athens or Thessaloniki and not really anywhere else in Greece, go to Barley Cargo or Beer Time for decent beer on draught and craft beer from all over Greece. If you’re in a small town, say, on an archaeological project, or travelling around to more remote regions, here is what you get:
And they all taste the same. Seriously. Okay fine, not Heineken, which has the lovely aroma of a skunk at a Jimmy Buffet concert, but the rest of them really do. Don’t believe me? No one does. Everyone says they have a favourite. Even I did (Fix, duh)! And then they do the taste test…try it. You will fail and you will inevitably utter a shortsighted statement like “Oh I HATE Mythos, I could never drink it, I’ll know that one right away”, and then you’ll rank it first. Because (full circle) they. all. taste. the. same.
So with that I leave you and I take comfort in the fact that I am not in the beautiful, sun-drenched Mediterranean right now with some Mexican food and craft beer.