Monday, March 5, 2012

My Guests

This past weekend I hosted Andy Cherry, Matt Schueller, and Taylor Tannebaum at my flat in Thessaloniki. They flew in Friday at 2 pm and left Sunday at 2 pm so they got a short but sweet taste of Greek life. Andy and Matt are my friends from Freshmen year Slater 11. They are extremely close friends of mine. Andy has driven me to the Chicago airport multiple times and I've stayed with his family a few times in Hinsdale, Illinois as well. He showed me around Chicago on St. Patty's day and was with me when I had my first Portillo's hot-dog. Both Matt and Andy are very, very important people in my life. Taylor is a fellow Chi Omega and she is a wonderful friend and sister. She's so full of life and sunshine. She's very considerate and we've had a great many nights out together in Iowa City :) She is one of the Chi Omega's that I consider myself closest with. She's a doll. I was so excited to see the three of them and to get a taste of home. I haven't really felt homesick but there are flickerings of missing home. Having Taylor, Matt, and Andy here was just what I needed, a bit of home.

When they arrived on Friday I met them at my flat. I got out of class at 2 and rushed home as quick as I could, hailed a cab all by myself and racked up a lovely 7 euro fee. But despite hurrying, they beat me by half an hour because their plane landed early and they waited patiently on a bench outside my flat. I mauled them over with hugs and love when I saw them. It just didn't feel real. Seeing my IOWA friends here in Greece, whaaaaaat?! In was unreal. Once they set their bags down we went out for chicken souvlaki and then for a sweet crepe at Mammy's. They loveddddd the food and raved on and on about it. Seriously, Greek food is delicious. Duh. After that, we went to Melli Melos, "the couch bar" that's right on the water, and ordered Frapes and sat around for a couple hours. Gogos, Alex D, Carlos, and Nicole all went their around 5 and we bumped into them. I love seeing people I know at places around Thessaloniki, it always makes me feel so cool to know less than 200 people in the 2nd biggest city in Greece and still be able to bump into people that I know. Anyways, after the frapes we went out by the water and took some photos and sat and caught up with each other. It was great to hear about their lives in Rome and what their own adventures have been like. They all absolutely love studying abroad and never want to leave. We all feel like it's near impossible to convey how amazing it is to be abroad and to be experiencing the world. If you've never studied abroad before, I don't know if you would be able to fully comprehend. It's a whole new world over here. All the cultural norms that we are accustomed to back at home in the US holds no ground here. Everything is different. How families work, how the laws functions, how people interact with each other. It's just a whole-new-world.

After that we came back home to PapaK and got ready for dinner. A group of 12 of us went out to Olive and Lemon for a big, traditional Greek dinner with tzatziki, flaming cheese, red wine, and lots and lots of meats. Again, they all loved the food. After dinner we went and got baklava and other sweets. Again, they all loved it.

We walked home and got all dolled up to go out. We were all drinking casually around PapaK and were hanging around. The people from Alexandrias and a handful of Dimitrius's friends all came over so we had over 50 people chilling around and drinking. It was quite the party-scene. I could tell, right off the bat, that every one really liked Matt, Andy, and Taylor  (not that I ever doubted it) but everyone really, really, really loved them.

After "pre-gaming" we left at 12:30 to go to 8ball (the club that's sketchy and dirty on every other night except Friday night when it turns into a crazy cool club). At 8ball we all ragedddd and danced the night away. The music was incredible, lots of popular top-twenty stuff and some throwbacks that just got everyone in a great mood. We stayed out until 5:30 in the morning when we finally got a cab and retired home. Luckily, I was able to find all three of them beds to sleep in. I was so nervous that they'd have to crash on my floor but I found some empty beds for them to crash in :)

In the morning, we woke up around 9 and showered because we were all wearing the tantalizing fragrance of sweat and smoke. We left at 11:20 to grab croissants from the bakery and to catch the bus to go to the Thessaloniki Archeological Museum. A group of 20 of us went and it was fairly boring and not-so-worth-it but hey, we went. And it was free, so it's hard to hate on anything that's free. Once the tour ended we walked to the white tower and then walked down the boardwalk right on the water. Taylor bought a pair of fake Ray Bans aviator sunglasses and was happy with her life. By this time, it was 2 pm and everyone was starved so we went out in search of a gyro. The group found chicken souvlaki place and was happy but Matt, Andy, and Colleen all really really wanted gyros. So Taylor stayed behind with the group and we wandered down the main road and picked up gyros. They were nowhere near as delicious as the place by PapaK but they still filled us up. Once we met up with the group we picked up some gelato and then the group decided they wanted to go shopping. Matt and Andy didn't want to go so I agreed to walk around with them while Taylor and the girls hit up the stores. Matt and Andy and I walked all over, up and down the main strip and by the water. We ended up finding a bar called "The Art House" which looked effin awesome so I darted in and the guys followed. It was a three story bar that is a night-club but sometimes in the day they have "artist markets" and today just happened to be one of those days. It had a hipster, funky feel to it but still kind of swanky too. There was fun art covering the walls that all had a bit of darkness to them. There were things for sale such as necklaces made from legos and headbands of lace and handmade dresses. I bumped into Laura Strieth in there, a study abroad advisor at ACT. It was crazy to see her in such a random location. But I was happy to introduce her to the guys. Laura is such a wonderful person and she's one of my favorite people I've met on this trip so far. She has red hair and a daring fashion sense and has a lot of enthusiasm and greek-know-how. She's been everywhere. She's fluent in Greek, English, and German. So basically, she's a rock star. I decided that I absolutely have to come back to The Art House and hang out there. That place just looks-like-lily, or at least that's what Andy said.

After the Art House we continued to wander around and grabbed a Frappe and sat in Aristotle square for awhile. We then joined LA, GA, and Alex for more coffee at Snob, a downtown coffee shop. We sat outside and enjoyed the wonderful, wonderful weather and watched LA lose to GA at backgammon. Backgammon is really popular here in Greece but I've yet to learn it. Apparently it's not that fun to teach, but I hope I'll be able to sucker someone in to teaching me sooner or later.

We took the bus home and relaxed a bit before we went out to dinner at Mangios which is a restaurant on the water by the White Tower. Me, Andy, Taylor, Matt, GA, LA, and Alex went out to din-din together. It was bizarre to feel outnumbered by American males for once. I'm so used to being with my seven girls and two guys. The ratio felt off. We ate a nice meal that had the bestttttttt zucchini balls ever. We all ordered random things. Andy and I split vegetable soup and I got spaghetti Neapolitan because my tummy hurt. Everyone else ordered lamb or eggplant lasagna and other strange stuff. After dinner we strolled down to the Irish pub we like to frequent on more chiller evenings. We sat there for an hour or so, talking and enjoying a less crazy scene. At 12:30 we headed down to Vogue, a notoriously incredible and classy bar in Thessaloniki, and boy did it not disappoint! At the door you're greeted by bouncers who actually have "a list." Above them hang a giant chandelier and upon entering you take an escalator up to the second floor. The bar itself is a huge arena of couches and different levels with lots of flashing lights and smoky mirrors. The bar has an aura of luxuriousness. There's a high-class extravagance to it. All the women and men are dressed fabulously and every inch of the bar is crowded with people without actually feeling crowded or cramped. We had the corner at the top all to ourselves with 38 Americans and a handful of ACT greek students we know. We had bottle service with rum and vodka. I had a rum and coke and a few vodka shots later in the night. We all danced and goofed around. There were dancers up on the small stages throughout the bar and they did routines sporadically throughout the night. At 4 am we fished ourselves to the front of the club and danced in the midst of hundreds of bodies. At 5:30 am the club brought us over free bottles of champage. AT 6 we left the club to go to a different bar, Berlin, which was dank and cramped so we decided to go home. At 6:45 I crawled into bed.

It was a night filled with laughter, dancing, sillyness, sexiness, and fun. Everyone was overtaken by an immense feeling of lavishness and of bliss. We were all together and we were all happy. The club itself was a dream and having everyone there together made it all the more unreal.

We woke up around noon and Matt, Andy, and Taylor got all packed up to head out at 1:45. We grabbed chicken souvlaki AGAIN before they left and sat outside of the restaurant and chatted until I had to hail them a cab for the airport. It was sad to say goodbye to them but at the same time I knew I would be seeing them in a month during my spring break when Kelsey, Steph, GA, LA and I all visit Rome.

It was an incredible weekend, one more for the memory books.

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