Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Volos, Makrynitsa and Portaria

This past weekend I went on another ACT excursion to central Greece to the cities of Volos, Makrynitsa, and Portaria. There was only 18 other students with me so it was a smaller, more close-knit feel than the other ACT trips. 

We got on the bus bright and early at 9 am and drove three hours South of Thessaloniki to Volos. In Volos we visited the Archaeological museum there which is famous for it's ancient painted burial steles which are basically ancient gravestones. We saw longs of old ceramic pots and tools made from stone and jewelry made from Gold. It reminded me a lot of the Thessaloniki Archaeological museum that I visited last weekend, so none of us were super interested. After the museum visit, we walked around Volos and searched and searched and SEARCHED for a gyro or souvlaki shop. In Thessaloniki, there is some sort of restaurant or bakery every 20 meters but in Volos we had to walk around for 20 minutes just to find a restaurant that was open. We all ordered chicken souvlaki (even though I'm sick of it by now) but it's the easiest thing to order when you are planning on eating quickly and when the people who work there don't speak English fully. We tried to order each chicken souvlaki together by telling him our order all at once, he appeared to understand but almost every single one of our orders were messed up. Everyone ate their food though, just minus tomatoes or plus tzatziki or with other ordering-errors. It was very cold and the sky was heavy and dark. Luckily, it didn't rain on us but we still were unhappy to be walking around when it was so freezing. The other group of people walked around for over an hour to find their food place. They went to a sit down restaurant and spend about 15 euros on their lunch. We spent 3.20 euros and only took 20 minutes. Winning.

After eating the souvlaki we walked back along the water to find a coffee shop to stay warm in. We found this fun, childish coffee shop that was filled with primary colors and geometrical designs on the walls and floors. It was smoky inside and Riley wasn't so happy about that with her sore throat and cough, but it's not like you'll be able to find any coffee shop in all of Greece that isn't filled with smoke. So, the six of us: Colleen, Sarom, Katina, Riley, Lesley and I all sat down and ordered Hot Chocolates and Nes-Cafes. We picked up a Scrabble game and decided to play English Scrabble but with Greek tiles. It was funny, to say the least. We decided not to keep score so we could goof around and we played in teams of two. Lesley formed the world "badass" using a delta for the "D" and 2 Sigmas, one for each "S." It was hilarious to form words by using what Greek letter sort-of equated with an English letter. Riley and I made the word: "IPODZ" using a pi for the "P" and a delta for the "D." Somehow Scrabble becomes infinitely more cool when using Greek letters. After we sat there and played an entire game of Scrabble we walked to the water. 

Volos is a huge port city and it has a replica of the boat Jason and the Argonauts travelled on. We were amazed by the teal color of the water that didn't look natural to our eyes. It was such a bummer the weather was so crummy. Another grumpy-lily-fact is that I currently have to wear flip-flops. I haven't been able to put shoes on for 2 weeks now because my heel hurts superrrrr bad. I have Bursitis, it's super common in women, it happens when your bursa is too big and when you aggravate it by walking too much or by wearing uncomfortable shoes. Back home, whenever my bursa starts to hurt I just switch shoes and put on Uggs and it stops hurting because by switching shoes frequently, I don't chaff the same area of the back of my heel, so my bursa doesn't become irritated. However, here in Greece, I only alternate between two pairs of shoes, my leather boots and my black skater shoes. And I walk a lot, A LOT. That's no bueno for da Bursa. And here in Greece, everyone considers you completely insane for wearing flip flops before June so wherever I go I get a million questions about why I'm wearing flip-flops. I learned how to say: "I'm injured" in Greek and I also know how to say: "I'm from California." So I've been spouting out both of those answers at least 20 times daily to fellow students, teachers, and random people on the street. It hasn't been too inconvenient to wear flip-flops in Thessaloniki because I can take the bus everywhere and minimize my time walking and my time outside. In Volos, I was freezing and flip-flops just weren't cutting it.

After we left Volos, we went to Makrynitsa. Makrynitsa is a beautiful town that is built into the hillside. Cars aren't allowed up there because the roads are too narrow and because the streets are made out of super uneven cobblestones (aka not so great for flip flops). It was even colder in Makrynitsa because it was later in the day and because we were at a higher elevation, but I still was able to walk around- albeit slowly. There were lots of small touristy streets lining the main road, which is also THE ONLY road. So I bought a new wooden/shell ring, a few post-cards, and a worry-bead bracelet. Worry-Beads are HUGE in Greece. You see everyone, especially old men, playing with worry beads while drinking coffee or while sitting on the bus. Worry beads are simply an adjustable bracelet that you play with. The worry-bead bracelet I bought was hemitite with circular stones. Most worry-bead bracelets are made with plastic or glass beads, but some are made with stone or wood beads as well. Interesting typical lily story is that when I was first told about worry-beads during orientation I thought that they said they were called "Warrior Beads." So I proceeded to call them Warrior beads up until last week when someone finally corrected me. Typical Lily. After wandering around and taking photos and climbing into a huge tree and climbing another trees branches, we decided to go lay down in the hotel for a bit before our "big-family-dinner" at 9 pm. 

I was rooming wtih Katina and we were staying in one bed with a nice mesh-net around it, very romantic eh? Katina tried to nap and I read Jane Eyre. Our room was freezing, absolutely freezing! So I put on my beanie and cuddled by the heater. Katina got up and sat next to me and we ate pita chips and raisens and talked about our lives and our futures and about Greece. It was some wonderful bonding time in our romantic get-away hotel room. 

Our 9 o'clock dinner was great. I ordered a special dish that is famous in Makrynitsa, it's a traditional sausage dish with peppers and a tomato sauce. I ate it all including lots of bread and tzatziki. The wine was on Stepan so we all drank a good amount of Wine. Travis and Luke were tossing glasses back but us ladies sipped at a more classy pace. We were all exhaused and desired a weekend of detoxing, free of insanity and drunkenness. However, the boys did talk us into going out for a bit. We went to a local bar but it was deadddd and it resembled more of a restaurant anyways. So we went to the next bar, which also was dead but had a more sophisticated atmosphere so we sat down. Everyone ordered a beer except Sarom who got Sangria and Riley who got Nes-Cafe with Bailey's and icecream. I didn't order anything because I didn't feel like wasting 5 euros when I just wanted to go to sleep anyways. So after sitting there passively for an hour, us ladies decided to retire to our rooms. We weren't excellent company so the boys decided to venture to another bar with the promise of returning to their rooms at sunrise. (In the morning we learned that they returned to their rooms 45 minutes after we did). So, by 1 am Katina and I were tucked into bed. The room had warmed up a good deal but I still slept in leggings, sweatpants, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. Double, double layers. 

The alarm went off at 9 and we headed downstairs to our complementary breakfast of bread with local peach jam, greek yogurt with local honey, and a kind of egg/bake/omelet thing that was basically a very thin sheet of egg with some spices in it. And there was fresh squeezed orange juice, which I of course, took advantage of. It was snowing in the morning and I was oh-so-very-not happy about that. I put on my boots but without any socks. Not wearing socks provided the extra room that was necessary to not put pressure on my bursa. Any contact even a touch of the hand to the bursa is killer. It used to be excrucitating but over the last 2 weeks the pain has dulled when touched. But it's still not super fun. So, we had a long and lesuirely breakfast of eating lots of food and of listening to throw-back music. After breakfast, we walked to the FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. In greek mythology it was claimed to be the fountaion of youth and whoever drinks from it gains immortality. Riley took this pretty awesome picture of me and I got a few good ones of her as well. The water actually tasted delicious, super fresh and clean. So look out world, I'm immortal now. 

After becoming immortal we went to the folklore museum which was basically a house that had been turned into a museum that had been decorated in the tradition of the past. There were some awkward mannequins and a display of money and stained class windows and some frescos. It was pretty neat.

After that, we went back to the bus and drove 10 minutes to Portaria which was deemed the home of the centaurs in ancient time. Portaria was exceptionally boring and small and we spent 1 hour in a coffee shop and 1 hour walking around looking at shops and grabbing a "toast" (aka sandwich) and just wandering. I didn't by anything other than a hot-coco, a small apple-croissant, and a ham/cheese toast. We all were tired and ready to get back on the warm bus and head back to Thessaloniki. 

We arrived back home at 5 pm and I unpacked, showered, made pasta, skyped my amazing mother, skyped pockets (a camp friend), and went to bed early. The weekend wasn't awesome. The best way to describe it is as an "eh" weekend. If the weather was nicer, it could have been great, but oh well, at least I got to see more of Greece.

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