Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I can't help it, I'm obsessed with spring and all of its beauty. This post is dedicated to all of my loved ones back home- I hear that there's more snow on the way. You have really had a tough winter and it seems as if it's never ending! I hope that spring arrives soon. Until then, I'll share my spring with you.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The best broccoli I've ever had!
I think that it's safe to pack away all of our winter hats & coats. We've had incredible weather for the last few weeks and haven't had the need for anything other than a hat from time to time. It's one more box to put away, hooray! Since I found the box with the hats & things in late winter I just left it in the corner of the living room with lid open so that we could grab what we needed. Our house is a nice size but there is almost no storage outside of bedroom closets and kitchen cupboards, which are packed.
We spent most of Saturday burning the mountains of tree branches left from pruning, it took almost an entire afternoon. I was exhausted after dragging branches from all corners of the property to the center where Kosta was tending the fire. Although it was exhausting, I really didn't mind doing it. I really think that it's time in our lives together for us to share this sort of experience. We've lived in so many apartments and our house in the States is smack-dab in the city. I used to hear the buses drive by every 15 minutes, the street cleaners, garbage trucks and at night -endless chatter of people passing by. As I dragged another branch toward the fire I stopped and looked around...and listened. It's so extremely peaceful out here where we have our home, so beautiful. I can see the sea, smell the fresh air and then listen to the birds. It's moments like that where I can justify the extreme turmoil that we've all been enduring. This is what we're working for; to enjoy life and what it has to offer. It's for our kids to have the best of both worlds-ok- and I'll admit they can also experience the worst of both worlds too(ie: the blasted strikes!). It's to share all of this with family and friends who want to join us and experience the things that we're experiencing, whether it be via the blog or actually visiting. I've spent many a phone call sobbing and whining and sometimes when I hang up I feel bad, like if my loved ones saw how I'm living-they'd ask what the problem was.
The challenges that we have faced have in no ways been small but almost none are impossible to overcome, if you can remain persistent and patient at the same time. Last week we were still getting absolutely nowhere in our attempts to acquire a Greek license plate. We've been trying for months to take care of business, it's just that on the Greek end, no one wants to take care of the business. We imported our car last summer, actually received it from the port in September. Supposedly, we had to wait until 2008 to have our emissions tested, too bad for us that the only qualified emissions station in the country is being revamped and having their equipment updated. So, as of last week we were told that today we have to lock up the car and park it...until July. Are you kidding me? July? So, what did we bring our car here for? To park it?- Or to use it? Kosta is working the phones and has been to the port several times-he may even have to go again today but we'll get our papers for an extension for permission to drive our car- no matter what it takes, he's persistent. It's just exhausting. Wish us luck.
So, there's one little snippet of how things work here, they don't. The strikes continue and I'm just thankful that I don't live in the city where the trash is piling up and the air is thick with tension. We'll just try to enjoy our little slice of paradise as much as possible without letting the chaos swirling around us eat away our spirits. Ok, so that was a bunch of babble, but that's what's on my mind this morning.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
We went to a third bonfire but I didn't get any photos as I was too busy dancing. My husband says that it's tradition to visit an odd number of neighborhood bonfires so we went to 3.
Finally, "Clean Monday". We went to a picnic outside of town and the kids got to fly their kites. We didn't get any food though! By the time we got to the actual picnic all of the food was gone as the crowd much bigger than anticipated. But, that's ok. Kosta's Theo Tasos(uncle) was there and ended up dragging us back to his place to eat instead. He and his wife served us lagana, bean soup (fassolatha), grilled octopus, cucumber/tomato salad, olives, taramosalata, halvas and horta-all very traditional foods for Clean Monday. We enjoyed our visit and then headed home. We were all pretty exhausted and couldn't wait to get there!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Our weekend in Kozani was great! There were plenty of exciting carnival activities for everyone to enjoy. We went to a parade on Sunday as well as the bonfires(fanoi) on Sunday night. MIL lives in the center of the city, the last picture was taken just out the door and around the corner from where she lives. The music didn't stop until 9 AM Monday morning! Izabella, Alexandra & Gigi didn't sleep well because of all of the noise-especially since they're used to only owls "hooing" and a neighbor's dog barking at night. I took over 200 photos so I'll share a few throughout the week. Enjoy!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
So here's what I'm thinking-Is it really rational for the stikers to believe that it's ok to cut power so that 2 trams collide and people are getting trapped in elevators? Is this civilization when striking workers think it's ok to put public safety at risk? The court will determine whether the actions of these striking workers is illegal or not-I say it's illegal, irrational and completely irresponsible.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Our electric has gone off for 3 days straight-for between 2 or 4 hours each time! It's completely frustrating and annoying because I really can't do much while it's off. Today I used the time to go outside the perimeter of our property and pick up trash. I filled a big bag and there's a little more to pick up. What's interesting is that most of the trash consists of disposable coffee cups, straws, plastic bottles and plastic bags from grocery stores; in the same place that my neighbor parks. So, let's see if more garbage starts to appear again. Litterbugs.
Finally, we'll be celebrating carnival in Kozani this weekend. The kids are excited to have the chance to wear their costumes again. There's a parade in the center of town on Sunday and a lot of public dancing, along with bonfires and a lot of wine! I remember celebrating carnival in Drama and we danced all night. Also, I remember that the Greeks really love to play the Gipsy Kings during carnival. I can't wait to shake it!
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
This trip was definitely necessary since it helped remind me just how nice things can be in Greece, since I've been overwhelmed with bad experiences since we've moved here. I know, I haven't even blogged about everything- but in time it will all come out. Anyway, as we were getting closer to our destination we called the hotel to let them know that we would be a little late and that we probably wouldn't make the 10pm bath. Not a problem, the woman on the phone assured us that we would get in for another bath. Once we were in the village we had to call the hotel again for more specific directions. The village is so small that we were only a block away so we weren't really lost. Once we found the hotel we noticed a petite Greek woman standing in the parking lot. It was Maria, the woman on the phone, the owner of the hotel. She was waiting outside for us, to make sure that we would find the hotel. (it really wasn't hard...) After a very warm welcome we walked inside together. The hotel was small and very new. Apparently, it opened about a year ago. (bonus-in a small village-this is a bonus!) As we were checking in Maria informed us that our bath was scheduled for 10:30pm and it was for an hour. This was another bonus since apparently it's hard to get anything more than a half hour on weekends. She walked us up to our room and we basically dumped our things on the bed and got ready to leave for the spa. There is a hotel at the spa but it was booked and at the end of the day, it was much nicer to not be at that hotel since it was so busy.
After our little visit to Bulgaria we went back to Agistro and walked to the nearest taverna for lunch. It wasn't very far and I think that we picked one of the two tavernas that we saw in the tiny village. The taverna was interesting in that it served as a gas station as well. But it was fresh and new and we had a cozy table right near the fireplace. The food was out of this world! We loved the melitzanosalata! It was served toasty warm with lots of garlic, just amazing. Have a look-
It was during lunch on Saturday that I was struck with a warm feeling. It was a feeling that reminded me of why I agreed to uproot my entire family and home and bring them to Greece. For those of you that are in Greece or have been here you may know the feeling that I'm referring to without me even having to type anything more. It's a sense of belonging, a sense of what life is really about. To me, there's nothing more enjoyable than sharing fresh food with people that you love at your own pace. I've never been to a taverna or restaurant in Greece where the wait staff seems to rush you, in order to flip a table for the next round of customers, never. We sat and enjoyed our lunch, loved our food and sipped our wine when I said to Kosta, " This is what it's all about". We sat and enjoyed our conversation and slowly gathered ourselves together only to take a leisurely walk around the village. There was virtually no traffic or no hideous noises. I noted that I hadn't heard a siren since I left the U.S.-where I would hear them around the clock.
Here are some photos that I took on our walk-
Once we returned to the hotel we took a long afternoon nap. Again, just what the doctor ordered. When we woke up, we had afternoon coffee and took a ride around the area. We explored the area and returned to the spa promptly at 8:00pm because we had a massage appointment at 8:15pm followed by another dip in the fabulous thermal springs. It was absolute heaven. After our last soak we cleaned up and headed out for another fabulous meal. This time, we went to the other taverna in the village. It was really busy and we decided that although the food was good, the food at the taverna where we had lunch was much better. Another brisk walk(it was really cold that night!) back to the hotel and we turned in early.
Sunday morning we went down to the lobby for breakfast and enjoyed a conversation with yet another family member that ran the quaint hotel. It was the son, Kosta, this time. We talked politics and of course about America. We watched the news about all of the snow that they were getting in Athens and we all chuckled as we didn't even see a flake in the air and we were on the northern border of the country. When we asked what time we needed to check out he replied, " Whenever you want"...followed by a spiel about how he hates to rush people out of his hotel, how when he took his wife to Athens that he felt stressed because he needed to rush through his breakfast and check out of the hotel and also that he tried talking to the manager and it did him no good because there were more people waiting check in. It's small hotels like his that are necessary in the world, I think. They had a computer at the front desk, but I noticed that it was off all weekend. They still used an old desk calendar and physically wrote in each appointment as needed. It's that kind of hospitality that helped us thoroughly enjoy and celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary, it was all just perfect for us.
So, we took our time and packed our things to start off on our trip home. Our kids were waiting anxiously for our return and although we had a great time, we needed to get back to our lovely chaos. Oh, and Izabella sent "Tigery" & "Kitten" with us, we had to get them home too!
Tigery & Kitten at the hotel
Apostolis waving "good-bye" as we left