So I’ve been recuperating from writing my essays and really haven’t taken the time to write anything else. But that was basically the whole month of January and February… Here are some things I did.
I went to Athens in January for a school trip, We went to Demokritis which is the Nuclear Research facility of Greece. It was really cool, I didn’t take any pictures of it but yeah… I was also sick when we went there so enjoy my face for the Acropolis!
Besides the Acropolis we went to the Acropolis Museum, The Benaki museum, and a ton of awesome streets… It was a really warm January day.
To help combat the stress of exams and essays I’ve been going with some classmates for adventures on Sundays and we have gone to see 3 castles, Ancient Messene, Megalopolis, a bird farm, and a ton of monasteries/churches.
Week 1’s adventures are above. We went to some waterfalls, this cool 16th ish century castle, and Ancient Messene, except we got there late and it was closed, but the town was really cool!
Week 2’s adventure was around Kalamata and towards the south with another cool castle that I climbed my way up to the second floor, I would have gone up to the very top but I couldn’t see a clear way down without killing myself… so I didn’t go.
Also there was a Tholos tomb that was the resting place of the son of the Greek doctor. Or something… I am really bad at names.
Week 3’s adventures was may favorite Castle/terraced town. It was amazing!!!!! Everyone should go to Karytaina Castle. Just do it. Also the bird farm, and another massive site was on this trip… We wanted to pay, but it was closed, so we drove for a bit and found a way to walk in, where everyone else just walks in.
This castle and the views from the top were breathtaking. I would gladly move to this town.
So there it is. A little bit of an update for the last couple months, honestly I’m loving Greece and it has so much to offer each and every person. It isn’t my absolutely favorite place yet, but it is getting there!
I didn’t fully get to summarize my trip to Germany yet. So I will do that now, instead of writing my essays…
My cousins John and Ellen Conrad are serving a really cool mission in Frankfurt. They are helping to get the photos and records for family search from the Europe area sent to the US so that people can find their ancestors. It is really cool though the process that they have to go through to achieve this is quite difficult.
So, I went to their apartment for Christmas break because Christmas is always better with family.
We did not do much but we also did more than I expected. I was taken to go see the Gutenberg Museum, I got to see the Castle in Bad Homburg, and I got to go into Frankfurt a few times and saw the Christmas market, and the place where Hitler burned all the books.
The Gutenberg Museum was by far the highlight of my trip. I repair books and paper for a career, or at least I did, and I am hoping that once I finish with this Master’s degree that I can again repair books and paper. I know I have so much to learn when it comes to the structures of books in order to repair them all successfully and better for the books but I love the challenge of learning those repairs. So, for me, going to the museum was like going back to when books were first commercially made and where they got their beginning as an everyday object.
We ate a lot of good food like a turkey dinner for Christmas day, and a fondue for New Year’s Eve. It was exactly what I needed for my Christmas break.
Sometime in early December I found a ticket price of about $17 to London… I figured I had no choice but to purchase it and that I absolutely needed to buy it. Once that decision was firmly set I had to quickly try and find some housing in/near/close to London which I managed to do with help from my brother and mother, and now my friends. I was invited into their lovely home and made to feel like one of their cats. Which is one of the highest honors one can achieve (and cats aren’t told to clean up the table).
Day 1 in the London area (I was an hour or so north of London) I got to attend the Nativity presentation in the ward and it was lovely! The only surprise was we all clapped at the end of the presentation! This is just so uncommon to me but I loved it and I really do think those kids deserved all of the applause. And then, just for David’s sake, we played games for 6 hours. It turns out I’m not terrible at Timeline, but fairly awful at Codenames.
Day 2. The walk
This day I caught a ride into Finchley and from Finchley took the underground to King’s Cross station. I get really uneasy in the underground and dislike traveling in it alone. But with some amazing directions I was able to successfully navigate my way to downtown London. From here I started to explore on foot… I had no plan, except to get to the Hyde Park Chapel by 12:30 pm. This allowed me the ability to choose a street at random and walk down it. So… through pure random chance I stumbled upon:
The National Gallery: and saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers
Buckingham Palace, at about the right time for the changing of the guards
I really had no idea where I was until I looked at a map. I stopped caring what I saw once I saw the Sunflowers… I’ll admit that I also teared up. That Doctor Who episode killed me and is probably my favorite episode of Doctor Who ever.
Buckingham Palace confused me so much… All the roads were closed leading up to it, and there were so many people all standing around. So basically I saw this big building and a huge crowd and only when I got closer to the building did I pull out my phone and check. I definitely said “ah, this makes sense. That’s the flag, looks like the queen is home” out loud, because I talk to myself… What of it?
After this I met up with a great friend and we went and explored the Winter Festival in Hyde Park, and then went to Big Ben, which was under construction… I thought it was hilarious! After we parted I swiftly walked in the wrong direction. Once i realized this I had walked too far to turn around (nor would I have) and had to add an extra mile or two to my walk to make up for it, and then I raced Google Maps back to the tube station I wanted. I beat the prediction by 10 minutes with adding the 2 miles of wrong way. So Google, never tell me it will take me an hour to walk 2.3 miles. That’s rude.
Days 3-7 of England
I read a lot of articles, saw a great movie, went into Leighton Buzzard ate a good BLT, went back into London and saw another friend, and did more holiday things. It was a great time.
Day 7 The Exodus…
On this day I awoke at 6:00 am and got ready for what turned out to be the bus ride from hell. Maybe not for me but for everyone else on that bus they were definitely annoyed and mad and eventually someone got thrown off the bus (spoiler).
I got a ride from my friends to the train station at 6:40 in the morning. The train was 11 minutes late… This bothered me a lot, but I figured it would be ok. It was, I arrived at the Victoria Coach Station with 10 minutes to spare. So as I walked to the back of the bus to check in and get my luggage under the coach I was informed that the luggage area was full and I would have to put my bag under my seat. Luckily I pack small so it was easy to do… I finally calmed down because I was on the bus, it no longer mattered what happened I would be ok. At this point we were 15 minutes late on leaving when the announcement comes over the bus. “Everyone needs to get off the bus, we are repacking the bus and those of you with too much luggage will be made to stay” Dun, Dun Duh!!!!!!!! I got off the bus with the fellow passengers and re-queued. I got to cheat because I was going all the way to the last stop so I boarded and “dropped” off my luggage first (I stuck it under my seat to save space for everyone else).
So we all board the bus again and it eventually leave, an hour and a half late. We drive all the way to the underground channel and have to get off the bus and go through passport control. Get back on the bus and drive towards the channel… THEN WE DROVE INTO A TRAIN CAR. Not a crash, but into it. We became the cargo. I ended up napping on what I thought was everyone loading into the train but really it was the train moving under the water and then BAM, I was in France. Strangely enough 14 years after I was there for the first time.
Everything was pretty uneventful. We somehow made up an hour driving to Cologne. I was terrified I’d miss my exchange but everything turned out alright for me… Enter this man who I had traveled with from England. His luggage was apparently too heavy and big and they didn’t want to load it. So he got angry and mean and may have thrown a punch. The cops came and he was removed from the bus driver. Once this happened we left on our way.
So now I’m in Germany. It was pretty great.
Firstly, I’d like to apologize and say I don’t take many pictures with me in them. I don’t like to see myself in photos.
Secondly, I really like landscapes, and cityscapes.
Thirdly, Sparta was basically torn down and rebuilt because they wanted to get rid of anything remotely Roman. So you can see pieces of the Roman Age used in the buildings but if you expect 300… you’d be wrong. Like only for the landscape, they really were a warrior people and you only got an epitaph if you died in battle or childbirth.
Mystras is the biggest and best example of conservation of a Medieval walled city and castle. It is from the Byzantine time is the most important Byzantine castle in Greece. Like the last Ottoman Emperor was crowned there. So I took some pictures.
So here we go…
Wow! That was a lot of pictures!
To end the day we went back to Sparta and stayed out far too late for someone like me, though it was still early by Greek standards.
So I will end this post with a picture of Leonidas.
For many of you this will come as no surprise, but for others it will. I love fairy tales, folklore, ghost stories, or really any narrative that was used to teach. The history behind fairy tales is always so fascinating. Why did we start telling each other tales that are filled with myth and legend to inspire us to do better?
I like to think it is because a story is easier to remember, that a lesson while harsh can be softened and absorbed faster through the experiences of others. Like the cobbler and the elves where he starts to repay the elves who make the shoes for him and that kindness rewards kindness; or the Icelandic tale of Grýla (depicted below) that was used to help mother’s be able to manage really rambunctious children (I like to think it is basically the alter ego of every mother, like the whole “stop it or I’m going to get angry” just taken to the Viking level of “stop it or I’m going to tear your heart out of your chest and eat it. Love you!”). Grýla is the Giantess that is the mother of the Yule lads and can detect naughty children all year. Basically reverse Santa. Like in Iceland, you’re good or you die. Who needs gifts when the gift you receive is life?
My personal favorite fairy tale is Peter Pan, and I have read many different versions of the story and just love the idea of never growing older. Growing older to me is an acceptance that I can’t learn anymore, can’t love any greater, and can’t experience anymore joy. Fundamentally I think this is wrong. We CAN always grow, learn, love, laugh, experience, and grieve more. That is the best thing about being human.
But really you all came here for what I did in Kalamata on the 23rd of November 2018.
The Cultural Ministry of Kalamata partnered with the University of Peloponnese to help bring alive the traditions of the past. So over the next 3 or so years there will be a scattering of cultural events hosted by this partnership. The 23rd just so happened to be fairy tales all told in Greek. I believe they are planning to recreate a wedding sometime in the years as well which would be so much fun to be a part of (Ok, maybe because I’m not married and have been thinking that maybe I should work on possibly trying to get married Maybe.)
We started in the Center of Kalamata at the Church of the Apostles (refer to my Halloween post if you want to see what the building looks like). There was a band of 4 musicians who started playing some music while 3 students from the University of Peloponnese started yelling something. I didn’t get it translated… but they tried to draw the attention of random citizens like a town crier would have. Once they performed their role they gave attention over to the first of 3 story tellers. The tale was about the Truth and how it was ugly and naked so it was cast out of the home, someone came by the home and told Truth that it was ugly because it was naked so they dressed it up and people accepted the Truth. This tale was short before we surged on as a crowd and took over the first building.
The owners of the establishment knew what to expect but none of the patrons did, it was pretty cool. The story told in here was about a King who had a mustache that was so wide 6 birds could rest on it. One day the King woke up to find a rooster sitting on his mustache. The King was so angry that he ordered the Rooster drowned, but little did he know the Rooster was magical and it sucked up all the water into its butt. When the rooster didn’t drown the King ordered it thrown in an oven and to be cooked… Well when the Rooster was thrown in it still had all the water in its butt. Guess who didn’t get cooked. You’re right, the King.
Oh yeah, and the Rooster. While many more events like this happened, at one point the Rooster sucked up a ton of bees and released them on the King. And another time the Rooster basically stole all of the kings gold. I’m really not sure how this tale ended but it was so much fun to listen to.
After this tale we walked back down town and told another story again at the Church of the Apostles and this story was about a Princess and a Prince. The Prince was rude and told the Princess compliment/non-compliments like guys do (not just rich ones, honestly we don’t think 90% of the time when a girl we think is cute is around. The other 10% of thoughts are just the wrong thought/action so we’re dumb 100% of the time. True story). Anyways the Princess didn’t like that so she dressed up as a troubadour to play a prank on the Prince. She got an instrument from someone and played it for the Prince. The Prince loved it so much he wanted to buy it from her. She said no, but if he really really really wanted to have the music always… he could kiss her horse on the butt! Too make matters worse for the Prince he had to do this multiple times. The princess then revealed herself as the Princess and basically said if he was willing to kiss her horses butt he was good enough for her.
(Ok that isn’t fully the reasoning but come on, it is funnier that way)
After all of that had transpired they decided to get married, but the Princess wasn’t quite done playing tricks. She made a doll of herself out of flour and sugar and once they were married she rushed up to room and traded out herself for the doll in the bed. The prince came into the room AND CHOPPED THE HEAD OFF THE DOLL. The Princess watched this all from the closet and jumped out and was like “Ha! I caught you cutting the head off the doll” and the Prince was all like “OMG! I am so happy that I didn’t actually kill you. Let’s throw the pieces of the doll out the window” and the Princess agreed and they lived happily ever after.
(I am still working on the lesson here… as far as I can tell, um, don’t get married to either of those people)
After this we went and occupied many more eating establishments and it was a blast. I don’t have the ability to post videos here but I’ll attach the music that was played in the streets by the band. I asked the clarinetist what songs they played and he sent me all of them. These are all songs from the Peloponnese.
Sorry I’ve been absent for the last couple weeks, I’ve had a lot on my mind and not a lot of things to write about.
I found out that we will get our essay topics at the end of next week, and that Christmas break is a month long (so we can work on our essays… and not go travel around. Who would even consider that??????).
Needless to say I want to go somewhere, or see more of Greece for Christmas break, so you will hopefully get some pictures that aren’t of Kalamata in the near future.
But instead I went on a walk today so you get these. It’s this really cool park in the center strip of the town that has old trains. Which probably means this was the old train station. It stands to follow really.
I went to Jumbo (think Walmart) and tried to find some measuring spoons. I’m 95% convinced they don’t have them here. Also I can’t seem to find vanilla extract and all I want to do is bake some cookies…
After Jumbo I walked out onto the big pier and looked around, I found some pretty algae so I took a picture of it for my mom. It’s pink, and with the teal water it is a fun contrast with which I murdered the actual contrast because I’m still learning how to take pictures.
Basically I went on a 5 mile walk and found some really cool things to look at. These might not be mountains (my personal favorite) but they are still pretty good.
Anyways, if anyone has a great cookie recipe that calls for baking powder let me know!
Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve when the witches, warlocks, and demons fly. Where we give candy out to children in the hopes that they aren’t demons sent to play a trick on us and steal our souls.
It is the one night a year that I should be afraid of the dark, where I should stay home and lock the doors and keep all evil away. Yet, as a culture we are drawn to that day. The parties, costumes, and ideas draw us out and allow us to walk a different path.
Halloween makes every dark uncertain path seem beautiful and mystical.
It makes abandoned buildings that are chained up more open than a Walmart.
(This statue is behind locked doors in the city center.)
It makes hanging out with friends that much better.
We decided that we needed to celebrate Halloween in Greece. They don’t normally celebrate it but Greeks do love to party. I joined two of my classmates (Michelle and Paige) at this store called Jumbo. Think of it as a Walmart and you won’t be far off, it is basically a wonderland for creativity. In Jumbo we bought the supplies to make Halloween a reality. Michelle made amazing gift bags for everyone, I took the easy way out and gave out mini candy bars.
Costumes took a bit of work. But in the end, it was worth it.
After we finally got to (the bar). The only place that has a Halloween theme or event in all of Kalamata. The night seemed to take off! First off I got complimented by a ton of people (instead of just stares), then I knew 99% of the music that was played, and the owner came out and gave us all free shots! Naturally I didn’t drink mine, but I really appreciated the gesture. I also got invited behind the bar with my friend Michelle and took a picture with one of the bartenders.
I stayed up way later than normal and will probably have a headache for a few days but it was definitely worth it!