So last weekend in Greece was a national holiday! Just a shy three days before our Halloween, Greeks celebrate OXI Day! “Oxi” means “NO”, and it memorializes Greece’s resistance (their “Oxi”) to Mussolini in WWII, who offered that Greece either allow the Axis powers to occupy the country or face war. The Greek Prime Minister at the time, Ioannis Metaxas, responded with “Then it is war”, and on that morning of October 28, 1940, the Greek population rushed to the streets to defend their home country screaming “Oxi!”. Now, it is a public holiday…and also a reason for me to have a long weekend and do lots of things I wanted to do around Athens!
FRIDAY: Friday morning, a bunch of us went to the National War Museum, which outlines all of Greece’s military history: including the Persian Wars, Occupation of Alexander the Great, Roman Occupation, Greek War of Independence, Grecko-Turkish War, WWI, WWII, and the Greek Civil War. After the museum, I fell into a domestic mood and decided to cook! I went to the outdoor market, and bought peppers, tomatoes, and rice for stuffed tomatoes and peppers, one of my favorite traditional Greek dishes. However, what really caught my eye was the fresh squid, only 2 euros for half a kilo! Yup, that means that a coffee in Greece is more expensive that half a kilo of quid. Hmm…seems like they have priorities set right here, it’s easy to eat well! The night turned into a dinner party, with homemade food, friends, and of course wine! After cleaning and gutting the squid (watch out for the beaker and the ink pouch!), I fried them up. The tomatoes and pepperw were stuffed with rice, chicken, and seasoning. It was my first time cooking for people. Regardless of how everything tasted, it was certainly an enjoyable night and I can’t wait to cook again!
SATURDAY: We went to the home of my favorite god, the father of Ariel the little mermaid (my childhood crush), and hands down the coolest of the siblings of Zeus: POSEIDON. The Temple of Poseidon is located at Sounion, the lowest tip of Attica and about a 2 hour bus ride. It was well worth it: I can honestly say this is my favorite place in all of Greece that I have been to. It is PERFECT: beautiful well preserved temple to my favorite god, beautiful view of the Aegean, a beach right next door, and fish tavernas! The temple is on the edge of a hill that is over wide open sea. Something that really impacted me was the colors: It was the perfect nautical mix, the marble of the temple was very white and bleached from the sun, the sky was a light blue, and the sea was a deep greenish blue. It all seemed like surreal pastel colors, so beautiful. After looking around the temple, we went to the beach where I found some shells in the deep sea bed as souvenirs. Yes, I went for a nice swim in late October, and it wasn’t cold. Only in Greece! Next, we ate fresh seafood at the taverna: fried sardines and octopus…I can literally eat the fried sardines like french fries, so good! Then, the moment everyone was waiting for: the sunset. After I quickly hiked back up the hill, I saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. It was so powerful, and the colors of blue, red, and purple permeated everything to add to the perfect balance of soft pastel colors. The bright red sun set right into the ocean…I never saw anything like it, it was as if the sea just gobbled up the sun. The colors of the sky for the next hour turned a deep reddish hue of purple before the god Helius spread his cloak of nighttime darkness. This trip was the quintessential experience in Greece that I expected coming here…and I will definitely be back.
SUNDAY: Sunday started with a Latin mass at St. Dionysus Church near the Parliament building. I then traveled to the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora (built by the Romans when they conquered Greece), the Temple of the Winds (used by the Romans to tell time), and the Temple of Hephaestus (the best preserved ancient Greek temple). Sunday ended up with more cooking, this time pasta, beef, and rice…I love having my own kitchen!
MONDAY: ACROPOLIS…all day long. I am ashamed to say that I have not ventured to the Acropolis until this Monday. I guess I was waiting for the right time, but I made up for it today by going both in the early morning, and in the evening for the sunset. Having awaited this moment for the majority of my life, I was in Harry heaven, and actually walking in its presence surpassed all expectations. I think my favorite part is that I can so easily access it anytime I want to, it is only a 20 minute walk from my apartment! When you actually stand in front of the Parthenon, such a feeling of awe and humility sweep over you. The acropolis, to me at least, symbolizes the birth of democracy and the beacon of light in the ancient world whose light still burns today. Why does it still burn? It still burns because all present day buildings of importance, whether governmental or academic, are replicated from the architecture that sits on top of this Acropolis. It still burns because of the pride of its Greek people and hundreds of visitors every day. But most importantly, it burns because the small hope and experiment of democracy, started in this ancient city, has surpassed the test of time and has not yet been abandoned. The small hope of freedom and equality that the Athenians dreamed of seems to have beaten all odds, and has now made its everlasting mark on the entire world. This is why I love living in Athens, and I feel so blessed to be here.