I've decided to start the travelogue with our first few days in Athens. We booked our tickets ages before the trip but then didn't bother to organize anything until our arrival in Greece started looming in the horizon. We booked hotels on the internet, vastly helped by comments on the different travel websites, and just went there, thinking we would play it by ear.
Boy did this plan work.
To start, I have to thank A.D, my tireless GPS and restaurant finder extraordinaire. He never gets lost. He never gets confused. He is always hilarious and entertaining, even on a night ferry when you have earache and want to kill everyone, especially the dehumanized ferry voices telling you to RELAX ON THE FERRY PLEASE.
Back to Athens. So the plan was 2 and 1/2 days there. And the plan worked amazingly well.
We went to a nice hotel near the centre of the capital and decided after a quick change of clothes (huge change of temperature!) to go visit. We went on top of one of the small mountains and saw the wonderful view there, I was quite enamoured.
As I wrote a few days ago, I became very emotional in Greece. I love ruins and ancient history, and visiting all the places I had read so much about...
For some reason I packed a lot of dresses. I don't wear them so often, but I was on holiday!
Love turtles. Their adorably slow and awkward gait touch me and I always feel like stroking their prehistoric heads before they slowly retreat.
This handsome fellow was later rejoined by his wife and child. A.D didn't feel like taking his giant camera out though, but they looked very comfy next to the Dyonesian temple.
This is the theatre where Sophocles, Euripides and Eschylus performed their plays. I may have squealed loudly when I saw it.
This is the agora, which was described in my guide book as "a badly organized, messy area where Ancient Greeks met to discuss political affairs". Harsh!
Travelling with a biologist=ant pictures. You don't want to know how many Hellenic Ants I now have on my computer.
The Acropolis was wonderful, but the museum was very boring. Most of the frieze remaining on the Temple was "bought" by Lord Elgin in 1805 and brought to England, so all the movies in the museum kept mocking the British. All the red lobsterish English people looked even more lobsterish as they listened to a broad Texan accent discussing Corinthian columns.
In the Acropolis museum, I took a few pictures of Hellenic art.
I especially like this pervy showing.
This jockey riding a horse is disturbing, but amazingly graceful, wouldn't you agree?
Not many tourists (it's just beginning to be tourist season at the moment) and so much fun. We had lavish dinners and amazing ice creams, oh and more tomorrow.
When I was a little girl, my mother woud tell me and my sister stories from Greek mythology. I grew up with Gods and Goddesses who behaved very badly indeed (almost every story about a nymph starts with her rape). Visiting Greece has always been one of my dreams, mostly because of this tradition.
I have so much to tell. I've come down with terrible earache and sickness, and I'm overwhelmed with work, but as soon as my boyfriend sends me some pictures, I'll do a nice travel diary.
Walking up to the Acropolis...Drinking cocktails above the Santorini Caldera...Driving a scooter around Paros with sun-burns on my shoulders...Swimming in the Aegean sea...
I dragged my sister to a Zumba class. It's a fitness/dance thing, mixing lots of different latin styles, and it's really exhausting.
I've done fitness classes this year, but it's only running that give me quiet. My brain stops talking talking, and my legs feel the pounding, and the world has a beautiful perfect silent quality to it.
I'm a terrible dancer (although an enthusiastic one) so I was hoping I could keep up with the Zumba teacher, an adorable Cuban man in his late thirties who could shake his money maker in a way I can only aspire to.
Something happened to me during that class. I lost myself in the music, in the gestures, in the tiredness of trying to keep up with the steps and not succombing to the heat, I found myself in that emptiness I love about running. I was pretty bad at anything requiring a good hip movement, Shakira has nothing to worry about yet, but I loved it.
That's the thing about exercice: I do it because it's the best cure for depression. I would do it if it bored me horribly. And I'll be honest: I don't like "fitness" for the sake of fitness, I don't care if I don't have perfect abs. One of the reasons I hated my bodysculpt class was all the negative body talk: "Come on ladies, let's get rid of that fat!" It was noisy and vulgar. People talked about dieting in the locker room. I'm a recovering bulimic: I don't need people talking about themselves as if they were slabs of meat.
I like the feeling that everything is slowing down and that I'm enjoying my own little nirvana for a while. And if it comes with a healthy dose of Cuban sexiness, that's pretty OK with me.
As I wrung the sweat out of my Tshirt at the end of the class, I exchanged a smile with my sister. She looked happy and worn out and delighted.
We walked slowly home, and I can't lie, I may have practised some of those hip shakes this morning.
When I left home to live in Chicago for a year, I was twenty years old. I had been with my boyfriend for about three years, and we were wondering where we were going, if we had outgrown each other. I was embarking on an entirely new adventure, and to be honest, I was doing it to see if I could-if there was a possibility for me to be independant and free. I could have gone to England, which would have meant the possibility of going home more often. But I chose Illinois.
I wasn't ready. Or was I?
At twenty I was pursuing post-graduate studies in France. American students my age seemed so much less mature- they struggled with paper writing, and went to class wearing sweatpants. The teaching, too, was strange. You could talk to the professors after class, and sometimes they invited you to their home for tea or dinner. This was terrifyingly different from the very stilted university atmosphere in France.
On the other hand, all those American students I felt so superior to were juggling their studies and a job, sometimes more-they had a driver's licence, they were street-smart. I could snigger all I liked about the plush toys on the bed and the prudish attitude to sex and the ridiculous way they consumed alcohol, they certainly looked independant and free.
I had a nervous breakdown. It had been some time coming, obviously, it didn't spring out of that year in America. I believe that realizing just how incapable I was of making choices was a definite trigger-America made me feel bad about myself. I had fallen in love with so much of it- the energy, the ambition, the goals.
When I went to visit my sister two weeks ago, I was afraid I would feel the same anguish. I visited her beautiful campus gingerly, chatted with her fun, ambitious friends, went to the library, saw a few dorm rooms (no plush animals!).
My sister is so happy in America. She went there at 18. Now our situations were very different- I had to fend for myself, had no one to explain anything, struggled with administrative labors,etc. But her achievements there are nonetheless remarkable. We're talking 4.0 GPA here!
My sister has blossomed in America and that makes me so very happy.
Going there again was liberating. I no longer felt the need to justify how French I was. Yes, I believe that Americans work too much, that Americans are sexually prudish and that everyone should be allowed to drink at 16. But I have a lot to learn from the driven attitude of people my age, who make their own way and never apologize for being successful.
It's been an on/off affair between us, but I truly love America.
Because I watched the Cartoon Network as a child in Holland, these vitamins completely won me over.
I <3 Northampton.
I had a wonderful time in America. First of all, I have to say that I love America, I love how completely gargatuan everything is, I love how junky the junk food is, I love how beautiful the country is, I love how nice everyone is. It's perfect. I'm very happy living in Europe, but whenever I go back to the USA I am struck anew by the sheer scale of everything-in a good way.
So I went to visit my aunt and my sister, and I got to visit two college campuses (or should it be campi? Whatever, as any good Freshman would say), Bard College and Smith College.
I'll focus on Smith College because I lived there! For three whole days!
The American Way of Education is just amazing. From the libraries to the gym facilities, to the splendiferous campus, it's just NOT THE SAME THING AS IN FRANCE. The incredible lavishness of it all...Anyway, I intend to talk about this some more, when I'm not ridden with jetlag.