At this point- because of my limited internet access (both self and CYA-imposed)- my blogs will just be a series of excerpts from emails. But hopefully, that will give my blog a more 'book of letters' vibe
"...They have demonstrations over everything- even the schoolchildren demonstrate when they don't like their teachers. Anyway, we walked around Pangrati and I feel, if anything, more confused about how to get around. The entire city is a maze. It's very unlike any American city. It's densely populated but almost evenly distributed. Everywhere feels like "downtown"- there are no quiet or strictrly residential areas. It's clear that it grew from a village. In every way you can feel how the old the city is, how modernity has only helped build up a traditional society. It's kind of a series of contradictions that they don't find troubling because it is how it's always been i.e. Church attendance is higher than in any other European country (and the crime rate is lowest) but they eat well, drink constantly, and party late (like 8am-late). And they're so social! There are a million coffee shops and they're all always full (and open until 2 am). They sit around for hours drinking one cup of coffee, just talking.
...During the tour, our guide pointed out this wine shop that sells wine in giant plastic water bottles, which is apparently not an unusual way to buy cheap wine. I thought that was really funny and tacky but the other two wanted to buy some- Christine for the novelty, and Hilary because it's alcohol, it's cheap, and it's massive. So after we found our way back to the apartment, we bought some along with some ouzo- the national drink- (all of which was insanely cheap. 1.5 liters of wine for 3.60 euro and a small bottle of ouzo for 1.80) and we went over to our neighbors apartment (there are two CYA apartments in our building) who invited over other girls she knew from Notre Dame and some other CYA kids.A word of advice - NEVER buy wine in a plastic bottle. I didn't think I knew bad wine from good, but the red "wine" tasted like prune juice and dirt. The white was drinkable but only in the literal sense of the word. And ouzo- a licorice tasting hard alcohol- was gross but I expected as much from licorice alcohol. We all went out to a bar in Kolonaki and had a good time. Next time I go out, I would like to go with less Americans, since we didn't really get to meet any Greeks but for a first venture it was probably easier and more comfortable the way that it happened. It was a success if only because I didn't lose anything and found my way there and back."